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This Week's Top Stories - February 28 - March 6, 2011

6 March 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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UK Charts: Killzone 3 shoots its way to first place

In terms of PS3-exclusives this year, only Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception can compete with the sheer clout of the Guerrilla Games goliath that is Killzone 3. Its predecessor proved one of the most anticipated releases on Sony’s black box to date upon its release in February 2009, and from the look of things, punters have been only too eager to snap up the latest effort. At least, that’s what the UK Charts say, with the sci-fi shooter shoving its fingers in the eyes of competitor Bulletstorm to nab first place prize. Slightly surprising however is the fact Killzone 2 managed to eclipse the 2011 shooter’s sales at launch, with Killzone 3 becoming Sony’s 14th best-selling title to date in comparison to the second game, which managed fifth place. Exact sales figures for Killzone 3 weren’t divulged, but for a platform-exclusive title to top the charts in a market dominated by ubiquitous money-makers Call of Duty and FIFA, I imagine they must be pretty meaty.

FFIV: Complete Collection gets Euro date, Special Edition

Note to anyone quick to poo-poo the PSP: Final Fantasy IV wishes to extend its greetings. Indeed, Sony’s pint-sized platform may have a bit of a foggy future thanks to the arrival of NGP later this year, but I honestly couldn’t think of a better time to invest in the handheld. If like me you’ve engaged in enough brain training and digital dog petting to last you a lifetime, then it’s probably time to ditch the DS and pursue PSP. And what better way than to start with Final Fantasy IV, easily one of the finest slices of classic RPG gaming around, not to mention a fine companion to the already sumptuous smorgasbord of nostalgic-filled nuggets available on PSP. More tempting is the Special Edition set, which all but cements my belief that the days of European territories getting the short end of the stick in regards to these goodie-bag-style releases are firmly behind us. The only thing that concerns me is why I’ve still yet to snag myself a PSP after all this time – anyone else in the same boat?

Catherine confirmed for US, Europe

Blimey, talk about doing a U-Turn. Only last week PSU published the news that Atlus had no plans to bring raunchy romp Catherine to western markets, and now it seems they’ve changed their minds. Well, ok, even I’m not that naïve – it’s abundantly clear they’ve been planning this all along, but fancied playing down the suggestion to give the inevitable announcement some extra clout. Surprise! Or rather, not. Anyway, Catherine’s attracted quite a lot of attention over the past few months, primarily because the average punter didn’t have a bloody clue as to what it was about. Last count, I’ve ascertained that it’s something to do with nightmares, a spunky blonde chick, a double-timing bloke named Vincent, and sheep. Still, that’s why I love the Japanese – you’d never witness such mind-boggling idiosyncrasy unleashed upon the unsuspecting public in the US or UK, and it’s this kind of stuff that gives the games industry a kick up the backside. Bring it on.

Screen Gems bags Devil May Cry film rights

Forgive me blatant pessimism, but this just has disaster written all over it. I’ve made no attempt to mince my words over Screen Gems’ treatment of the Resident Evil franchise, a series of films that in my humble opinion have accomplished nothing but methodically run Capcom’s illustrious horror IP into the ground with each subsequent release. I mean, come off it. A super-powered, arse-kicking zombie killer named Alice? Nemesis turning into a good guy? S.T.A.R.S. neglected to a cameo role? Give me a break. Of course, with any luck Paul W. S. Anderson won’t get his grubby mitts on DMC, but the fact the same studio is behind the project doesn’t fill me with the joys of spring. With any luck, they’ll adhere to the original formula and skip the upcoming Ninja Theory reboot – Dante vs. Mundas or bust, please folks.
 
BioWare: Dragon Age 2 campaign is shorter than Origins, longer than Mass Effect

When it comes to RPGs, the longer the better as far as I’m concerned. Of course, this isn’t the case with other genres, with some folk preferring a more bite-sized approach to your average adventure game or FPS, but a sprawling sequel like Dragon Age II you’d imagine would pack in a fairly substantial quest. In contrast to its predecessor, however, it appears the follow-up’s main campaign won’t be quite as long as Origins’ story, though BioWare’s confirmed it will surpass Mass Effect in terms of length. Sounds about right to me. After all, the sci-fi spectacle was hardly a walk in the park, so if Dragon Age II indeed does eclipse the space extravaganza in play time, I imagine most folk would be quite content.

Sucker Punch reveals level creator for inFamous 2, public beta coming in April

As if Sucker Punch’s electricity-charged sequel infamous 2 wasn’t looking scrumptious enough already, the developer’s now confirmed it’ll feature a level creator feature. Not only that, but the sequel will also be getting public beta next month. Never let it be said that Sony’s first-party folk don’t know how to spoil their fans, and as far as GDC surprises go, this certainly ranks among the meatiest to date. The level creator should be particularly rewarding for a sprawling, narrative-driven game like infamous 2, and I’m pretty curious to see what kind of crazy creations the community will be able to cobble together for Cole McGrath to grind and zap his way through.

