Early adopters of Halo: The Master Chief Collection will get an updated version of Halo 3: ODST's campaign and a reimagined version of the Halo 2 multiplayer map Relic for free, developer 343 Industries has announced.
343 Industries says that development on the campaign for Halo 3: ODST has just begun. It will be available within Halo: The Master Chief Collection, upgraded to 1080p resolution, running at 60fps. If you played Halo: The Master Chief Collection between launch (November 11) and December 19, you'll get it for free.
The same is true for the Relic Halo 2: Anniversary Multiplayer Map, which 343 Industries will reimagine and remaster at 1080p and 60fps. 343 Industries said it chose this map based on its suitability for Slayer and Objective modes and its ability to support teams of varying sizes.
If you bought the game between those dates, you'll also get one free month of Xbox Live Gold, and an exclusive in-game Nameplate and Avatar. Find more details here.
Head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross explained that the developer is offering these items for free in gratitude to fans that stuck with Halo: The Master Chief Collection during its troubled launch, which suffered from severe matchmaking issues.
"This has been a humbling experience and highlighted how we as a studio can – and need – to do better for Xbox fans around the world," Ross said. "We are so grateful to our fans who have stood by our side and we appreciate all of your patience as we worked through these issues."
Ross also said that a content update next week will add all 10 episodes of the cooperative experience Spartan Ops for Halo 4 to playlists, as well as address other issues.
For more on The Master Chief Collection, check out GameSpot's review and previous coverage.
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On the year of its 30th anniversary, it's hard to think of new things to say about Tetris. Few games even come close to being as universally recognized and understood as the Russian puzzle game that has caused countless people to dream about stacking blocks into perfect lines.
So as hard as it is simply to write something original about the classic, it must be harder to invent new and exciting ways in which to actually play it. As a result, just about every gaming platform under the sun (and even many non-gaming platforms--hello, graphing calculators) tends to end up with at least one or two new editions of the same old formula, maybe experimenting with a new mode or two but mostly sticking to what's tried and true. Ubisoft's crack at celebrating the series' history falls into this exact trap, and Tetris Ultimate is mostly a game you can look at and say, "Yep, that's Tetris."
The basics are unchanged. You are given a vertical playing field in which you drop tetrominos--various shapes composed of four squares each. As a randomized parade of pieces falls from the top of the screen one at a time, you can move each one left or right as well as rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise. The goal is to create a straight, unbroken horizontal line of blocks, which removes the line from the playing field and scores you points (more points if you can eliminate several lines at once). The more lines you clear, the faster the game becomes.
Over three decades, this formula has remained largely unchanged, and rarely have the rules been so much as tweaked. But while there are no options to customize the look or sound of the game, Tetris Ultimate sports an admirable list of settings that let you tailor the feel of the game to your liking. For instance, you can turn off the hold queue (which allows you to save a piece for later use), change the behavior of the random generator, or turn off the more advanced wall kick and t-spin maneuvers. You can also tweak how long you can rotate a piece at the bottom of its drop--the controversial "easy" or infinite spin is not a default. You can't get super specific with these values, but the options are nice to have regardless.
While the potential variety of Tetris may seem limited, previous iterations of the series have nonetheless seen some rather inventive new modes using tetrominos. By comparison, Tetris Ultimate's mode selection is bare-bones. In addition to your standard marathon and endless modes there's Sprint (a race to see how quickly you can clear 40 lines), Ultra (a high-score challenge where you only have three minutes to play), and a couple of multiplayer-only battle modes--one with power-ups and one without. All modes can be played with humans or bots, with team versus team and co-op variations of each.
Co-op and team modes are the most interesting twists on the Tetris formula, as they widen the playing area (and thus lengthen the width you need to cover to get a line) and divide the screen up so that each player has his or her own designated section to drop pieces into, with a couple of columns of shared space in between that both players can use. Communication becomes important not only because scoring is impossible alone but also because all players on a team share both the pool of upcoming pieces as well as the single held piece, so if you're saving that straight block for a specific purpose, make sure your partners don't use it themselves.
While there are no options to customize the look or sound of the game, Tetris Ultimate sports an admirable list of settings that let you tailor the feel of the game to your liking.
When playing online, there doesn't seem to be a great system for matchmaking similarly skilled players. The only "rank" you ever achieve is designated by how far you are able to get in either the marathon or endless mode. But playing vanilla Tetris without interference is quite a different beast from a battle mode match against another player, and this doesn't appear to be a consideration when matching players together. Furthermore, many matches are hit with unfortunate lags and/or bugs, and if the game's host disconnects for any reason, the other players are out of luck even if they're 14 levels deep in a marathon game.
