Slave to the Game

Filling you in on the oddball gaming news

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The Fall Xbox 360 dashboard update has now been officially revealed, and it's looks awesome with Xbox Classics and films on demand. December 4 is the date you'll need to watch out for; that's the day you'll be able to download and play Halo. Yes, Halo as in the Xbox game, through Marketplace, on your Xbox 360. Isn't technology great!

Microsoft is introducing games it has published for the original Xbox on XBL Marketplace, with the eventual plan to bring as much of the back catalogue across as possible. Third party games will also be available to 'demand'. Games cost about 1200 Microsoft points (about ten quid), which according to us puts them a little over what you'd pay for them second hand. The initial list of downloads includes Halo, Fable, Fahrenheit, Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex and Burnout 3. All good then, apart from maybe Crash.

The official blurb reads: "Starting on Dec. 4, all Xbox Live members will receive a free system update with a host of new features and enhancements. Included in this update will be the launch of Xbox Originals, which, for the first time, will enable consumers to download and own full Xbox games, such as Halo, Psychonauts, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Fable, among others, directly to their Xbox 360. This new service will launch with an array of blockbuster titles spanning the most popular genres from action-adventure to classic role-playing games."

And if that wasn't enough, films on demand, though not confirmed for the December 4 date, aren't far away either. Studios such as Warner Bros are potentially lined up for the service, so we can look forward to films such as The Dark Knight, The Assassination of Jesse James and I Am Legend appearing eventually. Films will cost less than a fiver and come in 720p resolution. You have 14 days to start watching a film once it has downloaded. Once you started watching a film, you have 24 hours to finish it.

After that, the film deletes itself from your hard drive. It's basically an online rental service then, like the US Video Marketplace that's been going for a few months now.

Microsoft has been vigorously inspecting Xbox 360 consoles sent in for repairs in Taiwan which has resulted in the usual turnaround time of seven days being extended to as long as one month since October, according to retail channels in Taiwan.

The sources commented that the tighter inspection was motivated by a need to see if game consoles have been illegally modified to use pirated games and a need to screen consoles which really need repair. However, consumers are increasingly becoming discontent with the tighter attitude towards after-sales repairs, the sources pointed out.

Sony has confirmed to Eurogamer that all PlayStation 2 titles that support rumble and are compatible with PS3 will also rumble if you use the new DualShock 3 pad.

During last week's hands-on with the new controller, we noted that PS2 rumble seemed to be disabled. Since then, PS3 firmware 2.0 has quietly introduced support.

The news from Sony adds to anecdotal evidence from eager importers who reported success getting rumble out of games like Rez and Katamari Damacy.

PlayStation 3 games that already support the pad include MotorStorm, Resistance: Fall of Man and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction.

So, another reason to put one on your shopping list, although you might have to wait a while if you opt for an import - the demand, not to mention price, seems pretty high. The official European and US release date for DualShock 3 is spring 2008.

The PS3’s abilities just keep on expanding, and one of the newest future additions will be support for a popular video codec.

DivX, Inc. announced a partnership with Sony that will let its video technology be integrated into a future, yet undetermined, PS3 system update. The obvious benefit is that owners of the PS3 will be able to access far more videos than previously capable. But as an additional bonus, soon game developers will also be able to use DivX technology for future title creation, and the PS3 Software Development Kit will also be getting the DivX upgrade.

CEO of DivX, Inc., Kevin Hell, spoke regarding the announcement of the DivX upgrade for the PS3. “We are excited to work with Sony Computer Entertainment to bring DivX to PS3. Our technology will expand the multimedia functionality of PS3 by enabling users to enjoy access to the broad library of content in the DivX digital media format,” said Hell.

A chronic shortage of Nintendo's popular Wii console could mean disappointment for those putting it at the top of their Christmas list.

The BBC has learned that high street retailers are struggling to keep up with demand for the console, which has been in short supply for months.

Websites such as Wii-consoles.co.uk have been set up to help shoppers find out when stock becomes available.

Nintendo said it was "doing everything possible" to keep up with demand.

Its push to fill the shelves in time for Christmas will see it ship an extra 3.5 million consoles globally. It is not known how many extra consoles will make it to UK shelves.

In April Nintendo estimated a yearly shipment of 14m units, but that has now been raised to 17.5m.

Despite this, the gaming giant admitted that not everyone who wants one is guaranteed a Wii this Christmas.

"The demand for Wii hardware globally has been unprecedented and higher than Nintendo could ever have anticipated," said a spokeswoman.

"Nintendo is now in a position in which seasonality demand trends are being broken, therefore the demand for Wii hardware is constant throughout the whole year globally. Due to this phenomenon it is possible that the demand for Wii hardware may outstrip supply," she said.