Looks like a relatively slow news week. Which isn't surprising considering SDCC was last weekend. Big events tend to see game companies blowing their wad with everything they have then falling silent for a while after. That doesn't mean we don't have a few gems. Most of the news is sort of niche, like for voice over enthusiasts:
Square Enix has revealed some of the voice cast for their upcoming Sleeping Dogs. This open world crime thriller based in Hong Kong is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of True Crime. As befits the pedigree of game, the cast is a mix of top talent from the west and the east. The game's lead character, Wei Shen, will be voiced by Will Yun Lee. Lee is a name you should get to know real quick if you don't already. His recent video game credits include The Amazing Spider-Man and Saints' Row: The Third. You may recognize him from 2002's Die Another Day or recent episodes of Hawaii Five-O. But you'll definitely be seeing more of him soon. His upcoming films include Total Recall (August 3, 2012), Red Dawn (November 21, 2012), and The Wolverine (2013). Oh yeah, he's just the main character. There's plenty of other Asian and Hollywood actors with names you should recognize from many other geeky sources. For instance, Kelly Hu has done voice work for Young Justice, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Batman: Under the Red Hood, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Robot Chicken, and Knights of the Old Republic II. She was also Lady Deathstrike in X2. How about a few more notables? Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins), Jackie Mah (The Dark Knight), Parry Shen (The New Guy), Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man, Zombieland, my every fantasy), James Hong (Blade Runner), Yunjin Kim (Lost), and Lucy Liu (Kill Bill). I can't say anything for more the game, but at least the voice acting will be top notch. It hits shelves August 14, 2012.
Sticking with the Asian theme for the moment, the recent rumors of Yakuza 1 & 2 HD are apparently true. First appearing (then disappearing) in a SEGA release list for December 1st, the bundle has now been spotted in the weekly Famitsu magazine. According to that publication, this should be releasing in Japan on November 1st for PS3. A Japanese trailer was also released, but its authenticity hasn't been confirmed by SEGA. Supposedly the HD graphics are not the only improvements, as there should be reduced load times and the ability to manage your item box from phone booths. Still no word on a US release, but it seems likely.
Paramount has recently filed a trademark for a video game version of World War Z. The studio is currently working on a film adaptation (starring Brad Pitt and Matthew Fox) of Max Brooks' 2006 novel.The trademark is classified as "downloadable electronic game program, electronic game software, and video game cartridges/discs." Paramount has already released War of the Worlds as a downloadable, and a retail game based on their next Star Trek film is currently underway. Zombies make for popular video games, so this seems like a no brainer. I'll be sure to report more details as they come in, but for now I'd expect this game sometime near the release of the film, June 21, 2013.
Harmonix recently announced a release date for Rock Band Blitz, August 28, 2012. For the first time since the PSP's Rock Band Unplugged, you won't need any plastic instruments to enjoy the game. Fifteen tracks were announced for the game back in May. But that certainly isn't all you'll get. Along with the release date, four new songs were revealed: Avenged Sevenfold's "So Far Away," "We Are Young" by Fun. ft. Janelle Monáe, Kool & The Gang's "Jungle Boogie," and "Sing" from My Chemical Romance. All other songs currently in your Rock Band library will also be playable; the opposite is also true, allowing Blitz's library to be played in Rock Band 3. Release price is expected to be $15, making the 25 planned songs significantly cheaper than standard Rock Band 3 DLC, assuming you want all of them.
Another sure-fire hit for the downloadable space has also gotten a scheduled release date. Double Dragon: Neon will be taking you back to the bygone days of side-scrolling beat 'em ups on September 11, 2012. For the older crowd, this is your super bright, 3D return to the tale of Billy and Jimmy Lee as they trash punks left and right on their way to rescue Marion from Skullmageddon. For you kids, shut up and push the punch button. This is what games were all about before they turned into a string of generic screens seen through your gun's iron sights as you shoot Nazis, zombies, Nazi zombies, and miscellaneous space creatures. I'm looking forward to this solely to find out if I still have to kick Billy's ass to get the girl after we just teamed up through so many thugs to get to her. The best parts of this one? I'll only need one roll of quarters to finish it as many times as I'd like, my brother will be by my side like he was 20 years ago, and none of my controllers have had gallons of soda spilled on them or are too slick from pizza grease to use.
If you were one of the few who had your game file corrupted due to Fez's patch, bad news. It's not getting fixed. The patch was released on XBLA recently, then quickly pulled after a complaints came in about the broken save files. Polytron Studios has looked at their options and the number of players affected and decided to reissue the broken patch instead of fixing it. According to Polytron's blog, their options were to "either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we’d need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online. [Microsoft] looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be ‘good enough’." That "ton of money" equates to roughly $40,000 according to Double Fine's Tim Schafer. Polytron went on to explain that exclusivity to XBLA actually costs them money to publish, rather than Microsoft paying them to exclude the competition. As they've explained it, releasing "on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us. And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too." It's interesting to see what trials and tribulations can occur depending on platform. More interesting is that Polytron is basically berating Microsoft in a public forum. Unless they've got a stiff contract, I wouldn't expect to see more Polytron games on XBLA anytime soon.
With EA recently acquiring the exclusive rights from THQ (beginning April 1, 2013) to publish UFC games, they've now announced their first creative team for the franchise. EA Sports UFC will be developed by EA Canada, including the team behind Fight Night. Creative Director Brian Hayes will be leading the team alongside Dean Richards, EA's Team and Action Sports general manager. Past credits for teh two include Fight Night, NHL, and SSX; all three of those titles have elements that could translate well to MMA fighting. THQ has put out a few solid UFC titles, and EA has reaped plenty of ill will amongst gamers, but it should still be interesting to see a new take on the franchise.
If there's one thing you can say about this console generation it's that it's the first time the utility has gone beyond video games in a major way. Sure, your PS2 was also a DVD player. But the PS3 and XBox 360 have built in Netflix, their own online video stores, sports updates, and more. The latest new app coming exclusively to PS3 now adds live stand-up comedy to its bag of tricks. The Laugh Factory LIVE app is coming September 1st. According to the PlayStation Blog, the app will allow you watch past performances from the Hollywood comedy club, as well as live shows. To whet your appetite for comedy, all shows on the app will be free for the first three months. Beginning in December there will be a $3 monthly fee for access. I'm a huge fan of stand-up comedy, especially if you can get it uncensored (sorry Comedy Central, anything you broadcast in primetime is completely unwatchable). I'm looking forward to the free period to see what kind of content I can expect. If it's good quality, $3 a month is a steal. This seems like another small step in the future of a la carte viewing options. Get me a comedy station for $3, a couple sports stations at $5 a piece, one or two movie channels for $10, and something to play the top drama series for another $10. That makes it about half the price of my current Dish subscription, and I watch less than a third of the stations I'm forced to buy from them.
Like I said, slow news week. But, you've got the Dark Knight Rises this weekend. I'm hitting up a showing this afternoon. Swank-mo-tron didn't give it the most enthusiastic review, but it doesn't sound horrible. If I agree with him I'll probably only see it the one time. If I like it more than he did I'll likely drag the wife to it Sunday morning.