Alan Wakes up

Following yesterday’s rumours of an Alan Wake 2, developers Remedy have publicly announced that yes, there will be another game but no, it won’t be Alan Wake 2. Oskari Hakkinen, head of franchise development told Eurogamer: “Fans of the franchise will be excited to learn that yes, more Wake is coming! But to be absolutely certain to avoid confusion, this next Wake instalment will not be Alan Wake 2. And neither will it be DLC,”

He refrained from saying too much as he wanted to save the specifics for an official announcement where the game will be shown off for the first time. Hakkinen teased a few tit bits however revealing how the game will “definitely give more to the Wake fans out there” but also allows for players unfamiliar with the goings on of Bright Falls to “jump on board.” Remedy are viewing the two audiences with equal importance, possibly because Alan Wake sadly didn’t perform as well as they or Microsoft hoped. This was more to do with unfortunate timing because the game was brilliant and was one of my best of 2010.

Hakkinen said that “release dates, platforms and pricing” were yet to be confirmed but Fall 2011 is “probably a good guess.” If we are to be receiving a new Wake game in around four months, it’s almost a certainty that we’ll be seeing more at this year’s E3. And it may have been a bit of a red herring but suggesting a platform needed clarifying may be a clue as to what kind of game it will be. First thoughts are some kind of prequel, following Thomas Zane, the diving suit-wearing guide who also became trapped by the Dark Presence before Wake came onto the scene. Perhaps as a downloadable XBLA game. Another popular concept, probably due to Hakkinen’s reference to the unfamiliar audience, is a Kinect-enabled remake. It’s definitely plausible, this year E3 press conference from Microsoft is bound to be filled with Kinect software and they’ve always promised more hardcore titles for the device. Alan Wake would work quite well as a Kinect game because of the protagonist’s trusty torch. Moving your hand in real-time to illuminate areas on screen is a pretty cool idea and one that Silent Hill: Shattered Memories used to great effect.

But I fear I’m getting ahead of myself and, more to the point, Remedy who are keeping schtum until they’re good and ready to light the way. Geddit?!… Sorry.

The PSPgo has gone

Failing to reach its second birthday, the PSPgo is dead. A rumour was flying around the web yesterday about how Sony will be ceasing the manufacture and distribution of PSPgos and today that rumour has been confirmed (via Kotaku). Ever quick to see the silver lining in every grey cloud, Sony added how they’re doing so “in order to concentrate on the NGP,” reminding us that the new system will go on sale later this year.

It’s probably not a bad thing that the PSPgo is being pushed aside to make way for the real generational step up from the original PSP since it’s never been anything but trouble for Sony. From the very start in 2009, numerous retailers where expressing their disdain for the system which has no physical software but instead is solely based on digital distribution. No UMDs meant no additional income for shops who sold the PSPgo and as a result, not many did. Slightly bizarre when the same stores stocked iPods. Nevertheless, the lack of retailer interest was mirrored by the consumer making the handheld one triumphant failure. When publishers even shunned the PSPgo, excluding some titles from its catalogue, I think even Sony had given up on it.

The previous iteration however, the PSP 3000, still continues to sell with a large user-base built up in Japan, helping to keep system alive. I never upgraded from my launch model PSP and was once tempted by the shiny new PSPgo, especially when it was being sold with ten free games. But despite such a generous deal, I thought better of it and after today’s news, I’m certainly glad I did.

The Wii’s second coming

Another year, another build up to E3 kick starting with rumours of a Wii successor featuring HD capabilities. This week saw magazine Game Informer reveal via their website how multiple, anonymous sources told them of a Wii 2 or Wii HD as it’s been affectionately called in previous rumours. The sources spouted conflicting details but the ability to display high definition visuals was apparently said by all with graphics comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3. As soon as the Game Informer story broke, CVG had a similar one with yet more faceless industry personnel claiming a HD Wii is in development adding how the system will have an all new controller with a built-in HD screen to boot. They also said the new Wii will be backward compatible which is one of the few pieces of data you can be sure of in this whole story. Nintendo have made sure there is some form of backward compatibility to their consoles for quite some time so one thing that a second Wii would have is the ability to play Wii games.

