Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mass Effect Cheats And Codes (Xbox 360)

Unlockable: New Skills

If you beat the game and choose to replay the game with the same character, your character type will be able to learn some skills he or she would otherwise be unable to learn. For instance, on a second play-through, Adepts can learn to use Shotguns, First Aid, and other skills they were otherwise unable to use the first time through.

Hint: Infinite Credits
Here's a great way to score infinite Credits. Follow the steps below in order to do so...

1.) First, fulfill the side quest involving Dr. Michel (from the Med Clinic) and her blackmailer. After the quest is complete, you'll get a discount from all of the goods she sells.

2.) Start selling her all of your expensive equipment. Then, travel to the Wards Markets and talk to the merchant named Expat. You can buy all of your stuff back for cheaper than you sold it off.

3.) Head back to Dr. Michel and sell off your stuff again. Repeat this process as much as you want for as much profit as you desire.

Hint: Infinite Renegade Points
Here's an effective and foolproof way to score infinite Renegade points. When you get to the part of the game where Lorik Quinn is going to testify against Anoleis, speak to Lorik Quinn and convince him to testify. This will give you twenty-five Renegade poionts. Then, walk away from him, return to him, and ask him something unrelated to the case. You'll then be given the option to "Answer another question", at which point you'll be able to convince him to testify again, for another twenty-five Renegade points. You can repeat this indefinitely until you score the amount of points you want.

Unlockable: Higher Levels
You can increase your maximum level from 50 to 60 if you beat the game once through and opt to use your character from the previous game in a new game.

Unlockable: Play Again
After beating Mass Effect, you can play through the game again, with the same character, same skills, items, et cetera.

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America's Army: True Soldiers(Xbox 360)

Game Features:

Offline Players: 1-2
System Link: 2-16
Cooperative: 2
Online Multiplayer: 1-16
Online Cooperative: 2-4
Downloadable Content
Online Leaderboards
Online Voice Support
EDTV 480p Support
HDTV 720p Support
HDTV 1080i Support
Dolby 5.1 In-Game
Xbox 360 Exclusive

So you like first-person shooters, do you? Take your pick if you own an Xbox 360: WWII, sci-fi, sim, modern military, even cartoon-style. To say there is a glut of FPSes for the Xbox 360 is nearly an understatement, but an overage of good FPSes? Well, that is an entirely different matter.

Falling into the sim-style FPS category is Ubisoft’s America’s Army franchise, which has government-owned roots on the PC. Used as a clever way to bolster recruitment, the U.S. Army released America’s Army on Independence Day 2002, and has continued to release new versions, patches and update packs to this day.

Console owners haven’t been so lucky when it comes to playing the mil-spec FPS action that is known in the hardcore circles simply as “AA.” America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier released in 2005 for the original Xbox, and was quickly lost in the FPS shuffle, due to such powerhouses as Halo 2 and Ubisoft’s own Rainbow Six series. Rise of a Soldier was so-so in every facet—not the best way of establishing a foothold in the ultra-competitive world of console first-person shooting.

Fast-forward almost three years later and we magically have a new AA title in our midst. America’s Army: True Soldiers has come in like a lamb, without the heavy PR pushes that seem to be part and parcel of the gaming industry. But now we’re starting to think the “soft” release of America’s Army: True Soldiers has more to do with its quality—or the lack thereof—and not because games supported by the U.S. military are easy sells.

You’ll probably realize soon after the sixty dollars is spent on America’s Army: True Soldiers that it is going to be an “adventure,” but not the kind that is associated with the military’s former ad slogan. The user interface and menu screens are intelligent and well-designed, but as soon as the training modes kick up, it’s time to take cover or be hit with a barrage of suspect FPS gaming.

