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Microsoft Offering Adult Games to New Zealand Kids Locked Out of LIVE?

Last week, we brought news of a bizarre occurrence in New Zealand, where numerous gamers under the age of 18 were being kicked off of Xbox LIVE without any explanation. It was revealed that it was all a part of Microsoft's master plan to keep kids away from mature content. Apparently, word has spread, and a long-running consumer affairs show, titled "Fair Go," decided to look into matters for themselves and ran a story about it, taking the issue directly to Microsoft itself. Read More


The Games That Don't Install Well on NXE, and How Much Room It Takes for Those That Do

One of the most hyped features (somewhere after Netflix and Avatars) of the New Xbox Experience is the ability to install games to the Xbox 360's hard drive. However, as Halo 3 has taught us, it's not quite a perfect procedure. In fact, it would seem that there is a small number of titles which don't really see any improvement when installed, thanks to the way the developers designed them. According to Destructoid, these titles are Big Bumpin', College Hoops 2k7, Pocket Bike Racers, Sneak King, Crackdown, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, and Quake II from the Quake IV Bonus Disc (according to NeoGAF). Or, to put it in a different perspective, it's the three Burger King promo games, an out-of-date basketball game, a game most people bought just to get into the Halo 3 beta, and a game most people probably don't want anyone else knowing they own, anyway. Takes a bit of the sting out of it, I figure. So now we know which ones don't work. But of those that do work, how much space will they take up? This is a question that's no doubt on the minds of many... or at least, however many bought a 360 with a 20GB hard drive. Fortunately, Sean has compiled a list over at NeoGAF which answers that very question, along with a few notes here and there about the reduction in load times. However, he notes "I can't possibly verify all of these sizes/notes, just going off of what people tell me. If there's an error please correct it and be nice about it." For your Kombo Konvenience, the list is posted right after the kut... er, cut. Whew, that was close. Read More


Rumor: Home 1.0 and PS3 Firmware 2.5 to Release In Late October

It the above screen capture is too be believed, in October, the PS3 could see a simultaneous release of both the firmware 2.5 update and Home version 1.0. Joystiq further corroborates theses claims:"A PlayStation Home beta participant with access to a restricted PlayStation Forums thread has passed along a potential release month -- October -- for the next major PlayStation 3 firmware update (v2.50), PS3 Fanboy reports. The date was suggested by Home manager "TedTheDog" who clarified, "late October is my guess." The update will supposedly include a bug fix for freezing and network errors currently affecting Home users. Ted (just "Ted" is okay, right?) also hints that Home v1.00 could coincide with firmware v2.50's release -- Home is currently at v0.98. Common sense, while not always a part of Sony's repertoire, tells us that Home 1.0 is the version that goes public" -- JoystiqI have been privy to similar forums when I participated in the Shadowrun beta. At no point were there open discussions about platform upgrades and release dates. Either Microsoft keeps a tight noose on their developers, Sony gives their developers too much information and freedom, or this is just a steaming load of crap. Whichever it turns out to be, still I hope that Home makes its arrival sooner, rather than later. Read More


Rumor: Microsoft to Close Ensemble Studios

Anticipation of Halo Wars has reached a fevered pitch. The press and public alike are looking forward to see if Ensemble Studios can make an RTS work on a console. The studio has had a long and storied history in the RTS genre, but that looks to be abruptly coming to an end. According to ShackNews, any Ensemble employees that were not essential to the completion Halo Wars, where given a pink slip today: "According to our sources, employees not associated with Halo Wars have been laid off today. Those attached to Halo Wars have been offered incentives to stay on the project until completion. Halo Wars, an RTS based on the Halo franchise, was announced in September of 2006. The Xbox 360 title is currently slated for release sometime in the first half of 2009. Ensemble Studios was founded in 1995. The Microsoft-owned company is best known for the Age of Empires series of RTS games. " -- ShackNewsI really hope something like this turns out to be false, but this has been the fate of several studios as of late. If true, this would also be the second studio to be closed by Microsoft in the last 12 months, the other being FASA, the developers behind Shadowrun. My heart goes out to all the developers that have potentially lost their jobs and I wish them the best of luck in finding new positions elsewhere. Read More


Microsoft Explains Why XBL Silver Members Can Suddenly Play Online for Free

This weekend, it was discovered that non-paying XBL Silver members could access online play in select titles, such as Shadowrun. Turns out, those select titles that suddenly allowed Silver members to play online for free are all cross-platform games (which feature Xbox 360 players and PC players playing together). And Microsoft has explained why that is. "It's not a rumor anymore, as Microsoft has confirmed that Silver level Live members can indeed have online visitation rights with their Xbox 360 buddies and not just on the weekends. It's all part of an unannounced promotion, we learned. In tandem with the announcement that MS was 'taking off the Gold-only restriction for multiplayer gaming over Games for Windows LIVE,' cross platform games (Xbox 360/PC) will be free for all for a limited time." -- Kotaku We're still awaiting the official announcement from Microsoft, but this only makes sense. After all, if PC gamers no longer have to pay for the features of Live, why should gamers playing the console version of those game games have to? Read More


Rumor: Free Xbox Live Silver Online Play?

Since this console generation began, there's been one key difference between the online play for Microsoft and its rivals: The other guys let you play for free. Though Xbox Live is usually considered the best of the bunch (barring a bunch of squeaky-voiced teens who think racism is cool, for whatever reason), it has widely been considered an inevitability that Microsoft-- particularly if they want to woo that "casual" crowd-- will need to either drop the charges for online play, or face the consequences. Well, it looks like they might be doing the former. Though this past weekend was a "Live Weekend" where Silver users could play online for free, at least one person has cited having been able to play since Wednesday night, two nights before the promotion began. Microsoft has already ended the distinction on PC, could the 360 be following? Others on Microsoft's forums have cited several games working online for free, including Shadowrun, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition and Universe at War: Earth Assault. Hopefully this will bode well for the near future; things are not yet concrete, again owing to the free weekend, but we'll let you know once there's any sort of clue as to a concrete answer. Read More


Fury - PC - Review

The idea seemed pretty good on paper, a person-versus-person action titled totally devoted to an online experience. Factor in the decidedly sword and Read More