This Week’s Top Stories: May 2 – 8, 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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The latest on the PSN crisis

The PSN saga continues this week, as it has emerged that Sony Online Entertainment was forced to shut down due to an “intrusion”, but more alarmingly, over 12,700 of user’ credit card numbers may have been pinched in the process. SOE later confirmed that only 900 of those stolen were active, however. The company also unveiled further info pertaining to its ‘make good’ incentive, confirming DC Universe Online users will receive a free Batman-inspired mask and 30 days subscription credit. Elsewhere, Sony management was met with stinging criticism from respected stock analyst Michael On, who suggested that company Chairman Sir Howard Stringer should step down following the PSN security breach. On also said he believes the current affairs may have a detrimental effect on PlayStation boss Kazuo Hirai’s chances of succeeding Stringer in the future.

However, it seems Sony’s stepping up to address the various security issues that have plagued PSN, with reports via a google translation claiming the hardware manufacturer will release a new Firmware update when the service goes back online. Furthermore, users will apparently also be required to change their password after signing back in. On Wednesday, it emerged that those responsible for the intrusion on Sony Online Entertainment had placed a file on the server titled ‘Anonymous,’ with SCEA’s Patrick Seybold also informing U.S. Congress that the file contained the slogan ‘We are Legion.’ However, the organisation again denied any involvement in the affair. That same day, it was revealed that Kazuo Hirai had responded to questions issued by Californian Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, who had previously contacted Hirai regarding the PSN outage on April 18.

Further government scrutiny was placed on the electronics giant Thursday, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Justice Department had launched an investigation into the theft of consumers’ account information. However, it seems we’re finally getting a little light at the end of the tunnel (which hopefully won’t turn out to be a speeding train), with Sony announcing it’s in the final testing stages in its on-going effort to restore PSN. Hot on the heels of this revelation came a letter of apology from Sony Corp. Chairman Sir Howard Stringer on the PlayStation Blog, who said the firm’s online service would be restored “within the coming days.” In addition, Stringer also rolled out plans to ‘reward’ U.S. PSN users with a free year PSN identity theft protection plan, and it appears Europe may also follow suite. Alarming however, Internet reports claimed that the perpetrators behind the PSN hacking are planning a third attack on the electronics giant for the weekend, though at the time of writing nothing has transpired (thankfully). Lastly, Sony admitted that PSN would likely be offline longer than expected.

Battle: Los Angeles to include Resistance 3 demo

If you’re reading this scratching your heads in an attempt to find a discernible link between Insomniac’s Resistance 3 and the sci-fi blockbuster Battle: Los Angeles, then allow me to refresh your memory. Back in October 2009, a user on NeoGAF snapped a shot of a billboard sporting the Resistance 3 logo on the set of the sci-fi blockbuster, which, we should probably mention, happens to be a Sony Pictures effort. Things went all quiet until August 2010, when Sony finally lifted the wraps off the third instalment in the Chimera-blasting franchise.  And that’s about it. Obviously, this is great news for those of you who lapped up the film and just happen to be a Resistance fan to boot, though perhaps not so tantalizing for those of you who didn’t think too much of Battle: LA (and judging from the mauling it’s received around the web, there seems to be a lot of you). The question on everyone’s lips, however, is will the demo eventually come out on PSN? Is it worth holding off or taking the plunge? Let us know what you plan to do in the comments section.

Call of Duty VA hints at Modern Warfare 3 announcement

Being the Craig Fairbrass fanatic that I am, I’ve been hoping that the hulking, muscle-bound actor would feature in another Call of Duty title ever since murmurs of Modern Warfare 3 cropped up last winter. Having already starred in the original game and its sequel – albeit as two different characters in Gaz and Ghost, respectively – Fairbrass has become a fan-favourite among CoD aficionados’, myself included. Apparently, he’s been in LA lately doing some work for an as-of-yet-unannounced project that looks set to get a formal reveal this month. While this doesn’t outright confirm that a third entry in the multi-million selling military shooter is on the cards, it doesn’t seem entirely out of the question considering Activision’s 2011 financial results are also due this month – Monday, May 9 to be exact. In addition, rumors of Modern Warfare 3, specifically that of a prequel staring Ghost, have been doing the rounds for months now. The latest we’ve heard is that the game’s is a collaborative effort between three heavy weights: Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Raven. Whatever game they have up their sleeves, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

