Ubisoft Celebrates 25 years of gaming on Xbox Live

It’s a month of gaming promotions I kid you not, Steam, Android, Get Games and others are just blowing out sales on products. Today though Xbox users get to share in 25 years of Ubisoft products with an exclusive sale on digital titles. Unfortunately it’s a mix of pricing but we’ll note it all here.

It was mentioned we would also see Scott Pilgrim Vs the World The Game in the list, unfortunately it looks like all the related goods for the game are still at full price. Hopefully some shifts do come up, it would be a shame to lose out on it at the last minute.

*Updated* The Grand Theft Auto V Trailer is here, watch it now!

Check out the video embed below for the official trailer for Grand Theft Auto V when it breaks in less than 2 hours. In the meantime you can watch the handy counter as it reaches 0. Lets see what Rockstar has to bring us this time around!

*Update: Trailer has been released, watch it below!

SDCC 2011 – The BAMFAS lowdown + Cosplay Gallery!

Hey everyone, SDCC is slowly fading into the mist at this point and honestly it has taken a while to reach a point of editorial commentary. SDCC for the past 4 years has been pretty epic, watching it just boil over from a major event into a AAA showcase for the comic, movie, tv and gaming industries was awesome. What sucks is everything that came with it, SDCC exclusives are sought after by many and were a unique staple of the show. Now vendors come to the show or buy large volume to supply their stores at the con leaving low supply or excessive lines to regular consumers.

The crowds in the prior years were a bit friendlier as well, although of course last year there was the whole stabbing thing that went down. Striking that up to crazed fandom is probably the best I can do to class that one. This year not only was the floor packed but it was a shoving match from poor mannered folks to people that were shoving around in retaliation to the aggro behavior. Not cool at all and it really made for slow travel from end to end, for past visitors any extra time to that trek is a downer.

There are upsides of course and I’ll sprinkle one in right now, the quality of the cosplay and the endurance of the people taking part was superior in 2011. I loved watching the costumes around the show and seeing the creative poses and dedication to the public at large asking for shots. Lots of respect to those who made that venture, as a cosplay fan myself it’s never an easy task with heavy fabrics and shoes from hell. Many made it seem almost easy.

The dealer area seemed to show new life in 2011, while the Golden Age comics took an unexpected growth spurt the area as a whole had much more to offer for goods. Finding classic figures, new figures or even marked up show exclusives was easier than past years just due to sheer volume. Many retailers were also determined to run fire sales on old stock seen in previous years, watching some drop as much as 60-70% off had many buried in each booth to complete their collections or start new ones.

Personally, I found a good home with a few retailers, Comic Madness got me into the latest installment of Wolverine from Marvel. Hoping those turn out good. Also started on Secret Invasion finally with a huge variant pack I got for cheap. Although having 1-2 variants of each issue seems a bit odd now. Others made their impact as well, Top Cow and 2K Games actually set me up with a Darkness II limited Darkling statue from a Twitter event. For comic collectors, gamers and TV and movie enthusiasts there was a bit for everyone.

Now we go back to probably one of the most disappointing facets of SDCC 2011, the panel lines were probably the single most absurd thing on the planet. The waiting times were huge for everything, entering Ballroom 20 wasn’t something you just did, you planned extensively and camped that line for a glimpse of that room. Hall H was much the same with huge lines for major releases and determined fans sitting it out for days in line. The problem is, many of those who waited had no interest in those other panels they sat through. Waiting instead for special tickets or panels at the end of the day. The system used to work, it took roughly 1.5-2 hours to get inside but it happened. Some were waiting as long as 5 hours to see a panel and never got in.

The team at Comic-Con International has an issue to tackle with that situation, as it stands, very few will be able to see the panels they want to catch. I was fortunate to see Being Human and Community which rocked in the Indigo Ballroom. But only because blitzing in as early as possible to line was how it happened. Maybe it’s time to make lines for individual blocks of panels instead. As it stands there are a lot of campers who stomped good experiences for regular people who wanted to see their favorite panels again this year. Step it up for the fans and do something about the squatting because it let many people down.

The question of course, was SDCC worth attending? Yes, combine the downtown events with all the screenings and premieres and the show even if you can’t get into the main event is really a fun time. If you’re attending SDCC itself on top of all that, the event is more than most can handle, attending all the panels even when things were normal was impossible just because there’s so much to do. You can see some panels on your favorite shows, get signings in the exhibition hall from your favorite actors, animators or illustrators and more. It’s mind boggling for those attending their first year and rightfully so, the convention itself is gigantic and spills over to the surrounding area with goodies for all.

