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Entries in XBOX 360 (12)


Battlefield 3 Multiplayer Beta First Thoughts

The free Battlefield 3 Multiplayer beta opened up to the general public yesterday and after many attempts I was able to get into a few games to try it out. Demand must have been incredible because connecting to a game was really difficult (my suggestion is to just keep trying until it works). But it's a free beta and these things are to be expected, so ignoring the connection issues I thought I'd write up a few of my thoughts on the experience.

First, let me give BIG kudos to EA for making this available to the general public for free. Usually you have to pre-order the game or buy another completely different game in order to have access to the beta. Not with Battlefield 3, and I hope the strategy works. I'd love to have access to betas of other upcoming games, though my suspicion is that a free beta is a pretty good indicator of how confident EA and DICE are that this game is going to be successful, and a lot of other games probably wouldn't be as confident.

The game looks great, and I don't think a first person shooter has ever looked this good on the XBOX 360. The gameplay is largely the same as Battlefield Bad Company 2, with some noted improvements. They've changed out the fighting classes, giving the Assault class a med kit and replacing the Medic class with a Support class that carries ammo. I was initially able to get the most kills with the Support class, but all of the classes seem much more well balanced now. The Recon class has a sniper rifle but it feels more like a true Recon role than a sniper. And the Engineering class doesn't dominate quite in the same way it seemed to in BFBC2.

The other notable gameplay improvement is the ability to lie prone to get a shot or (more likely) duck out of the way of flying bullets. It feels weird to do initially, and I think it's one of those things that will take the longest to get used to. However, it also has the best chance of being the thing that I'll enjoy it the most of all the new features.

One odd change seems to be that the weapon upgrades you get (sights, etc.) seem to be specific to that gun. If you've earned the ACOG sight on that Russian assault rifle, it doesn't also transfer over to the M-16 on the American side. I suppose this encourages players to use all sorts of weapons, but I think having to slog it through iron sights on some of these guns will be more of a pain in the ass than anything.

The biggest problem I have with the beta though is a simple thing from BFBC2 that I would have bet money they would have fixed in Battlefield 3. In the Battlefield 3 beta a player still isn't able to quit the game in the "lobby" in-between rounds. You can't even quit while you're selecting your load-out, you have to wait until you spawn. Don't the people who make the game play it socially too? Usually you want to finish a game before you quit, but with Battlefield you have to wait until the next one starts before you can quit. Sitting in the lobby waiting until the next game starts so I can then quit the game is very annoying. It seems like such a simple thing that they could fix, and I can't find a reason why they wouldn't change it. In fact, I can think of a ton of reasons why they should.

The Battlefield 3 beta is fun, and even if you don't think you'll be buying the game it's definitely worth a download. It's a free way to play what is likely going to be one of the top shooters on the XBOX 360 ever. Just have some patience trying to get in.

Battlefield 3 Beta []

You can also pre-order Battlefield 3 for $59.95 from


Netflix Is Going To Offer Video Games. But Why Now?

(Yes you did Netflix. Yes you did.)

I got an email on Sunday from Netflix. It was an apology email, telling me they were sorry for the way they screwed up the splitting of the online and the mail-in DVD service. It was appreciated on my part, because as a customer since the unlimited DVD plan was called the "Marquee Club," I was pissed off about getting my rates unceremoniously jacked up.

But that's not what was interesting about the email. The interesting thing was the announcement that their new disc mailing service (called "Qwikster") was going to include Wii, PS3 and XBOX 360 video games. It will be an additional fee to your monthly bill - much like getting Blu-Ray discs costs extra.

It always seemed to me that they could have incorporated video games into their existing service a long time ago. It could have been done with relative ease and taken advantage of their already huge user base in the process. Whatever the reason was for not renting games, they've now changed their minds and I think I have a pretty good theory as to why.

Qwikster is going to have to make money for Netflix, and fast judging by the blunder in the pricing restructure and the mass exodus of many of their users. So Netflix has to hold onto the business, even though discs are dying and are slowly being replaced in every form of media (video, music) that relied on them. All except the console video game.

If you're going to sell a service that mails old fashioned pieces of plastic back and forth to people, it makes sense to include the one thing that will still probably be shipped on a disc for a long time to come. Digital delivery is quickly on its way to being the dominant way people rent movies and TV shows, but the day I can buy a digital download of Gears of War 3 on my console (and be as satisfied that I have ownership of a copy of the game) seems a long way off. These games take massive amounts of data (gigabytes), and the next generation of consoles will likely garner games that require even more. A console isn't a PC with ever expanding hard drives - and honestly even PC gaming is really in many ways just beginning to figure out digital delivery with services like Steam.

I have no idea if Qwikster will be successful or not. Looking around at the number of Red Box kiosks I see every day I'm not too optimistic. But including games as an option does seem like a good idea, and they'll probably pick up a lot of customers who never tried a service like GameFly but might get a Wii game or two for their kids. And from Neflix's perspective it might be better late than never.


Stats Verse Feeds Your Battlefield Addiction

If you're playing (or have played) any of the Battlefield franchise games, you really need to check out Stats Verse. It's everything the official Battlefield website on EA should be - a simple interface that keeps track of your progress during the game. In a way it's too easy, because once you check your stats after playing for a while the chances of becoming obsessed with your progress in the game grows exponentially.

There's a "community" (read: forum) that's decent, but it's really about the stats. They track XBOX 360, Windows and Playstation 3 play for all the Battlefield games, and will presumably also cover Battlefield 3. I also found the ability to check what the top players of the game were using (favorite weapons, classes etc.) really helpful in trying to figure out my own gameplay.

It would be great if it worked with all shooters, but for now it only works with the Battlefield games and Medal of Honor. You can check out the list of all the games at or you can get obsessed yourself at the Battlefield Bad Company 2 version here.


Hooking Up Your XBOX 360 To A Computer Monitor


I had to move the XBOX 360 downstairs to my office for about a week, so I had to figure out how to connect it to my second computer monitor (a Samsung with DVI inputs). After a little trial and error I finally got it working. Here are my three tips for getting it done.

Click to read more ...


Comprehensive Dead Island Guide On IGN

Dead Island has been out for less than a week, but after playing if for a few hours you are guaranteed to have a few questions. Questions like, "How do the analog fighting controls work exactly?" or "Where the hell is that downed plane?"

If you're not into buying the strategy guide (available for $12.99 from I would definitely check out the Dead Island Wiki Guide at IGN. It answered all the questions I had while playing, and even let me in on a few secrets that I hadn't thought of (like how to find the family that was featured in the awesome Dead Island trailer).

Dead Island Wiki Guide []