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E3 has been a hectic week of new console game announcements, both retail and downloadable. With so many ID@Xbox games just announced for the Xbox One, it's easy to miss that a new indie game actually came out this week! 1001 Spikes is a retro-style platformer from Japanese developer 8bits Fanatics and publisher Nicalis. I guarantee fans of Spelunky, platforming, and local multiplayer will absolutely eat it up.

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Last week was a dry week as far as retail Xbox game releases. But both Xbox One and 360 got the phenomenal downloadable puzzle/shooter Super Time Force, so nobody should have complained too much. All of you FPS guys need to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try – you won’t be disappointed. Oh, but First-Person Shooter fans do have reason to celebrate this week. ..

Wolfenstein: The New Order from Bethesda and Machine Head Games has finally arrived on the Xbox One and 360! The latest entry in the series that basically started the FPS genre (yes, it preceded Doom and even Call of Duty!) is a single-player tour-de-force. And Xbox 360 gamers have a more lighthearted downloadable game to play now - Max: the Curse of Brotherhood. Read on for details and exclusive Wolfenstein screenshots!

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No new retail games hit the Xbox consoles last week, although Defense Technica and Dustforce did quietly slip onto XBLA. But this week we have a major retail release and a highly-anticipated downloadable title, each hitting both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One simultaneously!

The big disc game is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from Activision. Well, you can buy it on disc for 360. The Xbox One version is download-only because the retail release hit a last-minute delay. And on the purely downloadable front, Ubisoft has just published a beautiful platformer-RPG known as Child of Light. Read on for more details and our exclusive Amazing Spider-man 2 gameplay video!

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Last week was a slow week for Xbox console releases, but not this week. The Xbox One gets three new releases: Kinect Sports Rivals from Rare and Microsoft Studios, LEGO The Hobbit from Traveler’s Tales and Warner Bros., and the downloadable Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut from Born Ready Games. Strike Suit Zero is the very first ID@Xbox game to reach the market!

The week is no less special for Xbox 360, either. Microsoft’s still-popular previous-gen console gets several new games of its own: the long-awaited Titanfall, LEGO The Hobbit, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, and a new episode of The Wolf Among Us. Not too shabby!

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We don’t talk about Red Stripe Deals much anymore, but next week’s sale game is too hot not to celebrate. Major Nelson has just announced that the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions of Halo: Spartan Assault will go on sale for $1.99 from April 3-9. The tablet and phone versions of Spartan Assault usually go for seven bucks apiece, making next week the prime time to scoop one or both of them up.

Halo: Spartan Assault is a twin-stick shooter based on the popular Halo franchise. Microsoft really seems to be pushing the game right now. The Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions have just dropped to $9.99 each (probably permanently), and the Steam version of the game will debut next week as well. More details after the break!

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It’s a slow week for console game releases, with no new titles appearing on the Xbox One. Luckily the digital versions of Square-Enix’s Tomb Raider and Thief are both on sale for half off, so Xbox One owners shouldn’t suffer from game withdrawals just yet. Unless the downloadable Strike Suit Zero materializes next week, that will have to tide the Xbox One faithful over until April 8th when Kinect Sports Rivals and LEGO The Hobbit show up.

The Xbox 360 does have a couple of new games, at least. At retail, Activision has just released Cabela's Big Game Hunter: Pro Hunts at retail for the low price of $29.99. Konami also published a new Xbox Live Arcade game today: Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium Duels. Both titles appear to be available only in North America for some reason. Descriptions, Store links, and details about next week’s Batman XBLA release after the break.

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We first looked at Pac-Man Museum during last year’s E3, where it served as part of Namco’s push to reinvigorate Pac-Man with modern audiences. The same push includes an animated show and game called Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, as well as the updated Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ on both Windows 8 and Xbox 360.

At last Pac-Man Museum has arrived on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 to teach gamers the history of Pac-Man by packaging nine of his classic games in one downloadable collection.