SCEE domain registrations point to new WipEout titles

Back in the mid-late 90s WipEout was part of an elite group of triple-A franchises – among which included the likes of Tekken and Ridge Racer – that flew the flag for the very finest in PlayStation joy pad delights. The series quickly became synonymous with the PS brand thanks to a series of stonking efforts on PSOne and PS2, and frankly, it baffles the mind as to why we haven’t seen a proper instalment on PS3 to date. Sure, WipEout HD was great, but it was essentially an amalgamation of PSP entries Pure and Pulse with a splosh of 1080p make-up. A fine distraction, but not the full-fledged futuristic racer we’ve been clamouring for all these years. That all looks set to change however, at least if recent domain registrations for WipEout Trinity and WipEout 2048 are anything to go by. While the latter appears to be a NGP launch game (which is great news in itself), the former is widely tipped to be that PS3 outing everyone craves. E3 would make for the perfect venue to lift the wraps off both games, though we’ll just have to wait and see.

inFamous 2 demo confirmed

The on-going PlayStation Network outage obviously hasn’t dampened Sucker Punch’s spirits. Despite the fact the developer has had to put the inFamous 2 beta on ice until Sony works out all the kinks after the recent hack job, it’s announced a demo of the sequel will also be made available in the coming weeks. Hopefully by the time they plan to release it PSN will be back online, though if it’s not, we shouldn’t have to wait too long providing Sony is able to get things back up and running this month as planned. No word yet on the exact contents of the demo, but as long as we’re able to get a taster of Cole MacGrath’s latest electricity-charged antics ahead of release, we’re not particularly fussy. Expect more details to land in the next week or so.

Mass Effect 3 release delayed into 2012

The notion of playing Mass Effect 3 before Christmas was truly a tantalizing thought, but sadly, it wasn’t to be. EA confirmed this week that the game’s been elbowed out of 2011 and into a Q1 2012 slot, and to be honest, I highly doubt this will be the last big release to suffer a delay. Still, with The Last Guardian also postponed until next year, at least the first few months of 2012 look set to be nothing short of sumptuous. Plus, with stacks of triple-A treats due out this year as it is, juggling a lengthy juggernaut like Mass Effect 3 would surely be no easy task – especially when you have The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to contend with, which is sure to eat up another six months of my life as its predecessor did. So, a glass half full approach once again here, and considering BioWare wants to make sure the game “exceeds expectations,” the last thing we want is a rush job. Take your time with this one, chaps.

Battlefield 3 “superior” to Call of Duty, says EA boss

The gloves are well and truly off in the upcoming first-person punch-up between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty. Still, it seems to be EA that’s doing all the mudslinging as of late, with the publisher recently declaring its hotly-anticipated FPS as “superior” to Call of Duty. We’ve all seen the footage of Battlefield 3, and there’s no denying it’s a bloody gorgeous looking game; quite how well it will play though, remains to be seen, though early impressions are just as positive. Still, right now, the spotlight is firmly on Activision, as we’re now in May and they’ve still yet to lift the lid on this year’s CoD effort. My money’s definitely on a new Modern Warfare, likely a prequel starring Ghost if Craig Fairbrass’ recent hints is anything to go by. On the other hand, it could be that Fairbrass is just voicing another original character or Ghost in flashback form (one that hopefully won’t end up brown bread by the end of the game). With Activision’s latest financial results due Monday, it looks like we may not have long to wait.

God of War dev working on two new PS3-exclusives?

