It appears I need to start with an apology. I reported in the last couple of issues that the PlayStation Store was set to return on Tuesday. That did not happen. I've since picked up from Sony that the plan has always been to return the store by the end of the month. I'm sorry. It seems I've trusted the wrong source on that one. I'm not the only one either. Plenty of outlets had picked up on the bi-weekly update plan just as I did.
Sony has announced a scheduled PSN outage on May 31st, the date previously planned for restoration of all services. Sony has not said that this maintenance outage will bring back the store or anything else, but that seems reasonable.
The latest game casualty of the PSN debacle is DiRT 3. Codemasters included an "online pass" function for the game, as is growing more popular among publishers. A new retail copy of the game includes a code to redeem the pass for free on the PlayStation Store (where it will also be available for purchase by renters or used game buyers). But, since the store isn't up yet, those passes cannot be redeemed. This means the game is effectively offline only on PS3 until the store returns.
In non-gaming but Sony-related news, it appears the
assholes hackers have not finished their mission. The Greek site for Sony Music Entertainment was shut down after having some user information compromised (no credit card numbers, thankfully). Additionally, various Sony sites in three other countries have also been attacked. I'd really like to know what it is the hackers hope to accomplish with these assaults. If it's really about the "other OS" option for PS3 they sure haven't proven their point very well. All they've shown is that Sony's security has been lax, and that hackers are criminals. I certainly hope they aren't trying to win my sympathy by stealing my credit card number and crippling my online service for a month.
So, on to better news:
Details about Assassin's Creed: Revelations have been coming at a slow but steady pace. Since we already know we'll be playing as Ezio, Altair, and Desmond, we need to know where their adventures will take us. It seems Ezio will be heading to new territory, though it's familiar to the player. His adventures will begin and end in the Assassin's Fortress in Masyaf. The main focus of Ezio's tale, however, will be the four districts of Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey. Each of the four districts (Beyazid, Constantin, Galata, and Imperial) have their own visual style. Additionally, you'll be taking the hero to the underground Templar stronghold, Cappadocia. For multiplayer fans, get ready to head to Rhodes, a fortified island full of castles. This sounds exciting. Now where do we take Altair and Desmond? Also, it seems the game has been confirmed for November 15, 2011.
Fans of sports games have probably noticed that I don't tend discuss their genre often in VGQH. I have a hard time getting excited about annual roster updates but I do enjoy a good football or hockey game every few years. It's been a while since I've picked up a hockey game, but I'm starting to consider NHL 12 from EA. The game has just been confirmed for release on September 12. It features an updated "Be a Pro" mode as well as a new physics engine, Full Contact. The new engine means everything (glass, helmets, nets, etc.) reacts in a realistic fashion. If you get physical with the goalie, he'll return the favor. A new in-game presentation and Action Tracker means more visual excitement as well.
Now we move from a confirmed release date to another delay. And, really, what's a week of video game news without a delay? Take Two has released a new financial report showing Spec Ops: The Line has been pushed back into the first half of fiscal 2013 (April 2012-March 2013). It was previously expected to ship this fall. Whether this is a monetary decision, or a technical delay is unclear.
In the same report, Bioshock Infinite is still set for 2012. And to celebrate that fact, a new screenshot:
Sticking with Take Two for the moment, contracts have been renewed with the Housers (Sam and Dan) and and Leslie Benzies, key personnel at Rockstar. This bodes well for the still unannounced GTA V. With offers to purchase Take Two still outstanding, I'm curious whether the trio had any opt-out clauses included in the contract.
The latest Mortal Kombat game is satisfying the old school fighting game addiction on all fronts. Except, perhaps, for those who really love the old costumes. Enter the DLC package coming in two weeks. The three klassic fatalities that were available for preorder will be coming to the Marketplace and PS Store (assuming it returns in a timely manner) along with "seven" klassic kostumes. It's actually only two costumes in range of colors, the ninja suit (Scorpion, Sub-Zero, etc.) and the girl outfit (Kitana and company). Most, but not all, of those costumes were also available through a combination of preordering or buying special editions as well. The costumes and fatalities appear to be one DLC package, though no price has been set.