If you don't want to put up with the occasional lag that comes from playing against strangers, you can pretend to play against your friends by challenging their "Tetris Self," a bot that tries to play at about the same skill level as its player. It's an interesting idea, but it doesn't feel any more special than playing against an AI with a custom name--which is all this is.
When playing alone or in offline multiplayer mode, Tetris Ultimate nails most of the basics. Unfortunately, it doesn't go far beyond them. The four-player versus and co-op modes are a lot of fun, and the classic high-score chase is as solid as ever, but there are no visual or music options, and the selection of modes feels lacking. To be fair, at $10, Tetris Ultimate is one of the cheaper Tetris games to hit consoles in recent years, and what you get for that price is perfectly competent. The game's main menu features a prominent store icon that promises more modes coming soon, so those looking for more variety may get what they're looking for via DLC.
Part solid execution and part missed opportunity, Tetris Ultimate is hard to judge. If all you want is a good version of classic Tetris for your new console, this one will suit your needs well. The low price is nice and the gameplay options provided are a nice touch, but it doesn't do enough to earn the "ultimate" moniker.
It may be as revolutionary as a hipster in a Che Guevara t-shirt. A lack of originality means that Tropico 5: Waterborne doesn't wring much more life out of the latest edition of Haemimont Games' dictator-in-a-box city builder. Much like the main game, which slightly stretched the familiar Tropico formula with new historical eras and nastier politics, this expansion barely broadens El Presidente's possibilities with a series of glub-glub gimmicks that lets you take Caribbean corruption into the actual Caribbean. Enough new content is provided with a new campaign, buildings, and window dressing to get diehard fans of the original game interested for a couple of days, but there isn't anything essential here, and the $20 pricetag is a little steep.
The premise is pretty simple. El Presidente decides that being the boss of a banana republic isn't satisfying enough, so he goes the Bond villain route and heads to the sea. Quicker than you can wonder why every other 007 bad guy in the 60s and 70s seemed to have some kind of watery HQ complete with submarines and pet sharks, you're expanding your tropical dictatorship from the traditional island jungles out onto the waves. All of this wet and wild action comes in the form of a new Lord of the Pearl campaign centred on the various kooky oceanic activities necessary to secure the legendary Black Pearl. Forget about giving out any brownie points for originality.
Most of the new campaign storylines and quests focus on the high seas, although there isn't anything here all that interesting, save the odd geeky reference to things like discovering R'lyeh and then sending good old Penultimo off to meet with Cthulhu. Unfortunately, the developers don't do too much with these out-there plot points. At the very least, they could have had the simpering toady devoured. That said, sending canned goods to R'lyeh for the bonus of importing what have to be Deep One immigrants is kind of nifty, even if there isn't anything here beyond the textual references. Still, the goofy sense of humor on offer in Tropico 5 is strongly present, adding chuckles to the yawns. This remains a charming and very likeable experience thanks to cornball humor, the great radio broadcaster, and the fantastic soundtrack with its peppy Latin beats and guitar plucks.
The campaign is something of a snoozefest. Waterborne scenarios play out pretty much exactly like they did in the original Tropico 5, with you continually being pushed along from one directed goal to another, given various trade quotas, and so forth. A stream of advisors and flunkies shows up basically to give you orders about exporting this or that resource, building this or that facility to please the great unwashed, dishing out an edict to please a foreign power or suck up to an island faction, and so forth. The only difference is the watery flavour of the plot, although it really doesn't make much difference if you're trudging through the same old goals on land or on the high seas. Dull is dull.
New game mechanics are few and far between. There is a paltry number of new facilities to construct, none of which is any sort of stop-the-presses addition to gameplay. You can now set up oyster farms to gather pearls, which can be a hot commodity on the export market. Smuggler's docks let you play up to pirates and open up black-market trade routes, but at the cost of occasionally being invaded by gangs of pirates that do little but expose the chaos of the core game's combat system.
Some of these features get a little more interesting as the years fly by, but even then, there isn't much to recommend such amenities as the glass-bottom boat, tidal power plants, bathysphere, and floating apartments. You can build nuclear subs in the modern era, at least, although these aren't exactly a show-stopper given the poor combat features of the core game. Most of the new features are minor variations on existing buildings that add nothing aside from a nautical flavour to your dictatorship. About the one positive is that there is something for everyone here. The new water-based structures feature in every aspect of your city-building, from core infrastructure like food production to tourism to military defense. They do add a sprinkling of variety that should liven up sandbox games.
