The road to E3 this June will be a long one. With the days counting down it seems every moment has more information and rumors regarding the future of the industry. This past week was no different, with updates to some of last seasons biggest hits, as well as leaks that will shape the industries future.
- The biggest news this week by far was the “leaked” information of Sony’s presumed Playstation 4. According to the leak, the code name for the next PS4 is “Orbis”. Speculation is that this may be the actual name of the system, as a popular Greek saying is “Orbis Vitae” which means “The Circle of life” and is no doubt a play on backward compatibility of both of Sony’s systems (PS Vita). The highlights of the rumors are that the development kits have been out since January 2012 and have both an AMD CPU and an AMD GPU that will be able to produce resolutions of an insane 4096 X 2160. It will also be able to push full 1080p 3D graphics, both far exceeding any capabilities of today’s HDTVs. The negative news is the obvious: no backward compatibility, no used games, and an online registration for all games (and system, hope you have an internet connection!). They have said that you would be able to “purchase complete games on the PSN for download”, my hopes is that this system has no backwards compatible because it simply has no disc drive, but with Sony’s notorious 10 year plans, I doubt they would kill off their Blu Ray this quickly in their next halo system. The “Orbis” is slated for release for the 2013 holiday season. Given Sony’s horrendous marketing department, let’s hope they keep the PS4 name, as it seems the only thing Sony has working for them at the moment.
- In other next generation news Ubisoft, the creators of the much anticipated “Assassin’s Creed III” has released some information on how their game will interact with the WiiU. Animus control, weapon selection, map view, and even a telescoping “Eagle Vision” using the WiiU’s built-in gyroscope will all negate the need for an on screen HUD, making the experience more cinematic, and something neither current consoles will be able to offer. Now if there was only a way I could transfer my save files and achievements from the first four games on Xbox to my WiiU, it would be easier to swallow the switch to a new system. In an interview with creative director Alex Hutchinson, he also went on to state that the next Assassins Creed will incorporate more stealth like gameplay, and provide less “looping.” So for all those people that couldn’t stand renovating your shops, this game may make you happy.
- Speaking of the WiiU, the developers of Darksiders II have announced that their game will be a launch title for the WiiU. They also went on to say that the “WiiU is on par in every level with the current system, and that’s with us not upping the resolution or polygons, or anything like that” hinting that their current development kit easily handles current ports with much room to spare. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many people will be interested in a launch title that has been out for the other systems for 5 months, since Darksiders II will be released on Xbox360 and PS3 this coming July.
- The next generation was not the only things to garner attention this week. A massive leak for the next Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was dropped on several websites providing a very descriptive list describing changes, additions and removals to the multiplayer. Neither Activision nor Treyarch has confirmed or denied anything as of yet but given they way they instantly removed it from their forums I’m going to guess somebody had a fire lit under their ass for that slip.
- Grand Theft Auto V also has a massive list of “leaked” information this week from “a friend of someone who was fired from Rockstar North.” The extensive list quickly made its rounds on the internet, and offers some really juicy information ranging from City Size, main character information, police AI, weapon animation and even news on if “animal killing” will be allotted in this game due to “issues with PETA.” Given Rockstar North’s lack of caring or acknowledgment of this information, it’s safe to say this is some uber fans wet dream more than actual information about the next GTA title.
- In other Call of Duty news Robert Bowling, the lead Creative Strategist at Infinityward, or more importantly, the whipping boy behind all the anger pertaining to Modern Warfare 3 has resigned his position this week. Bowling released a tweet announcing his decision early last week, quickly followed by cheers of joy and berating from his 500K twitter followers. This is just in time for the “Call of Duty” black out on April 20th proposed by many of the popular forums to have some of the earlier, more enjoyable CoD titles to be fixed from hacked users. Here’s some food for thought to the community. Activision has the same level of caring for previous titles as they did for Robert Bowling leaving: Zero.
- Resident Evil: Revelations producer Masachika Kawata stated that Resident Evil games need to be more action oriented to sell good in North America. “Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games]… the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell,” Kawata said. “A survival horror Resident Evil doesn’t seem like it’d be able to sell those kinds of numbers.” What Kawata fails to realize is that his latest “Action focused” title “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City” is a glorified bomb, and the third person action series is over saturated with games such as Gears of War, Mass Effect, and Drakes Deception. Capcom… please look at the success of Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3Ds, fans of the series want survival horror: Deliver it.
- Current block buster series are also getting love this week. The much anticipated patch for Battlefield 3 was released on the PS3 and PC (Xbox360 will be next week) to much praise by the community. Many of the glitches and bugs of the obviously rushed title have finally been address, as well as user interface problems (you can now leave a match in-between rounds! What a concept Dice!). The patch is wrapped up with several rebalancing to weapons and vehicles making the game much more enjoyable for anyone who has a soul and can’t use a USAS-12 with frag rounds.
- Mass Effect 3 is also getting some love on the Xbox360 and PC side this week, giving players the double XP and special bonuses for leveling up a certain amount of characters in the 36 hour time period. Double XP starts at 5pm Pacific time tonight. This weekend also follows the news of a potential alternate DLC ending for the title, as the three offered to the player were…not appreciated to say the least. Thanks for listening, Bioware.
- Naughty Dog entertainment released information pertaining to Uncharted 3 DLC while Epic games dropped a Gears of War 3 DLC this past Tuesday. Naughty Dog gave the public some nice teaser screens of different maps and environments for their upcoming pack. The Gears of War 3 “Forces of Nature” DLC features some gorgeous new maps and environments to keep players coming back for countless more months. Epic Games needs more credit for supporting their game far past the “predicted’ shelf life.
- Rovio, the makers of the smash hit “Angry Birds” released their “Angry Birds: Space” this past week. They were proud to announce 10 Million downloads in 3 days. For reference, the original Angry Birds that was released back in 2009 took 6 months to hit “only” 500k downloads. I say “only” because any iOS or Android developer would be more than happy with 1/5th that sale. Rovio truly has become a marketing and development powerhouse.
- Last but not least, the Xbox Live market place has had some worth while additions to its recently updated Dashboard. HBO Go, Comcast TV and MLB TV have all been released this week for any user who uses their Xbox as a central media device.
That’s it for the week of 3/30/12, feel free to subscribe to me here or follow me on twitter @NicholasGigante for the latest news and updates regarding the industry as they happen.