The first glaring issue, at least to those used to the high degree of polish in late-model Xbox 360 games, is the rough look to America’s Army: True Soldiers. Yes, foliage is animated (as is the lower cloud cover), and the lighting and shadowing associated with said moving foliage sways as well, but that’s about all that there is with which to be impressed. In fact, the shadows look blocky, too, but at least they match the low polygon counts in the character models. Some of the background skins look okay, but they are mainly made up of the oversimplified textures that seem to be a common theme in America’s Army: True Soldiers. And to top it all off, the frame rate suffers from having so many animated bits per scene, which really puts a damper on the smoothness when it’s actually time to move your soldier. And, speaking of soldiers, the first interaction with NPCs is disheartening, too. The commanding officers don’t even care to look at you, and they conveniently float and pivot above the ground as if to say, “I am mightier than you, recruit.”

When you do decide to stop sitting there in awe of how bad America’s Army: True Soldiers looks compared to Call of Duty 4, and actually decide to get moving, you’ll be even more depressed with your purchase. Your character moves in staccato steps, due to the frame rate and odd programming that seems to have allowed the push for sim gameplay to get in the way of the fun. Your character will simply seem slow to respond to any inputs; whether it’s rising from the prone position or releasing from that dream cover spot. The slowness to respond continues when a weapon is armed, as the code seems to have issue with the change in modes. Grab a grenade, a different weapon or go from regular sighting to iron sighting at the wrong time, and there will be a hitch in your soldier’s giddy-up.

If the general gameplay mechanics of a FPS are blatantly off before a player even gets into the “s***”, then you know it’s going to be bad when AI enemies and friendlies with the same bad mechanics are brought into the mix. The friendly AI in the mission action is just plain laughable when compared to what a real soldier is trained to do in hot situations. Your teammates seem to almost taunt enemy bullets with how they sit out in the open. The enemy AI isn’t much brighter, as all adversaries under it seem to be horrid shots and wouldn’t know cover even if it snuck up behind them and bit them in the rump roast.

Terrible marksmanship and a lack of understanding of the cover concept mean that many firefights turn into intimate encounters in America’s Army: True Soldiers. Not a bad thing, until you realize that the radial menu system for choosing weapons is clunky, and releasing from your own cover spot is a lesson in futility. Throw in the aforementioned issues with frame-rate dips and a healthy dosage of hit-detection problems (or maybe the 5.56 round is as ineffective as they say it is), and you have yourself a three-ring circus.

You won’t find many instances in real combat where two good guys and two bad guys can exchange point-blank rifle fire—with no cover, mind you—for ten seconds. You’ll see it with regularity in America’s Army: True Soldiers, and it tends to become funny after awhile. There are fewer instances of these odd, close-quarters situations in the multiplayer arena—the element in which America’s Army: True Soldiers shines its brightest—but all of the mechanical breakdowns described above apply to each and every soldier on the battlefield. There are definitely some redeeming factors of the multiplayer arena, such as the support for sixteen players and above-average clan functionality, but the lack of gameplay polish takes the luster out of even these few positives.

We could literally go ad nauseum on and on about the problems with America’s Army: True Soldiers: massive clipping, mission cue mishaps, lack of checkpoints in the training and War Game missions. On the brighter side, America’s Army: True Soldiers is mil-spec due to its governmental support, so there is a good lesson to be learned here about the current weapons and tools used by our troops so they can protect and serve. But if America’s Army: True Soldiers is an indication of the quality of these weapons or tools deployed to our troops—or of the quality of the training or tactics deployed by our military—then we are in big trouble.

Avoid this one like jungle rot unless you really need schooling on modern military tools and nomenclature.

