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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 - Ozzie Mejia

Former Capcom producer Keiji Inafune had a surprise for PAX Prime attendees at this year's event. The Mega Man creator announced that the Mighty No. 9 beta was ready to launch for anyone that backed the game's Kickstarter. Those that gave money to the campaign should check their e-mail now for a downloadable Steam key.

The beta is meant to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the game's original announcement. At the moment, it's only a single level, with the possibility of additional levels coming later. The beta is only available to Kickstarter backers and to the PAX attendees that attended the game's panel, though there's a possibility that it could hit Steam Early Access in the future.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Capcom has a few more Resident Evil related tidbits for its audience this evening. Besides announcing Resident Evil Revelations 2, the publisher has released the first trailer for the Resident Evil remake that was announced earlier this evening.

The trailer shows off many of the remastered and remade visuals, while also maintaining the original survival horror atmosphere that made the first game such a classic. Original aspect ratios and control options will be included, as well as whole new 16:9 displays and 'analog' controls. Resident Evil is set to hit PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 in early 2015.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The latest entry from the folks at From Software has been given a release date in Japan. Sunday evening's pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan saw Bloodborne receive a February 5 release date for PlayStation 4 in the Asian region.

The former Project Beast was originally announced at E3 for a 2015 worldwide release. Gameplay footage was most recently revealed at this year's Gamescom.

While a worldwide release date has not yet been given, this Japanese date at least offers more of a ballpark window for when American audiences can expect to start dying.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Sunday evening's pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan brought some bad news for Persona fans in Japan. Persona 5, which was originally announced for late 2014, is seeing a delay until next year. However, the delay also means it will hit PlayStation 4, in addition to its previously-announced PS3 version.

No word on whether the delay will affect the North American release, which is still in line for a 2015 arrival. It'll be a while before Persona 5 hits either PlayStation system, but in the meantime, Atlus has offered up a new Japanese trailer.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Update: Capcom has issued a press release announcing further platforms. Expect to see Resident Evil Revelations 2 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

Capcom is returning to Resident Evil, albeit in a bit of an unexpected fashion. During Sunday evening's pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, Capcom announced Resident Evil Revelations 2 for PlayStation 4, the sequel to the 2012 original. The game is expected to release in early 2015.

Unlike the original game, the story will not center around Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. However, details beyond that are sparse. More is expected to be revealed at this year's Tokyo Game Show, including whether it will hit any additional platforms.

Resident Evil Revelations originally debuted on Nintendo 3DS in early 2012 and it was generally well-received by critics (including Shacknews) and fans alike for veering closer to RE's survival horror roots. The story was meant to fill the gap between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, with this sequel likely expected to serve a similar function. The game proved popular enough to warrant a number of digital ports for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Ever since its announcement earlier this year at E3 2014, Mortal Kombat X has certainly been making waves. The latest addition to the franchise has looked quite promising thus far, with the mixture of familiar characters from the series with new recruits that look like they fit right in with the brutal action. And the fatalities? Don’t even get us started. Someone’s face get sliced off, and they slump over dead on the ground, with what’s left of their brain oozing onto the ground. Hell yes, there are good fatalities here.    

Warner Bros. was kind enough to invite us to a hands-on session with the game, and, thus far, fans have nothing to worry about, as Ed Boon and the team at Netherrealm Studios have assured that the gameplay will remain completely intact. You’ll be executing special moves and pulling off fatalities in no time.

The story is still very much shrouded in secrecy, but the team has let on that the events will take place around the conclusion of MK9, and events will bounce around in time. That means past fights mixed in with future ones, and characters like D’Vora and Ferra/Torr will definitely play a part.

We got hands-on with the game, and it closely follows some of the model that Netherrealm set up with Injustice, while keeping its feet firmly planted in Mortal Kombat’s world. That may sound confusing, but elements of both really play a part. For instance, you can grab onto objects in stages and throw them at enemies, or swing from certain objects hanging overhead to add a new air offense move when you need to nail an incoming attacker. It’s just a simple press of the trigger, and you’re good to go.

