Archives For Gaming

Microsoft is held their official launch event for its new Window Phone 7 mobile operating system today. There aren’t many new details about the OS to report, since Microsoft has been showing off WP7 for months. But now we know that WP7 phones will go on sale October 21st in Europe and Asia and will start arriving in the US on November 7th.

HTC, Dell, Samsung, and LG have all introduced new handsets designed to use the operating system, with displays ranging from 3.5 inches to 4.3 inches in size. Some models have TV out capabilities. Others have slide-out keyboards. Samsung’s models will have the company’s Super AMOLED displays.

Carriers will include AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2, Orange, and others.All told, Microsoft says 60 mobile carriers in 30 countries will be offering devices with Windows Phone 7.

EA Games has announced it will bring a series of games to the platform this fall, with Xbox Live Integration. That involves the Sims 3, Tetris, and Need for Speed Undercover. Read the rest of this entry »

After giving up on Blockbuster (and Gamefly) to deliver Halo Reach in a timely fashion, I paid Gamestop a visit. I generally don’t purchase many titles given my short attention span for anything other than Call of Duty. But after 5 hours with Halo Reach, I believe it’s going to work out just fine. In fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface, having yet to take a look at the campaign mode or even visit the armory to trick out my online avatar.

Of course, all this depth is a little bit overwhelming. There are a ton of multiplayer modes and submodes — I haven’t quite mastered the lingo and the game manual hasn’t been very helpful in that regard. Perhaps I once possessed this knowledge, but it’s buried deep within the recesses of my mind after a three year Halo hiatus. (Last played, 10/07.) For the moment, I’ve settled on Rumble Pit, Slayer (free-for-all mode) variants as my preferred match style. Unfortunately, it seems you’re mostly stuck with that variance as players vote on both maps and play mode between rounds. And I really want more time with the new loadouts, yet it could be every third match before I can access those “armor abilities” again.

Despite their label, armor abilities aren’t entirely or necessarily defensive and, any way you slice it, change the combat dynamics in interesting ways. Based on the competition, the jetpack seems to be a favored enhancement. It hasn’t helped me too much, as far as k/d is concerned, but it’s a whole lot of fun! It reminds me a bit of the glider from the older and underrated Shadowrun. Once I get control down, jetpacking could further enhance my love of (and destruction from) the sticky grenade. Lastly, the Mortal Combat-esque close combat fatality animations are fun to watch – even though they’re rendered quickly (as gameplay doesn’t pause) and without much bloodshed.

Silly me, I had assumed Blockbuster’s 12/28/2010 ship date for Halo Reach was merely a typo. As it turns out, their mail-order rental service imposes a 105 day waiting period on new release games. Which means I’m Halo-less this week (thus far). It also means that Blockbuster’s recently enhanced rental service ($9/mo) won’t work for many.

For a brief moment I wondered why the long wait… Could it be a deal with the game studios, a way to recycle in-store games, or some other cost saving measure? But then decided the reasons are irrelevant. I’ll be calling in to cancel later today and have just reactivated Gamefly – it costs more ($16/mo) and delivery times are often ridiculously slow, but they provide new releases. Which will tide me over until I make my Call of Duty, Black Ops purchase in November.

I’m still trawling the FCC’s database for something, as I was last week when uncovering Kodak’s new WiFi photo frame, and seemed to have turned up another interesting new product. The forthcoming Griffin PartyDock essentially turns an iPhone into a Nintendo… with the help of a television. And when I say Nintendo, we’re talking Super Famicon, not Wii.

PartyDock somewhat resembles Cisco’s recent home router line and serves as an iPhone dock that connects to a television. Additionally, four wireless non-rechargeable remote controls are included — as the PartyDock’s primary pitch is casual gaming via Griffin iOS apps which will be made available. In addition to supporting games, the PlayDock will also offer traditional iPhone dock functions: music, video, and photo playback.

The PartyDock an interesting concept, but I wonder how big an audience Griffin will find for this product. Plus, their timing may not be the greatest this fall with rumors of an upcoming app-centric AppleTV refresh (and possibly related Apple press event next week). In fact a potentially better, albeit solo, iPhone gaming accessory on the horizon is the iControlPad — now entering production. Assuming major game developers choose to support it.

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Blockbuster as we know it may or may not survive 2010, but that hasn’t prevented them from re-enabling mail order game rentals. As I’m currently on a Gamefly hiatus, a company that I’ve had a like/hate relationship with, I figured I’d check out Blockbuster’s combined DVD+gaming snail mail service which starts at a low $8.99/mo — about 45% less than Gamefly’s single disc plan. And, of course, you’re not limited to games.

