This Week's Top Stories: May 30 - June 5, 2011

Welcome to another instalment in our weekly news digest where the team at PSU Towers picks our favourite slices of gaming gossip from the past seven days, before proceeding to offer our two cents on each story for good measure.

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Activision unveils Call of Duty Elite subscription service

So, Call of Duty Elite’s a reality – not exactly a surprise, considering rumblings of a subscription service for the multi-million dollar selling FPS have been doing the rounds for the past two years or so. Plus, Elite itself was outed last month, when a logo of the initiative appeared alongside art for Modern Warfare 3. The service itself, cooked up by the folks at Beachhead, isn’t mandatory thankfully, and users will still be able to gain access to various CoD-related features if they decide not to cough up the cash. Pay the as-of-yet-undetermined monthly fee however, and you’ll bag all DLC and map packs automatically without having to fork out any extra for them. This initiative shouldn’t really come off all that shocking, and as far as monetising CoD goes, you could do a lot worse. For one thing, that all-important online multiplayer will still remain free of charge. Needless to say, things could have gone down another path altogether, which for someone like me who isn’t interested in all the other bits and bobs, is a huge relief.

Rumor – Devil May Cry HD Collection to be announced at E3

Leaving aside the questionable direction the series is taking with Ninja Theory’s upcoming effort, the previous Devil May Cry games remain a thrilling slice of stylish hack-in-slash action. Well, okay, the second game was pretty naff, but the original and third instalments were among the best PS2 games out there. Fitting it is then, that Capcom is allegedly planning a HD re-release of the original trilogy to coincide with the series’ 10th anniversary later this year. You could do a lot worse. I think there’s a good shot at this being the real deal; after all, the firm has already announced plans to commemorate Resident Evil’s 15th anniversary this year with HD revamps of Code: Veronica and RE4, so why not push the boat out and give Dante a HD makeover? Make it happen boys.

NGP to be called PS Vita?

While Next-Generation Portable (NGP) isn’t actually half bad, no one expected Sony to stick with that moniker as the device’s final name. Sure enough, the firm has mentioned on more than one occasion that the portable’s official title will be unveiled later this year. However, if a leaked snapshot of the handheld is to be believed, it seems Sony has already decided on a name – PlayStation Vita. Of course, nothing official has been confirmed as of yet, but personally, I’m quite taken by the name. If anything, it’s certainly more original than the predictable PlayStation Portable 2, and rolls off the tongue far better than Next-Generation Portable. Plus, it would mark a welcome change in Sony’s strategy for naming its platforms, which up until now have typically carried the PlayStation branding with a number slapped on the end. You could liken it to Nintendo’s recent approach, whereby each new console has its own distinct branding ala GameCube and Wii. PSP2 vs. PS Vita – what name is likely to hook Joe Public’s curiosity more? I think the latter would surely triumph in that respect. 

Sony says Uncharted 3 ‘looks phenomenal in 3D’

Sony is pulling out all the stops for PS3 stereoscopic 3D support, and unsurprisingly, cheeky chappie Nathan Drake appears to be the poster boy for the flashy tech in future blockbuster Uncharted 3. The latest word is that the hotly anticipated adventurer ‘looks phenomenal in 3D,’ proclaims Sony Worldwide Studios’ 3D team boss, Mick Hocking. Well, he’s hardly going to say it looks utterly minging now, is he? Nonetheless, I think the point is we pretty much know the game will look the business, especially when you consider the pedigree of coder Naughty Dog. Uncharted 1 and 2 were dazzling from a visual point of view (particularly the latter), and while not supporting 3D, it doesn’t take a genius to twig that Uncharted 3 is sure to impress when you done those pesky glasses this November. Naughty Dog are a talented bunch, and there’s nothing to say they won’t set the proverbial bar for 3D PS3 gaming as they did with eye-popping aesthetics in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Hocking mentioned that Nate’s third adventure is perfectly suited to the tech, and I tend to agree; it’s the gaming equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster, like an interactive Indiana Jones filled with mammoth set-pieces. It's the perfect match. Let’s just hope there are enough people who actually own a 3D-compatible TV to soak up the experience, eh? Those things aren’t exactly cheap.

