Rumor Killers: Splinter Cell: Conviction at GDC? Non-gaming Achievements? PS3 Firmware 2.70?

Rumor Killers

Will Splinter Cell: Conviction come out of hiding at GDC?

It seems Mr. Sam Fisher has been keeping himself hidden for far too long now. If you can remember Microsoft’s X06 event, Ubisoft announced that Splinter Cell: Conviction would be coming to Xbox 360 exclusively as a thank you to Xbox for being the birth place of Splinter Cell. Well it’s been two-and-a-half years since that announcement and it’s overshot its launch date by a year and four months. Not much has been seen other than a couple of screen shots and a trailer showcasing Sam Fisher walking around civilians while keeping hidden from officers. What we do know for certain is that Ubisoft conceded to going back to the drawing board and completely re-designing Conviction due to the huge success that was Assassin’s Creed. They’ve also announced that the game will be coming in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which is anytime after April 1st.

But the problem is, we still haven’t seen anything of Conviction for a very long time, but if this rumor holds any water, then we may well be seeing or hearing about conviction sooner rather than later. Gameguru.in has said that Splinter Cell: Conviction and could be shown at this year’s GDC. The information they have is pretty sketchy at best, but they say that the game will share the same engine as Assassins Creed 2, with close-quarter combat moves that are incredibly smooth and easy to pull off, and that it will take place all across the globe in diverse outdoor locations. What could be the best bit, though, is that a demo may be shown behind closed doors at this year’s GDC. It’s about time we hear some new information, or even see that the game is still alive. GDC would be a great place to showcase the new and improved game.

The only doubt we have about this rumor is that no source was specified by gameguru.in. Ubisoft has been mum on details ever since the re-announcement of the game late last year, but sooner or later they will have to spill the beans. We will be contacting Ubisoft to see if there is any truth in this rumor and to see how development is going. Until then, as much as I would love to believe we will see something at GDC, with no source and a lack of information we can only rate this as…

TGR Rating: Unlikely

Is Microsoft planning non-gaming achievements?

Ever since the first one was unlocked, achievements have become a standard for games. Completing a game on the hardest difficulty setting or collecting all the hidden treasures have never really become a necessity until now. The addictiveness of achievements is there for everyone to see, and to some gamers, knowing a game’s achievements now is nearly as important as knowing the release date. Sony has followed suit by implementing their own reward system, Trophies, as part of a firmware update last year. Sony may have caught up for now, but it seems Microsoft will be taking achievements one step further: How does an achievement for watching 50 movies sound?

Microsoft recently sent out a survey to a few selected gamers, asking them different questions about achievements. Among the many questions, two stood out from the rest, “Providing achievements for non-gaming uses of your Xbox 360 (e.g., ‘The Film Buff: You’ve watched 50 DVD’s’)” and “Having an in-game way to view your achievements list rather than going to the dashboard (e.g… A trophy room, diary etc).”

The non-gaming achievements, such as 10 points for 10 trailers downloaded, 30 points for 25 demos completed, etc., could work. It would definitely make people download and play demos or watch trailers they might not have done in the past. In the end it could benefit publishers, because with more people playing demos, more will inevitably find products they like and then purchase the full versions. The Trophy room sounds familiar; I’m sure I heard Sony say something of a trophy room in Home (which I have yet to see), but again, I’m all for that for achievements, as well. Looking down a list can become a bit tedious, so a Trophy room would be a welcome.

Trophies look cool, and the leveling system is a great addition to collecting gaming rewards. Achievements are still great, but the system needs updating. I think Microsoft can see that, in light of Sony’s Trophies. Hopefully we will be seeing something different very soon. I wouldn’t mind having achievements for watching certain things, but wouldn’t really care if they weren’t added. I do want that trophy room, though.

TGR Rating: Likely

Have details of Sony’s next firmware update been leaked?

If there is one thing you should know by now about Sony, it is that firmware updates for the PS3 could be implemented at any time, and it seems there could be one coming rather soon if this post is anything to go by. Over on the GameTrailers Forums a poster, who claims to have a friend in a research and development department at Sony, leaked some details regarding upcoming firmware update 2.70. The full list is below:

Friends List:
- Voice Messaging is now available as an alternative to text after selecting a user on the friends list. Voice message recordings are capped at 30 seconds.
- Home Integration: Saved Playstation Home avatar photos can be selected as photo ID for Gamer Card/Friends List.
- Trophy number and Gamer Level are listed under Friend names for quick reference.

Gamer Card & Trophies:
- Gamer Card layout has been changed to more closely resemble the Playstation Store aesthetic.
- Past Trophy information can be viewed in detail by selecting “Recent Trophy History” option.
- Newly acquired trophies auto-sync in the background – Server infrastructure for Trophies has been optimized. Resulting in faster retrieval time for Gamer Card and Trophy information.

In-Game XMB:
- Loading time for In-Game XMB has been drastically reduced, resulting in a more seamless in-game experience.
- “Theme settings” options while in-game is now available, allowing custom themes to be applied to the In-Game XMB.
- Internet Browser can now be accessed while in-game. – Voice messaging and voice chat options can be used while in-game.
- Options that cannot be used in the XMB during game sessions are greyed out (but still selectable) to eliminate user accessibility confusion.

Misc:
- Other slight UI tweaks and enhancements

Wow, big list huh? Let’s look at a few stand-outs. First up is something that has been lacking for a long time now: voice messaging. This is a welcome feature, considering its been standard on Live since launch, but at least Sony is now getting their act together. In-game access to the internet browser is a neat trick that could prove very useful. Although not the Home integration we were hoping for, having your Home avatars as your gamercard photo is also a nice option, much like avatars on Live. To be honest, this list seems too good to be true. The features here would boost PSN tenfold and put it nearly on par with Xbox Live. We are skeptical, though, because of the source, but the funny thing is that Sony is not coming out and denying it, so there could actually be some hope here. According the source, this update would arrive Q2 of this year, which is still somewhat far off. Rumor Killers introduces a new rating for this particular rumor, because we are very…

TGR Rating: Hopeful

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