New Xbox Experience Preview

Today the New Xbox Experience Preview (The Xbox Live Fall Update) was released to a small group of users to provide feedback on the upcoming NXE release on the 19th of November.

Thanks again to Major Nelson for adding me to the queue to review the NXE.

The Update prompts like any other and your system will cycle. Then it took another 12 minutes to download and for the update to process.

Process just ended…. now greeted with a “Welcome to the New Xbox Experience” message. The Xbox logo fades and an animated sequence executes. Then I am prompted to login with my user profile.

Now it is on to avatar creation. The system gives you a base set of options to customize your likeness. It is a fairly simple system and it looks like it will be built around micro-transactions moving forward. My Avatar is now complete with fin… (See Below)

NXE - Avatar

The rest of the experience is a nice addition to Live. The UI is slick and very easy to navigate. The Marketplace has been overhauled with some nice additions such as box shots for arcade titles and a more appealing flow than the previous lists upon lists of text.

My previous themes are still applicable and the gamerpic is still relevant as you have the option to use your avatar to post as your gamerpic.

The Video marketplace is where a big improvement was made. One of the big recent announcements is the support for NetFlix and HD movie content through Live. This will be a nice addition and allow for instant streaming of the latest HD movies.

The Friends area also received a nice treatment. You can view your friends avatars an get a nice boxshot of the games they are currently playing. You can also invite friends into an 8 person “party” session.

So far I do like the change. I was not sure how I would feel going to an avatar based system. But after giving it a go I have to say I am pleasantly surprised!

This is definitely a change for the better!

Pic of the NXE

NXE - Home

9 Years

I wanted to take a moment and thank my wife for the best 9 years of my life so far.

We were married in October of 1999 on this day and I consider myself the luckiest man in the world to have found a woman I love so deeply. Now after 9 years and 3 kiddos I still feel the same as I did 9 years ago.

Thank you Cherlyn for all that you do!

Happy Anniversary  


Game Review – Dead Space

Dead_Space-ishimuraOverview: When we first started talking to Electronic Arts (EA) about our platform powering the Dead Space pre-launch site I was hooked on the concept. Born from a rouge EA team, DeadSpace is a bold step forward for EA. It is a brand new IP and it is a true survival/horror title which has an M rating. When gameplay videos and art work were posted I knew this would be a game worth the price of admission.

Set in the distant future, Dead Space revolves around Isaac Clarke, a space engineer who works for the Concordance Extraction Corporation (C.E.C.), a company that operates giant mining ships throughout the galaxy. When the C.E.C. receives a distress call from the USG Ishimura (a “Planet Cracker”-class ship that destroys planets in order to extract valuable ore), Isaac and four other C.E.C. employees set out on the USG Kellion to rendezvous with the Ishimura in orbit above Aegis 7. Their assumption is that a mechanical failure is the only problem. At the beginning of the game, Isaac is seen repeatedly watching a video sent to him by his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, who is currently onboard the Ishimura.

Shortly after crash landing on the Ishimura flight deck, the crew of USG Kellion is attacked by hostile creatures called Necromorphs. These creatures reproduce by infecting deceased human bodies, violently mutating them into one of their own. Isaac escapes down an elevator and kills a Necromorph by trapping it in the elevator doors, but is separated from the rest of the team. At this point, Isaac, Kendra Daniels, and Zach Hammond are the only surviving members.

I really enjoy titles that I can become immersed in the back-story. DeadSpace offers those that want to go beyond the game to understand what led to the events on the Ishimura and the planet they were sent to crack. There is a DVD, Graphic Novel and the micro site that will allow you to take your experience beyond your console.

Gameplay: The real hook for this title is around how you engage the necromorphs. The traditional “fill’em full of led” mindset just does not work and there is not enough ammo to go around so you have to strategically target the various, and I do mean various, limbs of the necromorphs. This is where the interface again is extremely efficient. You have laser guided targeting (Think Predator) that combined with Stasis can lead to quickly dispatching your would be attackers. And yes there is an achievement for using stasis 50 times on an enemy.

With this being a 3rd person shooter (Think Gears of War & Resident Evil) I cannot reiterate how smooth the interface is. The in-game assets (video, text, and audio logs) are managed through a holographic interface that moves with you so you are not slowed down. There is essentially not an onscreen HUD. Your health and stasis are built into the back of the main character’s RIG. This is one of the best titles I have played in recent memory. The graphics (Both PS3 & Xbox version) are simply amazing.

The environment also plays a significant role in the gameplay. As you creep down a dark corridor, lights flickering, sounds and moans emanating from the background, you can hardly see in front of you and then….. is just the norm in this title. It is an eerie sight to see a slow moving necromorph wandering in the distance then before you know it they are on you. There were a few times where I literally lost my head while walking into an area without being overly cautious. I recommend saving often (especially on the harder game modes). Similar to a vitachamber from BioShock, when you do happen to get decapitated, over-run, roasted, or lost in space due to a bad jump you will start from a pre-determined checkpoint close to a save point.