NGP “dead on arrival,” says ngmoco boss

Well, it seems that Michael Pachter isn’t the only one to have a premature pop at Sony’s yet-to-be-launched NGP. Nope, according to ngmoco head Neil Young, the successor to PSP has a decidedly bumpy road ahead of it – that is, if it even manages to get going in the first place. Still, as much as I’m eager to get my mitts on Sony’s new handheld, i'll admit Young’s comments do carry some weight. After all, the deluge of budget-priced, app store content has resulted in Smartphones coming into their own as of late, threatening to supplant traditional handhelds as the portable gaming platform of choice. Nonetheless, it’d be ridiculous to write off NGP before it’s even had a chance to strut its stuff at retail. The portable’s got a stellar line-up of third party companies under its belt already, not to mention the full support of Sony’s sumptuous first-party line-up to boot. Furthermore, it’s also packing a vast array of swanky high-tech features under its hood that’ll no doubt appeal to all the tech-savvy punters out there. If anything, you can bet hardcore gamers will flock to NGP like bees to honey, which never did the PSP any harm – it’s flogged over 60 million units worldwide to date, after all.

Resistance 3 multiplayer detailed, beta coming later this year

Multiplayer betas are common as muck these days, although I recall a time where getting to test a game out months before its release was an inconceivable prospect to your average Joe. Still, we’re pleased to hear Resistance 3’s being given the beta treatment, though I would expect no less from such a mammoth IP. As for the multiplayer component itself, it seems Insomniac’s taken a ‘Best of’ approach to the proceedings, with community man James Stevenson promising the feature will highlight the best of Resistance 1 & 2’s offerings. Given that Resistance 2 in particular had a pretty meaty multiplayer, I’m hoping they’ll deliver the goods third time around. Pleasingly, campaign co-op’s been thrown back into the mix after it was unceremoniously ditched from the second game. Some of the cooperative mechanics also seem pretty interesting too, so those of you who enjoying nothing more than spending copious amounts of time online may want to keep an eye on this. As for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed Nathan Hale’s inaugural Chimera-slaying antics, and while the game didn’t really bring anything new to the table, Resistance: Fall of Man remained very much a competent, satisfying shooter. Co-op wasn’t half bad, either. I’ve read a surprising amount of negativity on the sequel online, though I’ve yet to experience it for myself so can’t say whether I agree or disagree with all the moaning and groaning.

Last Guardian demo being considered for inclusion in ICO & SotC Collection

Fumito Ueda’s been spilling some considerable beans on his anticipated boy-meets-beast romp The Last Guardian over the past few weeks, and I – as I’m sure is the case for the rest of you – have been totally lapping it up. After all, it’s been too long since we heard anything on the PS3-exclusive adventurer, so the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. In particular, one of the juiciest tidbits to leave Ueda’s lips is the possibility on gamers getting a playable teaser of the game as part of Team ICO’s upcoming HD revamps of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. This isn’t the first time a demo has been included in a bundle of this nature either – a God of War III demo came packaged with the God of War Collection, after all. And what better way to acquaint folk with the esteemed developer’s PS2 classics than throwing in a demo of its latest project to boot? Sounds like a match made in heaven to me. In fact, seeing as how I’ve never played ICO or Shadow of the Colossus, I couldn’t think of a more tempting offer than ploughing through both games in glorious HD and then indulging in a hands-on glimpse at Last Guardian. Make it happen, Ueda-san.

Activision says CoD: Black Ops is the best-selling PS3 game ever

I want to act surprised, but I just can’t muster the energy. Everyone and his dog is pretty much aware of the commercial clout that Activision’s Cold War-era shooter boasts in its holster, so the fact the publisher’s claimed it to be the PS3’s biggest-selling game to date shouldn’t come as a surprise to most. Still, part of me would have liked to have seen a PS3-exclusive take the crown – Uncharted 2 or Metal Gear Solid 4 are worthy contenders – but next to CoD, even the likes of Nathan Drake and Solid Snake can’t possibly compete with bearded brutes such as Alex Mason. Black Ops has smashed sales records across the globe, racked up god only knows how many hours of online play and has the backing of millions of CoD fans stretching back to the series’ inception in 2003. It’s ubiquity has earned it the reputation similar to that of the Justin Beiber of the games industry – minus the annoying mop and squealing teenage girls, that is.

