Microsoft announce Xbox Live price increase

Microsoft has confirmed that subscription prices for Xbox Live will be going up from November 1st.  The price increase for Xbox Live was confirmed by Major Nelson in a blog titled Price change for Xbox LIVE Gold subscription

The good news (sort of) for UK Xbox Live subscribers is that the price will only be increasing if you pay for your Xbox Live membership on a monthly basis. Does anyone actually pay for Xbox Live every month?

From November 1st, Xbox Live members who buy pay buy their Xbox Live Gold subscriptions monthly will see the price increase from £4.99 a month to £5.99 a month. That’s a whole £1 people. Does anyone actually pay for their Xbox Live membership on a monthly basis?

The good news for every other Xbox Live subscriber in the UK is that Xbox Live membership costs for 3 month Live subscriptions and yearly subscriptions won’t be changing and remain unchanged.

If you’re an Xbox Live subscriber in the United States, you’ll see the biggest price rises with monthly Xbox Live subscription costs rising from $7.99 to $9.99, Three month Xbox Live Gold membership fees rising from $19.99 to $24.99, while the yearly cost for Xbox Live Gold membership goes up from $49.99 to $59.99.

The increase in Xbox Live  Gold membership fees is the first price increase since Xbox Live was introduced onto the original Xbox all the way back in 2002.

So Train2Game students, how do you feel about the increase in price of a subscription to Xbox Live? If you’re paying a monthly fee, will this encourage you to pay for a yearly membership? Or do you think this is a money making ploy by Microsoft?

Could it push you towards the free PlayStation Network?

Leave your thoughts about the increase in Xbox Live subscription costs here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

UK Charts: Mafia II is the boss.

Mafia II is the don of the UK charts as it takes down its competitors to clinch top spot in its first week on sale. Mafia II has taken first place despite the mobster title from 2K Czech receiving somewhat mixed reviews. 52% of Mafia II sales have been on the Xbox 360, 41% of Mafia II sales are for the PS3, while just 7% of Mafia II sales are on PC.

Mafia II’s rise to the top has bumped Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days from its previous position as the top dog.  Meanwhile, Toy Story 3 and Red Dead Redemption are still selling strongly, despite having dropped one place each to third and fourth respectively.

Wii Sports Resort jumps from sixteenth up to fifth place, out manoeuvring Ubisoft’s Just Dance which has fallen one place to sixth. Super Mario Galaxy still remains in seventh while the magic appears to be fading for Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 which has dropped down to eight in the UK charts.

Surprisingly, Sniper: Ghost Warrior has re-entered the top ten in ninth place securing its highest chart position in the process. The final entry in this weeks top ten is Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands which drops two positions from eighth to tenth.

Elsewhere in the charts, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 shows that Activision’s shooter still has some life in it jumping from 18th to 12th. Could Modern Warfare 2 re-enter the top ten once again next week?

EA’s Madden NFL 11 drops down to 34th in its third week in the charts, while Super Mario Galaxy, Grand Theft Auto IV, Crackdown 2, Blur and Halo 3 have all re-entered the Top 40.

The full top ten for the week ending 28th August 2010 is as follows:

1. Mafia II (2K Games)
2. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Square Enix)
3. Toy Story 3 (Disney)
4. Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar)
5. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo)
6. Just Dance (Ubisoft)
7. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)
8. LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 (Warner)
9. Sniper: Ghost Warrior (City Interactive)
10. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sand (Ubisoft)

So Train2Game students, do you believe Mafia II deserves to be the Don? Or should it be Kane & Lynch 2 that is the top dog? Why is Sniper: Ghost Warrior back in the top ten? And will Modern Warfare 2 make yet another comeback next week?

As usual, leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

Bioware release extended Dragon Age 2 trailer

Bioware have released an extended version of the Dragon Age 2 reveal trailer first revealed at GamesCom. The new Dragon Age 2 ‘Directors Cut’ trailer gives us an extra 42 seconds of CG based Dragon Age goodness.

The video features Dragon Age 2 protagonist Hawke in a one on one battle with what appears to be a demon, with some very big horns. The swordplay and magic show that the hero of Dragon Age two has more than a few tricks up his sleeve when battling the dark forces.

