Halo Wars ViDoc, Mythic Screens, and more!

Last night, TeamXbox broke an interesting story I had heard nothng about. A Swedish online retailer had made mention of a “best of Halo” Xbox 360 system bundle. It would include Halo 3, Halo Wars, a 60GB Xbox 360 “Pro.” As of yet, I can’t find any official documentation confirming this.

Next up, some screenshots. Just three of them, all from the upcoming Mythic Map pack. I want to take a minute to explain where they were: on a closed Microsoft “press” website, under the category of Halo 3: ODST. It’s sounding more and more like the map pack will ship on disk with ODST. Two of them look familiar, though the one for “Sandbox” is not one that I, personally, have seen before. Click on each for a ‘full size view.’ (~12MB TIFF’s).

Finally, I just wanted to remind everyone of a very overlooked Halo Wars ViDoc #1: “Halo Times Ten: Halo Wars.” This is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, or you can download it to your PC (almost exclusively, it’s hard to find!) from our site.

PS3 Firmware 3.0 poll showing Home's Failure…

While the Playstation 3 does what they can to enhance your experience with the 2.60 Firmware update, by adding a new photo gallery application, DivX 3.11 support, and a few other minor enhancements, a recent poll was released discussing features users wanted to see in the 3.0 firmware.

Compiled from over 4,200 responses to a poll on ps3blog.eu.com, the Firmware 3.0 Roadmap shows what people might say is a level of dissatisfaction among PS3 owners.

Their number one requested video game feature is backwards compatibility. Remember, hardware BC has been removed from newer Playstation 3 models, and is not planned for several current and future models. Now, a whopping 31% of voters want 100% backwards to be implimented via software – which will impossible. 1% of them want improved game launching from within Playstation Home. Maybe they aren’t requesting the feature because they are already anticipating it. But some (myself included) may see this as sort of a negative response to Playstation Home in general.

Ninja Blade Demo Impressions

I recently had a little hands on time with the Ninja Blade demo. Several other websites are all doing the same, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time before a demo comes to the united State Xbox Live Marketplace. I hope others get to try this game before they buy. I just wanted to provide a very short summary of what I found.

Graphically, the game is stunning. It uses concentrated camera angles, thus forcing much of the 360’s power into tight frames, making sure it looks good, and still plays smooth as silk. The combat engine makes the game a lot of fun. “Special moves” included, you can pull of some flashy looking combos with ease. The level design is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Some games like to bring in the “veritcal” aspect of levels, but none have done it in this scale. You literally RUN down the side of the building, pulling off movies that you would expct to see in a Jet Li movie!

The game flows seemlessly from one segment to another, and the voice acting is on par with some of the better titles lately. It might not be the best I’ve heard, but it certainly adds to the environment you’re placed in. It appears as though the story was actually given a bit of thought, as well. For me, that’s a make-or-break detail. The game is set in the not-too-distant future, in a time when the Japanese government has created a Ninja Strike force to combat some kind of mutant or alien menace. You are the best that team has to offer.

The game uses “the Simon system,” as I call it. A series of commands you need to mimic, as seen in countless games these days, from Indigo Prophecy to Spider-Man 3. I have a tendancy to shy away from those games, I’m frustrated by my own poor reaction time! But this game leaves response ample time, making it a bit mre enjoyable for someone like me!

Overall, it’s the kind of game that if I saw it in the store, I wouldn’t be buying it. Until I tried the demo. The demo for Ninja Blade is a fantastic selling point, and I sincerely hope they bring it to other marketplaces, so that others can try this game that they may be a bit hesitant to buy.

IBM Master Inventor compares 360 and PS3…

Above: Cell processor block diagram… if it makes sense to you, you should apply at IBM.

Today, I just wanted to share with you this: I seemed to have overlooked a quite fantastic article where IBM’s David Shippy compares PS3 and 360 processors. Shippy was co-creator of the Cell, and with the Xeon being the IBM/Intel pride’n’joy for several years, based on Shippy’s own PowerPC architecture, I’m sure he knows a thing or two about it. Shippy has been given the highly distinguished honor of being an IBM “Master Inventor.” In short: he knows his stuff.

In the end, he says the two consoles about balance out, because of the extreme differences in design. It sounds as though he’s willing to give the Playstation 3 a bit of an edge in the hardware department, but also sounds unsure if anyone will ever fully harness the power of the PS3, stating that “the real hardcore coders would argue that, once you do understand it and can program to it, you absolutely get the most out of the hardware, and really write some fairly low-level code that’s really high performance.” Still, he doesn’t go so far as to proclaim a winner (read his uneasy responses on page 3 🙂 ).

This whole discussion between PS3 and 360 owners has taken on such a life of it’s own that Shippy has recently co-authored a new book, entitled “The Race for a New Game Machine.” The article is an astonishing read, they even talk about some of the personal struggles you have when designing hardware for competing companies. Being IBM must not be easy, when everyone is coming to you demanding “the best you’ve got.”

See also: IBM’s “Introduction to the cell multiprocessor” – also co-authored by Shippy.