The biggest news this week is that the First Edition bundles of the Sony PlayStation Vita went out on Tuesday for those who preordered it.  I am not one of those people, so for me–and everybody else–the Vita releases next Wednesday.  You can, however, go to a store and pick up some Vita launch titles, including Uncharted:  Golden Abyss and Little Deviants.  It’s a solid launch lineup, to be sure, but I’m still concerned about whether or not the handheld will be successful or not.  I guess we’ll all have to wait and see next week when the Vita is officially released.  Anyway, on to this week’s other news headlines:

Mr. Karpyshyn's last video game writing job at BioWare was for the well-received PC MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • Mass Effect 3 has gone gold in advance of its March 6th release date, BioWare lead writer departs video games:  Mass Effect 3, the epic conclusion to BioWare’s much loved action/RPG trilogy, is finished development.  This news comes via executive producer Casey Hudson’s Twitter feed, who also promised that “Many surprises await you.”  Unfortunately, one of those “surprises” isn’t good news for fans of BioWare’s games; Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer on many of BioWare’s games (including Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Jade Empire, and Star Wars:  Knights of the Old Republic) has left the studio to “move on” to writing non-gaming based novels.

Nick’s take:  The recent demo for Mass Effect 3 was great and seems to indicate that the game is on the right track.  I expect the March 6 launch to go extremely well.  As for Mr. Karpyshyn’s departure, it’s rather unfortunate since he was the lead writer on many of the best games of the past few years.  His departure is a huge loss for BioWare–hopefully, the studio’s games won’t all turn out like Dragon Age II in the future.

This game is coming out eventually. Do you really need to know more?
  • Grand Theft Auto V details not coming anytime soon, L. A. Noire may get a sequel:  Rockstar Games–the developer behind Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption–posted a feature on its website this past week letting gamers know that Grand Theft Auto V details won’t be discussed until “a few months’ time.”  Perhaps more interestingly, Rockstar also said that a sequel to the now-defunct Team Bondi’s L. A. Noire is under consideration:  “We’re all very pleased with how that game turned out and are considering what the future may hold for L. A. Noire as a series.”  Don’t expect an “L. A. Noire 2″ any time soon, however; Rockstar has made it clear that they “don’t always rush to make sequels.”

Nick’s take:  “[A] few months’ time” may line up perfectly with the timing of E3 in June.  However, Rockstar hasn’t really made E3 a coming-out party for details on its big games, and Grand Theft Auto V is a big enough title that it doesn’t need E3 coverage for people to get hyped.  My bet is that Rockstar will hold its own event before E3 to show off the game.  As for an L. A. Noire sequel, it’s a bit too early to get hyped about a game that’s still a few years away, at the least.  I loved the original L. A. Noire (as you probably know if you’ve been checking this site often), but my fear is that Rockstar will turn the sequel into another Grand Theft Auto clone similar to Red Dead Redemption.

Killer clowns in crazy vehicles shooting other crazy vehicles? Brilliant!
  • There’s a Twisted Metal movie in the works:  File this one under the “Why is this happening?” category.  Sony’s long-running PlayStation exclusive franchise Twisted Metal is getting a big-screen adaptation.  It’s being written and directed by Brian Taylor, who helped direct this weekend’s Ghost Rider:  Spirit of Vengeance and the two video game-inspired Crank films.  The story will apparently follow the games,’ with Calypso organizing a tournament based around car combat and the promise of wish fulfillment for the victor.

Nick’s take:  Why does Sony think it’s a good idea to turn a game about psychopaths driving insane vehicles and killing each other into a movie? …Oh wait, now that I think about it, that does sound like a pretty decent idea for a movie.  Still, video game-based movies don’t exactly have a good track record, and I’m not convinced that Twisted Metal is a popular enough franchise to turn into a big budget action movie.  My best guess is that this one is cancelled before it ever hits theaters a la Halo and BioShock.

This is Desmond. Generic, isn't he?
  • Assassin’s Creed 3 assassinating the end of October (see what I did there?):  Ubisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed 3 is coming out on October 30 and will be “the biggest launch in Ubisoft history,” according to CEO Yves Guillemot.

-Nick’s take:  Ubisoft has promised that Assassin’s Creed 3 will end the tale of Desmond and thankfully won’t feature past series protagonists Ezio or Altair.  I hope the gameplay is very different from that of Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations.  Now Ubisoft, about Beyond Good & Evil 2

Don't buy the PS3 version of this game if you can help it.
  • Bethesda knew about the problems with the PS3 version of Skyrim, shipped the game anyway:  Speaking with gaming blog Kotaku at the recent D.I.C.E summit, Bethesda’s Todd Howard admitted that the developer knew the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim was having problems due to the PS3’s “bad memory situation.”  However, Bethesda figured that these problems would only affect ” a small percentage” of players and that Bethesda had hoped to fix the game after launch via patches.  After this story initially broke, Bethesda issued a statement clarifying that they had coded solutions into the game that fixed the problems in their tests.

-Nick’s take:  This is what happens when a highly-anticipated game launching on the expected date is thought to be more important than thoroughly testing it.  Bethesda figured that PS3 owners would get upset if they delayed that version of Skyrim and shipped the game knowing that some gamers may run into issues.  When patches failed to alleviate the issues plaguing the PS3 version, gamer outcry rightfully let Bethesda know that they messed up and must now face public backlash.  If a game is rushed to store shelves in an unfinished state, gamers are the ones who end up suffering the most.

This game was kind of a big deal back in 2010.
  • Call of Duty:  Black Ops 2 evidence mounts, PS Vita Call of Duty coming this fall:  It comes as absolutely no surprise that another Call of Duty game is coming out this year.  What may surprise some, however, is that the game is apparently going to be a sequel to 2010’s Black Ops.  An employee of Nerve Software (a contract art studio) listed Black Ops 2 as a game he is working on.  Meanwhile, Amazon‘s French website briefly had a product page up for Black Ops 2 before pulling it.  In other Call of Duty news, Sony’s Guy Longworth said in an interview with GameTrailers that the Vita version of Call of Duty is releasing this fall.  No other details about the game were divulged, however.

-Nick’s take:  The yearly Call of Duty train just keeps on rolling.  I’m somewhat surprised that a sequel to Black Ops is being made, but then again, the first game made like a trillion dollars so it’s not that shocking a revelation.  Sony and Activision should have ensured that the Vita version of Call of Duty was ready to go at the handheld’s U.S. launch, but a holiday release will still go a long way to boosting sales of the PlayStation Vita.

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