This week at Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany, Microsoft busted out a whole bunch of gaming news. Courtesy of Major Nelson & his blog, here is a quick summary:
Age of Empires Online
Delivering a new take on a beloved PC franchise, “Age of Empires Online” will be available worldwide Aug. 16, inviting players to create a living, growing online empire with more than 40 hours of free gameplay. In addition, Microsoft announced two limited time offers on “Age of Empires Online” premium content for the game:
- Season’s Pass: Users will get all of the game’s premium content for the first six months at a 30 percent discount.
- Defense of Crete Booster Pack: With the purchase of the Greek and Egyptian Premium Civilizations, users will get the Defense of Crete Booster Pack free.
Dance Central 2
To ensure you’re completely prepared to get your best groove on when “Dance Central 2” launches on Oct. 21 in Europe and Asia, Oct. 25 in North America, and Oct. 27 in Japan, here are the latest feature announcements to keep the “Dance Central” party popping:
- Epic Full Body Dance Battle! Players rep their favorite dance crew and go toe-to-toe against one another with two-player simultaneous tracking and compete to stand out in “spotlight sections” where their solo performance is put on display. The new Free-4-All mini-game replaces freestyle sections during Dance Battle, adding an all new competitive scoring mechanic into the mix. Players can jump ahead in score by quickly performing moves from the song worth tons of points.
- Meet the crews of “Dance Central 2”! With the addition of simultaneous multiplayer, “Dance Central 2” adds 4 dance crews to the mix for players to rep. RipTide, Hi-Def, Flash4ward and Lu$h Crew all bring fierce personalities, amazing moves and unique looks to the world of “Dance Central.” Whether you’re playing through the crew challenge or battling it out with a friend, you have to know: which crew are you?
- Voice integration throughout the game! You can use voice commands to select songs, pause during routines, and dictate rehearsal during Break it Down. Jumping into a routine is as simple as telling Kinect the song, mode, and difficulty and instructing it do what that little box has always dreamed of: “Xbox, Dance.”
- An all new, customizable Break it Down experience with improved per-limb tracking, allows players to customize practice sessions to focus on select moves. Use voice commands to speed through the process, and even compare video playback of their dancing to the on-screen dancer!
- 13 new songs unveiled!(Over 40 songs on disc available at launch), from artists including: Flo Rida, David Guetta, Akon, Daddy Yankee, Fergie, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga keep the jams hyphy and on point. Songs include:
- Flo Rida feat David Guetta – Club Can’t Handle Me
- David Guetta feat Akon – Sexy Chick
- Daddy Yankee feat Fergie – Impacto
- Darude – Sandstorm
- Daft Punk – Technologic
- O-Zone – Dragostea Din Tei
- Bruno Mars – Grenade
- Donna Summer – Hot Stuff
- Gnarls Barkley – Run
- Lena – Satellite
- Enrique Iglesias – I Like It
- Lady Gaga – Born This Way
- Exile – I Wish for You
- The biggest racing game of the year launches in North America on Oct. 11, Europe Oct. 14, and globally Oct. 20.
- Turn 10 Studios revealed the legendary Hockenheim Ring as one of the new tracks featured in “Forza Motorsport 4.” A revealing behind-the-scenes video is available detailing the lengths Turn 10 Studios took in bringing the track to life in the game – mapping every turn, capturing every detail, and replicating how the track drives for the most realistic experience ever in “Forza Motorsport 4.”
- In celebration of its partnership with Turn 10 Studios and “Forza Motorsport 4,” BMW unveiled the 2012 BMW M5 for the first time at the Xbox booth. Fans will be able to virtually explore, race, and tune the 2012 BMW M5 in “Forza Motorsport 4” before it’s available anywhere else, whether it’s in game or on the road
- Launching in Germany for the first time in the franchise’s history, “Gears of War 3” is the spectacular conclusion to one of the most memorable and celebrated sagas in video games.
- gamescom attendees will have a chance to experience the genre-defining Horde 2.0 mode at the Xbox booth and get an early taste of this year’s most highly anticipated blockbuster.
- “Gears of War 3” begins hitting store shelves on Sept. 20.
- The latest Gadget, “Air Band,” introduces new Augmented Reality technology to Kinect and places you on stage as the star of your living room with a guitar, drums or keyboard. “Air Band” will be unveiled at gamescom and available in Kinect Fun Labs on Aug. 22.
- Launching in North America on Oct. 25, in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on Oct. 27, and in Europe on Oct. 28, “Kinect Sports: Season Two” lets YOU be the champion with six of the world’s most popular sports, taking the most popular Kinect franchise to the next level with new in-game voice commands, enhanced full-body gameplay, and the ability to compete with friends and family any time through the new Challenge Play mode.
- The roster of action-packed experiences in “Season Two” expands with two new sports from the line-up debuting at gamescom for the first time: Darts and Tennis!
- BONUS OFFER: Pre-order your copy today and receive exclusive unlockable avatar gear for a limited time only! – details at www.xbox.com/kinectsportsseasontwo.
- For the first time in Star Wars history, players can become a Rancor, the monster Luke Skywalker battles beneath Jabba the Hutt’s throne room in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Through the power of Kinect for Xbox 360, players will control the Rancor with intuitive body movements like stomping, charging, roaring, and jumping. As the Rancor, players can grab, toss, and eat Jawas, stormtroopers, droids and other enemies, plus pull TIE fighters out of the sky, fight AT-STs, and destroy everything in sight.