Stepping up the CVG rumour is 01net.com, a French gaming stating the new controller is actually a tablet with buttons, like an iPad though hopefully not as big. The idea of using a tablet as a controller just seems backwards when there are tablet/touchscreen games that poorly try and mimic a traditional controller. If true it suggests Nintendo are going after yet another market, not content with those acquired by the Wii’s family-friendly games and hoping to win back those who left after buying iPads or iPhones. They do like playing with the pre-conceived notions of controllers however so a tablet isn’t an unordinary progression.

When I first saw the Wii remote I thought Nintendo had lost it but instead they changed the face of console gaming forever. But that was almost five years ago and things are a little different now. Every console has motion controls and two out of the three are already HD. 01net.com say the innards the console, code named Project Cafe, are similar to an Xbox 360 which would make for some very nice graphics and easier porting for developers though there would have to be more to it than that. Like I say, we have HD motion-controlled games and they’re doing very well. Kinect has sold over ten million units in a matter of months so what would be the draw of Project Cafe? Most likely its games, specifically Nintendo produced games which are some of the best in the industry. It’s no secret that Nintendo’s systems are beloved for their Marios and Zeldas but, according to the rumours, third parties are receiving a lot of support with the likes of EA and Activision already tinkering with dev kits for the system. The move to HD could also reduce the amount of shovelware titles that have plagued Nintendo platforms as it adds a higher development cost for games.

Lets hope the Aztecs did indeed make a few mathematical errors because Project Cafe, which is a ridiculous name by the way, is supposedly launching late 2012 and the anonymous sources are going wild for it : “Nintendo is doing this one right…[it’s] not a gimmick like the Wii,” was heard. Gimmick is a little harsh for something that may not have been revolutionary but certainly was pioneering. Nintendo have been adamant that a lack of HD isn’t a major concern for their audiences and would only include it if the time was right. Now it seems that time isn’t just right but desperately needed. I would be surprised is Nintendo didn’t announce a new piece of hardware at E3 and wonder if they can steal the show this year too. Only a couple of months to go until we find out and I’m sure they’ll be filled with more rumours of a HD Wii too.

GTAV’s possible paedo

The internet is rife with rumours for games with even the slightest whiff of a story sparking numerous articles and opinions. But some of those rumours are more than mere whiffs, carrying more of a stink with them. According to the latest news about a fifth Grand Theft Auto game, Take-Two are on the look out for actors and actresses for voice work, one of which is a paedophile.

The publisher put out a request over at the talent database Actors Pages (via Eurogamer) where they’re seeking five vocal talents, four of which are the usual sort of GTA personalities; a liberal male concerned with government conspiracies, a creepy dude who hates all technology, a party-going celeb-wannabe sex-addict girl and a boy fighting for the right for his peers to drink and have sex. The fifth is a James Pedeaston, described as a mid 40s man-boy love activist who has just been released from an Indonesian prison. Why people believe this is linked to GTAV is down to Take-Two being maker of video games so the possibility they’re staffing up anything else is almost non existent and that the name James Pedeaston appeared as a radio DJ in GTAIV who was on the run for molestation charges in Malaysia. So putting two and two together, it does point to a rather filthy four.

I’d expect as soon as the outside media gets hold of this, there’ll be a whole storm of controversy much like there was with GTA: San Andreas‘ Hot Coffee incident or the public condemning of Bully due to the misinformation that the game is little more than a bullying simulator. Not to mention its homosexual references. Personally, I’m in two minds as to how the inclusion of a child sex offender will play out. Rockstar have proven themselves in the past to be able to handle mature storylines and situations with great effect. Both GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption had some powerful and piteous moments but as if to contrast this, they equally had elements of childishness still tugging on that prepubescent mentality in all of us. If the call is to do with a fifth Grand Theft Auto and the intention is to include a paedophile I’d be very interested to see which side of the developers’ brain he comes from, the mature or comically juvenile, as I’m sure the rest of the industry is too. It’s worth mentioning the strides taken with L.A. Noire however and how there appears to be considerable changes to the company’s ethos so it’s also possible that something like a GTAV will follow suit.

