Gears of War's Emergence Day Revealed; No Demo[xbox360]
Microsoft today announced the final release date for Epic's upcoming Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War. Referred to in marketing materials as Emergence Day, November 12, 2006 will be when the game is officially available in stores, though comments made today by Epic employees suggest that retailers will be able to sell the title as soon as it is delivered to their stores. Somewhat oddly for a game release, the date falls on a Sunday. The game will hit the United Kingdom on November 17, the same day Sony plans to launch PlayStation 3 in North America and Europe.
Gears of War will ship in two versions, a standard edition for $59.99 and a limited edition collector's edition for $69.99. The higher price tag on the limited edition pays for metal packaging as well as an official book of artwork entitled "Destroyed Beauty" and a DVD with documentary footage. The pricing scheme breaks the Xbox 360's tradition for Microsoft-published software, which has previously launched at a $49.99 price point for standard editions.
Speaking on the possibility of a pre-release demo, Epic vice president Mark Rein soundly refuted any such speculation, noting that the time it takes to create a demo would needlessly delay the game. "Given a choice of the game this year or a demo this year and the game next year I'm sure every one of you would rather have the game this year because you're already planning to buy it," he said frankly, adding that the company has not decided whether to create a demo post-release. However, it seems like Epic's priority is on creating extra downloadable content for the game, which has already proven to be hugely popular with Xbox Live gamers. "I know we have some very cool plans (not 100% solid so too early to give any specifics) for additional downloadable so that might take a higher priority than creating a demo," he said.
Ubisoft Commits to Seven Wii Launch Titles[nintendo]
Following comments made this week by Ubisoft's Laurent Detoc that Ubisoft has seven titles in development for Nintendo's upcoming Wii console, the publisher has issued a press release providing a somewhat surprising clarification to that remark. It seems that the company in fact plans to release seven titles at the system's launch alone, which solidifies the company's existing image as the strongest third party supporter of the console. Today's announcement claimed that there are "many more titlets currently in development" in addition to those planned for launch. The titles are:
- Red Steel (exclusive, already announced): Yakuza-themed gun- and swordplay action title from Ubisoft Paris
- Far Cry: This iteration of Far Cry will feature "a fresh storyline, new maps, characters and equipment," as well as being tailored to the Wii remote, according to an IGN interview
- GT Pro Series: A newly announced racing franchise unique to Wii, featuring 80 licensed cars, tuning options, and drift physics. Apparently, this game will be packaged with some kind of custom peripheral.
- Rayman Raving Rabbids (multiplatform, already announced): Ubisoft Montpellier's latest Rayman title is heading to all current- and next-gen consoles, though designer Michel Ancel seems to consider Wii the game's primary platform
- Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII: Wii version of Ubisoft Romania's WWII flight combat sim
- Monster 4x4 World Circuit: Wii version of Ubisoft's monster truck franchise
- Open Season (multiplatform): Wii version of Ubisoft's animated film adaptation
The French version of today's press release also stated that a Wii version of Prince of Persia will be released in March 2007, though the English-language release did not include that information. Prior rumors alleged that Ubisoft was preparing a compilation of the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy for Wii; this may be referring to that project.
Today's announcement brings the number of expected Wii launch titles near 30.
Blizzard Toning Down Console Development[ps2] [ps3] [xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [nintendo] [ds] [psp] [gba]
Last night, Blizzard sent out a press release indicating that various "key members" of the Blizzard Console team, formerly known as Swingin' Ape, have been relocated to various other Blizzard projects on the PC. The only currently announced new project in the works for the company is the upcoming The Burning Crusade expansion for World of Warcraft, but this week a Blizzard job posting surfaced, suggesting that the company has a new realtime strategy game in the works.
About a year ago, Blizzard's regular newsletter asked readers whether they would be interested in a Nintendo DS version of StarCraft, or a Nintendo DS or PSP version of Diablo. The company has not made any reference to these proposals since then.
One perennial rumor, that Blizzard is preparing a console version of World of Warcraft, is dealt yet another blow by today's announcement, having already been repeatedly denied by Blizzard representatives.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Coming to XBLA?[xbox360]
According to the latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Konami's classic PlayStation title Castlevania: Symphony of the Night will be ported to Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. The game, commonly abbreviated SOTN, is revered among the Castlevania franchise for being the entry that inaugurated the series' Metroid-like nonlinear level design, which it has retained ever since.
The news may suggest that Microsoft has relaxed its 50MB size restriction on Xbox Live Arcade games. Requests sent to Konami and Microsoft regarding this possibility as well as the accuracy of the initial report had not been returned as of press time.
Stranglehold Loses Grip on 2006[ps3] [xbox360]
An update from Midway today revealed that the company's upcoming action title John Woo Presents Stranglehold (PS3, X360, PC) will be missing its 2006 release date and instead coming out some time in the first quarter of 2007. This update contradicts earlier reports from IGN that the game would be launching alongside Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3. No further details regarding the reason for the delay were revealed.
Atari Missing PS3 in 2006[ps3]
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell confirmed that Atari will not be publishing any titlets for PlayStation 3 in 2006, though 2007 will see some Atari output on Sony's upcoming machine. Oddly enough, Bonnell stated that the reason for the delayed showing has to do with a lack of information. "It's just that we're lacking information about the PS3 at this stage, because we have basically a rough release date and a high retail price point," he explained. "As far as the Wii and the Xbox 360 go, we'll be there for this season."
Cubed3 speaks with Hirohide Sugiura of Monolith Soft about the company's Baten Kaitos series of RPGs and about developing for Wii.
Silicon Knights' Ken McCulloch has updated the IGN-hosted blog on the company's upcoming Too Human (X360).
Screenshots: Crackdown (X360).
1UP takes a look at Intelligent Systems' WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Gauntlet for the NES. "Yes, it was a shoddy port of an arcade classic. But when MC Chris makes a beat out of one of the themes, you know the game is gold." (submitted by volitionism)