games / Columns

Living LIVE News Report 01.16.12

January 16, 2012 | Posted by Trace Aber

Welcome everyone to another issue of the Living LIVE News Report, and as always, I’m your host for the evening, Trace Aber.

Microsoft House Party Titles Released, Detailed
It’s that time of the year again when Microsoft invites you to play a bunch of top-notch Xbox LIVE Arcade games, as long as you’re willing to pay the price. This year is headline by the Alan Wake sequel American Nightmare, but also includes the game I’m more interested in – I Am Alive. For a full list and more detailed descriptions of the game, read below;

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (Microsoft Studios): In this brand-new stand-alone experience, Alan Wake fights the herald of darkness, the evil Mr. Scratch. A thrilling new storyline, hordes of creepy enemies, serious firepower and beautiful Arizona locations, combined with a fun and challenging new game mode, make this a must for Alan Wake veterans, and the perfect jumping-on point for new players. Can you survive until sunrise?

I Am Alive (Ubisoft): One year after a worldwide cataclysmic event has wiped out most of human civilization, a man struggles for survival. Faced with an insecure, decaying and hazardous world, he scours a desolated city, searching for his long-lost wife and daughter. Survive the suffocating, murky streets covered in dust. Climb the teetering remains of last-standing skyscrapers to reach breathable air and find untouched resources. Explore the crumbling ruins of a once-thriving metropolis. Discover a changed human condition, punctuated by distrustful survivors, dangerous armed gangs and victims in need.

Nexuiz (THQ): For centuries, the Kavussari and the Forsellians have waged war. They have a fragile truce but, because of their seething disgust of each other, still pit warriors against each other in arenas rather than on the fields of war. These episodes of lethal combat are broadcast throughout the galaxy as entertainment — a spectacle known as The Nexuiz Competition — an arena-based first-person shooter where you can alter the rules of the match and the laws of physics while dominating opponents in ever-changing hostile environments.

Warp (EA): “Warp” is a puzzle-based stealth action game where you play as Zero, a lovable-yet-lethal orange alien with a big score to settle! Captured by the villainous Commander and imprisoned in his underwater facility, Zero must plan his ultimate escape using his arsenal of alien abilities — warp, frag, echo, swap and launch.

The house party kicks off on February 15, 2012, with each subsequent title released every week. I’m definitely picking up I Am Alive, but I’m not sure on the rest. How about you, readers? Are you excited about this year’s House Party?

TV Service on Xbox 360 “Shelved” for Time Being
One of the biggest Xbox related stories to come out of last year was the talk of your Xbox 360 becoming essentially a cable television service, allowing users to stream tons of live television shows through their machines. Even better, they were going to integrate Kinect all throughout, allowing for a futuristic like viewing experience.

The problem was that everything was just that – talk. Nothing ever came of it, and after a while you just kind of stopped hearing about the rumors. Well, it turns out there’s a really good reason for that – Microsoft abandoned their plans for the service after discovering just how much networks were charging for their shows.

Don’t worry though, as it has recently been announced that Xbox LIVE users in the United States will get free access to News Corp and Fox services, meaning streaming content from Fox News, IGN, The Wall Street Journal and much more will be available, on demand, come later this year at an unspecified date. So they at least get one network on board.

It seems strange to me that Microsoft would be so off base in predicting how much networking television fees can cost, simply because, well, they’re Microsoft. It may have thrown up some flags, however, since if these prices were exceptionally high it’s possible that networks simply didn’t see much longevity in the service, and thus didn’t want to risk potentially losing anything. Of course, this doesn’t mean the dream of having a truly all-in-one entertainment center is over, just temporarily delayed. As digital media becomes more and more commonplace it’s going to only be a matter of time before we start seeing these rumors pop back up again. And, of course, I’ll be covering all of it.

Xbox 360 Plant Hit With Suicide Threads
Depending on how much you follow the news, you may or may not have heard of Wuhan, China plant Foxconn, which produces Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony products, though an interesting story developed last week involving the workers who put together Xbox 360s.