P.s, I appreciate the irony in beginning the article about perpetuating rumours and then doing so myself…

Bungie cracks us all up

Knock knock, why did the chicken cross the road and other such dreadful jokes have got themselves a new friend, that Bungie are making an MMO for Activision. I know, it’s barely even funny but according the the official site, comments by lead network engineer David Aldridge were taking out of context and where nothing more than a joke.

On one of the slides Aldridge used in his presentation at GDC, there was a line about Bungie hiring for an MMO but after the internet blew up with apparent confirmations of the studio’s next game, this was posted on Bungie.net: “An industrious journalist noticed the final slide from David’s GDC deck which apparently proclaimed that we were hiring for a ‘massively…multiplayer action game.’ Ruh oh. Now, in rehearsal Aldridge was convinced that everybody got the joke. It was all in the delivery, he assured us, and he was certain it was clear that he was playfully riffing off of the recent rumors. Unfortunately, most people can’t figure David out – they can’t process him. And we don’t expect them to.”

Surely if you don’t think a comment like that would be understood for being a humorous stab at rumours then it’s a little odd to include it in the first place. Especially now that it’s causes even more whispering and speculations amongst the gaming media. It should be noted that neither Bungie or Activision have gone on record denying an MMO is in the works, just that they’re not announcing anything right now. And that everything you’ve heard so far is purely intended to make us laugh. It didn’t.

Kinect just got Epic

One of the reasons why Microsoft’s Kinect has been so very popular is because of the family focused games but as if to counter that, it’s also been the reason why the core audience has shied away from the device. Rumours have been circling the web about the possibility of Microsoft’s hardest of hardcore titles getting a Kinect game but as of yet, a hands-free Gears of War is still steeped in speculations. Today, they’re getting one step closer to reality with a trusted source telling Kotaku that a Gears game is coming to Kinect and it will be an on-rails shooter. An image has even been sourced of an early concept using Gears of War 2 assets.

Trusted sources can always be taken with a pinch of salt but Kotaku aren’t the kind of site to follow up empty leads and there has been a few anomalies regarding Gears in the last few months. At last year’s VGAs, a surprising Gears of War reveal was planned but pulled at the last minute because the timing wasn’t right. When the rumours about a Kinect game first came about, Cliff Bleszinski tweeted there would be “No Kinect in Gears of War 3,” though didn’t rule out the existence of another Gears specifically for Kinect. As of last month, Epic own the trademark for something called Gears of War: Exile but haven’t announced anything or even confirmed such a thing.

But is Gears of War suited for a controller-less experience? If it is on-rails chances are the game will be a shooting gallery of sorts though the famous cover mechanic would be an interesting implementation. Physically ducking in and out of cover may work like it has done for certain arcade shooters and if done correctly, chainsawing Locusts could be very satisfying. Though to be honest, I’d prefer if it were something different altogether, something new to gaming like Kinect, or rather its success at being a hands-free controller. Classic on-rails shooters are great but this device has the potential to treat the genre in brand new ways. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I’m you, I’m your (HD) shadow

Call it rumours, speculation or Chinese whispers but according to the Official PlayStation Magazine, a HD remake of the PS1 and 2 Metal Gear Solid games are on the way. Insiders are alleged to have discovered the news and that the superb trilogy is “in the facelift queue.” But that’s all the information given at this time, no mention of how it would be distributed or price though a remake isn’t out of the realms of possibility. An ‘essential collection’ is already available in the US featuring all three latter-gen versions with MGS 2 and 3 being the director’s cut. Buffing these all up to HD quality would cost Konami time and money but doubtfully less than what it bring in. The early Snake trilogy has always been a highly coveted franchise and one that is on the growing list of ‘must play video games’. Recently I went back to MGS 2 and even with the upscaling of the PS3 it still looked fantastic so a full HD version would be something I’d definitely pick up. Am I part of the problem? Maybe. Do I care? Nope!