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Tom Clancy's EndWar Preview (release in 2008)

Game Features:
Offline Players: 1-2
Online Multiplayer
EDTV 480p Support
HDTV 720p Support
HDTV 1080i Support
Dolby 5.1 In-Game

New York City is under attack. As I sit and watch the enemy’s troops and vehicles make their way toward the city’s center, I wonder how it could have happened. I don’t the exact answer as to why World War III has started, but I do know that the future of warfare is much different than what we’ve come to expect. In Tom Clancy’s EndWar from Ubisoft, you’ll have a front row seat for all of the action, as you’ll be the one controlling it. Although the game is being marketed as an RTS, it’s one the likes of which we’ve never seen before. It certainly feels like an RTS in many ways, but it’s much more accessible than games like LotR: Battle for Middle Earth II and Command & Conquer 3

Designed from the ground up for the Xbox 360, EndWar tells the tale of the events of World War III. Although it’s a global war, the battles in the game will largely revolve around the Atlantic theatre, and we had a chance to see some action in the harbor area of New York City and La Mancha, the hilly plains of Spain. The combatants will consist of the United States, The European Union, and Russia, although we’re not exactly sure how they’ll be matched up in battle. We were happy to hear that the US forces are being led by our old friend (and GRAW veteran) Scott Mitchell, who’s been put in charge of the “Joint Strike Force.”

At first glance, EndWar looks a lot like a run-of-the-mill real-time strategy game. You’ll take control of a number of different units, commanding them around the battlefield and determining which ones should be used in particular situations. The game uses the same “Rock, Scissor, Paper” style of play as most RTS games, so you’ll likely know what unit to use and when. For instance, choppers are tank killers, while heavy infantry units are the best to use when you need to take out other vehicles. One of the nicest things about the game is the fact that you really don’t need to do any of the resource management that slows down other strategy games. You won’t be building factories or mining ore or any of that nonsense. Instead, you’ll be able to focus all of your attention on one thing: kicking ass.

The game’s biggest innovation (and trust us when we say that it’s a big one) is the ability to give your units voice commands with the headset. This is far deeper than the system seen in the Rainbow Six games, as you’ll actually have complete control over their actions. It’s really an amazing technology, and we were blown away by just how well it actually worked. You don’t have to use the voice commands if you don’t want to, but we can’t understand why someone would want to stick with the unwieldy controller-based command system.

Using the voice system is as easy as holding down the right trigger to bring up the command menu, then giving your orders. You’ll start out by saying the name of the unit you want to command, then give them the directions that they need. The units are given numerical designations (so you won’t have to say “Tanks” or “Choppers”) and you’ll be able to see what type of unit it is thanks to a handy little icon. Once you’ve got the unit you want, you can tell them to move to a given control point or attack an enemy unit, each of which is present on the tactical map. I particularly liked the ability to move the camera to a unit without having to navigate with the analog sticks, something that was always a bit frustrating in other RTS games.

In both the single- and multiplayer modes, you’ll be presented with a number of different gametypes. In the Annihilation mode, you’ll start out with a very large force that is tasked with wiping out another large force. When playing the Conquest mode, on the other hand, you’ll be in charge of a small strike force that needs to capture and hold critical points like missile silos or armories. As you capture points or kill enemy units, you’ll earn reinforcement points that can be used to call in (you guessed it) reinforcement units. You can also upgrade your units to gain a bigger advantage on the battlefield, and we were told that there are over 300 upgrades in total.

While the single-player game definitely looks like a lot of fun, it’s the multiplayer game that sounds most intriguing. The demoer described it as a global war of sorts, meaning every match that’s played on a particular map will be counted toward a grand total. For instance, if there are 10,000 matches played in the New York City map and the US wins 7,000 of them, that area will be controlled by that faction. The same goes for all of the other locales, and the global “frontlines” will be updated dynamically every 24 hours. This means that there will (hopefully) be a back and forth going on for game’s life on Xbox Live.

There are a number of other cool features that we learned about, but we can’t really tell you about them just yet. We can say that there will be a saved films feature that will allow you to watch the world’s best players in action, as well as a varied co-op mode that lets players team up with friends and AI-controlled “teammates.” It looks like Tom Clancy’s EndWar will be the RTS for people who don’t typically like that sort of game, and we can’t wait to spend some more time with it. Be sure to check out our hands-on impressions of the game in the coming weeks

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Halo Wars (Xbox 360; Dce 31,2007)

King Midas had a way with, well, anything. According to lore, the stately one could touch inanimate objects and turn them to gold. The Xbox-equivalent of King Midas’ would be Bungie’s Halo universe. Put those angelic words on literally anything - including but not limited to graphic novels, toys and even rock bands (as evidenced at Microsoft’s press conference last night)- and you have an instant cash cow.

