The Hot Topics this week feature a bunch of new Mass Effect 3 news, surprising January sales data, people gearing up for the launch of Vita, bad news for Sony, and a bevy of new games being released this week. Happy Valentine’s Day in advance; now let’s get to it:
General Gaming News
Mass Effect 3, one of the year’s most highly-anticpated titles, will be released in under a month, and those of you who are struggling to wait that long are in luck. There will be a demo for the game available on all platforms February 14, otherwise known as this Tuesday. Fellas, just remember that is Valentine’s Day, so tread carefully. A night spent playing Mass Effect may seem like a romantic time and a great idea, but it’s really not.
IGN analyzed the trailers, so if you want to check out the details, take a look. If you don’t want any spoilers, you’d best avoid this page.
Gotham City Impostors, a first-person shooter set in the Batman universe (yes, I’m just as confused about that as you), received a score of 7.0 and “Good” rating from IGN.com. You can read the full review here.
The NPD Group revealed its hardware and software sales figures for January 2012. The high points: Modern Warfare 3 was the top-selling title followed by Just Dance 3 and Skyrim. Battlefield 3 came in fifth. Microsoft reported 270,000 Xbox 360s were sold during the month. That marks the the 13th straight month that the 360 was the best-selling console… well according to Microsoft, anyway. Sony declined to provide exact numbers.
The Unreal Engine 4 will be revealed later this year, although game likely won’t be running on it until 2014.
EA’s upcoming release Syndicate has some well-known actors lending their voices to the game.
Here’s an article about game retailer Gamestop and the growth of its digital distribution business.
Unfortunately, I have some sad news to pass on: Adam Adamowicz, concept artist for Bethesda, passed away from cancer. Adamowicz was responsible for the concept art for Fallout 3 and Skyrim, among other Bethesda games. Awesome Robo has a nice piece about his life and how he impacted the gaming world we all love so much.
Microsoft — Xbox 360
With the release of Mass Effect 3 now under a month away, the PR blitz is in full effect. For those of you who can’t wait for the upcoming demo, there is a way to gain early access. If you play a certain game on Facebook, you can win a code granting you early access to the demo.
There is a new rumor making the rounds about the next-gen Xbox having a touch-screen controller. To be honest, I’m not sold on the idea of controllers having screens. Remember how big and bulky the original Xbox controllers were? Microsoft eventually switched to the S design that was smaller, sleeker, and more comfotable. Adding a screen will only make a controller bigger and more unwieldy.
That same report about the touch-screen controller also says that the new Xbox will heavily integrate Kinect. Considering how much time, effort, and money Microsoft had poured into Kinect, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Sony — PS3 & Vita
I figured I’d get the bad news out of the way first: Sony posted a $2 billion loss last quarter, and as a result, the company’s credit and debt rating has been downgraded from A- to BBB+. To make matters worse, Standard & Poor’s, the financial services firm and credit agency responsible for the S&P 500, predicts the long-term outlook for Sony is negative.
More bad news: the UMD Passport program will not be coming to North America.
Now on to the good news: for those of you who love go-cart games but don’t have a Nintendo, well then this is your lucky day. LittleBigPlanet Karting has been confirmed by Sony. No release date or any definitive details have been released yet, though.
Sony-exclusive The Last Guardian’s future has been in question after a tumultous 2011 in which the game was delayed and the director and producer both left. 1UP caught up with Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida, who said The Last Guardian is still in development.
IGN has posted a schedule of when they will be reviewing Vita launch titles.
For a preview of the upcoming WipEout 2048 Vita launch title, check this out.
Even though First Edition Vita budles won’t be available until this week and the regular Vitas next week, you can still dowload a few Vita titles including Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
In more Vita news, Metal Gear Solid HD will have touchpad capability.
Nintendo — Wii & DS
Nintendo didn’t spare any expense in launching Rhythm Heaven Fever, teaming with LA gallery iam8bit to host the game’s launch party.
The action-MMO Tera comes out this May, but IGN gives us a sneak peek about group combat in the game.
Pineapple Smash Crew Review did not receive a favorable review from IGN.
Blizzard and Valve are set to square off in court over the name “Defense of the Ancients.”
Speaking of Blizzard, the company has released a video hoping to ease players’ concerns that Diablo III won’t be hardcore enough. The company is also challenging games to join an Iron Man WoW Challenge.
Game Releases for February 12-18
-Zumba Fitness Rush (Xbox 360) — February 12
-Heavy Fire: Afghanistan (Xbox 360)
-Rhythem Heaven Fever (Wii) — February 13
-Twisted Metal (PS3)
-Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
-UFC Undisputed 3 (Xbox 360, PS3)
-Tales of the Abyss (3DS)
-Dear Esther (PC)
-Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (3DS)
-Tekken 3D: Prime Edition (3DS)
-Rayman Origins (Vita)
-Outdoors Unlimited (PS3)
-Grand Slam Tennis 2 (PS3, Xbox 360)
-Jagged Alliance: Back in Action (PC)
-Field of Glory: Wolves from the Sea (PC)
-Test Drive: Ferrari Legends (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
-Chess for Kids (NDS)
-Crazy Machines Elements (PC)
-B-Units Build It! (NDS, Wii)
-BlazBlue: Continuum Shift* (PS3, Xbox 360, Vita)
-F1 2011 (Vita)
-FIFA Soccer (Vita)
-Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour (Vita)
-Lumines Electronic Symphony (Vita)
-The Sims 3 Hidden Springs (PC)
-Michael Jackson The Experience (Vita)
-Asphalt Injection (Vita)
-Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Vita) — February 15
-BEN 10 Galactic Racing (Vita) — February 15
-Little Deviants (Vita) — February 15
-Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita) — February 15
-Hotshots Golf World Invitational (Vita) — February 15
-Wipeout 2048 (Vita) — February 15
-Warp (Xbox 360) — February 15
-Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom* (PSP) — February 15
-Reality Fighters (Vita) — February 15
-ModNation Racers: Road Trip (Vita) — February 15