Almost as exciting as the launch of the successor to the Xbox 360, Xbox enthusiasts around the globe have been closely following the release of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 revision, codenamed Jasper. While unlikely to completely solve the woes of the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RROD), Jasper features a 65nm GPU and draws less power than the Falcon and Zephyr revisions before it.

The excitement began in the leadup to the US “Black Friday” (the point on the US financial year after which business trade “in the black”) when forum-goer Moddage posted pictures of an Arcade console featuring a 150W power supply. Egged on by fellow Xbox-scene members, he finally caved in and voided his warranty by cracking open his console and posting high resolution pictures of his non-traditional “unboxing”.

The unit did not come with a 256Mb memory card usually included with Arcade SKUs – a revised manual reveals that this memory is now included internally. While NXE is not pre-installed on these early Jaspers, the update does get installed here and will probably be pre-installed on later consoles.

The date of manufacture for this console was 2008-10-23, Lot number 0843X, and Team FDOU. It is likely to take weeks or months for these consoles to reach NZ shores, but it seems that early Jaspers will be coming out as Arcade consoles. All early Jaspers have been found in Arcades and there are not reports yet of Pro or Elite Jaspers. This is likely to be due to the higher turnover of Arcades, and also to allow internal installation of NXE onto these new consoles (Pro and Elite models have hard drives so this is less of a concern).

I know I am not the only one that has been rubbed the wrong way by the flaky matchmaking of Gears of War 2. The inconsistent player matching combined with the sometimes eternal wait while trying to find opponents had me considering the purchase of another online shooter to keep me going, Epic have heard the grumblings of the legions of concerned players and released the first patch for Gears 2.

Adjustments to make Public matchmaking faster, especially in the single player party and the four player party case. Some of these adjustments should be felt immediately and some will play out over several days as our update enables us to reduce player segmentation by reducing the number of servers required to do matchmaking. This will increase the number of possible matches available for you to join.

Info about the update comes from the official forums found here. I have just tried it out and managed to find a match on my first attempt, something that didn’t happen at all previously. There are still a few things that I would change about the way the matchmaking works (local game preference) but it is a vast improvement, the fact that it happened relatively quickly also inspires hope that the game will see continued support.

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Namco Bandai Games America has released the opening cinematic of Afro Samurai. Slated for release sometime in 2009, it’s a game based on the hit animated series starring and co-produced by Samuel L. Jackson. Afro Samurai blends modern hip hop and technology with traditional Japanese culture and follows Afro Samurai as he fights to become the number one warrior. The game follows the plot of the original series with added material and background. Bleeding trees make for great games, check out the video after the break!

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Published by Activision and developed by Treyarch, many people felt Call of Duty: World at War would be a step backwards in the Call of Duty series. Infinity Ward brought the series back to life by taking the game into the modern era with the release of Modern Warfare (4th instalment of Call of Duty), but here we are back to square one with World at War being set in the Pacific theater and Eastern Front of World War II. Does World at War live up to it’s predecessor, or will the series take a dive after returning to the ever cliched and over used World War II era?

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Mirrors Edge is one of those love it or hate it games. There are many aspects that are simply awesome, but it is also an experience bogged down by extreme frustrations. There will be those that can overcome the frustration to get to the chewy goodness inside, but there will be just as many who will be unwilling to put these frustrations aside. I can understand both positions. But when all is said and done, Mirrors Edge offers an experience that no other game does. That may not be true in years to come however, as many are sure to borrow from it.

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It’s not often that EA is associated with innovation these days, but once in a while they come up with the proverbial needle in a haystack of rehashed gaming. Skate for the Xbox 360 and PS3 was one such find, and gave the skateboard video game genre a much needed revolution of sorts with its fresh controls and unhurried sandbox-style gameplay. Skate It is the Wii version of the game, and needless to say, the visuals and audio have been downgraded. But do the added motion controls and support for the Wii Balance Board make up for this by providing a more authentic Skate experience?

Skate It takes place in the same city as Skate, San Vanelona, but some mysterious disasters have left the place destroyed and desolate. The good news is that the disruption to terra firma lends to excellent skating environments. The bad news is that you cannot skate as freely in the city, but instead will be limited to “stages” which are warped between from a menu screen. Later stages will have you travelling to other parts of the world as you roam around finding and completing a growing series of challenges to ultimately win sponsorship and the title of “Skater of the Year”.

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Following on from this news, a spokesperson from Harmonix has made the following statement in a recent email to 1UP regarding the situation:

Harmonix and MTV Games are dedicated to consumers having an outstanding experience with our products. When used as directed, our drum pedals are designed to provide years of enjoyment. In addition, at the launch of Rock Band we offered consumers an extended opportunity return defective or broken hardware for any reason whatsoever — no questions asked. This litigation is opportunistic and baseless.

It seems like Harmonix are not too happy with Mr. Morgan, but I think you have to applaud them for offering this extended warranty. Harmonix returned to its original policy warranty policy as of October 1, which requires proof of purchase within a 60day period for the free repairs.

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Today, Harmonix have released a patch for the PS3 version of Rock Band 2 that enables compatibility with Guitar Hero drums and guitars. PSN connected players will be automatically prompted to download and apply the update, bringing the game up to version 1.01.

Harmonix and MTV Games have always believed in an open platform for music game peripherals and were the first to advocate interoperability. The reason for that is simple: our fans. Consumers should not be forced to buy separate controllers for each game. Rock Band peripherals should be compatible with other music games, even those of our competitors. We’ve continued to lead the charge for a game controller open platform, even offering to work with any developer or publisher towards making that happen

I think if more game developers had an attitude like this, the world would be a happier place.

After it’s Xbox 360 release October 21st, Fable II sold more than 1.5 million copies within the first two weeks. Today, Lionhead Studios and Microsoft Game Studios are hoping the sales will be just as promising after they announced Fable 2’s first premium downloadable content. The DLC will be released next month at a price of 800 Microsoft points.

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The Knothole Island downloadable content pack will feature the dying Knothole Island where it’s golden sands and lush vegetation are covered with
snow, it’s people freezing and it’s treasures buried. For 250 points, Microsoft Game Studios have also created an all new Albion dashboard theme in
celebration of the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

¬†Over a year after Bioshock stunned the gaming community on Xbox 360 and PC, winning innovation awards and ‘Game of the Year’ awards across the nets, the much loved title finds its way onto the Playstation 3. So does a game that is technically over a year old warrant your attention?¬† Are the reported graphical issues enough to put you off? Is it deserving of your hard earned cash in a boom time in great titles being released?

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