Category Archives: News

Halo Reach: Noble Map Pack

So this is Christmas and what have you learned? Well if you’re a gamer, you’ve probably learned that so many titles came out in the last month or two that you really cant decide which title you want to devote your time too. Currently the big game online is Call of Duty: Black Ops, but not so long ago it if your memory hasn’t been wiped by continuous air strikes, attack dogs,  and remote controlled explosives, it was Halo Reach.

The folks over at Bungie definitely haven’t forgotten this; they’ve made a damn good game and they want to make sure that people keep playing it and getting the most value out of its online offerings. With this in mind, on the 30th of November Bungie released the first new map pack for Halo Reach.

The map pack entitled the “Noble Map pack” costs 800 Microsoft Points (roughly €9.30) and if you’re a fan of the series, and can’t get enough of your Halo, is well worth the bang for your buck. The pack itself is comprised of three separate maps, two large scale maps for 8-16 players and one smaller scale map for 2-8 players (for when you just cant find enough people to play with or your connection speed doesn’t deal so well with large battles).

The smaller scale map is called “Anchor 9” and is set within a low orbit-dry dock it is made up of narrow hallways with a central open hangar bay (perfect for good old fashioned close combat).

The two larger maps are called “Tempest” and “Breakpoint”. Tempest is set on a snowy mountain tops with a number of crevices and bridges surrounding the peak and contains a number of tunnels and lab buildings for shelter; it’s perfect for those big team battles.“Breakpoint” is set on a rocky piece of terrain bordered by the sea. If you’re a fan of the Halo series, think of it as Halo 3’s classic Valhalla map with a scenic ocean view. This map has all you need for a big team assault.

So there you have it, three maps for 800 Microsoft Points, if you’ve bought these kind of packs before it’s a pretty standard offering, however to sweeten the deal Bungie have thrown in a couple of little extras. Firstly, you can take these maps into Forge and edit them to create your own versions and game modes which you can then share with the Halo Reach Community. Secondly, for all you point obsessed perfectionists Bungie has included an additional bunch of achievements worth 250 gamerscore points for you to unlock.

I’ve been playing reach for quite some time and was finding the included existing maps to get worn, if you enjoy reach and are looking to add some freshness back into the online game play then I’d highly recommend investing in this add-on.

Weekly News Roundup: Move sales, Splinter Cell 6 and Axl Rose getting cranky

Splinter Cell 6 was this week confirmed to be in development by Ubisoft

Ahoy! It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Chronic Reload Weekly News Roundup. It’s been another week of rumours and promises, with a few bitchy transgressions thrown in for good measure. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

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Chronic Rant 7: Sherlock vs Sherlock and the Deathly Hallows

Thats basically him right?

Stephen Colfer, Heber Hanly and Special Guest a Space Heater rant about Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock, Zooming and Enhancing and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. You can follow Stephen on twitter under @stephenpip and Heber under @heberhanly.

UPDATE: Podcast now fully online, sorry for the wait.

The Chronic Rant Podcast is our podcast for just about anything in a geeky sort of way and is released every two weeks. In the weeks between these we talk about Video game news in The Chronic Reload Podcast. Don’t forget you can subscribe to both podcasts in iTunes here.


Mark Wahlberg to play Nathan Drake in upcoming Uncharted movie

According the the Empire Magazine website, Mark Wahlberg has been cast as the plucky anti anti-hero in the celluloid version of the popular video game series Uncharted. Now at first this seems like terrible, terrible news. Vietnam flashbacks to the universally slated Max Payne film come to mind (I was on a flight flying over Vietnam when I saw it*) but reading more into the situation actually provides a healthy dose of relief. It is to be helmed by the almost-a-genius David O. Russell whose directing (and writing) credits include the respectable wartime drama/comedy Three Kings and the brilliant ”I can’t believe more people haven’t seen it” I Heart Huckabees both of which Wahlberg gives a pretty exceptional performance in.

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Weekly News Roundup: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Elderscrolls V and another Portal 2 Delay

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood launched to critical acclaim this week

So here we are again! We’re back with another weekly news roundup, taking a look through all of this week’s major developments in the world of gaming. It was never going to live up to last week’s huge software and hardware launches, but the past seven days have seen somepretty big releases nonetheless. We’ve also had some rumours confirmed, and a few more created. In the run up to the Spike VGAs, as well as Black Friday, publishers are clamouring to build hype for the usual deluge of reveals and announcements we’ll undoubtedly receive over the coming weeks.

There were two big game releases this week. The first was Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, the immediate sequel to last year’s Assassin’s Creed 2. The game bridges the gap between AC2′s Renaissance Italy and whatever era the series will next deal with by offering a “what happened next” account of events taking place immediately after Assassin’s Creed 2. The game has been widely acknowledged as the best AC installment so far; no mean feat for the third in a series of excellent titles.

The second big release of the week was Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. With the past few NFS games failing to perform well in both reviews and sales, it was refreshing to see the franchise returning to its roots, providing the old “cops and robbers” gameplay modes that originally defined the series. The game has reviewed very well overall, although it’s hard to imagine it selling all that well once the long-awaited Gran Turismo 5 is released later this week.

