This Week’s Top Stories: March 28 – April 3, 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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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City unveiled

Well, there we have it. After months of rumors and a magazine leak, Capcom’s finally let the cat out of the bag – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is indeed a reality, and will be infecting shelves this year. The press blurb didn’t really lift the cloth on anything we didn’t already know (cheers, Official Xbox Magazine) but at least we now have official confirmation that the squad-based horror shooter’s the real deal. I’ll admit I would have preferred a proper survival horror romp ala Outbreak: File #3, but as previously mentioned the fact we’re finally getting to clap eyes on those iconic locales and enemies in glorious HD is more than enough reason to plonk down the cash for the game come winter. The prospect of altering the course of Resi history by popping a cap on Leon’s backside (just to name but one example) is particularly intriguing, though I sincerely hope that Capcom doesn’t attempt to alter the established canon by mucking needlessly with crucial plot elements. We’ve had enough retconning for a life time, thanks. Still, bring on the zombies – it’s about bloody time they came back into the spotlight.

SSFIV Arcade Edition listed on BBFC website
Eh? What’s that sloshing sound? Ah, wait…that’ll be Capcom busy lugging buckets of milk around after sucking its Street Fighter IV cash cow dry. Now, don’t get me wrong – SFIV and its companion SSFIV were stonking fighters. But come off it, do they really expect punters to fork out for yet another edition of the celebrated beat ‘em up? Apparently so, as a listing on the BBFC website has outed the release of an Arcade Edition of the brawler for release this summer. Of course, I’m sure plenty of fans would relish at the chance to get their hands on Evil Ryu and chums, not to mention it’d make a tempting offer for new adopters. However, existing users should at least get the chance to purchase the extra goodies as DLC rather than forking out for a new boxed copy.

Take-Two casting screams GTA V

Props to Rockstar for not pursuing what has colloquially become known as ‘doing an Activision’ with its GTA franchise. Nonetheless, it’s been three years since the Niko and chums captivated gamers with the sprawling GTV IV back in April 2008, so it’s about time we got a fresh entry. And from the look of things, a GTV V announcement has been all but confirmed, with various evidence cropping up online as of late – the latest coming in the shape of a casting call from Take-Two. I think most people by now are expecting a reveal to pop up at some point in the not-too-distant future, most likely at E3. Plus, there’s the small matter of U.S. funny man Gilbert Gottfried essentially outing the game’s existence in a hastily-removed Tweet last week. Come off it Rockstar, who are you trying to kid here?

Rumor: Modern Warfare 3 reveal due in April?

While the identity of this year’s entry in the Call of Duty series remains firmly under wraps at present (though MW3 is looking likely), I wouldn’t be surprised if rumors of a formal announcement this month turned out to be the real deal. Modern Warfare 2 got its formal reveal in GDC 2009, while Activision lifted the lid on Black Ops on April 30, 2010. Looking back, rumblings on annual CoD titles typically start creeping up early in the year before getting a spring reveal – before E3 at least, that’s for sure. As for the likelihood of it being Modern Warfare 3, well, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. One thing we do know is that Sledgehammer Games and Raven  – two of three rumored collaborators on the project – are working on a CoD-related project. That just leaves long-time franchise contributor Infinity Ward, who are apparently involved with the game’s main campaign. I know people are getting fed up with these games, and I almost feel like I’m committing professional suicide by admitting this, but I’m actually quite stoked for a potential third outing in the modern military blaster. Put it down to the British Bulldog in me – I just can’t get enough of badass blokes like Captain Price and Ghost.

PS Move, 3D support confirmed for Resistance 3

Given the fact Killzone 3 received the Move and 3D treatment, I’m hardly surprised to see Insomniac Games following in Guerrilla’s footsteps by augmenting the Chimera-slaying antics of Resistance 3 with this tech. While i’m not too fussed about Move, 3D support I’m particularly chuffed to see confirmed, though it’s hardly shocking considering Sony is currently in the process of flogging the technology at every conceivable opportunity. And as one of the most prolific IPs available on Sony’s Black Box, Resistance is exactly the type of franchise you want to be packing the 3D experience. Plus, with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and a heap of other 2011 heavy hitters lined up to support the tech, there’s no doubt we can expect the same treatment for next year’s triple-A onslaught. Keep it up, boys.

Konami promotes Hideo Kojima

Not much to say here, other than a hearty congratulations to Mr. Kojima and a quick nudge on the shoulder to remind him us gamers are eager to get the skinny on his latest project, and sharpish. Kojima-san is an exceedingly talented chap, but boy does he know how to keep us twiddling our thumbs for months, even years on end.

