Microsoft X10 2010

X to the tenth power.

You may not be aware of this, but game companies are obligated to have at least one event a week where they fill you full of booze and let you loose on their latest project. It's sort of an unwritten bond between game journalists and publishers. Plus it's a great chance to meet the folks “behind the magic”, so to speak.

Last week it was Microsoft's turn to pay the bar tab, and they did it in style with their X10 event. Duke spent the day pounding down hooch, putting on a mullet wig, and reminiscing about what it was like to have a full head of hair. I, on the other hand, stayed completely sober and got some work done. I was there for about eight hours and saw Peter Molyneaux pimp Fable III, got a first look at Crackdown 2 and chopped up some zombies with chainsaws in Dead Rising 2. You'll hear more about Fable and Crackdown as well as a certain upcoming game from a little fly-by-night developer called Bungie in their very own extended previews; for now though, let's take a look at what else they had to offer for X10.

Dead Rising 2 (picture left): So we've already heard a lot about this title from Mr. Hudak when he got back from Tokyo last year, so if you want to go into the fine details of the game, go read his preview. The demo highlighted the new combo system with which you can combine items together to make some crazy ass weapons like a canoe paddle with chainsaws on each end. Or you can take a piece of zombie meat and duct tape it to a stick of dynamite to make a bomb that will lure the undead before exploding in their face.

And if that wasn't enough, the bonus round has you driving a modified motorcycle with, once again, chainsaws around a mall killing everything it touches and covering our hero head to toe in blood. And the best part? You can do it all while wearing a leather biker outfit with assless chaps with matching “massager”.

Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing: Chris Hudak (once again will have a complete rundown of what the Passing is all about. For now, I'll just say that it's new DLC that has some familiar faces popping up. And by that, I mean you run into the survivors from the first Left 4 Dead. Yeah, I'm subtle like that.

Lost Planet 2 (picture right): This was just here for us to check out what it's like playing as the fellas form Gears of War and Resident Evil. If you haven't already heard, Marcus and Dom will be taking a moment from killing underground-dwelling monsters to frag some big-ass aliens (for the 360 version, of course… can't imagine they'll make it onto the PS3). And if you happen to purchase your copy at Gamestop, you'll get a chance to play as everyone's favorite corporate spook, Albert Wesker. And if you haven't yet played the co-op demo for Lost Planet 2, do yourself a favor and go experience what it's like being pooped outta monster's butt.

Toy Soldiers: This is the first title that will be launching as part of the March-long Block Party event on Xbox Live. Toy Soldiers plays like a mix between tower defense and WWI battle sim. Essentially, you're playing tabletop warfare with tin men and wind-up Red Barons. You'll set up your howitzers, AA guns, and snipers on the field in the hopes of defending your base from waves of other toys. Things really get interesting when you actually zoom in and take control of any of your units on the map. If you've ever hated the AI in a tower defense game for not taking out what you felt is the most imminent threat, now we'll see just how right you are. And the best part is you won't get any lead poisoning from hand-painting your army! Look for it to march onto XBLA March 3rd.

Scrap Metal (picture left): So maybe you have to be a bit older than GR's target demographic to remember what it was like to play Super Off-Road in the arcades or blaze around the tracks at home on your NES with R.C. Pro-Am, but all that's soon going to change when Scrap Metal hits XBLA March 10th. It's an overhead mini-racer full of nitrous boosts, weapon power-ups, races, and demolition derbies. Over sixty missions will be available, including survivor levels that resembles the high-speed chases from GTA I and II. And if that wasn't enough, it's in 3-D! Just like that movie about the blue cat-smurf people that I haven't seen yet, but folks swear it's the greatest thing to ever be played in a theater.

Perfect Dark: Capping off the Block Party on March 17th is Rare's classic N64 title, Perfect Dark. The old lady's getting a bit of a facelift and having her framerates improved, but beyond that, it's still the same great fun that you may have already had playing the original version. If you really need to know more about why you should play this, check out the original review.

The Game Room: Arriving March 24th and capping off the month-long Block Party, The Game Room will be a virtual arcade of pure, emulated old school goodness. For just the $3 360 ROM or $5 for both a 360 and PC version, you'll be able to play classics like Yar's Revenge, Pitfall, and Gravitar and add their cabinets to your own custom arcade. And when I say cabinets, I mean it. These are all total virtual recreations of the original machines, complete with bubble monitors and dip switches. There should be 30 titles at launch with plans to release seven games a week along with custom and unlockable themes (though only the games are guaranteed to come out seven a week). Friends will be able to come by and visit your Arcade as well, which will help you earn tokens. If you can get fifteen of them, you'll be able to score a free one-time play off someone else's machines or demo one that you're curious about.

Now I know what you might be thinking. These games are all over the Internet and I can play them on MAME for free already. That may be true, but it's also illegal. Plus, you won't be able to offer up custom challenges to your buddies, like "I bet you can't score this many points in two minutes". Nor will you be able to download game mascots who'll wander around your game room freaking you out just like what happened the last time I took acid or earn those oh so precious Achievements. On top of that, friends will be able to come by and visit your Arcade as well, which will help you earn tokens. If you can get fifteen of them, you'll be able to score a free one-time play off someone else's machines. Not to mention control layouts are pretty much guaranteed to work, which is more than I can say for MAME.

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