So what else has been happening in the industry? Well…

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Weekly News Roundup: COD, Kinect and some Ice Cube Lyrics

Call of Duty Black Ops broke previous records this week with sales of 5.6 million in its first 24 hours

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Weekly News Roundup! This is a new weekly column on Chronic Reload that takes a look back over the past week of gaming news, highlighting the biggest stories and newest trends of the industry. We want your views on all these stories; if you’ve got something to say, leave a comment below!

10th – 17th of November 2010
It’s been a huge week for gaming launches. This week saw the European launch of Microsoft’s Kinect hardware, as well as the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Both of these titles sold incredibly well; a seriously, record-breakingly, “that can’t be right” kind of well.

Microsoft have announced Kinect’s first sales figures, and the numbers are pretty damn impressive: 1 million units sold in ten days. Microsoft have upped their projected sales to 5 million by year’s end; at this rate it looks like that figure might even be a little pessimistic.

Call of Duty: Black Ops has made its name as the biggest entertainment launch in history, shifting a ridiculous 5.6 million copies on its first day of release. This breaks the record set last year by Modern Warfare 2, which sold 4.7 million copies in its first 24 hours. Kotaku posted a nice little image that shows just under 3 million simultaneous online players just after the game’s launch. Crazy, crazy numbers people.

The week also brought a few smaller stories:

Polyphony Digital announced yet another release date for Gran Turismo 5 ; it’s looking like they might actually make it this time.

Mr Cube: quite visibly disgruntled by the week's events

Viacom announced that they were selling off Harmonix, a move that may well signal the beginning of the end for rhythm games in their current form.

A rumour started milling around that Microsoft plans to announce Kinect Support in an upcoming Gears of War game (we don’t know if it’s Gears 3, or even if it’s true at all). I simultaneously hate and love this.

Nintendo baffled everyone by attempting to trademark some of Ice Cube’s lyrics. Looks like you’ll have to think twice before shouting “It’s on like Donkey Kong™!!!” every time you play your Wii now.

And that just about does it for the first Chronic Reload Weekly News Roundup. So what do you think? Will Kinect’s sales hold for the rest of the year, or was it just an early spike? Has COD reached a critical mass, or is the series still just taking off?

We’ll back back next Wednesday with a new batch of gaming news. Till then, hope you’re all “on like Donkey Kong™”… Whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.

Kinect Launches to Mixed Reviews

The European launch of the Xbox 360 Kinect is nearly here. Next Wednesday, Irish gamers will finally get their hands on Microsoft’s “revolutionary” new hardware, with its makers anxiously looking on hoping for high early adoption rates. With a marketing budget exceeding that of the Xbox 360 itself, Kinect represents Microsoft’s biggest and boldest move since it launched the original Xbox all those years ago.

So is it any good? Right now the answer depends entirely upon who you ask. More and more reviews have begun to trickle out from gaming’s most trusted sources, with verdicts tending to vary greatly from source to source. Kinect’s best reviews have labeled the device as revolutionary, magical and “a joy to use”. The worst: “limited”, with “plenty of growing up to do”.

Somewhat predictably, mainstream media have been blown away by the new system. USA Today drew that old Minority Report comparison we’ve been hearing since Kinect was first announced, heralding the device as both “surreal” and “marvellous”. Perhaps the most enthusiastic comments were made by the New York Times, which promised a “crazy, magical, omigosh rush the first time you try the Kinect”.

With a launch line-up aimed at a very specific (read: casual) market, it’s easy not to get too excited by Microsoft’s latest effort. This coupled with the device’s prohibitively high price will lead many gamers to ignore Kinect entirely, at least for the time being. However, with Christmas just around the corner it’s hard to imagine Kinect’s initial sales as being anything other than perfectly healthy.

Kinect’s weak launch line-up does little to convey just how much Microsoft’s new motio-tracking camera is truly capable of. From here on it’s up to both first and third-party publishers to release games that live up to and exceed all expectations. Though the reviews vary greatly, virtually all arrive at the same conclusion: Kinect has enormous potential, and only time will tell just how “revolutionary” this new hardware will prove to be.

Chronic Reload will eventually review Kinect… maybe if there’s a pricedrop or if we visit a beautiful family who have one… and a white house with lots of space

Fall Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Goes Live

Jokes are funny

Timed to roughly coincide with the release of Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral, today sees the release of yet another dashboard update for the Xbox 360. Users signing into Xbox Live will automatically be promted to download the new update, which adds a small selection of new features and improvements to the NXE dashboard.

For Irish users, the changes are pretty unsubstantial. Unlike North American users, who will from today enjoy ESPN support and revamped Zune and Netflix usage, Irish Xbox owners will continue to lag behind in terms of features and services.

The changes that we will see aren’t all that exciting. Probably the most notable improvement is the audio quality of voice chat, which has received a long -overdue upgrade. The user interfaces for both Xbox Live Marketplace and Gamertag creation have also received some attention, as have the dashboard’s virtual keyboard and the family settings functions.

Obviously,  the whole point of this update was to enable Kinect support on as many Xboxes as possible. The upgrades and changes we’re receiving, though somewhat helpful, are nothing more than an afterthought as far as Microsoft are concerned. Still, it’s nice to feel like my gaming experience is slowly but surely improving with each update. Now, if only Games on Demand didn’t suck…

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