This Week’s Top Stories: January 10 – 16, 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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Two new characters confirmed for Mortal Kombat

NetherRealm’s eponymous Mortal Kombat revival is looking more scrumptious as each week passes, and with news that Goro and Jade will be joining the fray, we almost willing to forgive the existence of the dismal MK vs DC Universe. Almost. The duo’s inclusion in the new game is big news for us at PSU Towers, as it should be for anyone else who has followed the series since its inception in the early 1990s. After all, both characters are hardened MK veterans, having popped up in numerous games in the series over the years – Goro is particularly noteworthy, having showed up in the first MK and its movie adaptation. Meanwhile, Jade has been around the block a few times, having first showed up in MKII as a secret character and subsequently becoming a series staple ever since. Indeed, we can’t wait to see what the pair gets up to this time around, and look forward to pummelling some poor sap with a multi-arm onslaught from Goro and shoving a boomerang up someone’s backside as the sultry Jade. Bring it on.

CoD: Black Ops is UK’s biggest selling game of 2010

Now there’s a story that’s unlikely to turn heads. Indeed, we’d be more intrigued if Black Ops didn’t ultimately bag the accolade for the UK’s biggest selling game of last year – still let’s face it, Activision had it in the bag on launch day. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the game immensely, and feel Treyarch did a splendid job at in crafting characters on par with Infinity Ward’s efforts – the no-nonsense Reznov is right up there with Soap and Captain Price as one of the most memorable hero’s to have graced a CoD game. Plus, the fact it managed accomplish the feat despite launching at the tail end of 2010 is nothing short of impressive. Turning our attention to the rest of the charts, meanwhile, we’re chuffed to see the likes of Red Dead Redemption making the top five, as well as the compelling Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood stalking Just Dance 2 in seventh. Conspicuous by its absence is GT5, which failed to crack the All Formats top ten, though still put in an appearance in the PS3 Chart at number three. Still, we didn’t honestly expect it to have much of a chance against the onslaught of casual commercial juggernauts that dominated the multiformat charts for a substantial chunk of the year. Despite this, the game was still a resounding success, and did manage to top the All Format charts upon release, dethroning Black Ops in the process. Overall, 2010 was a stonking year for games and now that it’s over, we can turn our attention to 2011, which is poised to host one of the greatest line-ups in over a decade. Buckle up folks, and enjoy the ride. 

Battlefield 3 confirmed for GDC reveal

It had to happen. After weeks of rumblings, EA’s finally broken the silence on the much-anticipated reveal of Battlefield 3 – and as expected, it’s on for GDC. Again, we’ll reiterate: it had to happen. After all, the game has been confirmed to show up in the latter half of 2011 (providing it doesn’t take a delay bullet like so many triple-A offerings last year), so it was only a matter of time. From the look of things, the event is shaping up to be quite the spectacle as far as EA’s output goes, with other highlights including sci-fi shooter Crysis 2 and the Shinji Mikami/Suda51 collaboration, Shadows of the Damned. As for Battlefield 3, aside from the aforementioned confirmation of a 2011 release, there isn’t a great deal of info to go on at this point, so we’re hoping EA spoils us rotten with a deluge of details come March 1. We’re stoked.

Square’s Shiba-san “excited” for PSP2

PSP2. We know it’s coming, you know it’s coming. In fact, everyone and his dog knows it’s coming. Sony, however, obstinately refuses to lift the lid on its handheld successor despite the fact numerous publishers and developers haven’t hid the fact they’ve already got their mitts on the portable platform, or at least had access to dev kits. At this rate, we’re fearful of a muted reception come announcement day. Regardless, Square’s comments that the firm is looking forward to the handheld pretty much echoes our own enthusiasm for the PSP2, and we’re eager to see what Sony has up its sleeves whenever it decides to let the cat out of the bag. Still, while Shiba-san mentioned that he’s more interested in raw hardware than unique features, our excitement is an opposite state of affairs, as we’re itching to see what PSP2 can do aside from churn out swanky visuals. After all, with Nintendo hopping in to the third dimension minus those pesky glasses with the 3DS, Sony’s handheld successor could do with a mighty trump card to make it stand out from the pack. 

FFX’s Yuna joins the fray in Dissidia 012

Dissidia sequel 012’s looking meatier by the minute, and Square’s just upped the ante with confirmation of FFX’s Yuna’s inclusion in the pint-sized brawler. A firm favourite among Final Fantasy aficionados’, the staff-swinging heroine looks set to play to her strengths as a mage, with screens in Shonen Jump magazine showcasing a host of beasties under her control, including resident FF behemoth, King Bahamut. Lovely. Needless to say, if you’re curious about all the hype surrounding the brawler, we advise you to pick up the awesome inaugural outing for PSP and see what all the fuss is about. You won’t regret it.