On January 2, around 300 or so Foxconn employees asked for a raise, and we given one of two options: keep working without a raise or quit and receive compensation. A lot of people quit, but never got their compensation. Foxconn terminated the agreement, leaving a lot of people not only out of a job, but furious. So furious that they threatened to kill themselves if they didn’t receive their promised compensation. The situation got to the point where Xbox 360 production was suspended for a short time. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and all of the employees got off the Foxcoon roof they were planning to jump off of, and it sounds like most of them just went back to work. Microsoft had the following to say in regards to the situation;

Microsoft is one of many companies that contracts with Foxconn to manufacture hardware. Upon learning of the labor protest in Wuhan, we immediately conducted an independent investigation of this issue.

After talking with workers and management, it is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions. Due to regular production adjustments, Foxconn offered the workers the option of being transferred to alternative production lines or resigning and receiving all salary and bonuses due, according to length of service. After the protest, the majority of workers chose to return to work. A smaller portion of those employees elected to resign.

Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously. We have a stringent Vendor Code of Conduct that spells out our expectations, and we monitor working conditions closely on an ongoing basis and address issues as they emerge. Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers employed by our vendors and to ensuring conformance with Microsoft policy.

Of course, this kind of ignores the bigger picture that this even happened in the first place. At the same time, I don’t think Microsoft can realistically just switch production plants on the fly like that, despite the obvious problems that plague Foxconn. Hopefully that’s the end of this story, though if the past is any indication it might not be.

Silent Hill Takes Over March
March is going to be a big month for Xbox 360 owners who happen to be Silent Hill fans, as two big releases have been officially announced for release in just two months’ time. March 6th will see the release of the Silent Hill HD Collection, which features remastered versions of Silent Hill 2 and 3 including new voice acting and achievement support.

If you’re waiting for something a bit fresher, Silent Hill: Downpour comes out just a week later on March 13th, developed by Vatra Games. That should be plenty of Silent Hill for even the hardest of the hardcore fan, though some people seem to be rather upset about the new voice acting done for the HD collection. I played the first Silent Hill but was more of a Resident Evil kind of guy at the time, and thus never got into it. Any recommendations on whether or not I should get the HD collections?

Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition Announced
As you can expect with just about every title that comes out and features multiple DLC packs, popular fighter Mortal Kombat is coming out with its own complete edition. Warner Brothers Interactive recently commented on rumors about the collection, and gave a release date of February 28. For what I’m assuming will be $39.99 or $49.99 you’ll get the game itself, a 15-song soundtrack, all of the DLC packs (which adds new characters and costumes), as well as a download code for the 1995 Mortal Kombat film, which is a pretty cool addition if you ask me.

Armored Core V Release Date Revealed
Namco Bandai recently announced the official release date for Armored Core V, which is now set to drop on March 20 for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles. You can check out a trailer for the game below;

The Digital Downloads
Arcade Games
Choplifter HD (1200MP)
Amy (800MP)
Games on Demand
Naval Assault ($19.99)
Venetica ($19.99)
Demos
Final Fantasy XII-2
EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis 2
Asura’s Wrath

The Theater
Resident Evil: Raccoon City Versus Mode Trailer

Saint’s Row The Third: Genki Bowl VII DLC Trailer

The Darkness II – Disturbing Dismemberment Montage

Kingdoms of Amalur: Demo Unlockables (Get ME3 Stuff by Playing the Demo!)

SSX – This is SSX Trailer

Nina Gaiden 3 – Multiplayer Trailer

UFC Undisputed 3 Roster Trailer

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Content Season Trailer (AKA Why you should buy Elite)

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Demo Trailer

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Signing Out
That does it for me this week. Be sure to check back next week as we discuss all of the latest Xbox 360 news, including releases, rumors and reviews! Also, don’t forget to bookmark 411Mania! And a note to all of the Indie Game developers out there – if you have an upcoming title that’s going to be released soon drop me a line at traceaber@gmail.com and let me know. I’ll write a full review of your game to be posted on 411Mania.com, which is a great way to get your game promoted!

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Trace Aber

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