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AM2Con 2011 – Back to basics

AM2 is just wrapping up as I write this, but as a potential force it’s only starting after this inaugural year. For those that are veterans to Anime Expo it really has been the only pure Japanese animation event in town, you have SDCC but it has arms in everything out there. As opposition there are many fan events not run by the SPJA but often they fall under the radar, AM2 was anything but that with high profile members behind the curtain to arrange the show for an impressive first year showing with a new staff group and venue at the Anaheim Convention Center.

To kick things off, AM2 started this year with a unique proposition to everyone, entrance and events for the most part are free. Video panel rooms, live programming, concerts and even the exhibit hall weren’t checking for tickets or passes and the public at large was able to join as a part of this first year event. There were a few special events that did require it but even then the passport was a fraction of the cost to current major events. For the most part it took over the ACC by capturing upper floors and Hall B. With some extra polish there looks to be a gem here, I’ll go through my experiences from Day 1 at AM2 (unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch 2 and 3 due to some unexpected changes in plans).

Exhibit Hall:

This is the litmus test for many fans, if you have an exhibit hall stacked with retailers side to side, you’re considered godlike to most. Unfortunately conventions have been seeing less retailers in their halls though, if it’s the economy or high rental prices I don’t know. AM2 suffered in this area, what they did pack was quality but the volume wasn’t so high. You could successfully see and pass through the whole thing in a bit over an hour if you were taking your time through everything. A big issue that came as well was that Hall B is HUGE, having your exhibit hall crammed to the side and covered by drapes only hurts the visualization of the space. Honestly with 10 or so extra people selling it would have made a big enough impact to counter it. Bigger names would have been nice and even a corporate showing would help perk things up outside of Media Blasters.

Artists / Fan Art / Artist Alley

Again, a helpful measure to keep people busy or attract other fans, the area was largely absent from the show and what factors hit that are pretty unknown. When the retailers have some higher kicking prices though, many flock to the fan artists to save the day for cool finds. Catering to them early or with competitive spacing prices might have helped here, as a whole the community seems to be a bit regressed as of late from participation. It needed more though to make it attractive to those passing by.

Summer Festival

Until this year I had never participated in a Summer Festival, after this year I can say I would again if the prices were a little friendlier. I took my daughter this year to the event and she had a ball but for $1 per ticket it seemed steep. After about $10 we called it a day on the games there, had the games been 50 cents or less for kids with simple prizes or tickets for children it would have been a better deal. Even the staffers were shocked about the ticket sales for it. It shouldn’t be too shocking, from what I know most of these take place outside when it’s July and it’s on blacktop and anyone from the area knows that July on blacktop means that you’re slowly cooking yourself. Having the Summer Festival inside was a great idea, it needed more games though and maybe a little more style though.

Food

Having a legendary candy maker crafting animals isn’t exactly catering to food needs; having hot trucks with delights is catering to the food requirement though. I’m not sure if the ACC came down on the AM2 team or not but having the hot trucks outside was a bummer and many didn’t even know where they were because the arrow was pretty vague. Next time working out how to have them indoors lined up would be amazing because people wouldn’t be walking blocks to food places in the heat and not wanting to walk back or being too tired to finish the day. Integration is a must.

Live Programming | Video Rooms | Arcade

I can’t talk bad about this, after finding the LP rooms I was having a good time, between major events they were screening shows to keep the ball rolling which was nice. They actually had a variety of events to see and fan panels which was pretty epic. The video rooms were stacked through the day with break periods that didn’t actually hurt anyone, in fact if you needed to keep your fill going, you could walk over to the next room and catch something new. If nothing was meeting your need you could throw down on Street Fighter IV, 3rd Strike, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, DDR or multiple other games to get your action fill. These areas weren’t really lacking at all and were easily accessible.

Concerts

Having the entire 3rd floor of the ACC just for shows, there’s something magical there. The team from AM2 didn’t miss a beat on this one, the shows were probably the biggest impact on my visit to the convention this year. After years of having to wait in line for tickets and entrance it all stopped. AM2 adopted a Comic-Con style policy with a twist, if you’re there you can go in, if you don’t want to be there, you can go. You don’t need to wait for tickets or waste other parts of your day to hope to see something. If you have a passport though, you not only don’t have to wait if there is a will-call line, you can just get inside and have fun as you wish. This year it worked out that everyone could pretty much enjoy things, I have a feeling next year will be a little harder to pull that off. Music acts for AM2 had my jaw on the floor, Heidi was amazing to see and even my daughter was jumping and dancing to the music which was awesome.

Navigation

This is big deal that I saved for last, many that I talked to were hanging out in Hall B wondering if this was all there was to see, if the live acts would be on the Summer Festival stage and that it seemed like it would be much larger than it was. It looked like passport holders were able to get their hands on a book but freebie entrants had no real clue and the information booth wasn’t exactly standing out to everyone. Having a chart for the show on a large foam core board would have been nice. Having arrows or signs to lead people around would have been great too because the volume of traffic wasn’t high enough that everyone could just assume things. People need to know what’s going on especially when you’re sharing the ACC with another convention entirely. This was a huge black mark for my time there, I even had part of my party leave because they thought Hall B was all there was.