Interestingly, the narration in the video appears to come from Flemeth. Dragon Age: Origins veterans will know Flemeth has a powerful witch of the wilds.

Is it possible Flemeth will have a role in Dragon Age 2?

Dragon Age 2 will be released in the UK on March 11th 2011, as revealed during EA’s GamesCom press conference last week.

While the Dragon Age 2 trailer looks very impressive, it’s highly unlikely that the actual game footage. However, the Dragon Age: Origins trailer at last years E3 didn’t feature in-game footage, but Dragon Age still proved to be a very impressive role playing game. Good news for fans of the series is that it isn’t over yet, with Bioware revealing more DLC for Dragon Age: Origins in the form of Witch Hunt.

But back to Dragon Age 2, you can watch the extended trailer below.

So, Train2Game what do you think of that? Are you looking forward to Dragon Age 2 being released on March 11th? And how effective do you think the Dragon Age 2 trailer is?

You can leave your thoughts about Dragon Age 2 here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Bioware reveal Dragon Age ‘Witch Hunt’ DLC

Bioware have revealed yet more DLC for their highly successful RPG Dragon Age: Origins, a game the Train2Game blog has  heavily praised in previous articles – and deservingly so!

The new downloadable content is called Dragon Age: Witch Hunt, but be warned, if you haven’t finished Dragon Age: Origins this news will reveal massive spoilers about the end of Bioware’s epic role playing game. You have been warned, read on and Dragon Age: Origins will be spoiled for you.

Dragon Age: Witch Hunt takes place a year after the events of the Dragon Age: Origins finally in which the Archdemon was slain and the Darkspawn threat has been vanquished.

One question remains: what happened to Morrigan?

If you’ve finished Dragon Age: Origins (and if you haven’t, you should really have stopped reading by now) you’ll be aware that no matter which one of the multiple story choices you made towards the end of the game, Morrigan leaves straight after the battle with the Archdemon.

Morrigan’s whereabouts have been unknown, but with reports that she has returned to Ferelden you’ll have the opportunity to tie up one of the biggest loose ends from Dragon Age: Origins. The official Dragon Age Witch Hunt site says “But whether you seek answers, revenge, or reconciliation with your lost love, you may find more than you bargained for.”

Will The Warden have the choice to slay Morrigan? Well, yes probably, seeing that many of your companions can be killed by your own hand in the many, many different available plots in the Dragon Age: Origins story.

Dragon Age Witch Hunt is available on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as downloadable content from September 7th.

So Train2Game, if you played Dragon Age: Origins, are you keen to play this conclusion? Or are you just waiting for Dragon Age 2 now? And do you think all this downloadable content from Bioware is a positive or negative thing?

Leave your thoughts about Dragon Age here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source –  Dragon Age: Origins offical website]

More Portal 2 video goodness introducing Faith Plates and Repulsion Gel

Keeping up with the recent Portal 2 theme, here are a couple of Portal 2 gameplay videos that introduce two new features in the game – The Faith Plate and Repulsion Gel. Both look like they’ll make Portal 2 even more fiendish and even more fun. Or perhaps only one of these depending on what you believe…

The first Portal 2video from Aperture Science (not from Valve, honest) shows the Aerial Faith Plate’s of Portal 2 in action. What is an Aerial Faith Plate, will text in the first of the two Portal 2 videos explains:

“Aerial Faith Plates are part of a larger trust experiment designed to help the Enrichment Centre discover whether the capacity for trust is effected by being catapulted into space”

Sounds pretty standard there doesn’t it? The Portal 2 Faith Plate Gameplay video shows the player using them to get behind a turret before using the Portal gun to fling that nasty gun to its doom. Meanwhile, the second Portal 2 gameplay video demonstrates the Repulsion Gel, with the text explaining:

“Aperture’s second attempt at a dietetic pudding substitute resulted in Repulsion Gel, a much sweeter, slightly less non-toxic form of fibreglass insulation that caused subsequently ingested food items to bounce off the lining of the dieters stomach and out of his or her mouth”

For various reasons this was also pulled from the shelves”

The Portal 2 Repulsion Gel gameplay video looks very fun indeed, with the player using the Portal gun to manipulate the gel in order to crush some turrets. Of course, they also use it to bounce around to solve one of Portal 2’s many puzzles.

