250 GB Modern Warfare 2 themed Xbox 360!

Microsoft’s own official Xbox.com has confirmed the existence of a $399 250 GB Xbox 360. This is in the form of a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Limited Edition Console. It includes 2 black Modern Warfare 2 themed controllers, the black & custom themed console, the new “no it doesn’t exist” 250GB hard drive, and even a standard edition copy of Modern Warfare 2. Even if you think the price of the console and a controller should be no higher than $300, you’re still getting another controller and a game for what the Elite was priced at less than a month ago.

You can even begin the preorders at Amazon.com. It’s a hard deal to pass up!

Xbox 360 "Pro" going away?

Will Microsoft be dropping the “Pro” and console from the international lineup?

Recently, pictures of these boxes began to appear on international shopping sites, but only new box designs for the Arcade and Elite have shown up thus far. The new box designs are part of the Microsoft rebranding, to include the new Xbox Live Avatar characters on everything from Microsoft Point cards to Gold subscriptions. The “back of box” shots also include new slogans. For the Arcade: “Fun For One, Fun For All”

And for the Elite: “Unleash the full power of Entertainment”

I guess we’ll be forced to wait and see if a new “Pro” box design appears, or if Microsoft is pushing for maximum storage? Note that, at this time, the box redesign does still show the Elite at 120GB, as opposed to the hopes and dreams of many podcasters and bloggers (including myself) have recently been wondering if Microsoft intended to put out a 250GB drive. Something else we’ll all just have to wait for.

Review: Sacred 2: Fallen Angel

I was recently sent a copy of Sacred 2: Fallen Angel for review. Let me preface this by saying I have not completed the full game. I know, some people think that you are not qualified to review a game until you’ve logged 50+ hours in the game. Well, until someone starts paying me $30 an hour to do this, this “micro review” will have to suffice!

The game was described by others as very much like the classic PC game “Diablo.” After hearing this for the first time, I was already intrigued. I was never great at RPG titles, but there was something about the point and click adventure that was Diablo on the PC that I sincerely enjoyed, even if I was terrible at it.

Sacred 2 does live up to a lot of that hype, but thankfully, there wasn’t much hype beyond that to drive your expectations. If it did, it would have fallen short on many of them.

Again, I have not played through the majority of the game, yet. So I cannot comment too much on the story line or character evolution. But I have played enough to be able to comment a great deal on the game as a whole. First off, my personal nitpick: the voice acting. Anyone who has ever read any of my reviews and previews in the past should know that this is something I pay a great deal of attention to. Unfortunately, “Ascaron Entertainment GmbH” did not. The actors may as well be the interns who didn’t go out for coffee that morning. Okay, I’m over it. Bad voice acting is an unfortunate part of my life, since I enjoy budget games and B Movies.

Back to the campaign mode. I did not play the original Sacred on the PC, and I believe most players of Sacred 2 will be in the same boat. Not something to worry about, though, as the game just sort of drops you in to whatever the story is that’s going on. From the official storyline introduction, you can tell that you are supposed to be trying to get a hold of “T-Energy.” Unfortunately, the game’s poor voice acting and very straight forward objective based tasks have failed to suck me in to the game. I don’t care what’s going on, I just go from city “A” to city “B” and kill everything in between.

Graphically, the game is nothing special. Even the light and particle effects are far behind what I thought they should. Your character models are nothing special, your typical RPG busty blonde, with her naughty pig tails, trying to save the universe with her steel thong of justice.

Unfortunately, even though you are told to create your own character, you are limited to 4 character classes, already determined male or female, and a small (and I mean less than 10) selection of pre-defined faces, skin tones, and hair styles. It’s very limiting, but graphically, I don’t see any reason not to import your Xbox 360 Avatar, at least they are more customizable.

Where this game makes up for some bad acting and poor graphics is in scale. It’s quite possibly the largest console RPG ever. FallOut 3 is huge… Oblivion was massive. But the scale of this game feels absolutely gigantic. Pressing select reveals the map to the player immediately, and you realize just how small of a role you are playing in this universe, and it’s up to you to become someone worth paying attention to. The map is huge, and traversing is made easier as you progress through the game, as you are able to activate teleporters, so that you can hop from any point on a map to the center of some of the larger cities.

What about a shining and totally redeeming quality? The multiplayer (4-player Co-Op) aspect of this game is absolutely incredible. The game feels a bit like Crackdown in the multiplayer aspect, you can hop in and out of games at will, and play online, allowing others to join as you go. You can play in two separate parts of the world doing absolutely nothing together, or you can party up and take on a larger enemy, or a cave/dungeon, etc…

This is where the game really came to life for me. I was able to hop in to other players’ games, help them out, get a few great items as they were dropped by the enemies. The hack’n’slash game play, where you just go from one enemy to the next, waiting to see what they’re going to drop. You gather lots of gold, take items to blacksmiths, get your items fixed up and leveled up – but the game really does come together very well. Controls, on the Xbox 360, had me worried. But they were very logical and easy to get used to, switching between a few equipped weapons, and even defensive weapons, and even the ability to define great spell casting and weapon based combos.

I don’t like to do numerical scores on games, but let me summarize for you all:

-Terrible voice acting
-Sub Par graphics
-story line fails to grab your attention
-“Dungeon” and “cave” levels far too small

-World of a gigantic scale
-Wide open multiplayer experience
-Random item drops (FTW)
-Gameplay that reminiscent of classic 3/4 overhead RPG’s

So, in the end, I can’t say for you if the game is worth $60. In my book, it isn’t. But the classic gameplay style and my anxiousness to get my friends in to a 4-player hack’n’slash adventure the likes of which I haven’t experienced since the earlier part of the decade… these are the things that make me recommend the game to the right kind of people – but only you know who you are. If you’re “just curious” you should probably wait until the game drops in price, because I do see it as inevitable, as the game doesn’t quite stack up to many other RPG’s out there today.

[Update 1] Hacking the Kojima Flash animation

To see the timer as it exists, check out the Kojima Productions website.

The above link cuts the counter from 80 hours down to about seven hours. Unfortunately, more tweaking beyond that always results in a black screen. Each section of the address that begins with “&lmt0” separates each timer, you can modify each one in hopes it unlocks something special. I will keep working it at, hopefully using some of the things that the ShogunGamer folks have discovered.

Some people think it’s too early for another Metal Gear Solid, but I wouldn’t expect the developers to let such a great game engine go to waste so soon – they should be able to crank out a few games before doing any major overhauls on this glorious piece of code. Still, the final timer seems to be set to expire on the same day as Microsoft’s E3 presentation. Could it be the Metal Gear Solid franchise coming to Xbox 360? Either way, anyone who doubts that this is for Metal Gear Solid should just take a look at the image above… the website’s metatags are clearly marked up with “MGS” and “Metal Gear Solid” – and with the “5” flashing in the lightning of the flash animation, it seems clear cut what this counter is going to show us next. At least, it seems more obvious than the last timer Kojima Productions did!

note: minutes before publishing this article, I was able to get the timer down to about 10 minutes – I will watch to see if it fades straight to black or if it leads to another image/animation. I will update the article with my results.

UPDATE 1: So far, nothing:

It has just sat there for a couple of minutes. Please comment and let us know if you make any progress, I do believe modifying the URL with the information gained from ShogunGamer’s website might show progress!