Xbox LIVE Wrap-Up for January 28th, 2010

We’ve had a couple of fairly intense weeks of Xbox LIVE updates, haven’t we? As we approach the end of January, it appears the service is cooling off a little, just like it is certainly cooling off in my neck of the woods with this bothersome wind, freezing temperatures, and snow. If you don’t feel like being outside, though, that just means you have the perfect excuse to stay inside where it is nice and warm with a controller in your hands. Understandably, we have a little bit of a stall on the service thanks to this week’s release of BioWare’s Mass Effect 2, however, we’re not just running on fumes this week either. We have a couple of game add-ons to extend life to hits such as Assassin’s Creed II, the Games on Demand service adds a couple of notable titles at serviceable prices and, of course, we have a new deal of the week.

Xbox LIVE Arcade – KrissX
I’d actually never heard of this title before it was announced this week, so let’s hope that speaks no volumes about its quality as word puzzle buffs may finally have a casual ticket with KrissX. The title, published by Konami and developed by Regolith Games, has players unscrambling jumbled word puzzles. By rearranging two letters within a group, players form a word that correlates with an onscreen clue and with tiles arranged similar to a crossword puzzle, correct moves can form combos to score more points and give the player a higher rating. With 3,500 words and 150 stages, there seems to be a decent amount of work to be done among quest and time attack modes and the game promises hidden puzzles to keep players coming back.

KrissX comes in at 800 Microsoft Points, so if you’re looking to flex your brain, learn some new words, or just want to check out the newest casual-style title on Xbox LIVE, you might want to give the demo a shot.

As promised, we featured a review of Matt Hazard: Blood Bath & Beyond in case you were holding off on that title and as we speak, we have reviewers working hard on last week’s additions – Death by Cube and Vandal Hearts: Flame of Judgment – so expect to see those soon.

Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week – Portal: Still Alive is now 800 Microsoft Points
This week sees Portal: Still Alive being chopped 33%, offering the game to those who have not yet experienced it for the reduced price of $10. Through all of the buzz and Internet memes, you probably know what Portal is all about and this download adds a handful of new chambers and puzzles to the original title. While at the time of the game’s release, having Portal on its own for $15 was a decent proposition, you have to now consider The Orange Box ranks in at less than $20 at most used game shops, giving you four full additional games for almost that same price. If you’re remotely interested in this deal, you might want to keep that in mind to get the most bang for your buck as, unfortunately, we do not have a review of the title onsite. Outside of the value factor, though, Portal served as one of the more innovative games for its time and it definitely has a witty charm coupled with very solid, challenging gameplay. You’ll definitely get your $10 bucks’ worth here if having the extra content is worth it for you.

Game Add-Ons – Mass Effect 2, Pinball FX, Assassin’s Creed II
If you managed to pick up Mass Effect 2 this week, you’ve probably had these downloaded since midnight on Tuesday. However, if you’re waiting for a payday, price drop or whatever, you’ll be glad to know the game has launched with a handful of free DLC add-ons, accessible straight from the game itself. I’ve seen at least three packs launched on the game’s Cerberus Network and doing their part to extend the life of the game just a hair. BioWare has stated future DLC added to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace outside of the game will require some moolah to download. Until then, enjoy the freebies and look forward to our full review of Mass Effect 2 coming in the near future.

Pinball FX also gets the add-on treatment this week, adding on a brand new Excalibur table for owners of the game to enjoy at the cost of 240 Microsoft Points. The expansion takes on a Knights of the Round Table theme and sports a number of features that one would expect from a pinball table.

Finally, Assassin’s Creed II will receive an expansion today, extending the life another great title. This expansion, weighing in at 320 Microsoft Points, will add six additional memories to the title and will see the player defending the port city of Forli.

Games on Demand – Halo Wars, Dead Rising
With the recent addition of Halo Wars to the Platinum series of best-selling titles, now seems like as good of time as any to post this title up for download. Just like its brand new shelf price tag, this download will cost $30. The price seems reasonable according to A.J. Hess’ review of Halo Wars from when the title launched earlier in 2009.

Also landing on the service is Capcom’s Dead Rising, the breakout zombie hit from early in the Xbox 360’s life that is anticipating a sequel in the near future (and also splashing fan service in games such as Tatsunoko vs. Capcom). Another best-selling title, Dead Rising has been added for the price of $20. If you’ve still never experienced this mall-filled zombie fest, you can jump into the Wayback Machine and view Mark B.’s 2006 review of Dead Rising.

Xbox Avatars Marketplace – Assassin’s Creed
Well, speaking of Assassin’s Creed, it looks like gamers logging on today will be greeted with an Avatar Marketplace update sporting Assassin’s Creed items. These items will go it alone, as they are the only additions scheduled for this week for the Avatars.

Music Game Marketplace
With many music game titles receiving expansion content on a weekly basis, it may start to become hard to follow, especially with these updates usually covering up the entire line of recent updates on the Xbox dashboard. This week, new updates unfold for our usual lineup of titles:

Rock Band
Blue Ã-yster Cult – “Godzilla”
Blue Ã-yster Cult – “Transmaniacon MC”
Hawkwind – “Master of the Universe”
I Mother Earth – “Levitate”
Motörhead – “Killed by Death ’08″
Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” (2008 re-recording)
Rage Against the Machine – “Bulls on Parade”

Lips
Venessa Carlton – “Ordinary Day”
Fleetwood Mac – “Little Lies”
Robbie Williams – “Tripping”

Guitar Hero – Jan. 28
Creedence Clearwater Revival Pack
“Proud Mary”
“Bad Moon Rising”
“Travelin’ Band”

That wasn’t so bad after all, right? Next week seems a bit more fleshed out, though, so use those Microsoft Points sparingly. Of course, we’ll be back next week to run the goods down.

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