This Week's Top Stories: March 5 - 10, 2012

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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Rumor: Darkstalkers 4 in development

Capcom’s vamp-tastic brawler Darkstalkers may not exactly be mainstream material, but that hasn’t stopped the series from being one of the most fan-requested to receive a sequel lately. The brainchild of Capcom fighting boss Yoshinori Ono, the franchise has amassed a cult following since the mid-90s, and fans continue to petition for a new game to this day. In fact, Capcom’s received 100,000 requests as of March 2011 for a new Darkstalkers, and Ono-san has repeatedly expressed his interest in churning out a sequel. And according to VentureBeat, that’s exactly what he’s been doing since wrapping up Street Fighter x Tekken, with a fourth Darkstalkers game apparently having been in development since last year. Whether or not this turns out to be the real deal remains to be seen, but a recent trademark filing by Capcom certainly gives us hope. Watch this space.

Assassin’s Creed III detailed, debut trailer unveiled

Internet leaks may have robbed much of Ubisoft’s thunder in regards to its planned Assassin’s Creed III info burst on Monday, but that still didn’t take the wind out of the rather scrumptious debut trailer that accompanied the info burst. As previously reported, the game does indeed take place during the American Revolution, and this time around you’ll be playing as a Native American chap named Connor (well, he does have a proper name, but I’ll be damned if I can spell the thing). From the look of things, environments are going to be pretty expansive, and from the trailer it looks as if free-running won’t just be limited to human-made structures; Connor was seen effortlessly gliding through the tree tops, for one. Many seem divided on the setting itself, though personally i’m thrilled to have the chance to explore the open countryside, where you’ll apparently be able to pick up numerous quests and even hunt local wildlife for their pelts. Where Desmond fits in to this remains to be seen, but presumably we’re still going to wrap up his story arc come the end of the game.

EA opens a new studio for unannounced Frostbite 2.0 games

Frostbite 2.0 has floored jaws across the gaming community following its implementation in blockbusters such as Battlefield 3, and from the sound of it we’ll be seeing a lot more of the engine in the future. Specifically, publishing powerhouse EA confirmed that it’s opened a new studio dedicated to producing ‘a new generation of games’ using the sophisticated tech, though no details yet on what the teams will be creating. However, Frostbite 2.0 is undeniably an impressive piece of kit, and anything that will take advantage of its eyeball-popping prowess – Dead Space 3 is just one game rumored to do so – is surely worth keeping an eye on. More as it breaks.

Rumor: 2K Czech helping to develop Grand Theft Auto V, Mafia III in works

Grand Theft Auto V has been keeping a low profile since its unveiling back in November 2011, though according to VG247, Rockstar isn’t working alone on the epic crime romp. Apparently, Mafia II developer 2K Czech has been roped in to use its expertise in animating cut scenes for the project, and has been doing so for nearly a year now. But that’s not all. The studio is also supposedly busy chiselling away on a new Mafia title, having been in pre-production for some time now. Whether or not these reports turn out to be true is another thing, but we’ll keep you posted. PSU were pretty fond of Mafia II as it happens , and so we’d welcome a sequel.

Medal of Honor Warfighter coming Oct. 23, teased in video

EA has staple-gunned an October 23 release date to its upcoming shooter sequel Medal of Honor Warfighter, as revealed in a fresh teaser trailer. While the game was announced a couple of weeks back, few details were given at the time, though we’re now privy to a few tantalizing tidbits. Developer Danger Close appears to be injecting a fine degree of emotional value into the game, with the action focusing on the sacrifices of war families, with great respect paid to the men and women serving in today’s military conflicts. The dev team certainly has a fine pedigree, with veterans from DICE and Treyarch joining up for the project, so there’s no reason this military shooter shouldn’t be able to pull out all the stops. I for one am eager to see a modern shooter that focuses on the human value of war, marking a refreshing change from the bombastic, Hollywood-esque feel of Call of Duty.

PS3-exclusive Datura announced

New exclusives are getting rarer by the day now, so Sony’s announcement of a new PS3 project – helmed by Santa Monica Studio and Plastic Studios – immediately warrants attention. Even more interesting is this game is said to make extensive use of the PlayStation Move, something which a lot of games haven’t really done, apart from the upcoming Sorcery. Not many details are known at present, but Datura sounds intriguing nonetheless. Choices will be present throughout the game, and you’ll have to face the consequences of your decisions whether you like it or not. Move is said to add an extra layer of immersion, though you’ll still be able to utilize a regular PS3 controller if you want to. So far only a teaser poster has been revealed, showcasing a sumptuous forest-like location, which is apparently where you’ll be starting out the game. Aside from that, we know it’s due out this year, so hopefully new info will be just around the corner.