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2014 is almost upon us. With the new year comes another month of free Games with Gold titles for Xbox 360 owners. Last month we got an oldie-but-goodie retail title (Gears of War) and a decently-liked XBLA game: Shoot Many Robots. So what does Microsoft have in store for the New Year?

This month, Xbox Live Gold subscribers will first get Sleeping Dogs from Square Enix. Released in August 2012, this makes the newest retail title that the program has offered so far. Starting on January 16th, XBLA hit Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light from Eidos/Square-Enix will be the next free game. Guardian of Light is the first and only Tomb Raider game with cooperative multiplayer, and a must-play if you haven’t already got it.

More details and download links after the break!

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Every year since time immemorial, Microsoft has put a ton of downloadable Xbox 360 content on sale around Christmastime. The sale returns once again this year as the Countdown to 2014. Running from today through December 31, the Countdown consists both of daily and weekly sales. The first batch of weekly deals runs through the 23rd. 

Head past the break for a full list of today’s Countdown sales and the weekly deals.

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Foul Play Xbox 360 Review: a rousing XBLA brawler

Seeing as how we didn’t get a new Xbox Windows Phone game last week, we’ll look at a downloadable Xbox 360 game instead. Foul Play is a recent Xbox Live Arcade game from UK-based publisher Mastertronic.

Foul Play’s title might make you think the game would have something to do with birds, but it actually refers to corrupt goings-on at the turn of the twentieth century. With a unique setting, witty writing, and charming art style, Foul Play is a beat-em-up worth playing. Head past the break for our full review!

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Microsoft’s popular Games with Gold program for the Xbox 360 has been a popular if slightly controversial program. Each month, Xbox Live Gold subscribers receive two free downloadable Xbox 360 games to keep forever. On the other hand, the games have largely been several years old, prompting negative comparisons with Sony’s Playstation Plus program and its much larger and newer assortment of free Playstation 3 games (which players can’t keep if their subscriptions lapse).

This month’s Games with Gold include a new…ish Xbox Live Arcade game and a fairly old retail release that still holds some appeal. First up, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes from Ubisoft is free for the first half of the month, starting today. From October 16-31, Microsoft’s own Halo 3 (one of the first Games with Gold announced back in June) will finally be free.

Details and download links after the break!

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We just reviewed Charlie Murder, an awesome downloadable Xbox 360 game. Now let's talk about free 360 games. Microsoft’s Games with Gold program got off to a decent start when Fable III became free for Gold members during E3 in June. The program, meant to compete with Playstation Plus’s free games giveaway, offers two or more downloadable games a month free to all Xbox Live Gold members.

Since then, July saw Defense Grid: The Awakening and Assassin’s Creed II go free. In August, Gold members received Crackdown, Dead Rising 2, and Dead Rising: Case Zero – probably the strongest month of free titles so far.

September starts on Sunday, and with it comes a new free game: Magic: the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas will follow later in the month. Head past the break for details on both games!

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Back in the happier times when Microsoft actively supported Xbox games on Windows Phone, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ska Studios, the two person team behind Zombies on the Phone. While Ska worked on Zombies (which came out at the beginning of 2012), they also plugged away at an Xbox Live Arcade game called Charlie Murder. It would be their most expansive game to date.

In fact, Charlie Murder just recently arrived on Xbox 360 as part of the annual Summer of Arcade promotion. On the surface, Charlie Murder is a cooperative beat-em-up in which one rock band is forced to save the world from a demonic invasion. But it’s also an evolution of the brawler genre that manages to outdo even the beloved Castle Crashers in sheer personality and scope. Head past the break for our full review!

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Remember the Xbox 360 Ultimate Game Sale from back in February? Microsoft slashed the prices on more than 20 Games on Demand (downloadable versions of full retail titles) throughout the week, with a different selection of games on sale every day. And now that sale is back again just 4-5 months later. Could it have something to do with Microsoft wanting to sell as many Xbox 360 games as possible before the Xbox One shows up later this year? Does a frog bump its butt when it hops?