Both the Portal 2 Faith Plate and Repulsion Gel videos – originally shown at GamesCom – are below

So Train2Game, what do you think of these new addictions to Portal 2? Will they overcomplicate the game?

Leave your thoughts on Portal 2 here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

Updated Portal 2 trailer starring Stephen Merchant as Wheatley

Portal 2Valve have released an updated trailer for their upcoming first person puzzler sequel Portal 2, and this time it stars Stephen Merchant as your robot pal Wheatley. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Stephen Merchant co-wrote and starred in The Office and Extras with Ricky Gervais. (Ricky Gervais isn’t in Portal 2, but has played himself at the comedy club in Grand Theft Auto IV)

The updated Portal 2 trailer demonstrates Stephen Merchant’s new Wheatley with it’s previous wit and dry humour, except this time with a slight West Country accent. Valve, being their usual cunning selves, previously said that Portal 2’s Wheatley was being voiced by ‘some guy from the office’ Can you see what they did there? Valve you clever wordsmiths.

The updated Portal 2 trailer also displays some of the new rendering effects in the game takes a closer look at Aperture Science. Portal 2 definitely looks a lot prettier than its predecessor! You can watch the updated Portal 2 trailer with Stephen Merchant below, but be aware it does contain spoilers for those who’ve not yet played the original Portal.

Portal 2 is scheduled for release on February 9th 2011.

The updated Portal 2 trailer could also make interesting viewing for Train2Game students (So long as you don’t want spoilers from Portal revealed!) who want to add voice work into their games in future. How important do you think choosing the right actor is? Do you think Stephen Merchant fits Portal 2’s character of Wheatley?

And of course, how much are you looking forward to Portal 2? Have any Train2Game students not played the original?

You can leave your thoughts on Portal 2 and in-game voice work here or on the Train2Game forum.

Brink will ‘end the genre as we know it’ say developers

Bethesda Softworks and Splash Damage have released a third developer diary about their upcoming first person shooter Brink. (You can watch a previous Brink developer diary over at Gabe’s Train2Game blog.) This latest Brink developer diary is titled ‘Brink: The end of the genre as we know it’ in which the developers discuss Brink’s ‘unique meld of single and multiplayer modes’ which form the basis of the game.

This third Brink developer diary begins with Creative Director Richard Ham telling us that the squad based shooter bridges the gap between single player and multiplayer games. Brink Game Director Paul Wedgewood echoes this theme by adding “We’re finally blurring the lines between offline gaming and online gaming” Splash Damage certainly want to let gamers know that this is the unique feature of Brink!

The Brink developers are very keen to push through that the game doesn’t have a pre-set path, with the player being able to choose their own story whether they are playing online or offline. Completing team based objectives in both modes will earn Brink players experience points which they can spend on customising their character with their own unique selection of clothes, weapons and other accessories.

Brink does look very impressive and it’ll be very interesting to see if the amalgamation of the single player and multiplayer experiences work when Brink is released in Spring next year.

Train2Game students can watch ‘Brink: The end of the genre as we know it’ below.

So Train2Game, do you think the idea behind Brink is a clever one? Or do you believe it might fall flat in reality? Are you looking forward to Brink? And do you think you could combine single player and multiplayer experiences into one whole game?

You can leave your thoughts on Brink here, or on the Train2Game forum.

New creation tools revealed in the LittleBigPlanet 2 story trailer

Sony revealed plenty during their GamesCom 2010 press conference, but the new LittleBigPlanet 2 trailer is something many Train2Game students will no doubt be interested in.

We’ve previously discussed how LittleBigPlanet 2 could be the Train2Game students dream, and the latest trailer only confirms this! The LittleBigPlanet 2 trailer, revealed to the world at GamesCom, shows just how many tools will be at LittleBigPlanet 2 players’ disposal when creating new levels and games.

The trailer starts with a peak at new story mode in LittleBigPlanet 2 which sees Sackboy playing the hero as “a negative force of evil stirs on the horizon” The LittleBigPlanet 2 trailer also revels some new creation tools including being able to ‘record’ your Sackboy’s movements for ‘actors’ to use in your own cut-scenes. You’ll also be able to set up your own cameras for use in your LittleBigPlanet 2 levels and cut-scenes.