Aliens: Colonial Marines due out in spring 2012

Gearbox’s much-anticipated Xenomorph blaster has been under the knife for a good few years now, and many of us had started to wonder if it would ever leap out of the closet and suck our faces off. Little info on the game has been released in the past year or so, though that all changed this week, with publisher SEGA nailing down a spring 2012 date for the game. Even better, it’s going to show up at E3 next week, so we’ll be able to see just how it’s shaping up. While I can’t claim to be an Aliens aficionado myself, I’m only too well aware of how much pulling power the brand has, and how many fans were a little underwhelmed by last year’s ho-hum effort, Aliens vs. Predator. This looks set to be the game to put Aliens back on the gaming map, and according to the developers, it won’t disappoint either. Fingers crossed, eh?

PlayStation Store back online, massive updates issued

Phew, what a ride. After more than two months downtime, the PlayStation Store finally made its triumphant return this week, thus completing PlayStation Network’s full restoration following the “external intrusion” in mid-April. Time to collect our two free games, eh? It’s been a hell of a slog, though. Sony’s been mucked about by hackers multiple times outside of the primary infiltration of its servers two months ago, with cyber hackers targeting the firm’s Greek music website, Sony Online Entertainment and just this week, Sony Pictures Japan. With E3 just around the corner, the hardware manufacturer is in the perfect position to finally move on from the whole affair, though the repercussions still linger heavily in the air. Specifically, the hack has cost the electronics giant a whopping $171.2 million, the confidence its loyal fanbase – some of which have abandoned PSN and traded their PS3’s in altogether – not to mention the headaches felt by its various developer and publishing partners as a result of the downtime. Let’s just hope this marks the end of it.

Uncharted 3 Collector’s Edition announced, pre-order bonuses detailed

Let’s face it, who didn’t expect Drake’s latest outing to get the Collector’s Edition treatment? After sumptuous special editions of the cheeky chappie’s inaugural outing and stonking sequel, Uncharted 3 was always going to be given more than your bog-standard retail release. And the good news is it looks totally mint. This time around, punters are being treated to a slew of goodies, including a gorgeous Treasure Chest replica and full-size Nate belt buckle and necklace complete with Sir Francis Drake’s ring. Europe isn’t being given the short end of the stick in this regard either, with both a Collector’s and Special Edition up for grabs. And boy, I can tell you now – I’ll be wearing my replica Drake necklace with pride come November. Best CE edition ever? I can’t say for sure, but it certainly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with anything else I’ve seen. The only downer is it’ll burn a hole through your wallet at a meaty $99.99 USD.

Sony details NGP launch line-up, unveils WipEout 2048 and more

NGP is surely going to be a staple of Sony’s E3 offerings this year, and details have already started trickling out on the new device prior to next week’s L.A. shindig. While pricing details and the like have yet to be divulged (that’ll no doubt drop at Sony’s E3 presser), the company confirmed that a slew of big-name game will be available on day one, including Uncharted (now sporting the full subtitle of Golden Abyss), WipEout 2048 and Resistance Retribution. From the look of things Sony is prepping impressive launch plans, and the fact Uncharted will be available from the off is a massive break for NGP.

Konami announces Metal Gear, Zone of the Enders HD Collections

Blimin’ heck, when Sony said that more HD Collections would be on the way, they weren’t kidding. Sure, we’ve heard murmurs of Metal Gear Solid HD makeover for some time now, but Zone of the Enders AND Silent Hill too? Konami, you spoil us. Frankly what you got here are some of the most compelling, visually stunning PlayStation 2 spectacles of the 00s, all genre-defining in their own right. Add in a scrumptious 1080p paintjob, Trophy support and other bits and bobs and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 are masterpieces, let’s face it; Silent Hill 2 & 3 (where’s The Room? Sure it wasn’t the best but still should be part of the set) are survival horror staples with some of the most disturbing stories you could conceive of, and Zone of the Enders 1 & 2, while not a colossal commercial success, are positively oozing with the quality you'd expect from Hideo Kojima. With so many games due on the horizon,  I really do have sympathy for my wallet this year. As great as these announcements were however, it was a bit of a double-edged sword, seeing as how they accompanied news that Kojima-san won't be unveiling his new project at E3 as originally anticipated. Bugger. Nonetheless, we did get a new Silent Hill game confirmed for NGP, as well as a teaser of Kojima Productions' swanky new game engine.

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