I sold my copy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 months ago, after clocking way too many multiplayer hours and growing bored. But figured it might be time to brush up my skills a bit in preparation for Black Ops (11/10). Not to mention, a pal’s pre-teen thinks he can take me. And, while he probably can, I’m easily baited. Bring it, punk. So I added CoD: MW2 to my queue.

Unfortunately, the game was initially listed as having up to a 2 week wait due to low inventory. Upon checking my queue the next day, the delay had grown to 2-4 weeks. Which exceeded Blockbuster’s 2-week free trial – I fully expected to cancel service before anything arrived, due to my need for instant gratification and short attention span. Fortunately, the game showed only about a week after requesting it. For comparison, at its best, Gamefly took about a week to get a disc out to me.

Interestingly, not only is Blockbuster’s mailer smaller than Gamefly’s cardboard sleeve (which has been problematic), they’re also more compact than Netflix’s.

Microsoft is pushing Windows Phone 7′s gaming capabilities pretty hard. While Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch have made a name for themselves as portable gaming machines, the truth is that people have been playing games on mobile devices running Windows Mobile, PalmOS, and other aging operating systems for ages. What’s new in Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s focus on gaming as a key part of the phone experience — complete with Xbox Live integration, allowing you to see gamerscores and other achievements for yourself and your friends. There will also be multiplayer capabilities, Xbox Live messageboards, and other features.

The company has announced some of the game titles that will be available when Windows Phone 7 launches later this year. They include titles from big names in the field including Gameloft, Glu Mobile, PopCap, and Konami. There are also some familiar titles including Bejeweled LIVE, Castlevania, Earthworm Jim, Guitar Hero 5, Uno, and several Star Wars titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple iOS 4 is designed to run on the iPhone 4, but also works with older devices including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3, plus second and third generation iPod touch models. However, if you have an older device like the iPhone 3 or iPod touch 2nd generation, you’re stuck with a limited version of the OS that lacks some key features – such as the ability to multitask or change desktop wallpapers.

Now it turns out that Apple’s leaving older device users in the dust in another way too. The latest beta version of iOS 4.1 no longer offer Game Center on the iPhone 3G or second generation iPod touch. Read the rest of this entry »

After three months on the market, the iPad has started to build up a decent range of games designed specifically for the tablet’s ten-inch screen. While I still think most of the apps have only scratched the surface of what the iPad can do, some of the top-played games in our household hint at the gadget’s potential as a primo gaming platform. Here are a few currently in rotation.

Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil

I discovered downloadable Hidden Object games for the PC not that long ago, and while the genre isn’t terribly sophisticated, I do find it addicting. The best examples combine hidden object screens with mini puzzles of all varieties and at least a semi-coherent narrative. These types of games are perfectly suited for the iPad. The touch screen is convenient for navigation, and the ability to zoom in and out at will is ideal for object searches. My four-year-old daughter and I have started in on Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil ($4.99) for the iPad, and if you skip quickly through the dialog, it’s quite a lot of mindless fun.  So far, Laura Jones is one of the few HD-branded (i.e. created for the iPad) Hidden Object games I’ve found, but I expect the App Store will be flooded with more before too long.


I love Scrabble ($9.99) for the word play. I hate Scrabble for the endless hours of waiting between player turns. Endless hours, that is, if you’re playing another human. Playing a computer speeds up the process considerably. And although the iPad isn’t the first platform for computerized Scrabble, it is the most convenient. I don’t want my netbook in bed with me, but I will curl up with the iPad for some nighttime Scrabble play. The screen is always oriented in my direction, moving tiles around the board is effortless, and there are even one-touch options for shuffling my letters and recalling the tiles to my virtual rack.

Flight Control

This is one for the aspiring air traffic controllers out there. Flight Control ($4.99) looks easy at first – control the routes of different aircraft (planes, jets, helicopters) by swiping your finger to create a flight path to the correct runway or landing pad. But as the aircraft stack up, it gets harder and harder to avoid a crash, particularly with different aircraft moving at different speeds. The graphics for this iPad game are fairly simple, but the touchscreen is crucial for quick maneuvers. To keep the game interesting, you can try out different fields of play. There’s even one level in 3D! But without the proper red/blue glasses (okay, so it’s low-tech 3D), I haven’t yet tested the three-dimensional game play.