Shacknews - Steve Watts

While the Xbox One turning on with the sound of your voice made for an impressive stage presentation, it didn't take long for the Internet to notice: doesn't that mean it's listening all the time? Today, in a bevy of new information that also included online checks and game licensing, Microsoft attempted to put fears at ease with more detail about the new Kinect's privacy settings.

In a detailed announcement, Microsoft stated that you'll personalize your Kinect during start-up. That will let you pick which settings are on from the start, and you can turn the sensor on, off, or pause it. When the Kinect is off, Microsoft says, it's only listening for the command "Xbox on," but you can disable that feature as well. When the Xbox One is in use, Microsoft is careful to note that it's not recording or uploading any conversation. Finally, you can use other inputs if you just want to turn off or pause the Kinect.

Concerning personal data, Microsoft claims that nothing will leave your Xbox One without explicit, expressed permission. It uses examples like a fitness game measuring heart data or a card game that views your face to determine the strength of a bluff.

This is all much more specific than the information we heard late last month, which simply promised privacy settings without going into detail.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Almost as soon as the Xbox One announcement ended, we started hearing contradictory tales from Microsoft regarding the system's connectivity requirements. The last two weeks have apparently given the company a chance to get its messaging straight, as it finally clarified today just how often the system needs to check in.

As confirmed on the official site the system will require an online check-in every 24 hours on your primary console. If you're accessing your game library on someone else's system, that window gets narrowed to every hour. The page warns: "Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies."

This is similar to what Phil Harrison told Kotaku, which apparently let the cat out of the bag early. Microsoft quickly told Polygon he was merely describing "potential scenarios."

More mundane details include the recommended connection speed (1.5Mbps), and the ability to sign in and install games from your friend's house to play them there. That's certainly convenient, but the one-hour check-in time might make it less welcoming.

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Steam announced a new "Family Sharing" feature today, and is accepting beta applications to test it. When it launches fully, close friends and family will be able to play one another's games, while still earning their own achievements and saving their individual progress through the cloud.
Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Fruit Ninja will be getting a major overhaul in the next few weeks on iOS, Android and Amazon as the title's developer Halfbrick Studios has announced what improvements fans of the series can expect.


The new Fruit Ninja has been rebuilt from scratch as the title’s original menus and UI designs have been removed, and in it’s place, a new streamlined UI that makes the steps between playing, equipping new gear and using social features much easier to perform.


At the start of each game, players can once again equip different blades and dojos, each of which will have a unique effect on gameplay. These additions will add a layer of depth and strategy. Examples of the enhanced dojos and blades Halfbrick gave were the Great Wave dojo which will spawn ten fruit at once sporadically and the Autumn Blade, which creates a tornado with every pineapple it slices through. Leaderboards will not only display score totals, but also what combination of blades and dojos the player used to achieve their high score.


The Fruit Ninja update will begin rolling out across all supported platforms starting in early October. In the meantime, Halfbrick will also be releasing a five-part Origins webisode series on Fruit Ninja’s YouTube channel. The first episode, called Ninjas in Training, is available to view today and features one of the game’s newest heroes, Katsuro.


Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Valve is giving its Steam storefront some new features and a bit of an overhaul. The publisher released the Steam Discovery Update, which is meant to improve the overall shopping experience across the service.


That means there's a whole new Steam home page that will filter out less popular games, as well as games that aren't available on your operating system. Also, Valve is adding new detailed filters to the search function. Steam Curators will also allow players to offer recommendations to other Steam users, based on past purchases, recent games played, friend recommendations, or contributing to Steam Community Groups. You can also find recommendations for yourself on the new Discovery Queue.


For more, check out the Steam update page.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Mortal Kombat X isn't quite done revealing new characters, but Shacknews is still looking to keep track of the ones that are already out there. With that in mind, we recently had a chance to speak to NetherRealm Studios founder Ed Boon about Kano and Raiden.


Boon discusses the new fighter variations, their combo possibilities, the competitive implications of the fighter variants, the Unreal Engine, and more. To check out the full interview, be sure to watch the video below.


Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is preparing to do combat in just eight days, so publisher Atlus' push to highlight the game's characters continues. That means three more character trailers are being revealed.


The latest trailers highlight Teddie, the lovable stuffed teddy bear of the Persona series, who returns with his tricky attacks. There's also Mitsuru Kirijo, who returns with her speed and fearsome ice attacks. Rounding out the trailer threesome is Elizabeth, returning from the Velvet Room of Persona 3 and Persona 4 Arena with her vast array of unique attacks.


You can catch the three trailers below. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax arrives on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 30.


Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Oculus Connect was home to a lot of exciting virtual reality-based announcements. The biggest one was the new Crescent Bay prototype for Oculus Rift, further showing how much progress Oculus VR has made with their line of headsets.


Over the weekend, Shacknews had the opportunity to speak to Oculus VR's Vice President of Product, Nate Michell, about the future of virtual reality. Among the discussion points include the Alien Isolation port and the challenge of porting games to VR, as opposed to building for VR from the ground-up. Mitchell also discusses Unreal Engine 4 and the upcoming consumer version of Oculus Rift.


For the full interview, be sure to watch the video below.