Since the Mortal Kombat story was vaguely related to collector's editions, I'll use my poor transition skills to lead into the announcement of a collector's edition for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. It's a fairly standard collector's edition, with a fancy box, soundtrack CD, and art book. The set of 25 character cards and replica Purity Seal make up the game specific portion of the set.
Fans of DeathSpank rejoice. A new game in the series is on its way this summer for 360, PC, and PSN. Although creator Ron Gilbert is no longer with the team, DeathSpank: The Baconing seems to have all of the zany adventure and humor you've come to enjoy. The title features improvements in combat and a new sidekick (Bob from Marketing) with a taste for the flesh of his enemies. I've known about the series since its launch, but have somehow never actually played it. I think I have to get this one based solely on the fact that Bacon. Is. Awesome!!! I love bacon.
If zany combat and bacon aren't your thing, maybe you like flight sims? I've tried a few flight simulator games over the years and they just never caught my fancy, so I'm honestly not sure how big of a deal it is that Konami has a World War II flight game coming. Birds of Steel will have 20 historical missions (Midway, Guadalcanal, etc.) and even more fictitious ones. You'll also have over 100 different, damage susceptible airplanes to fly. Co-op missions, unsure if local or online, will also be featured. While this isn't my typical game, it does look pretty good for those that enjoy the genre.
As if Fall 2011 isn't looking too packed with games already, the latest announcement will perk up the sensors of almost all the 'bot writers here at Big Shiny Robot!. Disney Universe appears to be a cross between Little Big Planet, Kingdom Hearts and the LEGO games. Up to four players control some odd blue creatures that look suspiciously like Sackboy. Each character can dress up in a Disney/Pixar character suit (which levels up for additional benefits) to solve puzzles and beat up enemies. I know that sounds pretty vague, but it's all I've got for now. Disney has only confirmed the Stitch, TRON, Alice, and Mike (Monsters, Inc.) costumes so far. But I can recognize a few more in the limited screen shots available. I definitely see Pumbaa and Nemo, plus the one-eyed pink monster that Mike likes but whose name I can't remember. Levels are Disney worlds, as expected. Clearly designed for families, the game is not limited to four year old difficulty, nor will it be too difficult for your youngling. The game features a difficulty auto adjust, shifting the challenge level based on how well the player is doing. Considering the family nature of the game, I'm shocked it's not coming to Wii. It is coming to PC, 360, and PS3. I may not be the target demographic, but I'll be playing it anyway.
At long last, Australia is possibly creating an adult rating for video games, R18+. The country has been notoriously stingy with adult themes in games in the past. While some games were neutered to allow the censored version to be sold in the country, many others were simply banned. The initial draft guidelines seem pretty reasonable. It's still technically possible for games to be banned, mostly for overt sex of a pornographic nature (but not simulated sex) or violence that "offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified." This could be construed as vague, but it's also the general standard for films. Slowly slicing a child into pieces won't be allowed, but other graphic representations of death typical to gaming is acceptable. The Australian government will vote whether to recognize these guidleines and create the rating when it reconvenes in July. Good news for our Aussie friends, like Pas from the Big Shiny Robot! forums.
EA's remake of Syndicate seems to be all but confirmed with the recent leak of some of the script. I won't be reading it or spoiling it here, but if you feel you must, you can see it over on Siliconera. Obviously we won't have release dates or schedules until an official announcement from EA or Starbreeze Studios.
With E3 coming up in the second week of June we're hitting one of the hottest times of the year in gaming news. As expected, studios are starting to make small announcements to build anticipation for the three day, press only event. Ubisoft, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, has already announced the featured games. It's quite the list too (and I hope you like colons): Assassins' Creed: Revelations, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Driver: San Francisco, From Dust, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Rayman Origins, and Rocksmith.
While Ubisoft is taking the glass haf full approach, Hideo Kojima is only announceing what you won't be seeing at E3, Metal Gear Solid 5 or the NGP port of MGS4. He did say to expect some surprises at the pre-event. The most likely games to be seen from Kojima-san's studio will be Metal Gear Solid: Rising and the unnamed NGP game.
I'll close today's edition with that pre-E3 info. Expect more on Tuesday and stay tuned for more news on the big event. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on all of the major happenings and I'll recap anything we missed in VGQH.