SEGA announces six Mega Drive Classics for PSN, Sonic out now

SEGA knows its Mega Drive console (that’s Genesis to our yank readers) was the best thing since sliced bread, so it’s little surprise to see it wafting a fresh breeze of nostalgia up our snouts by bringing yet more classic MD games to PSN. With the brilliant Sonic the Hedgehog already available, the firm’s now confirmed it’ll bring the likes of Streets of Rage II, Golden Axe and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to Sony’s online service. For all the whippersnappers out there reading this article, let me make it abundantly clear that you simply must get your mitts on at least one of these retro-flavoured gems asap. The three mentioned above are among some of the finest slices of early 90s gaming you can clap eyes on, and while it’s nigh on impossible to discern a victor, I seriously recommend plumping for Streets of Rage II. On the other hand, if you haven’t already got Sonic 1, then go for the scrumptious sequel. Or if you’ve got cash to burn, bag them all – you won’t regret it. And yes, as you may have already gathered, I grew up playing these games so please excuse my twitchy, almost childlike exuberance – there’s nothing for it, sadly.

Mortal Kombat could be 2011’s best-selling fighter, says Ed Boon

I’ve been a fan of Midway’s bloody brawler since the early 90s, and have fond memories in particular of playing Mortal Kombat 3 on my PlayStation – the beat ‘em up was actually one of the first games I purchased for Sony’s grey box of tricks. However, I won’t beat around the bush; the past few years haven’t been great for the series, culminating in the rather dodgy MK vs. DC Universe. Fans, including myself, have been clamouring for a return to form, and based on what I’ve seen so far of 2011’s franchise reboot, NetherRealm have definitely hit the nail on the head. While I can’t say for sure whether or not it’ll emerge victorious in the battle for beat ‘em up supremacy this year, it has a bloody good shot – no pun intended.

European life-to-date sales unveiled, PS3 at 14.7 million

Well, that settles any dispute as to how well Sony’s black beast is faring against Xbox 360 in Europe – PS3’s beating its leading rival by approximately one million units. Not too shabby, Sony. Of course, I’d like to think the days of playground-style hardware number wars are behind us, but evidently some folk still love nothing more than to digest the latest figures in the on-going console battle. Whatever floats your boat and all that. Nonetheless, PS3 had a shaky start, let’s not pretend otherwise, and as such it’s good to see Sony’s efforts appear to be paying off. After all, PS3 has seen a slew of quality releases in recent times, not to mention the addition of some meaty tech in the shape of Move, and more crucially, 3D support. Then there’s the perpetually-expanding online space that is PlayStation Network, which encompasses a myriad of downloadable delights such as films, games, expansion packs and more, not to mention the inclusion of PS Home. Of course, all this pales in comparison to the Wii and DS, but then again, is anyone actually surprised to see them at the top of the pile? Indeed, the next couple of years are going to be crucial as Sony and Microsoft slog it out for second place prize — Nintendo’s probably got this generation in the bag already.

Sony Online Entertainment closes three studios, cancels The Agency

It’s been a rocky road for game developers as of late, and the past six months or so have seen a number of prolific studios shut up shop, most recently the UK-based Bizarre Creations. Naturally, one really feels for the unfortunate individuals who must go about the task of seeking new employment, and I extend my best wishes to the chaps at Sony Online Entertainment’s Denver, Seattle and Tuscan offices, who now find themselves out of work. Compared to the folks who have now lost their jobs, the cancellation of The Agency pales in to insignificance, but I’m still nonetheless gutted to hear it’ll never see the light of day. Admittedly MMO’s aren’t usually my cup of tea, though this game had my curiosity peaked, even if for no other reason than the fact it’s been in development for about four years now. If anything, I was really looking forward to seeing if SOE could deliver a compelling spy-filled thrill ride given the amount of hype surrounding the game. Alas, this’ll never happen. Let’s hope those burned by the job cuts will find themselves snapped up sharpish and get back to doing what they do best – making quality games. Good luck, chaps.

Bethesda on Elder Scrolls V multiplayer no-show, dragons, scaling and more

While I’m sure Bethesda could cobble together a compelling multiplayer experience for The Elder Scrolls V, I for one am chuffed they decided to forgo the idea, at least until the next instalment. After all, the sprawling fantasy RPG series is predominantly a single-player experience, and I personally – as I’m sure many other fans would concur – wouldn’t want the offline-based dungeon crawling, beast-slaying shenanigans to suffer as a result of chucking multiplayer in just for the sake of it. If they were to include the feature in a future entry, then I would hope that the development team would at least bring something unique to the table for the genre. Between this and dragons though, I’d gladly take our scaly, fire-breathing beasts over multiplayer any day of the week. As for levelling up, no doubt some folk will be miffed to learn that enemies still scale with your character, albeit not to the same degree as Oblivion; Bethesda’s Todd Howard reiterated that they’ve incorporated a Fallout 3-style flavour into the mix, so hopefully this will be evident. I agree that some enemies need to be levelled to your character (say, a boss of a specific quest) but as touched on before, your average dungeon jaunt shouldn’t make you feel as though all your hero’s hard grafting has been a waste of time by filling it with character-levelled foes. Where’s the fun in that?