Shacknews - Daniel Perez

BioShock Infinite Complete Edition has been announced by 2K today and will bring the original game and all of it’s previously released DLC into a single package on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 later this year.


“We can confirm that the BioShock Infinite Complete Edition is coming to Xbox 360, PS3, and PC later this year, and we will be sharing more information about it very soon," 2K said in a statement sent to Gamespot after revealing the bundle listed on both GameStop and Amazon.


In addition to the main game, Clash in the Clouds and both parts of Burial at Sea, BioShock Infinite Complete Edition will receive additional digital content including the Comstock’s China Broom shotgun and Comstock’s Bird’s Eye sniper rifle and more.


2K hasn’t confirmed a price or date, but the original report claims we could be seeing the bundle release on November 4 across all platforms for $40.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is a mysterious little package. It's mysterious in the sense that it was issued its release date in the shadows of the night on the eve of Tokyo Game Show and released less than 48 hours later. That's normally a red flag for a game like this, indicating that the publisher is simply looking to push this out the door and never speak of it again.


However, D4 turns out to be an interesting experience. It's story is a bit out there. The acting frequently borders on "so bad, it's good" territory, especially when it comes to the lead character's alleged Boston accent. The action sequences are delightfully goofy. Overall, Hidetaka 'Swery' Suehiro has crafted a story that's worth watching, not unlike some cult B-movies. Just like most B-movies, though, it can be hit-and-miss.



A strange man and a strange fate


D4 tells the story of detective David Young, whose life is mired in tragedy since his wife was murdered at the hands of a mysterious antagonist simply called "D." Young has dedicated himself to finding out who "D" is and bringing him to justice, which mostly involves using his keen powers of observation.


He also has time travel abilities... for some reason. By utilizing objects with special ties to the past, referred to as mementos, Young can travel back to the past and relive pivotal moments of his life. It's around this point that elements of the story start to go off the rails, but the central mystery is easy enough to follow, as Young goes back in time to piece together clues that will eventually reveal D's true identity.



Objects in motion


D4 is crafted mainly with Kinect controls in mind. A majority of the game involves grabbing objects to interact with them or holding your hand over points of interest. There's never a moment of downtime in this game, because you'll always need to keep an eye out for interactive objects. Even cutscenes will see points of interest pop up, which tie into Young's observational skills. Uncovering these various points will earn in-game credits, which become useful if Young ever loses his stamina completely.


Kinect is also mainly used for the game's action sequences. Certain scenes will see quick-time events pop up, one after the other. Only instead of buttons, the idea is to perform Dance Dance Revolution-style gestures. While missing cues would normally be frustrating in most other games, D4 doesn't let a missed cue stop the story from unfolding. An example comes when Young is literally playing cat-and-mouse with one of his allies. While I hit every early cue, I did miss a later one and, rather than put me in a fail state, the scene simply unfolded in a more comedic fashion. Though the game encourages you to get all of these instances on the money in order to finish with a 100% synch score, it won't overly penalize you if you fail.


I had little trouble with the Kinect controls, although since each episode is structured to be completed in a single sitting, it's easy for arm fatigue to set in. As mentioned before, there's really no downtime, so having your arm hovering around for an hour at a time can be tiresome. Luckily, the controller works just as well, even with some of the QTEs that are designed more for arm gestures. The controller feels fine, but it rarely feels like a better option than the Kinect sensor, which is a sensation I almost never get with Kinect games.


The only issue is that the game is overly sensitive when it comes to switching control settings back and forth. After exhausting myself with Kinect, I switched over to controller and laid down on my couch, only for the Kinect sensor to recognize my foot and set the game to go right back to Kinect controls.



A rushed investigation


One of D4's few failings is a major one. The game is designed for a grand investigation, but Young also has a stamina meter, which depletes upon interacting with literally anything in the world. Because food supplies are limited, it means that there's no chance to just poke around for fun or be thorough for the sake of being thorough. Swery has designed the game so that you get to the point as quickly as possible, which is a shame. Given how silly and enjoyable some of the characters are, it'd be nice to talk to them some more. Likewise, it would have been nice to search through more of the area, especially since there are collectibles to be found in certain places.


On that note, the camera can be unforgiving in certain spots. In one instance, I found Young's stamina almost depleted and saw the food icon right below me. I frantically tried to turn around, but couldn't pan the camera downwards where the arrow was pointing. I ultimately interacted with the wrong object and watched helplessly as Young collapsed to the ground. It was an ignominious waste of 1,000 credits.



Conclusion


D4 is bizarre. There's no other game out there where you'll find someone playfully tossing a rat in your mouth or strutting around with their lover that also happens to be a mannequin. But underneath all of those quirky story beats is an intriguing mystery, bolstered by a solid use of Kinect. Given the few Kinect adventures available right now, Swery makes a strong case for how the peripheral can be used in the right way. Though the pacing can sometimes feel rushed, I love that the story rarely ever stops, even after missing a few cues.


This is just the beginning for D4, as more episodes are forthcoming. But for now, it's a solid package. Swery's latest is off to a good start.


Final Score: 7 out of 10




This review is based on an Xbox One code provided by the publisher. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is available now from the Xbox Store for $14.99. The game is rated M.

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