Tagged: Xbox Live

Of 2014: The “Free” Games

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One thing I tried to do in 2014 was come up with a better term for the games you get when you keep a paid membership to a service.  Calling them “free” games and putting a major emphasis on the quotations is the easiest but it isn’t being totally honest. Rights-limited-access Games, no. Fringe Benefit Games, no. I dunno, I guess we just keep calling them “free” and everyone agrees that we all know they aren’t really “free”.

Despite finally getting some goods from Microsoft, 2014’s “free” games weren’t all that great. They basically served as confirmation that I didn’t like a bunch of games I was curious about. Aside from Binding of Isaac I won’t be re-upping my memberships to hold onto access to many of these games. Here’s just a quick thought on each as I run down the list of all the “free” games I played.

Ooh! What if we call them Gimme Games? No? No.

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Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Chariot
Another pleasant indie puzzle platformer. Played alone it’s not so much fun so I stopped.

Crimson Dragon
All the fun of a Panzer Dragoon game crippled by the constant nagging of modern free-to-play design; microtransactions, limiting “energy” and repetitive grinding.

Deadlight
Love the art style and setting but the control never feels reliable enough to enjoy the dressing.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
The analog sticks stand in well for the traditional motion controls and the game presents an enjoyable, if mild, physics-powered puzzle platformer.

Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut
A sterile and boring space shooter with all the fun of anime nonsense for a story.

Super Time Force
Neat time mechanic and internet humor. Despite being only a few hours long it still felt like it overstayed its welcome.

Volgarr the Viking
Yup, that’s Rastan alright! A great, punishing throwback of an arcade game.

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PlayStation 3 and Vita

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
1000% more secrets! I like everything they did with this long-in-development expansion… except for the music.

Borderlands 2
More like Bored– eh, you get the joke. I don’t like Borderlands.

Doki-Doki Universe
A unique adventure game akin to Scribblenauts or LittleBigPlanet. You might learn something about yourself too.

Luftrausers
Not as bad as I initially felt about it, it’s a decent way to kill 35 seconds and maybe unlock something new.

Muramasa Rebirth
Umm, just not my thing anymore. Loved the art though.

My Singing Monsters
Sculpting a tune over a series of days was neat. Ultimately just another F2P “game” I bored of quickly.

Puppeteer
Ultra gorgeous art, frustrating control. Really a shame because I wanted to dive deep into this one.

Quiet Please
An enjoyably simple adventure game with an appreciably simple goal.

Smart As…
… an idiot. This game made me feel pretty dumb. It also took way too long to load and restart.

TkX
That sure is Tempest. I’m no good at Tempest.

Unit 13
Almost up to snuff with the action of a Splinter Cell or Metal Gear, this Vita launch game is pretty bland and I dropped it pretty quickly.

 

 

 

Games with Gold for Xbox One, Free Apps for All

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In their continued efforts to remind people they still have a hot new console on the market, Microsoft has announced all kinds of Xbox One news. June is a big month for the console and will see the launch of a new hardware SKU on June 9th at $399 that comes with 100% less Kinect. But Kinect is seriously still a big deal to Microsoft and they reiterated their commitment to the sensor with the creepiest quote.

“More than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console,” reads the news post by Xbox Head, Phil Spencer. “Some of the most popular voice commands include “Xbox On,” “Xbox Broadcast” and ‘Xbox Record That.’”

If they were being really honest they would’ve admitted that the number one most popular voice command is “Stop Listening”.

Also in June, Xbox Live Gold members will get their first “free” Games with Gold on Xbox One. Unlike the current Games with Gold program for Xbox 360, Xbox One games will require an active Gold membership to play. The first offerings for Xbox One will be Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault.

While Xbox Live Gold gains some free games on Xbox One it’s losing a whole lot more, namely exclusive access to all the apps. Starting in June, all Xbox owners will have free access to the array of 170 global apps between Xbox 360 and Xbox One. That includes “Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Redbull and HBO Go, Internet Explorer, Skype, OneDrive and OneGuide.”

Now that we’ve got all that services stuff out of the way it leaves Microsoft open to wow us with exclusive game after exclusive game at E3, right?

More than Matchmaking: Xbox’s crazy number of services

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Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service Status page is a great fist-stop when you’re having problems with anything relating to network activity on an Xbox console. Before you dig into DNS settings or power cycle dusty equipment stashed behind your TV, start by making sure the service itself is working.

It’s also a good place to remind yourself of how many services, apps and features Microsoft provides access to; my finger got tired scrolling through the gargantuan list! There’s the ubiquitous stuff like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube but amid the sprawling 110 entries are things like Ameba TV, providing curated kids’ entertainment, a handful of anime streaming services, music video repositories, all the streaming radio apps I forgot about, and of course, the Pizza Hut app.

It’s worth looking through if just to remind yourself of all these online services.

BREAKING: L’Oreal Xbox App Sunsetting August 30th

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I’ll bet not many of you remember ‘L’Oreal: The Next Thing Application’ on Xbox Live… and that’s probably why the thing is shutting down at the end of the month. Last August Microsoft appeared to be pushing the Kinect as an adver-game delivery system, powering app/game/ad things like Intel Discovered, Mars Rover Landing, and Stride’s Micro Lab Challenge.

Amidst those releases was this thing from L’Oreal. Intrigued by what kind of Achievements a cosmetics app would give out, I queued up the download but was stopped at the front door. My Avatar is male and that’s an immediate red flag in L’Oreal town so I was unceremoniously denied access. I never got to check out what L’Oreal’s next thing was but this incident (if it’s even worth calling it such a thing) probably makes for a more memorable story.

All the cool stuff on Xbox One requires a Gold Membership

I’ve heard some talk since E3 like people may have missed this video from Microsoft. Entitled ‘Get the most from Xbox One with Xbox Live Gold’, the video that has a mere 16 views as of this posting highlights how a paid Gold membership is required for things like (in their words):

  • Unrivaled multiplayer gaming
  • Smarter matchmaking
  • Capture and share favorite moments
  • Get TV that’s tailored to you with OneGuide
  • Skype

In less than one minute the video painfully demonstrates that all those cool features Microsoft has shown will be locked behind the golden gates of their paid Live membership. The tail-end does point out that all profiles on the “single, designated Xbox One in Gold members home” can benefit from online gaming but that other Gold features cannot be shared.

It’s the bad news I was hoping we wouldn’t hear and there are more caveats and asterisks at xbox.com/live. It makes me curious to see how magical the Xbox One experience is with only a free Silver account.