Combine Popeye with Papa Doc, stir in the usual city-building procedures of Tropico 5, and you've got Waterborne, an expansion short on imagination and implementation. Nothing here adds any meaningful content to a game that was already pretty well-known to long-time followers of the franchise. Another half-dozen or so hours of peasant-oppressing, Swiss Bank-building fun is provided for the truly dedicated, but there isn't anything here with lasting value or appeal.
Crystal Maiden's old Freezing Field animation has been added alongside the new one to address the issue that caused people with old Heroic Effigies to shift to the wrong frame after the 6.83 changes.
Tusk's animations have been updated to restore the Dizzying Punch animation along with the custom loadout and teleport animations for the Frostiron set. In addition he has also been provided a new loadout spawn animation.
The Luna mount reward from The Summit 2's stretch goals has been updated with a new, higher quality texture.
The Nightsilver Gryphon Mount for Mirana has been fixed and will now appear correctly in game once again.
A new icon has been added for the Forest Troll High Priest's Mana Aura.
We also have a new icon for the Hellbear Smasher's Swiftness Aura.
The Dota 2 Asia Champion which was discussed in the previous content analysis feature has had more content added which includes the preparation images for their upcoming Compendium release along with more updates to their Immortal items.
"16 top teams compete for grand honor."
At the time of this post the Compendium hasn't been activated yet however the tournament itself will be free to watch in game on Dota TV and features a base prize pool of $250,000.
25% of the Compendium and Compendium Point sales will go directly towards the prize pool. The prize pool will freeze after Mon, 09 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT.
As seen with The International 2014 Compendium the point system is making a return with the point purchases boosting your Compendium level unlocking new goodies.
The Dota 2 Asia Championship 2015 Treasure chest has also been updated with more particles effects for the Immortal items inside.
It is not yet confirmed whether or not this chest will be available to both the Western and Eastern sides of the scene however with the Compendium and point leveling system seen above we may see a similar situation to The International 2014 event where items obtained at the event itself were Genuine and the items purchased through the store were standard.
The Molten Claw has been updated with a new particle effect in addition to the custom Blade Mail icon it provides.
The Staff has been updated to add an animation to the staff itself along with an update to the particle effect which now sees the Butterflies flying away from it.
A full set of ambient particle effects have been added to the Bloodfeather Wings.
The base ambient particle has been updated to add a glow around the blade.
Also includes a special ambient regeneration particle effect.
The base ambient particle effect has been updated.
A custom teleport effect is already in the files tagged under the DAC 2015 Compendium. It will most likely be one of the rewards from leveling up your compendium.
The Crystal Maiden cursor pack has been updated with the correct set of cursors.
Crystal Maiden Pack
Chaos Knight Pack
Axe also has a new unreleased "Dragon Axe" that features a custom particle effect.
Beastmaster's Boar now has a tooltip to show the poison duration.
Tusk's Walrus Punch has been updated to now work correctly on the catapult creep.
Phoenix's Dive has been updated to actually have a cast point time now instead of being immediate.
The bugs stopping the progression in the tutorial have now been addressed.
+ "DOTA_Tutorial_M1_LastHitBracer" "Surely you'll need more before you face Razor though. I'd recommend some <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Bracers</b></font>.\n\nBracers are an <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Upgraded Item</b></font>, which requires one or more items and a <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Recipe</b></font>. Return when you've earned 210 gold and I'll show you what you need to do."+ "DOTA_Quest_EarnMoney2" "Earn 165 Gold and Buy a <font face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Circlet</b></font>"+ "DOTA_Quest_EarnMoney3" "Earn 210 Gold and Buy <font face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Bracers</b></font>"
+ "DOTA_Tutorial_M1_LastHitBracer" "Surely you'll need more before you face Razor though. I'd recommend some <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Bracers</b></font>.\n\nBracers are an <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Upgraded Item</b></font>, which requires one or more items and a <font color='#006697' face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Recipe</b></font>. Return when you've earned 210 gold and I'll show you what you need to do."
+ "DOTA_Quest_EarnMoney2" "Earn 165 Gold and Buy a <font face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Circlet</b></font>"
+ "DOTA_Quest_EarnMoney3" "Earn 210 Gold and Buy <font face='Dota Hypatia Bold'><b>Bracers</b></font>"