After a few slow news weeks, this week really picked up the slack.  Images of Doom 4, SimCity 5, and Assassin’s Creed III were leaked.  One major U.K. video game retailer is having some financial trouble.  PlayStation Vita global sales exceeded 1.2 million units.   Ready at Dawn Studios (the God of War PSP titles) and Bethesda are hiring employees to work on next-gen systems and PC.  The anticipation for next week’s GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) is building.  The week really was quite an embarrassment of riches, especially considering that E3 is still a few months away.

Unreal Engine 4 should be epic. (I feel dirty just for writing that!)
  • Epic showing off Unreal Engine 4 behind closed doors next week at GDC:  Epic Games–the studio behind Gears of War and Unreal Tournament–is already preparing for the next generation of home consoles.  The studio will show off Unreal Engine 4 behind closed doors to select interested parties.  Don’t get too excited, though; those parties must also sign a no-disclosure agreement, meaning that we likely won’t be seeing Unreal Engine 4 technology for a few months, at the least.

-Nick’s take:  Unreal Engine 4 is sure to look spectacular, and if Epic can convince as many developers to use the next-gen tech as they have with Unreal Engine 3, we should be seeing a lot of great-looking games come the launch of the next Xbox.  We won’t see anything about it for a little while unless there’s some kind of leak, though; my bet is on E3, where I suspect Microsoft will unveil its next Xbox.  A new Bungie game and Unreal Engine 4 running on a new Xbox will surely have people excited for the next generation.

This isn't Crimson Dragon, but if you have this game, it's worth big bucks on eBay.
  • Spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon coming this year, titled Crimson DragonBack at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show (so long ago–I like to think  that the world was a much happier place), Microsoft announced a new game called “Project Draco.”  No details were given about the game at that time, but now we have confirmation that the game is a spiritual successor to the Saturn/Xbox Panzer Dragoon series for Xbox Live Arcade.  The game is due out later this year and is an on-rails dragon shooter like most of its predecessors (RPG Panzer Dragoon Saga excepted).  The more interesting thing about Crimson Dragon, however, is that players control the game using Kinect motion controls.

-Nick’s take:  The Panzer Dragoon shooters were a lot of fun.  The new control scheme for Crimson Dragon has me a bit worried, though; apparently, players move their body to control the dragon and use both hands for shooting a la Child of Eden.  Kinect controls are notoriously spotty, so let’s hope they don’t get in the way of enjoying Crimson Dragon later this year.

This is a leaked image of the canned game's logo.
  • Video of abandoned Batman game hits the Web:   Day 1 Studios–the developer behind F.3.A.R.–was working on a Batman game based around the “Gotham by Gaslight” comic series.  In the comic, Batman was alive during the Victorian Era and was hunting down Jack the Ripper.  According to Siliconera–who broke the story–the game “was designed with a foggy world for Batman to explore and he would have the ability to see in the dark.”  Unfortunately, after an unsuccessful pitch to THQ, the game was scrapped.

-Nick’s take:  This “Gotham by Gaslight” Batman game sounds interesting.  Not being a comic book reader (blasphemy, I know), I’m not familiar with the story, but it sounds like a good idea for a game.  Rocksteady did fantastic work with their two Batman:  Arkham games, though, so the world doesn’t really need another Batman game.  How about we get a good Superman game, instead?

Courtesy Destructoid, this is the $45 Liara figure mentioned below.
  • Mass Effect 3 DLC can get mighty pricey: Mass Effect 3 releases this upcoming Tuesday, March 6.  The game costs $60 to purchase new.  However, would you be willing to pay $870 to own all of the game’s DLC?  Destructoid and ScrewAttack did some math (ew, math!) and discovered that $870 is what you’ll have to pay to own all of Mass Effect 3‘s ancillary content.  How is that possible, you ask?  Well, the Collector’s Edition of the game costs $80. From there, you’d need to buy the iOS game Mass Effect Infiltrator, which doesn’t have a price yet.  Then, you’d need to spend $45 for a Liara figure and $25 for The Art of Mass Effect Universe book.  But, wait, there’s more!  How does at least $80 for all of the other Mass Effect figures sound, plus an ungodly amount of money for a bunch of Razer branded Mass Effect 3 accessories sound to you?

-Nick’s take:  I hope nobody is a big enough Mass Effect fan to buy all this stuff.  Let’s be clear; absolutely none of this stuff is essential to enjoy Mass Effect 3 except for a copy of the game itself.  Still, this is a sobering look at what happens when publishers let DLC bonuses get out of hand.

This is the Fluffy dimension. No, this is not the next Call of Duty game.
  • Quantum Conundrum coming this summer for XBLA, PSN, and PC:  Square Enix and developer Airtight Games announced this week that Quantum Conundrum will be coming to all major download platforms this summer.

-Nick’s take:  For those who don’t know what Quantum Conundrum is, it’s the new project from one of the key creative minds behind the original Portal.  Like Portal, Quantum Conundrum is a first-person puzzle game; the difference is that Quantum Conundrum involves shifting between different dimensions (one of which is called Fluffy).  It’s weird, but the pedigree and similarity to Portal have piqued my interest.

The Binding of Isaac has been causing quite a bit of controversy for religious folks. Nintendo said "no" to the game, but Sony platforms might get it.
  • The Binding of Isaac blocked from coming to the 3DS; developers looking at Sony platforms:The Binding of Isaac is an indie “rogue-like shooter” from a couple of the creators of lauded 2D platformer Super Meat BoyThe Binding of Isaac released last year on PC and has been the subject of controversy due to its anti-religious undertones.  Now, the game’s main designer, Edmund McMilllen, has tweeted that “[a]fter a long internal debate, Nintendo has decided not to allow the [sic] Binding of Isaac on the 3DS.”  The game’s “questionable religious content” is to blame, but Mr. McMillen later assured fans that his team’s relationship with Nintendo has not been affected.  Meanwhile, in an interview with Joystiq, Mr. McMillen stated that he is looking to bring The Binding of Isaac to either the PS3 or Vita, or maybe both.

-Nick’s take:  Nintendo simply wants to avoid a potential controversy, as The Binding of Isaac is very deeply anti-religious.  According to GameSpot, the game’s premise is that “players control a child who must escape the clutches of his mother,” who is “out to kill him after the voice of God commands a sacrifice.”  Yeah, that sounds like it might make a few people angry.

This is the Assassin's Creed III GameInformer magazine cover. Note the old American flag and tomahawk.
  • Assassin’s Creed III revealed:  A tipster sent Kotaku a promotional image for Assassin’s Creed III, setting off a firestorm of speculation surrounding the title.  While the “Weekly Gaming News Roundup” doesn’t usually cover rumors, this one was proven correct when GameInformer magazine released images of its upcoming cover story on the game.  The game will be set in Colonial America and will probably feature a Native American protagonist, judging by the images.  More information is set to be revealed on Monday, with the next issue of GameInformer really detailing the game.

-Nick’s take:  I still haven’t played Assassin’s Creed:  Revelations yet, so I’m hoping this Assassin’s Creed III reveal won’t spoil that game’s storyline for me.  I’m glad we’re getting a break from Ezio, though; I was growing a bit sick of him.

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