This Week’s Top Stories: June 20 – 26, 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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DICE: Battlefield 3 PS3, 360 runs at 30fps, 720p

A lot of fuss was made of Battlefield 3’s PlayStation 3 gameplay demo on Jimmy Fallon last week, with many onlookers moaning that the military shooter lacked the visual flare of its PC counterpart. Personally I thought it looked scrumptious, though I can’t honestly say I’m all that fussed about graphics – my jaw still drops looking at the Resident Evil GameCube remake, and that’s nine years old. But that’s beside the point. I don’t think anyone was really expecting the PS3 conversion to look identical to the PC release; after all, Sony’s black behemoth packs a meaty punch, but compared to a high-end, modern-day PC, there’s no comparison. Apparently though, people set their expectations a little too high. As far as the frame rate goes though, I can understand the concern; with all the eyeball-popping spectacles transpiring on-screen during gameplay, any drop in the performance from 30pfs would grind things to a halt. Let’s hope things run smoothly.

Avalanche expects ‘at least one’ next-gen console by 2014

Blimey, with all this chatter on next-gen consoles as of late, you’d think that PS3 and Xbox 360 were on their last legs. Obviously that’s far from the case, though Just Cause dev Avalanche Studios reckons we’re only a couple of years off before the PS4 and Xbox 720. Well, to be specific, the company is confident we’ll get ‘at least one’ of them by 2014. Still, that’s three years away, and it isn’t entirely in inconceivable, though I still reckon Sony will be last out the door this time around as I mentioned in last week’s recap. Microsoft may have something in the pipeline as early as 2013 if rumors are anything to go by, though I personally wouldn’t be interested in investing in fresh hardware until 2014 at the earliest. All in all, I think Avalanche may be on the money with this, though whether or not Sony will be part of the next-generation push in three years remains to be seen.

Rumor – GTA V is ‘well under way’

Surprised? Nope, didn’t think so. Grand Theft Auto V is no doubt fairly well into development by now, and while chatter of an E3 unveiling ultimately proved to be pure fabrication, it’s only a matter of time before Rockstar lifts the lid on the next entry in their multi-million dollar selling crime franchise. GameSpot’s got its mitts on the latest gossip, with sources close to Rockstar claiming the much-anticipated sequel is ‘well under way,’ and describes a 2012 release as ‘pretty likely.’ Apparently, they’re in the process of adding finishing touches such as mini-games – sounds intriguing. Is a GamesCom reveal on the cards? I hope so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this juggernaut was saved for Spike’s annual Video Game Awards in December.

U.K. retailer pegs Vita for early November release

Retailers commonly get the scoop on release dates long before us riff-raff catch wind of anything, but in most cases, they’re simple place holders. Still, is it so hard to conceive of a pre-Christmas launch for Vita outside of Japan? I think it’s in for a shot, though it wouldn’t surprise me in the least IF it did slip into early 2012. In this case, U.K. giant ShopTo has pegged Sony’s swanky handheld for a November 4 release, indicting Sony aims to ride the tidal wave of pre-holiday hype. This could be seen as a double-edged sword. On one side, punters are plonking down cash left, right and centre in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so having fresh hardware on shelves would surely put plenty of Vitas in stockings around the globe. On the flip side, however, with so many companies competing for our cash this season, there’s a small chance Vita might be overshadowed in all the home console triple-A treats on offer. Personally I think Vita would storm the competition and ensure Sony enjoys a lucrative sales period, especially when you take into consideration the amount of quality launch games on offer (Uncharted and WipEout from day one? Yes please!). Plus, Nintendo has demonstrated that pushing a new platform out the door a few months after the hectic Christmas period doesn’t always go swimmingly – the 3DS’s reception was a bit lukewarm, after all.

SCEE boss says firm is now ‘hyper vigilant’ after PSN hack

Sony has been up to its armpits in managing the after effects of April’s PSN intrusion, and rightly so; the hack cost the firm millions of dollars, not to mention the confidence of its loyal consumers. One might say that a major corporation such as Sony should have been ‘hyper vigilant’ to begin with. Indeed, the fact Sir Howard Stringer admitted the intrusion came as a surprise perhaps shows just how ignorant the electronics giant was in regards to its vulnerability to the hacking community. Still, that’s all in the past, and this week the firm has continued to trumpet its gratitude to the millions of users who have returned to PSN since its restoration at the end of last month. Furthermore, Sony Europe boss Andrew House has asserted the firm is now more vigilant than ever following the hack, admitting the intrusion was something of a wake-up call for Sony and other companies. None of us, least of all Sony, want such events to transpire again, so all we can do is just hope that whatever additional security measures Sony has put in place will do the job.

Sucker Punch hiring for ‘next big thing’

Blimey, Sucker Punch doesn’t hang about, does it? With inFamous 2 having just barely been shoved out the door, the celebrated developer behind the electricity-charged superhero franchise has already started chiseling away on what it describes as its ‘next big thing.’ But what is it, exactly? Only Sucker Punch knows, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating away to our heart’s content. For one, we know it’s not the new Sly Cooper; the fourth game, titled Thieves in Time, was unveiled at E3, so we know that’s coming. InFamous 3 is perhaps an obvious if somewhat overly optimistic choice, though not entirely inconceivable. However, with the sequel only just out and yet to make an impression on the charts, it might be a little premature to start working on a third outing until they can gauge how well Cole MacGrath’s latest outing has fared. Having said that, Naughty Dog started working on Uncharted 3’s multiplayer just after Uncharted 2 wrapped, so many Sucker Punch is putting its money where its mouth is and taking the plunge for a new game. Or maybe it’s a new IP altogether – which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Uncharted Collection confirmed

We love Uncharted, you love Uncharted. In fact, I don’t know a solitary soul who doesn’t love a bit of Uncharted action. Still, as inconceivable as it may seem, there are some folk who have yet to step into the shoes of cheeky chappie Nathan Drake and experience not just one of the best slices of PS3 entertainment to date, but on any platform period. Fitting it is, then, that Sony is looking to bundle the original game and its sequel for a tempting $39.99 later this summer, making it an ideal introduction to newcomers. Furthermore, the pack also includes a couple of extra goodies in the shape of an Uncharted 3 dynamic theme and avatar. Not too shabby, eh? Releasing alongside the Resistance Dual Pack, this is one double whammy you can’t afford to miss out on. Get stuck in.

Ken Levine: Motion tech should be ‘separate from the main experience’

I won’t be around the bush here – Levine, IMO, is bang on the mark with this one. I’ve never been a fan of wand-wiggling motion controls at the best of times, and seeing developers force the functionality down gamers’ throats over the past few years is a massive turn-off. Having motion tech as a separate offering from the core experience is the way to go as far as I’m concerned; as Mr. BioShock pointed out, it allows those of us who don’t fancy flaying our arms about the place to simply ignore the feature and crack on with the main experience. Of course, Levine has already confirmed Move support for BioShock Infinite, but going by his comments this week I think it’s fair to say we shouldn’t have any concerns about Move intruding on the core BioShock highlight. Perhaps it’ll form part of a series of mini-games? Despite not being Move’s biggest fan, I’m intrigued to see what Levine comes up with.