The developer behind God of War, SCE Santa Monica Studios, has very much been the focus of numerous gossip over the past few weeks. First we caught wind via PSM3 that God of War 4 is in the works and targeting a fall 2012, then evidence popped up online suggesting the studio was chiselling away on a new shooter/vehicular combat romp. Things have picked up the pace again this week, with the online CV of a sound engineer listing two “unannounced” PS3-exclusives in the works from the House of Kratos. Most folk are fairly convinced one of these will indeed be another entry in the God of War franchise, while others feel the second game might be a new Warhawk title. Providing the new projects are indeed sequels to existing franchises, then this seems like the best bet to me. However, for all we know, Santa Monica could be beavering away on fresh IP, which wouldn’t be bad thing either. My bets on a new Warhawk title for sure, though, which ties in neatly with the studios’ recent job posting.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations announced; enhanced multiplayer confirmed

Ubisoft made it abundantly clear some months back that we’d be getting a new entry in its celebrated stealth-em-up Assassin’s Creed, so Revelations announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise. Let’s face it, the firm’s been plastering us with teasers for the past week or so to boot, so it was obvious a formal reveal wasn’t far off. What is a little surprising though, is that it’s not Assassin’s Creed III, but the concluding chapter to Italian stalker Ezio’s trilogy, which began with Assassin’s Creed II and continued in last year’s Brotherhood. We’ve been hearing murmurs of the setting for the third numbered title in the series for a while now, with everything from World War II to the American Revolution being considered. However, it seems Ubisoft’s keen to wrap up Ezio’s tale first, so no ACIII for the time being. Revelations sounds and looks might impressive though, and the fact it boasts an enhanced multiplayer can only be a good thing considering its building on an already solid template installed by last year’s Brotherhood. Still, I could have sworn Ubisoft said they’d ‘take a year off’ Assassin’s Creed (meaning 2011), and from what I’ve read around the web, folk are starting to a wee bit concerned about the amount of stealthy sequels being churned out on a yearly basis. Let’s hope the quality remains consistent, eh?

Crysis 2, Dead Space 2 shipments top two million

EA’s 2011 line-up thus far has been mighty impressive, kicking off with the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 and following up with stonking sequels Dead Space 2, Dragon Age II and Crysis 2. It seems punters have been lapping it up too, with the latter three games all shipping an impressive two million copies worldwide. Furthermore, sales of Dead Space 2 have vastly eclipsed those of its predecessor, which bodes well for the space-bound horror series’ future endeavours. The general consensus on Dragon Age II from what I’ve witnessed is that, while a solid game in its own right, has been dumbed down somewhat for mass market consumption; a strategy that seems to have paid off judging by how well it’s performed. I haven’t played any of the Dragon Age titles, though my best mate happens to concur with the vast majority of opinion’s I’ve read that it doesn’t measure up to the brilliant original. As for Crysis 2, well, when a game looks as gorgeous as Crytek’s sci-fi blaster, would you expect anything less than stellar sales? Of course, that’s not to suggest the buying public are a superficial bunch – it happens to be a brilliant game to boot.

Uncharted 3 to drive 3D TV adoption, says dev

Uncharted 3 is almost guaranteed to sell like hot cakes and flog plenty of PlayStation 3’s to boot, but developer Naughty Dog’s not stopping there. Nope, the Dogs seem confident that Nathan Drake’s latest treasure hunt will also facilitate 3D TV adoption rates. Now, speaking as someone who has yet to make the jump to 3D, I can categorically state that I wouldn’t ever fork out for such technology on the back of one game, no matter how awesome it might be – and let’s face it, they don’t come much more jaw-dropping than Uncharted. However, when combined with the amount of titles that Sony has up its sleeves supporting stereoscopic 3D viewing, then Uncharted 3 would likely be the game to convince me to take the plunge.  After all, I just can’t justify forking out for an exorbitantly priced TV on the back of a single 40 quid game. Nonetheless, if there’s one game I’d love to clap eyes on in 3D, it’s Drake’s Deception.