The gameplay is smooth, the game itself is all about objectives. From starting a Tram system to fixing communication relays, Isaac is an engineer after all be prepared for a large number of scavenger hunts. luckily one of the best features in the game is an objective marker. Simply hit R3, and you will often, and you will be on your way to your next objective.

There are many points in the game where you will encounter Zero Gravity and be forced to complete objectives while being attacked and trying to maintain some semblance of orientation. This leads to a very interesting element of gameplay as it becomes a 360 degree event. You will also reach decompressed areas of the ship which trigger your backup O2. I recommend upgrading your air capacity with your RIG as this is just as important as health in some areas.

The Boss Battles are not epic, although one is in Zero-G which makes it quite interesting but otherwise they are nothing out of the ordinary. What is frustrating are the times you will assume the ships cannons to stop asteroids and aliens. The controls are sluggish and the cannon tends to overheat quickly. Good luck pursuing the 50% hull integrity achievements x2.

Online: There is not an online mode available

Weapons: For mining tools they sure come in handy for taking out necromorphs. There are seven weapons in the game: Plasma Cutter, Pulse Rifle, Flamethrower, Line Gun, Ripper, Force Gun and the Contact Beam. Each is ideal for different scenarios. Use the flamethrower on small, fast enemies. For the big guys the line or force guns are good to have. The Ripper is my favorite weapon in the game by far… It launches a saw blade that you control to make quick work of your alien attackers. The Plasma Cutter is definitely a weapon that you can use in almost every situation. It has range, but is very efficient in close quarters. When it comes to upgrading your arsenal start with the plasma cutter. You will not be disappointed. In fact there is an achievement for completing the game with only the Plasma Cutter (40 points).

Similar to BioShock you do have some telekinetic abilities. Stasis allows you to freeze or slow down fast moving objects and enemies and you have Kinesis to grab and move objects. As the game progresses this is a core element to complete some of the puzzle elements of the game.

You have the ability to upgrade your RIG, weapons and kinesis throughout the game. This is done through Power Nodes which are found throughout the game or purchased through the store. The upgrades follow a Too Human approach of various node paths that you select to optimize your weapon to your liking. I always focused on Damage and Capacity while trying to max out one weapon at a time.

During gameplay you will more than likely locate a number of different schematics. They allow for increased armor, ammunition and health to be purchased through the various stores. Some of the schematics associated with your armor allow you to increase health and inventory slots which is very helpful. So far I have upgraded through to a level 6 military suit that looks like the captain from the Valor. This was awarded for completing the game and cost $99,000 in the store but it was well worth the price. (See images below)

Achievements: From an achievement standpoint you can collect anywhere from 500-700 points on your first play through. My first play through took 9 hours 38 minutes. I cleared 37 of 48 Xbox 360 achievements for 665 points and 22 trophies on PS3. The achievements follow a finish the chapter get points and kill x number of enemies with all weapons, etc…. It took roughly 5 days (9 hours to finish). There are also a number of secret achievements tied to boss battles and other interesting ways to engage with the environment and enemies.

Downloadable Content: I enjoy DLC that allows me to change the skin of my player. Especially with 3rd person based games. The DLC for Dead Space offers 2 new level 5 suits. The first was an exclusive Xbox Elite suit which offered a lighter gray & green visor combo. The second was the Scorpion Suit (one of my favorites outside of the military skin). This level 5 suit cost 200 Microsoft points and is red of course with a scorpion insignia on the back of Isaacs helmet.


  • One of the best HUD experiences I have ever experienced
  • Stunning Visuals
  • Great environment (sound, lighting, ambiance) this a great game to play late at night with the lights off
  • Visually one of the best 360/PS3 titles to date
  • Objective Marker – As in Army of Two it is very helpful to know where you need to go
  • Zero Gravity – The zero gravity elements are executed to perfection
  • In-Game Assets – Takes the BioShock asset management and interface to another level with movable holograms
  • The Ripper… I love this weapon
  • One Button Health – Instead of pulling up the inventory, press X or Square (PS3) to use your lowest available health module
  • Strategic Striking – Instead of emptying your magazine into an enemy it is faster to dismember them
  • DLC – New Isaac Skins (Elite,  Scorpion)


  • Errand Boy – It is a constant get this, go here, blow this up, hit this switch type of experience but that still does not detract from how well executed this game is
  • Melee Attacks are lacking.. by lacking I mean slow
  • Boss battles are average (Minus a certain battle in Zero-G)
  • Asteroids – This can be one of the most frustrating elements of the game. You will know it when you get there
  • Monologues – Certain characters like to “monologue” at certain points of the game. I would like to option to fast forward to the action


Xbox 360 – 9
PS3 – 9.5

This is one of the best games that I have played on the PS3 to date. For the 360 this is one of my top 10 Xbox 360 titles. It is challenging (Especially on Impossible Mode), visually stunning and at some points will seriously surprise you. I would highly recommend it. You don’t need to be a fan of the horror genre to appreciate this title. Biowhat???

