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This Week's Top Stories: March 12 - 17, 2012

18 March 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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U.K. Charts: Mass Effect 3 takes the top spot

Mass Effect 3’s launch is something of a landmark in the series’ history, being the first title in the epic space saga to hit all three platforms simultaneously. And, despite the fact U.K. retail giant GAME wasn’t stocking Shepard’s latest adventure (and from the look of things, not much else either), the pulling power of the brand was still enough to catapult it to the summit of the All Format Charts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Xbox 360 version took the lion’s share of sales, though that isn’t really all that shocking considering the franchise started on Microsoft’s platform nearly five years ago. But let’s not worry about that, it’s the quality of the experience that matters, and having been on it since last Friday, I can confirm it’s every bit as good as I had hoped for. PSU’s review will be up by the time you read this, but suffice to say, if you haven’t jumped on board the Normandy yet, now is the ideal opportunity to do so. Pick up Mass Effect 2 on the cheap first, though.

Phantasy Star Online 2 on Vita coming in 2013 after PC version

Last week’s confirmation that Phantasy Star Online 2 would be coming to PlayStation Vita no doubt resonated highly with RPG enthusiasts, with the series having enjoyed a cult following since its Dreamcast debut over a decade ago. Unfortunately, much of the game’s development has been kept in the dark, though it is now known that owners of Sony’s new handheld won’t be getting their paws on the title until 2013. The reason? It’s only 10 per cent complete at the time of writing. As it stands, its PC counterpart is pencilled in for a 2012 launch, with alpha test 2 having recently wrapped with 50,000 participants. Still, the good thing is we can hopefully expect Sega to iron out any possible bugs from the PC release in preparation for a trouble-free PS Vita launch come next year.

New Assassin’s Creed III details surface

Fresh info on Ubisoft’s stabby sequel Assassin’s Creed III has started to trickle in following its unveiling earlier this month. Game Informer has got the latest scoop, revealing intriguing details on the game’s changing seasons, and specifically how it will affect the environment around you. AC III’s locations will transition between summer and winter variations, and with each new season comes various changes in the actual environment. For example, freezing lakes make way for new paths, and Connor is able to circumvent any obstructions thanks to his ability to navigate the treetops. Enemy behaviour will also be affected by the changing seasons, and presumably won’t be quite as nimble as our stab-happy hero. All in all it sounds great, and I for one am excited for the ability to explore the open wilderness, affording what sounds like a far greater sense of freedom than past AC games.

Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection heading to North America, Europe

Capcom confirmed this week that it’s bringing its previously Wii-exclusive Resident Evil Chronicles series to PS3 this June; an obvious choice for a HD makeover, but welcome nonetheless. For the uninitiated, the bundle consists of RE: The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles, both rail shooters that offer retellings of all major canonical entries in the illustrious survival horror franchise, from Zero to Code: Veronica. Having played and completed both games, I can confidently say they’re both decent offerings, and pack a wealth of content under the hood in terms of unlockable extras. Sure, they’re pretty rudimentary rail shooters, but Resi fans should find plenty here to enjoy; even if you aren’t a fan, they’re worth picking up for a spot of good old fashioned blasting, especially with a mate in tow. Plus, it’ll give you a chance to dust off your PlayStation Move controllers.

Resident Evil 6 pre-orders off to a great start

Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 is among the most hotly-anticipated games of the year, and a testament to this fact can be seen in pre-sales for the upcoming horror sequel. Despite not being out for another eight months, the zombie shooter has drummed up more pre-orders than any other RE to date, putting the game well on track for surpassing its predecessor, which to date is the best-selling game in the franchise. There’s no doubt in my mind that the game – which features series heavyweights Leon and Chris – will sell by the bucket load, and given the introduction of modern shooter mechanics such as a full cover system and gun-wielding BOWs, the game is likely to attract a whole new audience aside from the usual rabid Resi fan base.

GTA V won't launch this year, says analyst

Another analyst has weighed in on the ambiguity surrounding GTA V’s launch date this week, with Sterne Agree analyst Avrind Bhatia suggesting the game won’t hit until early 2013. A possibility for sure, but let’s face it; everyone is quick to fling their opinions around when it comes to the release of a triple-A title such as GTA V, but no one knows the truth apart from Rockstar. It’s curious that the industry giant may wish to miss out on the lucrative holiday season, which while rife with competition is unlikely to scupper the crime sequel’s chances of dominating the Christmas market. Nonetheless, releasing in a quieter period next year would also ensure GTA V gobbles up much of the limelight, and would help to stagger the quality of big game release for early 2013.

Ratchet & Clank HD Collection announced for PS3

What better way to celebrate Ratchet & Clank’s 10th birthday with a high-definition makeover of the original PlayStation 2 trilogy? Funny, because that’s exactly what Insomniac and Idol Minds are doing come spring 2012 in Europe, with arrival of the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection. Of course, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering the bundle has been touted for a while now, and was conspicuous by its absence in Sony’s HD remaster series for quite some time. Nonetheless, it’s great to hear the dynamic duo is set to receive the HD treatment at last. Specifically, you’ll get Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal all polished up in high-def, complete with 3D and Trophy support. Apparently, the North American release, due in fall 2012, will feature ‘something special’ to compensate for the delay, which sounds intriguing. Watch this space.

Crytek confident in Homefront 2

Last year’s Homefront was a divisive beast to say the least, though ultimately set tills alight enough to warrant a sequel, which is currently in development at Crytek. While the game is still some way off, the studio is confident that the sequel will be able to make a splash come launch, believing brand awareness is particularly strong. Apparently, this is in large part due to a meaty marketing campaign installed by THQ for the original, something which Crytek reckons will definitely help cement Homefront 2 at launch. Well, that and the inherent Crytek stamp of quality, of course. Homefront had some interesting ideas and attempted to craft a narrative you care about as opposed to the throwaway tales associated with most FPS, so I’d personally like to see the sequel succeed.


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