Saints Row: The Third announced

Blimey, it’s about time, THQ. From what I recall, Saints Row 3- or should I say, Saints Row: The Third – has been on the cards for some time now, with the game previously expected to show up back at E3 2010, and later, the Spike Video Game Awards. Obviously this never came into fruition, but THQ delivered on its promise of a ‘massive announcement’ for early March, and frankly, if it had been anything less than this then I imagine we’d have a lot of cheesed-off gamers wielding pitchforks and torches knocking on THQ Towers right about now. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Details are a bit sketchy at present, with only some rudimentary plot details up for grabs, though what we have is surely enough to satisfy fans until we get a proper gander at the title later this year. In strike contrast to previous iterations, Saints Row: The Third apparently chucks players everything but the kitchen sink right off the bat, seeing as how we’re part of the now-sprawling 3rd Street Saints gang. As such, there’s no ghetto-style grinding this time around, though there is the small matter of squaring up to rival the Syndicate, and it’s this war that forms the nucleus of The Third’s action-packed spectacle. Sounds to me like developer Volition’s onto a winner, and I’m particularly intrigued over the fact we’re being offered everything on a plate from the get-go. Offers a nice twist on the traditional empire-building based shenanigans, that’s for sure.

SEGA ‘will probably let me make Shenmue 3,’ says Suzuki

While I’m acutely aware that a fair chunk of you probably won’t give a hoot about the prospect of a third Shenmue game, I’ll happily declare myself a rabid fan. I was 16 at the time of the original Shenmue, and it was nothing short of ground breaking (although haters would have you believe otherwise) and I still enjoy indulging in the odd play through to this very day. Unfortunately, while the climax of Shenmue II not so much as left the door open to a sequel than tore the bloody thing off its hinges, it’s been nearly a decade since the game released – time to give up hope? Indeed, any self-respecting Shenmue aficionado (myself included) will freely admit that Shenmue III has consistently remained one of, if not THE most wanted game on their wish list even after all this time, but the amount of teasing tidbits and soul-crushing dead-ends on the project has all but exhausted any optimism in our hearts. Suzuki wants to make it, that’s all fine and dandy, but will he ever get the budget? As much as I loved the games, they didn’t sell particularly well and very much filed under cult as far as the industry’s concerned. As such, would you give the green light to a cult sequel, ten years or so the last game in the series failed to break even? Not on your nelly. If I’m being honest, the most logical thing we can expect isn’t a blockbuster, eye-popping spectacle of a sequel, but rather a truncated, episodic follow-up for PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade. It’d still work, albeit not on the grand scale that Suzuki has in mind, but anything to wrap up the story gets my vote. Please for the love of god just make it happen and stop waffling on about it, though.

Cage: 72% of gamers finished Heavy Rain

So, fess up, how many of you here actually finished it? Smugly, I can confirm that I was indeed among the 72% who ploughed through Quantic Dream’s lauded thriller, and loved every single minute of it. While I could wax lyrical about why Heavy Rain rightly deserves all the credit it gets, I’ll just point you in the direction of our review and let PSU’s Adam Dolge extol the virtues of David Cage’s PS3 debut. More interestingly, however, is the fact Cage seems adamant about giving the industry a kick up the backside when it comes to creating new software. Specifically, he’s spoken of his desire to see more emotional content churned out, and later in the week, would reveal that he’s stewing over the possibility of making a war-themed game. That is, a war-themed game with a difference – The Cagemesiter wants to take the genre, chuck it in a blender with a sprinkle of his uncanny ability to tug at our heart strings, and see what he comes up with. Frankly I can’t wait to see what the studio cobbles together next (not counting the two "very differnt" projects currently in the works at the French studio), and I completely concur with his desire to see more thought provoking videogame experiences make their way onto store shelves. Imagine the emotionally-charged qualities of Heavy Rain applied to a modern day shooter? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve personally had my fill of Marcus Fenix-style meatheads grunting and eviscerating their way through yet another stoic shooter.

Epic would “love” to have Gears of War on PS3

See above. Yes, the beauty of a no-holds-barred opinion piece such as this is that subjectivity reigns supreme. And I’ll freely admit, I’m not the biggest lover of Gears. Funnily enough, I reviewed the original title nearly five years ago during my stint as a freelancer, and rather quite enjoyed it. Somewhere along the lines though, my tectonic gaming plates irrevocably shifted to align somewhere in between “meh” and “take it or leave it” when it comes to Epic Games’ illustrious shooter. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why people like the franchise. The cover system is undoubtedly one of the most successful applications of the mechanic in recent history, and the combat is as viscerally satisfying as other shooter i've played. But to me, it’s sort of like MacDonalds; it looks good, it tastes great, but would I want to eat it on a regular basis? Nope. Nonetheless, it’d be arrogant of me not acknowledge the fact legions of gamers out there would love nothing more than to have Marcus and his fellow muscle-bound brutes make the transition to Sony’s Black Behemoth -- and if it means PS3 gets another successful IP to its portfolio, then make it happen, Epic.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution release date due next week

Human Revolution has remained a substantial blip on PSU's radar for some time now. As such, the sooner we get to hear when we can finally get our grubby mitts on the title, the better. With a release date announcement due next week, it seems we won't have to wait too long. Still, let's hope developer Eidos Montreal hasn't run into any stumbling blocks along the way -- otherwise, it's a one-way trip to delay city. Fingers crossed everything's running smoothly on the development front, eh? We'll be sure to keep you in the loop.


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