The general combat, through, is all Mortal Kombat. Special moves are easy to execute, and some of the classic staples in the series remain intact, including uppercuts, sweeps and blocking incoming moves. The X-Rays are also back, and once your meter is full, all you’ll need to do is click both triggers to start the move. Once you land the first hit, you’ll pull off the special technique, watching everything from eye stabs (with a frozen pancreas, no less) to neck breaks and so forth. The X-Rays are better than ever here.

What’s new with Mortal Kombat X is the introduction of new play styles. Each fighter has three different styles to choose from, each with their own specialty moves. For instance, with Raiden, you can choose to power up his melee attacks or give him secondary teleporting capabilities, depending on what kind of offense you’re really into. It’s great having such diversity, as it mixes up each fight and makes it different. In addition, it gives fighting fans that much more to master as they pound away on their opponents.

As for finding that smooth groove with combos, don’t worry. Players can still chain together combos with ease, no matter which character they’re using. They can also find the character’s full move list right there on the pause screen, instead of needing to examine some sort of superguide in the submenu. It’s really quite helpful, especially when it comes to learning and mastering the new moves at hand. (It’s weird how Scorpion’s spear throw has changed from “back back” to “back forward,” for instance, yet it still works well.)

The graphics in Mortal Kombat X are truly satisfying, with plenty of blood sprays and other effects that really bring the game into the next generation. The backdrops are stunning, from an Outworld marketplace with shady dealers watching in the background, to a swamp-style setting where a giant alligator lurks in the distance, possibly waiting to devour the loser. The animations are slick, and the high resolution really pays off with some of the effects, particularly with Sub-Zero. When he freezes someone, for instance, the ice actually stays on him for a little while before breaking away.

Mortal Kombat X could easily be the best game in the series to date, as it’s shaping up to be a real contender. We’ll see how well the fight goes when it arrives on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and, yes, PC in 2015.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Assassin’s Creed: Unity isn’t the only game that will be making waves later this year, as Ubisoft is also preparing a little something special for fans of the series that own an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue will arrive at the same time as Unity, but provides a different take on the series, as this time you portray Shay Patrick Cormac, a former Assassin who turns the tables on his clan and joins up with the Templars. It’s just about time to hunt.

In the game, you’ll be fighting your way through 1750’s America, stopping by such locations as River Valley and New York City as you sail the Morrigan, your fine vessel, while upgrading it to make sure you can traverse through dangerous waters. It’s Arctic weather out there, and, as such, you need to make sure your ship is upgraded with the Ice Ram so you can break through glaciers without taking much damage to your ship. You can also upgrade other factors, just as you could with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, to make your ship even better in battle.

The naval combat featured in Rogue is exceptional, as this time around a couple of new abilities really make a difference. Along with firing cannons from the side at any targets that get in your way (including hunting down Assassin ships), you can fire cannons from the front, as well as leak oil in the back, which automatically sets fire and damages any ships that may be in pursuit.

Perhaps the best new ability, though, is ramming. By holding down the trigger and pressing A, your ship goes into a charging attack that most small vessels won’t be able to withstand. It’s good against big ships as well, although you need to prepare for a post-ram attack if they’re still standing on the sea.

The game has plenty of great ground combat as well, as Shay can easily get around like the best Assassins, and has a few abilities to his credit. The weapons he carries are rather cool, including a variety of darts with different effects. Our personal favorite is the firecracker dart, which can actually spark and set off explosive items, including poison gas canisters surrounding Assassin camps. He also carries a significant air rifle that can do damage to enemies from a distance, perfect for sniping enemies from afar (if the situation calls for it).

However, there’s a sweet catch with Rogue. When you’re hunting Assassins, all the abilities that you mastered with those characters are actually turned against you here. That means Assassins will be hiding in haystacks, diving from above, and performing the same kind of maneuvers you’ve gotten used to in the series. This will require you to think twice with your targets, as Shay has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, players will be able to adapt to his style rather quickly, and successfully bring down Assassins by utilizing shortcuts and tactics of their own.

Although it is a “last generation” title, Rogue looks outstanding thus far, with beautiful details in the Arctic surroundings, such as hunting down a shipwreck and climbing to the very top to perform synchronization. The glacier break-through effects in particular are kind of sweet, as you bust through ice and bigger ice blocks and watch them melt into the ocean. Even against the likes of Unity, it looks good.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue will bring the hunt to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so be sure to, ahem, hunt down a copy for yourself.


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