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This Week's Top Stories: March 19 - 24, 2012

25 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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Metal Gear series has sold 31 million

Hideo Kojima’s acclaimed Metal Gear franchise is turning 25 this year, and in a fitting turn of events has recently celebrated another sales milestone. As of December 31, 2011, the stealth-action franchise has shifted a whopping 31 million units globally since its inception in 1987. For those of you who aren’t as old as some of the aging staff at PSU, the series kicked off on MSX2 with the eponymous top-down stealth outing, and enjoyed a sequel before going on hiatus in the mid-90s and adopting the ‘Solid’ moniker we know and love today. And the rest they say is history. If you haven’t played MGS by now, then it’s not too late; do yourself a favour and pick up the original on PSN, and then plonk down the cash for the HD Collection. Still, the series is sort of like marmite, in the sense you either love it or hate it. It’s about as esoteric as you can get in this day and age, with the plot frequently descending into mind-numbing madness, but stick with it and you’ll see why so many of us have such an affinity for Solid Snake and his merry rabble.

PS Vita wins esteemed quality award

It’s still early days yet in the PlayStation Vita’s lifecycle, though that hasn’t stopped Sony’s new pocket rocket from bagging the prestigious Red Dot Award for exceptional design quality. It’s even more impressive considering the fact the handheld received the prize from some stiff competition – 4,500 hardware applicants, to be precise. Sony is understandably chuffed with itself over this, highlighting positive response to PS Vita across both European and North American territories since its western launch on February 22. Congratulations, chaps.

Kojima’s new game to deal with ‘taboo issues’

Hideo Kojima is keeping much of the details on his new game close to his chest, but has let slip this week he aims to tackle delicate, ‘taboo’ issues in the mystery project. Those of you with a good memory may recall Kojima-san specifically using the word taboo when describing the new game a couple of years back now, though this is the first time he’s mentioned it since then. Of course, quite what he’s been chiselling away on all this time remains to be seen; Project Ogre is the codename for an in-development project, though whether that’s a new IP or a sequel to an existing franchise remains to be seen. Interestingly, he mentioned that he had visited a military base in San Diego at some point, and those of you who recall the teaser shot of Project Ogre may remember a distinct military/war vibe. Either way, it’s intriguing stuff, and if there’s any developer out there who can highlight sensitive issue in a tasteful yet compelling manner, it’s definitely Kojima.

Naughty Dog shows off next Uncharted 3 DLC

Despite being five months old, Naughty Dog has been churning out fresh post-launch pleasures for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on a regular basis since launch. And, while the DLC onslaught is nearing its conclusion, it seems the team have been saving some of the best stuff until last. The latest batch on the horizon includes the ship graveyard stage, marking the first time DLC in the series has include extensive bodies of water, and should make for quite a dynamic battleground. No date yet, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

I Am Alive SOE release date revealed

Ironically for a game titled I Am Alive, Ubisoft’s disaster romp appeared to be flat-lining for the past few years, having gone on an extended hiatus following its unveiling back in 2009. It’s only until recently it emerged from the shadows, and will finally arrive on PlayStation Network – ops, we mean Sony Entertainment Network – on April 4. That’s nearly three years since it was announced. Reaction to the Xbox Live release has been decidedly mixed, though the concept of the game intrigues me to say the least. Perhaps the transition to Sony’s online service will allow for some of the bugs to be ironed out? We can live in hope.

Mass Effect DLC confirmed for Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is receiving extensive post-launch support, with story-based DLC, extra costumes and new colosseum battles just part of Square Enix’s plans. Crossover content seems to be flavour of the month however, as hot on the heels of some Assassin’s Creed –themed goodies comes the announcement of a Mass Effect costume pack. Basically, this means you’ll be able to dress up heroes Noel and Serah as Commander Shepard’s N7 clobber. So far the DLC has only been confirmed for Japan, but we can surely expect it to end up arriving in the U.S. and U.K. at some point in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned.

Epic Mickey 2 announced

The original Epic Mickey was something of a flawed classic; a game that looks great on paper, does a lot right but ultimately not without its shortcomings. Released on the Wii in 2010, the game marries lush aesthetics with brilliant platforming, featuring some of Disney’s most unsung heroes, making it a right treat for anyone who has grown up adoring this illustrious company. News of a sequel has floated around for a while, but it’s now official: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of 2 is heading to not just Wii, but PS3 and Xbox 360 too. This time around it’ll feature a seamless drop in/drop out co-op mode, where our plucky mouse friend will be accompanied by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. And, while Mickey and his chum are back in Wasteland once again, it’s been heavily altered thanks to earthquakes and other disasters, making it nearly unrecognisable from its original incarnation. Make no mistake, this is one to watch, and it’ll be interesting to see how the developers up the ante while fixing some of the glaring issues found in the original.

LittleBigPlanet Karting offers new ways to Play, Create and Share

Given the focus of user-generated content in LittleBigPlanet and the ideal opportunity afforded by kart racers for creative freedom, a marriage of both concepts seemed inevitable. After all, just look at ModNation Racers; the game managed to fuse the satisfying, frantic fun of Mario Kart with the virtually endless replay value of making and sharing your own tracks and creations. In fact, with the announcement of LittleBigPlanet Karting, it makes you wonder what’s to become of United Front Games’ accomplished karting romp – after all, they’re the ones who are making SackBoy’s racing debut alongside LBP masterminds Media Molecule. But that side, LittleBigPlanet Karting sounds like a great game, and if it’s anything like ModNation Racers, we’re sure to be in for a treat. In fact, the developers really have no reason to fail at this, since they've already proven themselves once before. However, the iconic status that SackBoy has achieved will no doubt lend the game some considerably clout at retail, and it’ll be interesting to see how far the customization options extend. Will it feature possible connectivity with existing LBP games? The possibilities are quite tantalizing. 

Resident Evil ‘needs to head in action-oriented direction’

Capcom decisions with Resident Evil the past half a decade or so have firmly split the fan base down the middle. Some folk are happy with the more mainstream action route the franchise has taken since RE4, while others, myself included, prefer the old school survival horror template. However, as far as Capcom is concerned, action seems to be the only viable direction to go in. Why? Because the market for survival horror isn’t big enough to generate massive bucks ala Call of Duty. Personally, while I’ve moaned until I’m blue in the face about how I feel about Resident Evil these days, I feel this is an erroneous belief. For one, survival horror has the capacity to sell millions – just look at Dead Space. Sure, it may not be the money-making juggernaut that Call of Duty offers, but Capcom could quite competently churn out a Resident Evil Revelations-style horror outing for home consoles and turn a tidy profit in the process. While I’d love to go back to the days of the PSone games or the GameCube remake, that just isn’t going to happen; as such, it really wouldn’t be difficult to find a decent middle ground. Many people assume survival horror to mean static backdrops and tank controls, but this simply isn’t the case. Just do what RE4 did, but tone down the ammo available, up the tension and implement better riddles and you’ve got yourself a quintessential survival horror experience while making it contemporary enough for newcomers to enjoy. Revelations got it spot on, so how about we get something like that for consoles?

The Best of the Rest...

Hideo Kojima has no intention of retiring

Amazon granting refunds for Mass Effect 3

Soul Reaver reboot in works at Crystal Dynamics?

Trademark Dawnguard hints at Skyrim DLC

BioWare apologizes to fans for Mass Effect 3 ending, 'content initiatives' will close journey

Max Payne 3 multiplayer crews can be used in GTA V

PlayStation 3 turns five in Europe


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