An RTS based on the Halo universe? Why not? It sort of worked for the Lord of the Rings franchise, and it seems as though Bungie’s baby has a little more of the Midas touch in the gaming world than Baggins and Co.

Ensemble (Age of Empires) knows it has to do Halo Wars right, however. Not only will Halo Wars be repping the universe soon, but they’ll also be challenged with the daunting task of making decent real time strategy for a console.

Let’s face it; aside from lighter hearted titles like the recent Overlord, there isn’t much to brag about in the RTS genre currently featured on the Xbox 360. But from the looks of Ensemble’s demo at E3 2007, we may finally have something to look forward to in the real time strategy genre on Xbox 360.

The best decision Ensemble made, after choosing the Halo universe as subject matter, was to build Halo Wars for the Xbox 360 right off the bat. This isn’t some made-for-PC game that ends up a 360 disc due to some marketing meeting. Halo Wars is built from the ground up to be a console-only SKU, which means it comes from the factory with a controller-optimized nav system.

We nabbed a decent glimpse of Halo Wars’s control system in Ensemble’s demo, which featured a good blend of the types of gameplay activities that will go down when the UNSC decides to get nasty. But first, we were given a quick tour of the UNSC base, which consisted of everything from soldiers doing pushup drills to Warthog mechanics hard at work. We also saw a nifty vehicle construction node that quickly spit out a few hogs after the tester accessed Halo Wars’s de facto rotary menu. The rotary menu pretty much does it all when it comes to the creation and management of resources, and it’s a one button affair in Halo Wars to boot. Simple as pie.

Before the newly created Warthog’s were summoned, two separate squads of marines were sent to engage a few grunts that convened northeast of the UNSC command center. This is where we learned about the simple-yet-effective troop movement system in Halo Wars, which happens to come in a variety of flavors.

The A button quickly cycles through available troops. Pressing and holding A will select multiple troops via a large reticle which actually grows in size as the button is depressed. The reticle is the answer to quick mouse movements of course, and we’ll thank God tonight in our prayers that Ensemble didn’t try to port the PC rodent’s jittery maneuvers into Halo Wars.

Once the opposing infantry divisions faced off, it was readily apparent that the marines didn’t stand a chance. With a single soldier on his last breath, the savvy tester summoned the two earlier-created warthogs to the battlefield. Surprisingly, the heavy guns on the hogs did little to damage the pesky grunts, but the heavy tires did. Yes, running over Covenant swine is just as effective in Halo Wars as it is in the world’s greatest FPS.

The demo fast-forwarded to a grandiose and more heated battle already in progress. A full squad of UNSC hopefuls and vehicles were in a good position behind some metallic cover and definitely holding their own against Covenant opposition. Just when we thought the good fight would be victorious, a scarab shot a devastating beam that nearly wiped out the entire lot of brave marines. This nasty “tinsect” was nearly unbeatable from the ground, but we quickly learned that the UNSC air support is nearly unflappable, and takes much pride in their destructive deluges. The radial menu, once again, called the shots as the user called in a multi-blast air strike that turned the mighty mech into a fiery wreck.

We actually noticed a lot of similarities between Ensemble’s RTS and Bungie’s FPS, since the Dallas-based developer did such a fine job in honoring this original IP. For example, Warthogs properly fishtail and sport the same physics and handling set as the first person shooter (even though the A.I. does a better job of driving than most human soldiers), with weapons fire both looking and sounding just like the whup-ass you’ve opened up a thousand times before on your adversaries. Covenant troops and vehicles are to scale and Halo-accurate as well, which again might not be a big surprise, but there’s surely no mistaking Halo Wars as a part of some other universe than Bungie’s after the first fire-up.

