The Week in Review news piece summarizes and highlights the most important gaming related news and rumors over the past week. This weekly article will keep you plugged in and in-tune.
Despite Gamescom 2009 going on in Cologne, Germany, there wasn’t a whole lot of truly worthy news this week. Undoubtedly, Sony stole the show with several important announcements at their press event. Though most already knew about the existence of the PS3 Slim before E3 2009, Sony didn’t make it official until GamesCom 2009. The new PS3 Slim hardware is 1/3 lighter and uses a 1/3 less power to run despite having full functionality and a 120 GB HDD. It also carries with it an affordable price tag of $299 USD.
This price cut has also been reflected in original PS3 models as well. So, if you’ve been holding out for a PS3 but aren’t necessarily enamored by the new design, you might want to hightail it over to your nearest game shop and get one of the older models before supplies run out. For images of the new PS3 Slim as well as a video of its feature set, click HERE .
NPD Group has predicted a major boost in sales of the PS3 after the company announced a $100 price cut of the console on Tuesday. The top market research firm is forecasting a sharp increase of sales between 40%-60% for the month of September.
Sony also revealed details surrounding Firmware Update 3.0 for the PS3. According to the Director of PlayStation Network Operations Eric Lempell, the new update will bring with it a host of upgrades including improved navigation, cosmetic changes to the XMB (Xross Media Bar), and “network improvements and personalization options to help enhance your PS3 experience.” For a list of 3.0 highlights as well as a guided demo of the new interface, click HERE .
Not to be completely outdone by its big brother, it was announced by Sony at Gamescom that the PSP will get its own apps in the form of PSP Minis. These small programs will carry with them a 100 MB limit and low price points. Fifteen games are set to launch alongside the PSPgo on October 1st, with 50 titles set for release by the end of 2009.
Perhaps as interesting was the announcement of the PSP Reader – an application that allows consumers to view and read files directly from their PSP. This, along with the announcement of a partnership with Marvel, will let geeks of every stripe have the ability to browse and download their favorite comics to the Sony handheld for convenient, on-the-go reading.
Microsoft tried making its own waves at the convention by revealing Fable III. The Xbox 360’s best-selling RPG franchise will get its third installment by holiday 2010. Fable III will have players take on the role of ruler of Albion – guiding their kingdom wisely or tyrannically. Two game mechanics were already introduced: Judgment and Touch. While Judgment has players deciding the fate of their subjects, Touch will replace the Expressions wheel. The Touch feature is particularly interesting because it seems to hint at Natal compatibility. In fact, we’re pretty sure that Fable III will be a Natal launch title. Perhaps even a Fable III/ Natal bundle will be available.
However, a developer at Lionhead posted today on the official forums that “We have no plans to use Natal for F3 so please stop making threads about it.” While this seems to be the nail in the coffin, don’t count on it – Molyneux is renowned for flip-flopping and promising more than his team can deliver. If it doesn’t release with Natal controls at launch, it may have future compatibility.
In more Fable news, Fable II will be making its way to the Xbox 360’s Games on Demand service. But instead of getting one full-game release, it will be broken up into five episodes – the first of which will be free to download. Look for the initial free episode to drop on September 29th, the pricing and dates of the other episodes are still unknown.
Konami is pulling out all the stops with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Not only will project support from Hideo Kojima and top-quality voice talent ensure a triple-A, cinematic product from the already savvy Mercury Steam, but the Belmont Clan will be making an appearance in the game – keeping the title firmly rooted in the traditions of the franchise’s illustrious past. To what extent the family will make their mark on the new game is unknown – hopefully it’s more than cameos.
SEGA of America revealed this week that Napoleon: Total War from The Creative Assembly is currently deep into development and set for a first-quarter 2010 release. The main storyline in this RTS is divided into three parts, and it will have players taking on the role as Napoleon Bonaparte, conquering his way across Europe and North Africa on both land and sea, until his historic loss to the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. Naturally, players can also try to thwart the legendary leader’s advance by marshalling troops on the other side of the battlefield as one of the many generals that confronted Napoleon – rewriting history with every victory.
Finally, two announcements from Blizzard should have PC gamers giddy. Friday, at BlizzCon 09, Blizzard confirmed that a new expansion to World of Warcraft is currently in development. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has not yet received a release date or pricing, but a lengthy trailer (click HERE to watch it) and the developers have revealed some important details. Two new playable factions – the Goblins and the Worgen – as well as “new race combinations, new monsters, new dungeons and raids, flying mounts, hundreds of new quests, a new archeology skill, new battlegrounds, and a level cap increase to 85,” should make this a must-buy for the devout.
The other bit of new from BlizzCon 09 had to deal with the reveal of a new playable race for Diablo III. The monk class “with all of its open-handed, tiger-strike fury” was announced today as the fourth playable character for Diablo III (the other classes are the barbarian, wizard, and witch doctor). Click HERE for a sweet gameplay video demoing this new character’s abilities.
Thanks so much everyone and we will see you next week!