This Week’s Top Stories: January 17 – 23, 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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Final Fantasy XIII-2 announced

Hands up anyone who’s surprised at this announcement? Ah, you at the back? Perhaps you should have been paying better attention in class, sonny. For everyone else, the announcement of FFXIII-2 will likely be met with a welcome, albeit muted response. After all, it was only last week we reported that Square had registered the game’s domain, plus the firm previously teased that we could expect a few announcements at the presser this week. And that’s exactly what we got (see below for other highlights). Of course, details are being kept under wraps at present, though we know the sequel will feature at least one new character, and it’ll release on PS3 and 360 this year in Japan. Final Fantasy aficionados’ will no doubt be frothing at the mouth over this, though we imagine those who poured scorn over FFXIII may not be too fussed about the prospect of a follow-up. We’re very much affiliated with the former, however, as we thoroughly enjoyed last year’s entry, despite its overly linear template. Needless to say, we’re eager to find out more on the sequel. Bring it on.

Square renames Final Fantasy Agito XIII

We’ve been twiddling our thumbs waiting for fresh details on portable romp FF Agito XIII for the past year or so now. Still, while we knew something was coming this week, the last thing we expected was a name change. Yep, wave bye-bye to Agito XIII, and welcome with open arms Final Fantasy Type 0. Can’t say we’re surprised, though, as the game’s supposedly a prequel to FFXIII, so the new moniker ties in snugly with Japan’s affinity for naming such games under the ‘Zero’ tag. Just take a butcher’s at other big name prequels for proof of this – Resident Evil Zero, Silent Hill Zero to name but a few. Anyway, the good news is Type 0’s on track for a summer release in Japan, though unfortunately we’re still no closer to getting anything remotely resembling a western date. From the sound of things, the game will be pretty meaty, shipping on an unprecedented two UMDs. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for the brand-spanking new trailer on January 27. Overall, it’s fair to say 2011 should be a stonking year for Final Fantasy fanatics.

FF Versus XIII remains a PS3-exclusive

Square didn’t disappointed this week during its anticipated First Production press event, lifting the cloth on both Agito – scratch that, Type 0 – and Versus XIII after a lengthy hiatus. The former didn’t get a name change, but we did get a new trailer, as well as confirmation that it is indeed still a PS3-exclusive. Internet rumblings have suggested that the game would venture down the multiplatform route after the original FFXIII ended up on 360, though these claims have never been corroborated by Square. Still, after this week’s conference, it seems such a move isn’t on the cards, though we honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it did end up on Microsoft’s machine. After all, there’s still the lingering doubt of a job advertisement cropping up last year that indicated as much, though for now, we’ll just assume it’s sticking with Sony’s black behemoth. Regardless, we just wish Square would hurry up and slap a date on the project. 

Pachter: ‘3DS will outsell PSP2’

Ubiquitous industry analyst Michael Pachter has once again weighed in on the forthcoming battle between the 3DS and PSP2, and if we’re to believe his ramblings, things aren’t looking too rosy for Sony’s machine. Specifically, the Wedbush Morgan analyst reckons 3DS has it in the bag, as it offers something “new” to consumers, describing PSP2 as a “souped up” version of its predecessor. Ouch. Pachter’s no stranger for his portable pessimism, having described Sony’s slab as ‘dead on arrival’ and doesn’t see much of a future in Sony’s handheld endeavours. Frankly, the word premature doesn’t quite cut it. PSP2 hasn’t even been officially announced yet, and there is absolutely no guarantee that it won’t offer anything radically different than the original platform. Furthermore, PSP wasn’t the flop Pachter would have you believe, shifting over 60 million units worldwide since its inception in 2004. Sure, it has lost out to the DS and didn’t quite capture the hearts of westerners, but the format still remains ridiculously popular in its native Japan. Sony’s bound to have ironed out the wrinkles for its successor, and we’re confident that it will be aiming to ensure PSP2 crosses all the Ts and dots all the Is, so to speak. Having said that, we do concede that PSP2 should pack some sort of eye-opener under its hood aside from the obligatory increase in visual prowess, as that’s what will differentiate the platform from its competitors.

Activision recommends closure for Bizarre Creations

The demise of a developer is always a sad state of affairs, more so when they’re packing as much pedigree as the likes of Bizarre Creations. Masters in the art of the racing genre, the UK-based studio has been churning out some of the industry’s most prolific titles since the mid-90s, creating stunning outings including the likes of Project gotham, MSR and Formula One. They also dabbled in a few other genres, such as cartoon blaster Fur Fighters and gritty third-person shooter The Club. Needless to say we’re gutted about the studios’ apparent closure, though we can hardly accuse Activision of jumping the gun – after all, they’ve been searching high and low for a buyer, sadly to no avail. Still, we’re stumped that no one has shown any interest in snapping up Bizarre. A few months ago, we’d have bet a fair amount of cash on the notion that Sony or Microsoft would step in and salvage the long-running studio, but alas this hasn’t transpired. Still, we’re hopeful the remaining members of the studio will be able to inject their talents in to other avenues within the industry. Perhaps it’s futile to hope something may change, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed this isn’t the end.

Killzone 3 grants entry into SOCOM 4 multiplayer beta 

What better way to supplement the release of one of the PS3’s most anticipated shooters of all time – that’s Killzone 3, in case you didn’t already know – than with early multiplayer beta access to yet another triple-A blaster? Well, that’s just what Sony’s done this week, confirming all copies of the guerrilla games shooter will chuck in a complimentary ticket to tactical shooter SOCOM 4. Lovely jubbly. Details are thin on the ground at present, though it has been explicitly stated that Killzone 3 owners will be grated early access to the beta. Presumably, however, there’ll be other ways of entering if you aren’t fussed about signing up for the latest push against the Helghast masses. We’ll be sure to keep you informed. 

The next Final Fantasy game will raise hopes this March

As if we haven’t already made it abundantly clear in past articles, we adore Dissidia: Final Fantasy, hence why the very mention of the follow-up has us giddy as a schoolgirl. With a heap of iconic characters already confirmed – including female favourites Yuna, Tifa and Lightning – Dissidia 012’s shaping up to be quite the sumptuous sequel indeed. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like we have long to wait to get our grubby mitts on the game, with Square announcing this week that it’ll release in the U.S. on March 22. Splendid. Indeed, as previously mentioned here on PSU, if you haven’t already tried out the original entry then there’s no better time to give it a shot and see what all the fuss is about. You won’t regret it.

Rumor: Sledgehammer helping Infinity Ward on Modern Warfare 3

The Call of Duty chatter continues to assault our ears again this week, with yet more rumblings supporting the widespread notion that Sledgehammer is handling this year’s entry in the franchise. This time, however, it appears long-time series developer Infinity Ward is also mucking in on the project, working alongside Sledgehammer to produce the game’s single-player offering. Not only that, but Raven Software has also been signed on, and will be hammering away on the multiplayer side of things. We’ve never minced our words when it comes to Call of Duty, and while many folk are getting a tad fed up on the series, we’ll openly admit we’re stoked for Modern Warfare 3. Sure, the series will never win any awards for innovation, but let’s be honest – Killlzone hasn’t exactly set the world alight either in this department, and still garners overwhelming acclaim. The reason? It doesn’t muck with a successful formula. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it bloody well to boot — Modern Warfare’s no different. As such, we’re gagging to see what Captain Price as his gaggle of hard nut SAS types are up to next – let’s just hope it doesn’t involve moving to outer space as previously rumored. We’d rather our feet kept firmly on the ground, thanks.

Duke Nukem Forever finally dated

We wouldn’t blame anyone who clapped eyes on this article to do a double take just to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake – we couldn’t believe we were writing it. But no, you haven’t stepped in to a parallel dimension. Duke Nukem’s long awaited comeback will finally be arriving in North America on May 3. The rest of the world, meanwhile, gets it on May 6. Hallelujah. Of course, it goes without saying that in the process of being under the knife for 13 years, the Duke’s accumulate a fair amount of expectations. Near insurmountable, we’d say. As such, while we have absolute faith in Randy Pitchford and co., they’ve got one hell of a mammoth task on their hands to deliver the Nukem knock out shooter everyone’s been clamouring for all this time. Indeed, if ever there was a game that we sincerely hope lives up to the hype, it’s Duke Nukem Forever. Don’t let us down, boys. 

Metal Gear Solid trilogy sneaking onto PS3 in HD?

Rumors of a MGS HD collection date back to early last year, though this is the first we’ve heard on the supposed sneak ‘em ups PS3 makeover for quite some time. Indeed, aside from perhaps a Final Fantasy HD Collection, Snake’s stealthy escapades are probably the favourite among gamers to be spruced up for a PS3 re-release, and we can’t honestly say we’d be surprised if the chaps at Konami are surreptitiously chiselling away on the collection as we speak. As for the contents, we’ll supposedly be getting full PS3 HD revamps of the original PSX classic, alongside PS2 sequels Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater. A trio of triple-A goodness all packed in to one single Blu-ray disc – and no doubt with a few extras thrown in for good measure to boot. Of course, this is all purely conjecture at the time of writing, though the source – Official PlayStation Magazine UK – lends the gossip a little more clout than your typical Internet chatter. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.