The Halo Wars level that we saw was brief and sadly hands-off, but we’re sure that Ensemble and Microsoft will keep us in the loop on this one. Look for much more coverage on Halo Wars once we get our MJOLNIR-covered mitts on a build.

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GripShift Review (Xbox 360)

Odds are fair to good that if you don’t own a PSP, you probably haven’t heard of GripShift. Sidhe Interactive’s unique racing title originally rolled onto Sony’s handheld two years ago to little fanfare, yet decent critical reviews. Now, just about the time that PSP owners can pick up the game in their closest retailer’s bargain bins, GripShift has gotten a bit of a tune up and made its way to the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade.

For those of you out there unfamiliar with GripShift, the game is, at its core, a standard kart-style combat racer, in the vein of Nintendo’s Mario Kart series. Players choose from a selection of available cars and race around any one of the game’s 25 Race Mode tracks, taking out the competition with an arsenal of weapons that includes homing missiles and TNT land mines. What sets GripShift apart from the usual racing fare is its addition of elements from other genres. Challenge stages have a sort of puzzle/platformer feel, as player intentionally fall off the track down to a lower section to beat a time limit, or jump from a ramp to a nearby floating rock to pick up a special “GS Marker.” GripShift forces players to rev up their brainpower along with their horsepower to complete the game’s 100-plus different Challenge Levels.

Thankfully, Sidhe Interactive wasn’t content to just throw a straight port of the PSP version up onto XBLA and call it a day. The game’s definitely benefitted from spending some time in the garage. Visually, everything looks crisp, sharp and full of color. The animations are smooth, with a solid frame rate that never stalls out. Of course, that’s probably because of the game’s lack of extraneous environmental to get in the way of things. Admittedly, outside of the cars and tracks, there’s just not a lot going on. In the audio department, GripShift seems to be chugging along with a couple of flat tires. There are some basic sound effects and generic background music, but nothing that’ll warrant cranking up the volume on your television.

GripShift’s gameplay makes up for a lot it shortfalls in presentation. In most kart racers, the differences between the vehicles are barely anything beyond cosmetic. In GripShift, though, car choices can mean the difference between first place and dead last. Regardless of which vehicle you feel most comfortable with, though, there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve involved. During the first few races, you can pretty much expect to smack the wall plenty of times and even take a header into the great abyss once or twice. Thankfully, that learning curve isn’t too steep. Before long, you’ll be rounding corners with ease, and the only times you’ll soar off the track is to jump ahead of the rest of the competition.

Speaking of competition, GripShift makes sure to have players covered in that regard as well. Up to four players can battle it out for supremacy of the roadways in head-to-head action on any of the game’s tracks. Once players get tired of chasing each other around in circles in multiplayer races, they can duke it out with one another through twenty different Deathmatch arenas in Last Man Standing free-for-all battles. As much fun as GripShift’s single player experience can be, there’s just no comparison to facing off against real-life, flesh-and-blood opponents. Given time, any player can learn the basic behavior of an AI driver, but human opponents always have that extra factor of unpredictability.

If you’re worried that GripShift is a one-off experience that’ll get stale before its time, Sidhe Interactive is already prepared to ease your fears. As with many XBLA games available these days, GripShift supports the addition of downloadable content packs over Xbox Live. These packs can include new tracks and arenas, as well as completely new game types to give the game a little extra octane boost from time to time.

So, is GripShift the end all be all of combat racing on the Xbox 360? Not by a long shot. However, the game definitely stands out in its genre and makes it a lot of fun to get behind the wheel to put the pedal to the metal—and has a price tag of only 800 Microsoft Points (or about $10). Whether you’re wanting to test your mental prowess in the puzzle aspect of Challenge Mode, test your maneuvering skills in Race Mode or just blow things up in the Deathmatch arenas, there’s something here for everyone. While the game may sport a few dents here and there, it’s got more than enough in the tank earn a spot in your Xbox 360’s garage of arcade hits.

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