Sony: PSN now has 90 million users

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since Sony was plagued by the now-infamous PSN gate, but 11 months down the line things seem to be going from strength to strength for its flagship online service. Speaking at GDC this week, the hardware giant announced that PSN has drummed up an estimated 90 million users, an impressive figure by anyone’s standard.  The firm also lobbed a bit of mud at its competitors, boasting that PSN provides a better royalty rate than Microsoft and Nintendo. With PS Vita having just got out the door, we seen no reason for Sony’s online service to continue to enjoy healthy growth for the foreseeable future.

Guerrilla still supporting Killzone IP on PS3

The Killzone franchise is a perennial showpiece for PlayStation hardware, dating back to the original PS2 outing right through to present day Killzone 3. Despite releasing two Killzone games in the space of two years, it seems developer Guerrilla Games isn’t done with the franchise yet, at least not on Sony’s current home console. Specifically, the studio said it aims to continue to support the series in some shape or form on PS3, though whether this will be DLC or a full-fledged sequel remains unknown. What is known, however, is that Guerrilla also has plans for a new IP, plus of course the PS Vita Killzone by SCE Studio Cambridge, who are now part of Guerrilla itself. No doubt the perpetuation of Killzone on PS3 will please a lot of gamers, though it will be interesting to see how the developer decides to push the boundaries for the next outing; after all, while a solid shooter, some have criticised KZ3 for being overly formulaic. My thinking is they’ll need to inject some innovation into the next big game for sure, as there’s a lot of competition out there.

Ubisoft Toronto announcing new ‘triple-A’ game soon

Former Assassin’s Creed maestro and all-around eye candy Jade Raymond has been keeping a low profile as of late, with her studio at Ubisoft Toronto busy chiselling away on a new Splinter Cell title. And from the sound of things, Raymond and chums are almost ready to lift the lid on the project, telling CVG at GDC that the studio is poised to ‘announce our first big triple-A’ title. An E3 reveal perhaps? It’s not out of the question. Interestingly, Raymond added that the team isn’t working on fresh IP at present, though seemed to indicate the company is flirting with the idea of doing so. Hard to believe it’s been five years since Raymond was involved in the first Assassin’s Creed, don’t you think?

Mass Effect 3 sales hit nearly 900k in 24 hours

Mass Effect 3 is now officially available worldwide, and going by initial sales figures from the U.S. launch, EA will most definitely be having roast turkey again this Christmas. According to company bigwig John Riccitiello, Shepard’s sci-fi swansong sold an estimated 890,000 units in its first 24 hours on sale in North America. Not too shabby. Furthermore, the publisher later confirmed that it has shipped 3.5 million copies of the action-RPG to retailers, with developer BioWare understandably feeling pretty chuffed. With the European launch now done and dusted, we imagine EA will be announcing sales of 1 million + soon enough – and rightly deserved it is so. Be sure to stay tuned for our full review here at PSU.com next week.

PS Vita U.S. launch met with 'overwhelming enthusiasm'

Sony is still remaining tight-lipped when it comes to PS Vita launch figures for western regions, but word from across the pond is the handheld has got off to a solid start. Specifically, the platform holder described U.S. launch as being met with ‘overwhelming enthusiasm,’ though one can only ponder as to how many units were actually sold. Nonetheless, SCEA’s Patrick Seybold observed that customer satisfaction has been pretty sold, and championed the PS Vita’s unique functionality, such as cross-play with its bigger brother, PS3. Hopefully next month we’ll get an idea as to how well the device actually sold, as there’s been mounting speculation in regards to U.K. numbers, some of which aren’t exactly all that rosy. It’s worth noting, however, that despite NPD only counting four days worth of sales, Uncharted: Golden Abyss still managed to land a Top 20 position on the U.S. software charts, which is pretty impressive in itself. Stay tuned.

The Best of the Rest...

CCP confirms Dust 514 is free-to-play

Capcom confirms Street Fighter x Tekken DLC is on disc

Valve drops Counter-Strike PS3/PC cross-play

Sony announces 2012 PSN Gamers' Choice Awards winners

Monster Hunter, GTA listed for PS Vita on Play.com

Quantic Dream's new tech demo strives to 'push the envolope'

David Cage: Quantic Dream 'open' to being first-party Sony dev

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