App gives sneak peak into Star Wars blu-ray extras

Curious what George Lucas and Co. have in store for the “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” Blu-ray collection? The discs won’t be available until Sept. 16, but an upcoming iPhone and iPad app will spill some of the beans.

The Star Wars Blu-ray: Early Access App, available for free tomorrow (July 20) in the App store, promises to offer an early look at footage and bonus materials from the collection. All totaled, the blu-rays will have over 40 hours of bonus footage.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

Two New ‘Halo’ Games, Live TV, Coming to Xbox

Microsoft is intensifying its efforts to appeal to both core gamers and non-gamers, announcing two new titles in its blockbuster “Halo” franchise Monday and plans to integrate live television into the console.

Starting this fall, Xbox 360 owners will be able to watch live TV programming though a variety of partners, which have yet to be announced. In addition, the company has unveiled a new service that combines its Bing search service with video delivery providers.

Read more at CNBC.com

Checking in with Star Wars: The Old Republic

Electronic Arts’ is betting big on Star Wars – to the tune of nearly $100 million.

“Star Wars: The Old Republic” is one of the video game publisher’s biggest titles of the year – arguably of the last 5 years. While the game’s not scheduled to come out until this holiday season (and could potentially slip to 2012), this seems like a good time to run down the latest on one of the few titles that could give “World of Warcraft” a run for its money.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

Game review: LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars 3D

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars 3D is a game that comes so, so close to being terrific. The story is fun, even if you don’t follow the cartoon series and don’t grasp its nuances. And the puzzle solving elements are fantastic. Using the characters at your disposal to figure out how to progress is challenging, but never frustrating. Where it falls short, though, is in its save features. Levels are long — with some lasting 30 minutes — and you cannot save the game mid-level. Given the rather weak battery life of the 3DS, that can be problematic for players who don’t have that long to dedicate to the game. And with the 3D effects turned on, looking at the screen for a period that long can result in severe eye fatigue. A simple save at will or autosave feature would boost the game tremendously. As it is, it’s still one that’s worth your time — if you know what you’re getting into.

Read more at Common Sense Media

Interview: Frank Gibeau on EA’s Expanding Focus In The PC Space

EA’s Frank Gibeau talks to Gamasutra about the company’s position in the casual Facebook gaming market, the renewed focus on PC releases and the increasing dabblings in the freemium business model.

Some publishers are focusing primarily on the online market these days. Others see mobile as the wave of the future. Plenty are chasing the social network audience. And some are sticking doggedly with the traditional game space.

At Electronic Arts, they’re covering their bets.

Read more at Gamasutra

Electronic Arts Goes ‘On the Offensive’

Electronic Arts hasn’t exactly been a darling of Wall Street in recent years.

Battered by a string of earnings disappointments and underperfoming titles, the video game publisher has seen its archrival Activision-Blizzard take away king-of-the hill status among industry peers, and watched its stock price fall. But Frank Gibeau, the president of the EA Games label, says the company has made the necessary changes to get back on top.

Read more at CNBC.com

App review: Star Battalion HD

Take Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Star Fox, put them in a blender and stir and you’ll probably come out with something like Star Battalion HD. The game doesn’t have an ounce of originality, but as a space shooter it’s not a bad title. Graphics, as they generally are with Gameloft titles, are well done, and the action is well paced and solid. Getting used to controlling your ship with the iPad’s gyroscope is a bit tricky, but players can shift to a stick control if it proves too distracting. There are also a wide variety of environments. The lack of competitive multiplayer is something of a drawback and some control bugs drag the game down a bit, but ultimately, this is an app that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a solid space combat game.

Read more at Common Sense Media

For EA and THQ, Is a Turnaround in Their Future?

The last couple of years have been rough ones for Electronic Arts and THQ. Rapid changes in the video game landscape and an unlucky string of underperforming titles has taken its toll on both companies’ stock prices.

This week, though, both companies showed some signs of life as they reported earnings, giving investors hope that the long awaited turnaround for each company might be about to begin.

Read more at CNBC.com

SOE, LucasArts team to launch ‘Clone Wars’ virtual world

The Cartoon Network has seen a lot of success with its animated series “The Clone Wars”. Now Sony Online Entertainment (“EverQuest,” “Free Realms”) and LucasArts are teaming up to bring the pivotal tale of the Star Wars Universe to the virtual world.

The two companies will create a free-to-play, persistent world, dubbed “Star Wars: Clone War Adventures,” that’s scheduled to launch this fall. The game will be targeted at a younger audience and will launch online and in retail stores this fall. It will be a PC exclusive game.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog