This Week’s Top Stories – January 24 – 30, 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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Ninja Gaiden 3 will be “more accessible,” says dev

Announced at TGS last year, details on Team Ninja’s bloody slasher sequel Ninja Gaiden 3 have been decidedly thin on the ground to say least. In fact, we don’t yet possess unequivocal proof that it’ll even release on PS3, though the likelihood of it doing so is pretty high given past entries. Chuffed we were, then, to receive a few tidbits this week. Still, we have to admit; the term accessibility has become synonymous among pessimists with dumbing down, so we’re just hopeful the third game doesn’t lose those inherent qualities we’ve come to know and love. And by that, we mean a tough-as-nails gore fest without any overbearing simplifications. Sure, by all means make the game more accessible, but not a detriment to those classic Ninja Gaiden credentials. Fortunately, it sounds like the impending threequel will measure up to our expectations, given the developers want to make it the premier among 3D action games. Bring it on.

UK Charts: SackBoy secures pole position

There was never a modicum of doubt in our minds in regards to the overwhelming appeal of SackBoy and chums, but one quick gander at the latest UK Charts is more than enough to silence any potential doubters. Yep, LittleBigPlanet 2 rocketed to number one, even managing to dethrone the mighty Black Ops in the process. That’s some clout right there. Furthermore, early figures reveal that the DIY sequel has already surpassed its predecessor in terms of the number of users online at once. Surprisingly, however, it failed to top LBP1’s first day sales figures, with SackBoy’s inaugural outing outselling the sequel by just 95 units. Ouch. Elsewhere, the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 made its debut at seven, though the eternal optimist in us had hoped it’d at least crack the top five. Nonetheless, it’s early days yet.

L.A. Noire dated for US, Europe

Okay, so it didn’t quite reach the vertiginous heights of Duke Nukem Forever in terms of delays, but it’s been a fair old slog waiting for L.A. Noire. First announced back in 2005, the game didn’t even show its face for nigh on four years before finally crawling out of the woodwork in 2010. Rockstar’s been drip-feeding us tidbits ever since, talking up the game’s swanky facial animation features and meticulously realised visuals. Fair play to them, since the detective romp certainly does look the business – that much is abundantly clear. Needless to say, we’ve got high hopes for the sprawling sandbox thriller, and can’t wait to finally get our hands on it after all this time.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim combat detailed

The Skyrim info landslide continues its inexorable descent from the pages of Game Informer on to the web this week, with a boatload of combat details published for our consumption. Possibly one of the most requested areas to receive a kick up the backside for the fantasy sequel, Skyrim’s sword-swinging, spell-slinging antics certainly seem to have benefited from a nip and tuck. Aside from the welcome addition of duel wielding, Bethesda’s also promised a heap of other tweaks, including finishing moves, improved physics and more skilled blocking. As far we’re concerned this is exactly the path the developer’s should be taking. Oblivion’s combat was a fine effort, but conspicuously lacking in some areas, all of which appear to have been addressed for its anticipated follow-up. We’re particularly pleased to learn about the fact bow and arrows will do more damage this time around, as the paltry punishment they dealt in Oblivion rendered long-range attacks nearly useless in our books. Likewise, we’re itching to give the blocking a try, and we imagine the near-immaculate timing required to parry an enemy will instil a far more rewarding sense of accomplishment as opposed to merely holding down the block button. We’re pumped.

Square spills new FF Versus XIII details

Tetsuya Nomura loves to tease us. That much is clear. Why else would the legendary dev tell us to forget about FF Versus XIII, only to follow up with a deluge of details that ensures we’ll be doing anything but erasing all thoughts on the game from the old grey matter? Still, we’re not complaining, as it’s abundantly clear we’ll be waiting until around 2012 for the game to arrive, so any info is greatly appreciated. We just hope the elusive PS3-exclusive doesn’t decide to embark on yet another media blackout anytime soon, and that Square continues to drip-feed us tidbits on a semi-regular basis. From what we know so far, Versus looks set to rectify much of what fans grumbled about in FFXIII, implementing a less linear approach to the proceedings – for one, the airships are back. We’re particularly excited about the real-time events system, which looks set to seamlessly punctuate the quieter moments with some eye-popping set pieces. Indeed, Nomura’s already given us a teaser of what to expect, describing such scenes where a plane smashes into the tarmac or a behemoth rocks up as you’re about to traverse a bridge. And Nomura-san reckons we should forget about it for the time being? With juicy details like that pouring in, not on your life, mate. 

Douglas wants Albert Wesker role in Resident Evil 6

Wesker is undoubtedly one of the more memorable game villains to have graced our TV screens over the years, and DC Douglas has done a bang up job of filling Richard Waugh’s shoes. In case you didn’t know, Waugh attracted a cult following for his portrayal of Mr. Perpetual Shades in Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Resident Evil Zero, Wesker’s Report, and Resident Evil 4. As such, Resi aficionados’ found Capcom’s decision to replace him to save cash on hiring union actors a hard pill to swallow. Nonetheless, despite a certain Sean Connery-esque tinge to his performance, Douglas has done a good job. However, we’re not convinced he’ll have a chance to done the blonde wig again in Resident Evil 6, as anyone who has played the last instalment will no doubt concur. Then again, this is Capcom, so anything’s possible. On the subject of a sixth instalment, we should hopefully be hearing an official announcement at some point in the next few months, although that’s just us being optimistic. Keiji Inafune said last year that info would be coming “shortly,” and it’s now January and we’ve still yet to hear anything. Still, there’s no doubt in our minds that a new Resi game is in the works, be it the long overdue PSP outing or another console entry. Just let us know one way or the other, eh Capcom?

Killzone 3 single-player demo landing Feb. 16

A Killzone 3 demo was always a given, but to get one in 2D and 3D – with the former featuring split-screen co-op – is nothing short of impressive. As far as tasters go, Guerrilla’s served up a sumptuous feast. Unsurprisingly, the demo itself takes place on the infamous “Icy Incursion” stage, which has been doing the rounds in the press for quite some time now. Still, nothing like a bit of familiarity to ease us back in to the Helghast hotzone. Furthermore, those of you with Move controllers will also be able cop a feel of how the anticipated shooter functions with Sony’s wand waggling peripheral, with Guerrilla producer Aryeh Loeb wasting no time in reminding us of the fancy new Brutal Melee Kills that are included in the game. He also urged folk to test out the aiming system, which has apparently been fiddled with since Killzone 2. PlayStation Plus users get the special treatment in regards to availability, however, with the demo up for grabs a week earlier than the rest of us common folk. February 9 can’t come soon enough.

Sony officially unveils PSP’s successor

So, there we have it. After months and months of Internet chatter, numerous devs openly admitting they’d seen it, and Sony doing everything to convince us otherwise, PSP2 – dubbed NGP – is officially on the cards. And about time, too. Frankly, to say we’re impressed is a gross understatement. Already, we’ve got confirmation of the biggest names in the industry having signed up to the pint-sized PSP successor, along with demos of games such as Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid 4 doing the rounds. Indeed, claims that the handheld would boast visuals on par with PS3 seem entirely justified as far as we can tell. Less promising is the battery life, however, which Eurogamer says is around 4-5 hours. However, given the amount of power under its hood, this was somewhat inevitable. Aside from that, NGP certainly looks the business, boasting a sleek, aesthetically pleasing design and a myriad of features including two thumbsticks, SixAxis control and front and rear touch-pads. Throw in 3G, WiFi, GPS plus a front and rear camera, and it’s abundantly clear Sony’s got its sights firmly set on cementing the sexy piece of kit as the premier next-gen portable platform. Hold on folks, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Call of Duty in works for NGP, will “set the bar,” says dev

Sony unveils a new portable console, and Activision pipes up as one of the first developers to announce a new game for the device – and surprise, surprise, it’s Call of Duty. Who would have thought it? Still, we’re not complaining. We’ve made no secret of our undying love for the venerable FPS franchise, so we’re eager to see what the publishing giant has in store for Sony’s powerful, pint-sized platform. Details are thin on the ground at present, and we don’t even know if it’s an all-new game or a port of an existing release. Our money’s on the latter, though, considering Activision said it would “set the bar for next-generation portable gaming.” Given NGP apparently packs as much clout under its hood as PS3 in visual terms, perhaps we can expect Modern Warfare 3 to show up alongside the console release. That is, if this year’s instalment is indeed a third entry in the contemporary offshoot of the series. Regardless, we’re pumped. Expect more at E3 for sure.

NGP allows for “same quality as PS3,” says Hideo Kojima

We didn’t believe it at first, but now it’s pretty much a given – NGP does indeed allow for a visual quality on par, or at least near enough to that of PS3. If previous claims weren’t enough to convince you, then word from Hideo Kojima – who demoed MGS4 running on the new Sony portable – should be more than enough to sway you on the matter. While that’s all very fine and dandy, however, we’re more intrigued by the prospect of clapping eyes on Kojima-san’s new project for the handheld. Apparently, we won’t have to wait too long either, with the famed developer hinting at an E3 reveal. Whatever he’s been working on all this this time has our curiosity well and truly piqued, as we’ve been hearing rumblings of numerous projects since last year. Just to jog your memory, Kojima’s hinted at Zone of the Enders 3, a “taboo” game, Metal Gear Solid 5, as well as an action/adventure collaboration with another studio. While we have our preferences as to what we’d like to see, we just can’t wait until the lid is lifted on whatever future gem Kojima has up his sleeves.

Bethesda dates its epic 2011 line-up

2011 looks set to be a meaty year for the chaps at Bethesda Softworks, as clearly evidenced by the sheer amount of quality titles the company’s got up its sleeves for the period. Specifically, gamers should be on the lookout for the likes of Brink, Hunted, RAGE and of course The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Fortunately, the studio hasn’t squashed them all together, instead spreading each title across the year beginning with shooter Brink in Spring and culminating with the fantasy epic Skyrim in November. And, while we can’t claim to possess unequivocal proof of each game’s quality, it’s pretty much a given that we’re looking at some triple-A slices of entertainment here across the board. We’re particularly giddy over the fact Skyrim will see the light of day this year, given The Elder Scrolls titles have a tendency to spend a fair amount of time under the knife. However, it seems Bethesda’s delivered on its promise that punters wouldn’t have to wait too long for the sequel following its announcement. By comparison, Oblivion fans had to endure an arduous two-year wait following its announcement in 2004 – can’t say we envy them.

Tretton: NGP out in “at least one” region by late 2011

Although Sony has already staple-gunned a winter 2011 release to NGP as far as Japan goes, we’ve yet to hear any rumblings of a western release. Fortunately, it seems that the console maker is aiming to get the handheld out in other territories by the year’s end, though SCEA big cheese Jack Tretton emphatically stated a global simultaneous release isn’t very likely. As such, the best we can probably expect is a North America release for winter, with Europe following in early 2012. That might be a bit optimistic though, so perhaps it’ll be early 2012 for the U.S. after all, with Japan getting it just in time for Christmas. However, we’re chuffed to learn the company is aiming to rectify issues that plagued the PS3’s launch, which experienced a bumpy birth to say the least. Regardless, our main concern is what software will be available, so if it means us westerners having to wait a few extra months to ensure we get a quality launch line-up, we’ll happily twiddle our thumbs a little longer. Still, unwrapping a swanky NGP on Xmas morning certainly has its appeal.