Rumor: PSP2 reveal due on January 27 

As far as megatons go, it doesn’t get much meatier than this – a PSP2 reveal, scheduled a mere two weeks from now. Bring it on. That’s of course if we’re to believe the murmurs emanating from vg247, which to be fair, have delivered on various gossip in the past, including outing the Team ICO collection months before Sony bothered to lift the lid on the HD revamps. We have to admit, we didn’t expect a reveal to transpire so soon, instead expecting Sony to lift the cloth on the handheld at E3, but who are we to complain? With 3DS doing the rounds across the web and attracting heaps of attention, we think it’s about time that Sony stirred a little hype of its own. And a PSP2 announcement showing up mere weeks before the launch of Nintendo’s handheld would certainly take the wind out of the Kyoto giant’s sails, we imagine. Sneaky buggers you are, Sony – we love it. 

Square registers FFXIII-2 domain

Here’s some rudimentary industry arithmetic for you. Square Enix hosting a Final Fantasy-centric event later this month + previous musings of a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII x a domain registration of said sequel = a pretty good chance that FFXIII-2 is on the horizon. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to followers of the venerable series, considering Square’s wondered down the sequel route in the past with Final Fantasy X-2, which focused on female fan favourite, Yuna. Plus, the company previously teased that there will be a few surprises in store for FF fanatics at the upcoming presser, so we couldn’t think of a better time to lift the wraps off a potential follow-up to FFXIII. Still, the game wasn’t quite the critical darling many had anticipated, so we’re pondering over how much interest there will be in a direct sequel.

Rumor: PSP2 as powerful as PS3

The PSP2 hype train has been chugging along at full pelt this past week or so. Not only does it seem we’re going to get our first glimpse at the device in late January (see our earlier entry titled ‘Rumor: PSP2 reveal due on January 27’), but it now appears Sony’s new slab will pack as much power under its hood as PlayStation 3. That’s some serious horsepower if these claims are to be believed. Can you imagine having a pint-sized cell processor in the palm of your hand? The prospect has us salivating at the lips, though we’re wondering how the battery life would fair with such technical clout up its sleeves. Nonetheless, it certainly seems the hardware manufacturer is intent on nabbing as much attention away from the 3DS as possible – Nintendo’s new machine launches in Japan only a month after PSP2’s supposed reveal, and launch plans for 3DS in Europe and North America are being unveiled the day before. Let the battle commence.

Sledgehammer working on next Call of Duty game

Industry chatter’s been ripe on 2011’s entry in the Call of Duty series as of late, and it’s now pretty much a given that Sledgehammer is busy hammering away on the project. Why? Well, aside from the fact the developer’s website lists a FPS CoD title as in the works at the studio, it’s now posted up a job advertisement hiring for a community manager specifically related to ‘the next Call of Duty.’ If that isn’t enough to cement the belief that this year’s offering will come courtesy of the Schofield/Condrey code house, then we don’t know what is. The question on everyone’s lips however, is what exactly we’ll be getting come November. So far, we’ve heard rumbling of a space-themed instalment, as well as the obligatory Modern Warfare 3, the latter of which had been rumored to be in the works over at Infinity Ward. Still, Treyarch can be ruled out, since they worked on last year’s Black Ops, though there might be a possibility that we’ll be receiving an unprecedented two CoD games this year.

Kojima hiring for next-gen MGS

Hideo Kojima’s pledged that he won’t be making anymore titles in Snake’s sneaky stealth series more times than we can recall, but he always seems to come back to it eventually. Once upon a time, Snake Eater was to be the famed creator’s stealthy swansong, which later extended to MGS4, and again to the pint-sized PSP prequel, Peace Walker. Even now, we’re hearing murmurs that he’ll work on a fifth instalment in the franchise for his next project, though nothing’s been set in stone as of yet. Kojima is, however, letting fresh blood handle the next game, Raiden spin-off outing MGS Rising. Regardless, we’re thrilled to learn that the series will apparently extend beyond the upcoming slash ‘em up, with news that Kojima Productions is opening its doors for ‘next-generation MGS staff.’ The page seeks experience in PS3, PC and 360 platforms, so from the sound of things it’ll be a major console entry. Needless to say we’re stoked, as regardless whether or not Kojima will be involved or not, a new MGS is enough to get us frothing at the mouth. Nonetheless, we’re still eager to see what Kojima-san has up his sleeves next.

Killzone 3 has gone gold

Killzone 3 remains one of the most anticipated PS3 releases this year, and with the game having now entered manufacturing (or gone gold, as they like to call it), things are on track for its impending U.S. release this February 22. Even better, Sony’s finally staple-gunned a European release date to the eagerly awaited shooter, and the good news is PAL gamers will be receiving the next Helghast onslaught just one day after our friends across the pond. Oddly enough, UK gamers will have to wait until February 25, but still, we’ve endured far worse. And boy, does that Helghast Edition look mighty tasty. If any of you should be lucky enough to get your mitts on it come release day, be sure to brag about it to your hearts content – that’s what we’d do.