- Previously shown content for Kinect Star Wars included the Jedi and Podracing modes. First revealed at Comic-Con 2011, the Podracing game mode challenges players to race alongside the surviving participants of the Boonta Eve Classic in memorable Pods and other unlockable vehicles from the Star Wars universe.
Kinectimals Now with Bears!
- On Oct. 11, animal lovers of all ages around the globe will be able to experience “Kinectimals Now with Bears!,” an updated and extended release of the popular “Kinectimals” game. “Kinectimals Now with Bears!” adds to the original five feline cubs with five additional cat species and a whole new island of cuddly bear cubs ready for new adventures and interactions.
- Coming this fall, the Xbox 360 franchise “Kinectimals” comes to Windows Phone. “Kinectimals” for Widows Phone takes all the fun of the hit, Kinect launch title “Kinectimals” beyond the living room. Players can care for and bond with their favorite pet cat or bear cub using touch screen controls to feed, pet, play and nurture them on-the-go from their Widows Phone while also enjoying Xbox LIVE integration of Achievements and Leaderboards.
Xbox LIVE Arcade Games
gamescom attendees will see a wave of new games for Xbox LIVE Arcade which are playable for the first time, including:
- “Hole in the Wall,” which brings all of the fun of the wacky international TV phenomenon straight to your Xbox 360 Kinect. “Hole in the Wall” arrives Aug. 24th for 800 Microsoft Points.
- “Skulls of the Shogun” : An arcade-strategy game where players take turns guiding portions of their army of phantom Samurai in ghostly combat in the Samurai afterlife, “Skulls of the Shogun” will be playable at the Microsoft Booth all week.
- “Trials Evolution” : The follow-up to the best-selling, critically acclaimed “Trials HD,” “Trials Evolution,” the arcade stunt motorcycle racing gaming returns to Xbox LIVE Arcade this year with approximately 60 tracks across single player and multiplayer modes and skill mini-games that give the player fresh, new challenges.
XBLA fans in Europe will also be able to get their hands on “Iron Brigade.” After its June debut as “Trenched” in the U.S., the WWI-styled mobile trench game from Double Fine Productions is coming to Europe this September with a new name – “Iron Brigade” – and will be renamed as such globally. In “Iron Brigade,” players protect humanity from the evil Monovision menace and use a combination of mobile firepower and stationary defenses to turn the tide of war.
Xbox LIVE Games on Windows Phone
Along with the Mango update, Microsoft is introducing new features including the ability to purchase add-on game content, show off Avatar Awardables, manage access with parental controls, and improve the mobile multiplayer experience with Fast Async play.
In addition to launching “Chickens Can’t Fly,” and “Toy Soldiers Boot Camp,” the mobile companion to “Toy Soldiers: Cold War,” we are announcing a new collection of games set to hit the Xbox LIVE Games Hub on Windows Phone later this year.
- “Chickens Can’t Fly” : Join the ranks of our scientists and see what chickens are capable of! Conduct experiments throughout four Laboratories and when you’re confident of your skill, try the Survival mode or take part in the Global Weekly Challenge. Similar to unlocking Achievements, players will be able to unlock Avatar items. These items will automatically appear in their Avatar Closet and can then be worn to show off their gaming accomplishments.
- “Toy Soldiers Boot Camp” : Wage war on a tiny scale in “Toy Soldiers Boot Camp” which brings the fun and addictive shooting gallery mini-games from “Toy Soldiers: Cold War” to your Windows Phone. Additionally, earn bragging rights in “Cold War” on Xbox 360 through an integrated mobile leaderboard.
- “Kinectimals” Mobile: Coming this fall, “Kinectimals” for Windows Phone takes all the fun of the hit, Kinect launch title “Kinectimals” beyond the living room. Players can care for and bond with their favorite pet cat or bear cub by feeding, petting, playing and nurturing them on-the-go from their Windows Phone.
- “Beards & Beaks: Cave Area” : Gnome Town, an idyllic place of gnome mellow … suddenly overrun with murders of crows so audacious that even Hitchcock would take refuge behind a toadstool. Who knew the two could get so down and dirty in a turf war that knows no bounds? Fifteen challenging new levels lie ahead in the “Cave Area” Add-on Content. A new gnome ally and enemies await.
- “Bug Village”: This is Bug Village – a tiny town where you build and nurture a colony of active ants and busy bees! Construct homes to attract playful bugs and direct them to the garden, where they can gather resources to expand your village. Feed your bugs to keep them energized and healthy. Add cute decorations and flowers to make the colony buzz with excitement! Small is beautiful in “Bug Village”!
- “TextTwist 2″: The diabolical minds at GameHouse, creators of Bounce Out and Collapse, bring you a more cerebral challenge: You’ve got two minutes and thirty seconds to make as many words as possible with either six or seven random letters. Figure out the combination with the most letters and move to the next level. A classic word scramble for a digital world. Take a break and exercise your brain all at once!
You can also expect the following smash hits from Microsoft Studios and their top partners, including: “Gravity Guy,” “Farm Frenzy 2,” “Fight Game Rivals,” “Orbital,” “Burn the Rope,” “COLLAPSE!,” “IonBall EX,” and “MUSH.