In addition to this, the new LittleBigPlanet 2 trailer also reveals a music creation tool which will allow you to add your own compositions to your custom levels and games. LittleBigPlanet 2 looks like it’ll give Train2Game students the ultimate opportunity to be creative. You can watch the LittleBigPlanet 2 trailers from GamesCom below.

So Train2Game, what do you think about these new features in LittleBigPlanet 2? Are you even more tempted to invest time into the game when it arrives? Or would you rather spend time making your own games?

You can leave your thoughts about LittleBigPlanet 2 here or on the Train2Game forum.

Gran Turismo 5 & New PlayStation 3 models release dates revealed by Sony at GamesCom

Sony have revealed the release date of Gran Turismo 5 and announced new 160GB and 320GB PlayStation models during their GamesCom 2010 Press Conference. We also got a surprise Resistance 3 announcement among plenty of other PlayStation 3 related reveals.

The long awaited Gran Turismo 5 will finally be released in the UK and Europe on November 3rd. Gran Turismo 5 will feature over 1,000 fully licensed cars and over 70 racing circuits – including the Top Gear  test track! The release date of November 3rd means Gran Turismo 5 will be released in the UK and Europe one day after it’s available in the United States.

The US release date of Gran Turismo 5 was announced earlier this year at E3, where we also found out that Gran Turismo 5 would also be fully 3D compatable.

The November release date of Gran Turismo 5 means that the much anticipated racing title will be out shortly after the new 160GB and 320GB PlayStation 3 models which have been revealed during the Sony GamesCom presentation.  The massive 320GB PlayStation 3 will be available in Europe from September 15th at a price of £284.99 which will include a PlayStation Move starter pack. The 160GB PlayStation 3 will be available in October for £249.99.

The question has to be asked, why would you buy the 160GB model when you can have a 320GB PlayStation with double the hard drive space AND a PlayStation Move starter pack for just £35 extra!

In other news, Resistance 3 has been revealed thanks to a trailer during the Sony Press Conference. Unfortunately, the live action footage doesn’t really tell us anything except that Resistance 3 is currently in development. Other game trailers revealed by Sony included big titles in the form of  Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Killzone 3.

We were also treated to other announcements including a new four player cooperative Ratchet & Clank game and the fact that MAG will be PlayStation Move compatible.

So Train2Game, what are your highlights of the Sony GamesCom press conference? Is it Gran Turismo 5 finally getting a release date? The new 160GB and 320GB PlayStation 3 models? Resistance 3 perhaps? Or maybe it’s something completely different?

As usual, leave your thoughts here or on the Train2Game forum

EA’s GamesCom Presentation: The Big Announcements

EA have made several big announcements and revealed some impressive trailers during their presentation at GamesCom 2010.

The big news is that Mass Effect 2 will be released on the PlayStation 3 in January next year, while Bioware also showcased an impressive looking Dragon Age 2 trailer. Dragon Age 2 is due for release on March 11th 2011, will apparently be more responsive to players controls and will be featuring a revamped artistic direction.

EA also revealed that The Sims 3 will be released on the PlayStation 3 on October 26th and will include new ‘karma’ features and an achievement system.  Not only that, but The Sims Medieval, an all new stand alone Sims title is scheduled for release in March next year.

The Sims Medieval will allow life simulation enthusiasts to give their Sims quests and even partake in duels.

We also discovered that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be Kinect compatible. (Kinect’s UK launch date was earlier confirmed as November 10th) The announcement was made through making the guys who play the Weasley twins in the film demonstrate the game. The motion controller was used to cast different types of spells and looks like it could be the first ‘hardcore’ Kinect title on the Xbox 360. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released in November.

There were also gameplay Demos for Dead Space 2 and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit which were both rather intense. EA also showcased a Medal of Honor video which featured elite soldiers explaining how their work as consultants is helping develop the war themed first person shooter. Medal of Honor is released on October 15th 2010.

So Train2Game, that’s a quick round up of the big announcements from EA’s GamesCom presentation. What news stands out from the news? Is it Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3? Dragon Age 2? Or perhaps it’s The Sims Medieval or even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being Kinect compatible!

As usual, leave your thoughts here or on the Train2Game forum.