Level 6 Suit – Front


Level 6 Suit – Back


Robblehead Invasion

intelligentlogoToday marks the first day of the In.Telligent conference. This is the 2nd conference put on by Telligent and this year we have had a significant turnout for both the business and development tracks.

Rob Howard opened the day with a rousing Keynote that reiterated the direction of Telligent. Mark McKinney of IMC2 provided a great case study into the Alli experience and Scott Dockendorf covered a number of client examples. When Rob provided his closing comments it was time to announce the pending invasion….

Rob was aware something was coming but when he wrapped I had the opportunity to announce to all of the conference attendees that they would receive their own Robblehead. Not only would they be receiving one but they would have the golden opportunity to have theirs autographed by Mr. Rob Howard himself.

Rob, keep your sharpie ready!


Dead Space Pre-Release Copy Part 2

I have now finished the first 5 missions of the much anticipated EA survival/horror title and all I can say is WOW.

I cannot reiterate how smooth the interface is. From the video, text, and audio logs similar to Bioshock, to the zero-G sections. There is essentially not an onscreen HUD. Your health and stasis are built into the back of the main character’s RIG. This is one of the best titles I have played in recent memory. The graphics (PS3 version) are simply amazing.

I have upgraded my suit to level 3 (Pictured below) out of I belive 4 and I have collected all of the available weapons. One thing that is not completely apparent is that anything with a white/green light on it you can open in some form or fashion. Also, inventory management and power node hunting are things to keep in mind. What I have found is that any opportunity to use a power node to open a door is well worth the cost as you can purchase additional nodes for 10,000 credits.

Also, engaging an enemy is different each time. Different weapons work for different scenarios. Use the flamethrower on small, fast enemies. For the big guys the line or force guns are good to have. The Ripper is my favorite weapon in the game by far… It launches a sawblade that you control to make quick work of your alien attackers…

I cannot wait to get through the final 7 levels. It takes about an hour to an hour and half if you are covering every area to clear a level. I cannot wait to get through the final 7 levels. One thing is for certain. I would be completely lost without the R3 button on this title. Similar to Army of Two, it is tied to the current objective and if you get turned around you will be able to find your way.

I highly, highly recommend picking up this title when it releases!!!

Dead Space – Pre-Release Copy

Today I received a copy of Dead Space from our friends at EA Redwood Shores (Thanks MJ & JA). And all I can say is WOW it was worth the wait!!! Oh and did I mention that it was a PS3 copy and not a 360 copy? Shocking I know!?!

I have been eagerly anticipating this title since we first became involved with it. It is definitely worth the wait. Dead Space is different than any other EA title I have ever played. I am also a fan of any series that expands beyond the default medium. With Dead Space if you really want to immerse yourself in the story an animated DVD will launch on the same date the game releases and there is already a series of comics dedicated to the pre-story of Dead Space.

Regarding the actual game… the graphics are outstanding! It took a minute to adjust to the camera controls but it becomes very natural after a few minutes. The interface is extremely clean with the health meter built into the main character Isaac’s suit. The inventory system, mission objectives, and targeting systems are all very clean and flow very well together.

I played through the first of twelve missions and I cannot express how impressed I was. Think Bioshock fear factor multiplied by 100. This is the type of game that definitely gets your attention and fast. If you close your eyes and just listen to the background noise while progressing through the level and you will think you stepped into your worst nightmare as you hear chains rattling, and odd rustling coming from all directions.

The in-game assets, credits, audio logs, and  other collectibles are easy to identify as everything pops up as a hologram. The Plasma Cutter is a fun weapon as it is well known that the main premise of the game is dismembering your alien attackers and the PC delivers. Also, you have a stasis component to your weapon that allows you to significantly slow down a fast moving enemy which is very helpful.

I look forward to playing through the rest of the game but this is a definite pickup as the official street release date is October 14th on both Xbox 360 and the PS3.

On the home-front, we are officially a three (next-gen) console household. We have a few Xbox 360’s, a Playstation 3 and a Wii. After I hit my point goal of 50,000K on the 360 I feel comfortable playing the occasional PS3 title without fear of losing achievement points. I am really looking forward to Little Big Planet and Metal Gear Solid 4. No worries though… while I am impressed with the PS3 from a hardware perspective (Integrated wireless, browser capabilities, etc..) the only issue I have is that the Xbox 360 HDMI cable would not work with the PS3. Regardless of this fact I will always be an Xbox 360 guy for this generation of consoles.