On top of that, today happens to be the first day of the month. And that means Xbox Live Gold members get a new free game! Last month it was Fable III, and this month everyone expected Assassin’s Creed II or Halo 3 (both Games on Demand titles) to go free. But life would be boring if everything went to plan, and so Microsoft has made an XBLA game called Defense Grid: The Awakening from Hidden Path Entertainment free instead.

Quick impressions and a full list of sale games after the break!

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Last month at E3, Microsoft and Wargaming.net announced World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition as the next free to play in development for Xbox Live Arcade. Both World of Tanks and Ascend: Hand of Kul (which also has a Windows Phone companion game in the works) are due out later this year. What we didn’t know is that another free to play game would actually be arriving much sooner.

Quietly announced a while back, Ubisoft and Kung Fu Factory's Spartacus Legends became available to download on the 360 last week. Free for all Xbox Gold members, Legends is basically a brutal one-on-one fighting game loosely based on the Starz TV series Spartacus. Usually when a publisher releases a game with so little fanfare, it indicates a lack of faith in the product. But Spartacus is actually fairly entertaining and visceral. Just be prepared for a bit of a grind.

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If you follow our Xbox Windows Phone editorial coverage, then you know I’ve often been critical of the Xbox certification process. Microsoft created a set of certification policies back in the Xbox 360’s early years that were intended to ensure the highest quality game releases and discourage the release of buggy games. These same policies were then extended wholesale to subsequent Xbox platforms, including Games for Windows Live (PC), Windows 8, and Windows Phone.

Problem is the aging and restrictive policies weren’t designed to reflect the changing nature of the games industry, and certainly not to account for the differences in development between consoles and platforms like Windows Phone. Modern game development isn’t about shipping a game and then trying not to ever update it. No, games these days (whether they have In-App Purchases or not) are updated continuously throughout their life spans.

Indie hits like Minecraft and top smartphone games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope would never have remained as relevant as they are without the constant stream of updates and support from their developers. And the Xbox certification policies dating back to 2005 have been nothing but an impediment towards that kind of support. BUT it turns out that Microsoft discreetly relaxed their policies towards updating games earlier this year – on the Xbox 360, at least.

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The big talk at E3 2013 last week was on Xbox One games (and the DRM policy that Microsoft only just repealed yesterday). But the Xbox 360 is still the best-selling console these days and so 360 games weren’t exactly in short supply at the Expo. We’ve already previewed three upcoming Pac-Man games, World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, and don’t forget that The Evil Within and Wolfenstein: The New Order are 360-bound alongside Xbox One versions.

Today we wrap up our E3 Xbox 360 coverage with two more titles to watch out for. First up is Ascend: Hand of Kul (formerly known as Ascend: New Gods), an impressive free to play game with a Windows Phone companion game and SmartGlass features planned. On top of that, we also spent an extended time with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes from Warner Bros. Interactive. Turns out it’s coming to Xbox One too! Hands on videos and impressions after the break.

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Microsoft has historically been less than enthusiastic towards free-to-play Xbox 360 games.  They did allow Japanese developer Toylogic to release Happy Wars (a 15-vs-15 multiplayer action game) last year. But here we are one year later and  hardly any free-to-play games have followed it. And yet things are starting to change...

During Microsoft’s E3 Media Briefing, the publisher revealed that popular PC Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) World of Tanks would receive an exclusive console version called World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition. Console gamers could be forgiven for not knowing this, but Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks is actually one of the largest and most popular MMOs in the world. The 360 port just might prove to be a big deal.

This week we sat down with Microsoft and Wargaming to learn the ins and outs of World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition and then shot a video with Associate Producer Olga Zinoveva as she played a multiplayer match on the E3 2013 show floor. Watch it after the break!

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