———-

It’s a shame I couldn’t be there all 3 days, I really wanted to but it’s not always so easy. I’m glad I attended day 1 though, it was a fresh twist on events I remembered being much simpler years ago. AM2 has a chance to redefine how everyone gets to interact at these conventions and I really welcome their efforts so far. I’m really hoping they can pull everything together in 2012, with more exhibitors, better social communication and more focus around the fan experience it could be pretty epic. Move the food trucks in, add some signs, bring in some extra retailers and see if some of the big boys will come down to hang out. The show took the experience back to the basics and made it openly accessible once again, it just needs to refine how it finishes that experience.

Also, needing more cosplayers. Maybe be one of the rare places to actually deliver a creative approach to series meetups instead of having security kick everyone off the stairs or everyone bake outside.

More info: AM2Con Website

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City Of Heroes will soon be free

 

 

Not only will it be free to download but free to play! After seven years and 20 updates, the MMO will now come in a few new flavors. Here is the breakdown.

There are 3 levels of player status free, premium and VIP.

Free is the basics, Less archetypes, no super groups, no mail, limited chat options and limited auction house functionality.

Premium is any existing players that move over to free. Essentially if you have subscribed before, you get a reward for doing so. You get more chat options, more archetypes, mail use and can join super groups.

VIP is where the mythical expendable income players hang. You pay the fee monthly, you get all the goods. All types, full auction house and form super groups.

Currently it is implied that you can go from premium or free to a VIP and back to premium, unlike other super powered MMO’s that offer free play.

No specific date is yet, just later this year as a launch window for City of Heroes Freedom.

This months must have game for the PS3 is… a playstation game?

If you have never played Xenogears when it was on the playstation, you are missing one of the greatest RPGs to ever be released.

The game was tough to find if you weren’t an early adopter. It wasn’t at all uncommon to see ebay listings over 100 dollars. The release as a greatest hits made it much easier to get a hold of.

Now it is available on PSN!! The 10 dollar ticket price is well worth it considering the cheapest it is currently on amazon for is $44 plus shipping.

FarmVille for the iPad

Now ipad users can finally lose the rest of their remaining free time now that Zynga has released FarmVille for the iPad.

FarmVille is actually the first app that Zynga has released for the iPad. They have several of their cult favorite games available, such as Mafia Wars, Scramble and Street Racing on facebook and iPhone/iPods.

The best part for you facebook farmers is that you have your farm and friends linked to your facebook account but playable on your iPad!

Get it today for the low low price of free in the app store.

Rock Band 3 scores the Piano Man!

A twelve pack of Billy Joel hits will be available for Rock Band 3 on Dec 14th. Joel had until recently been against lending his music to just about anything but was influenced by an episode of The Office. More specifically, a review of an episode.

No word yet on the track listings but it’s a safe bet that karaoke favorite, The Piano Man, will be among the tracks released for the new keyboard controller optional game.

Video Games Live invades PBS

For those that love video game music from any generation, Video Games Live should be something to check out. From Contra to the latest Civilization games the orchestra and guest soloists blow minds away with their interpretations of each song.

From July – August PBS stations will be airing Video Games Live as part of their special programming.  The CD and DVD/Blu-ray will also be available through November 1st 2010. The CD will feature 16 select tracks while the DVD and Blu-ray run over 3 hours of bonus material with extended segments and interviews.

For those doubting the rock power of VGL:

For those questioning the orchestra quality of VGL:

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Marvel hates what you hate! Crappy games!

Marvel seems to be tightening up their belt a lot this year, reducing interest in movie adaptations, rebooting existing properties and now taking a step back in the gaming realm by doing QA on the games that arrive to market. The quote from Ira Rubenstein was “Actually, wait … we are not doing crappy movie-based games anymore. You can quote me on that.”

Word is that Marvel has been actively watching over Iron Man 2 for development and hopes to raise the bar to levels like with Wolverine, maybe in less of a movie tie-in capacity but still to that action and damage factor. Iron Man for the consoles and pc ended up being a complete nightmare, having a polished horrible handling title for the 360 and PS3 and a PS2 port for the Wii and PC was a complete nightmare that went completely unexplained especially when it came to packaging.

Hopefully Marvel does turn it around, it would be nice to get Super Hero based games that don’t make me want to throw the disc into a fire pit. If we’ll ever get a dedicated BAMFAS review for one is another story, I think our Marvel fan blood might keep us out of the running for now.