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Microsoft’s E3 Conference: A Quick Roundup of Events

xbox-one-consoleMicrosoft is one of the videogame sector’s biggest players. It is a giant among minnows. Its videogame division has revenues of £5.5Bn and it is a massive player in both the console and PC gaming environments. Because of Microsoft’s role as console maker, games maker and all-out technology superpower, their E3 conferences are usually a big fan favourite. This year was no different.

First, we need to highlight something. It’s something really, really big. Microsoft at last year’s E3 talked about the Xbox One as an ‘all round entertainment platform’. Yesterday’s announcement was a little less grandiose as the focus of the entire event was on gaming. This is surprising as ‘entertainment’ was no-where to be seen? No Steven Spielberg made TV shows or music or social media apps, just boring old video games? What happened?

Microsoft in the past year has been ‘listening to fans’ and these ‘listening exercises’ resulted in some wholesale changes – not least of all, the boot given to the Kinect sensor. The changes were predicated on fan’s requirements that Microsoft, in a way, goes back to basics. This is what Microsoft’s E3 endeavours were all about.

They started off by ‘dropping’ the One. Not one mention of the Xbox One. It was all ‘Xbox’ and nothing else. The games demoed included Halo 5, Forza Horizon 2 along with Fable Legends. In the ‘active’ camps they announced Dance Central as a somewhat ‘Kinect’ ready title. However, they continued with a nice little exclusive surrounding a new game called Scalebound – a dragon fighting epic.

In usual Microsoft fashion, ‘exclusive’ DLC packs are going to be made available for Call of Duty: Advance Warfare before PS4 and additionally for Tom Clancy’s The Divison which will have special DLC features. Another ‘gem’ from the past was the announcement that Microsoft and Real-Time Worlds are working on a re-boot, of sorts, of the cult classic Crackdown.

These titles showcase a changing attitude from Microsoft, led by Phil Spencer, as they move away from the entertainment-only focus which was a disaster first-time round for the Xbox (One). The core branding is a nod to the disaster of the Xbox One and Kinect launch. They are offering fans a Mea Culpa – an apology – of sorts by offering some great next-gen content. This is the key here, as last year developers were working on multi platforms (i.e. PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360 and Xbox One). This time round they are just working on next-gen – this can be seen in the quality. So thank goodness Microsoft has seen the error in its ways and have found new traction and new motivation to move forwards.

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NHL15 E3 Trailer

Here it is, NHL15 E3 trailer. Just seen this tonight at E3 Expo. Were you watching right here on UGP?

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E3 Expo LIVE on UGP

E3 Expo LIVE right here on UGP!

 

E3 Expo 2014 was a fantastic event with some really awesome unveils and news coming out of L.A.

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Most Valuable Players Trailer & Expanded Euroleague for NBA 2K15

A while ago, 2K announced that NBA 2K15 would feature an expanded line-up of Euroleague teams for their top-selling and top-rated NBA simulation game. This expansion would come in the form of teams and players from the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. NBA 2K15 will feature 11 new teams from the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. On top of that, included will be top-level FC Bayern Munich of Germany, JSF Nanterre of France, Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul of Turkey and Partizan NIS Belgrade of Serbia, bringing the total number of playable Euroleague teams to 25.

NBA 2K15 will release around the world on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC on October 10 2014.

Today, a new trailer for NBA 2K15 titled “Most Valuable Players”. Enjoy…

 

 

 

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SimCity finally available offline

When SimCity was released, one of players biggest issues with the game was the fact that you always had to be online to play. Save games were all stored in the cloud. Maxis claimed that there was so much computing power required to process the simulation, that the average desktop PC simply wasn’t up to the ask. As a result, it was impossible to make the game so it could play locally without connection to the internet.

SimCity_1920x1080Well, appears they were talking our their arses because what do ya know…SimCity is now available to be played offline, with no internet connection. Saves are stored on the local hard drive and the game works just the same minus one or two details. Due to the game not being online, some thing like leaderboards and the dynamic prices of the world markets don’t work, but then they’re pretty irrelevant small parts of the game and have little impact anyway. Patrick Buechner, GM of Maxis Emeryville, had this to say about today’s news.

“We’ve listened to our players and today we are delivering against their most direct feedback with the release of the new Single-Player Mode. Player feedback has helped us deliver 10 major gameplay Updates that have improved the experience with better tuning, new features and free content. This is the most definitive SimCityexperience whether you choose to play Online or Offline.”

The update will automatically be applied to the game the next time you launch it and from there, you’ll have the option to play SimCity in single player offline mode or online multiplayer mode. The sudden about turn on the ability to play offline is down to SimCity’s GlassBox engine being optimised and improved over the past 12 months which means it now doesn’t require the might of the Maxis servers to compute the simulation.

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Aces High!!

Following a lengthy teaser-trailer campaign ratcheting up the anticipation, the free-to-play ACE COMBAT INFINITY will be available to download for PS3 very soon.  Launching on the 4th February the game will be downloadable over the next week for PS3 owner everywhere outside of Japan as a complete beta trial, it features a brand new story campaign with both single player and multiplayer abilities, so start warming up your jet pipes.

ace-combat-infinity-announced-as-a-free-to-play-title-for-ps3The ACE COMBAT INFINITY taster will have two distinct modes with the possibility of playing either as a lone wolf, or joining up with other players to complete team missions and bring furious anger down on the heads of your enemies en mass.  The game has uprated graphics and smoother controls to make the aerial combat a totally immersive experience and one that is also aimed at novice pilots as well as the fully trained, giving it mass-appeal to all levels of experience.

The full game will involve a story set in 2019 – I.E. five years’ time – featuring the fictional United Nations Forces (UNF) battling a global protagonist in multiple world-wide areas.  Frustrated at the lack of progress, the UNF hire the privateer Bone Arrow Squadron (fnarr fnarr) with the single player campaign giving the player the designation of Bone Arrow 4 with the call-sign “reaper” – it’s all so macho!   The action will take place around Tokyo, a Russian refugee camp and somewhere in Turkey.  Set twenty years from the events of ACE COMBAT 04: SHATTERED SKIES in which a large proportion of the earth was flattened by space debris, the player is pitched against hostile forces at every turn.  Development has focused on creating the hyper-real visuals in an engaging and playable story and it’s those mainstays that has kept the ACE COMBAT franchise going steady for nearly twenty years, and selling close on 10 million units.  With a huge fan base behind it ACE COMBAT INFINITY is likely to be the latest in the long line of success stories, though undeniably a good part of that success is down to the developers listening to the fans and engaging them in the process.  It’s a lesson that many other developers could well learn if they want their brainchild’s to see equal success.

Developed once again by Namco Bandai, those who download and play the simulator – effectively beta-testing the product – will receive a special and unique emblem at the full game launch to flash their dedication to ACE COMBAT.  As give-aways go, I’d sooner have a mark on my virtual fighter than a doe-eyed and dust-encrusted Rambo bobble-head, so it looks like this will be one for my PS3.

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