Rumor Killers: PGR 5 Leaked, X-Com Resurrection, After Burrner Climax for PSN/XBLA

Disclaimer: Rumor Killers is a speculative opinion piece and is by no means intended to disclose as fact whether a rumor is true or false – even though the Rumor Killers team are usually right (usually…)

Project Gotham Racing 5 Leaked?
Was there ever any doubt? As Microsoft’s premier acrade-esque racer and a title with an unmistakable Xbox twang, this was always going to happen. So it comes as no great surprise to read on the Telsa Motors blog – whose automobiles sadly fail to zap Allied infantry – that the manufacturer has been letting Microsoft play around with their cars.

The folks at Microsoft were very quick to deny the news. As far as Microsoft is concerned, a story isn’t broken until they’re ready to announce it via a hugenormous event.

The problem, of course, is that former PGR developer Bizarre Creations ran off with Activision and is now busy creating Blur. So who’s the new developer? Turn 10, it would seem. The superb Forza 3 ensured the Microsoft-owned studio is suitably esteemed enough to take the reins of another popular racing franchise.

Time-wise, it makes sense. PGR was released back in 2007, which makes a sequel is about due. Microsoft will definitely want a sequel on the market pretty soon; why produce one popular racing franchise when you can produce two? I doubt it’s going to rest on its laurels and wait another three years for another Forza iteration – it’s not Sony, after all. Fun fact: all of the Forza games have been released in the gap between Gran Turismo 4 and the yet-to-be-released GT 5.

It all fits too well to simply be idle speculation. It makes too much sense to simply be idle speculation. The only question is which studio is in charge. If it’s Turn 10, , my money is on Microsoft funnelling them enough money to split the studio into two teams. Who can race each other at their own games, I imagine. What Microsoft is doing with an electric car company, however, is another story. Perhaps PGR5’s unique kudos system will award extra points for lowering your carbon footprint and ensuring your garage is well-stocked with environmentally friendly products.

Martin’s Verdict: True

2K Resurrecting X-Com?
GameSpot has been speculating about a revival of the fan-favourite X-Com franchise. If you never played X-Com, maybe because you’re young and impetuous and if somebody showed you DOS you’d faint, all you need to know is this: it was far too hard for normal people to play.

X-Com was all about defending Earth from nasty alien invaders, mostly via a turn-based isometric viewpoint – although the series branched out in its later, poorly received titles. You’d spend twenty-five hours training up an elite squadron of infantry only to have them all blown into mushy bits by a single alien. It was great.

It’s no surprise that GameSpot is trying to fan the flames of a revival, then. But, sadly, speculation is all it really seems to be.

It talks about how development chief Ken Levine said he’s a big X-Com fan, and a previous story about an ex-employee claiming that a mysterious title to definitely, absolutely be in the works. But it seems like a desperate grab.

The facts all point to a revival of Spec Ops, another 2K franchise. It was a mediocre series of shooting games from the late 90s and could well be, instead of X-Com, what Levine’s super secret unannounced title has been all along. As for X-Com, as a franchise it has been dormant too long to be successfully restarted. It exists in an awkward position: too old to appeal to newer generations of gamers and too venerated for a new title to be anything but an eventual disappointment to loyal fans.

It wouldn’t work. And I’ll tell you why: some suit in 2K would decide the best thing to do, obviously, would be to merge the contemporary military setting of Spec Ops (because Call of Duty is very popular) with the aliens of the X-Com universe (because Halo is very popular) and have you fight the X-Com aliens in a contemporary military setting. Such a creation would naturally become the most adored videogame of all time, said suit would think.

I should stop. I’m probably giving them ideas.

Martin’s Verdict: False

After Burner Climax Coming to PSN/XBLA?
Scouring Australia’s game ratings boards, Gamerbytes found an entry for Sega’s arcade-em-up After Burner Climax listed for digital release on 360 and PS3.  But it didn’t stop there: nipping over to the Korean rating boards they found the same entry, but this time only for PSN.

Sega has already played this game before, releasing a version of arcade classic Outrun 2 onto Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network earlier this year. Arcade games, by their nature, offer up quick bouts of gameplay. They’re perfect for being left on hard drives to be played every now and then. The format certainly makes sense, then.

I don’t think Sega would release the game as a PSN exclusive, though – it makes far more sense regards potential earnings to offer it up on both consoles. – Xbox owners have money, too. Outrun 2 was re-released on both, by the by.

After Burner Climax, if you’ve not taken a jaunt to the arcades lately, has you shooting (presumably evil) enemy jets with a flight joystick in a large, rotating seat that wobbles in an jolly exciting way. It’s very good. You wouldn’t get the seat in a downloadable release, of course (unacceptable – Ed).

This rumor makes perfect sense. A game like After Burner is always going to have an interested niche market that’s more than happy to drop a few points on grabbing a brilliant arcade game, but it’s also unlikely to demand the kind of attention a full-blown retail release would receive.

The only problem I can see is that the game employed the Sega Lindberg hardware – the same tech that powered full-blown DVD-sized releases such as Virtua Fighter 5. For comparison, Outrun 2 used the Sega Chihiro board, which was based on the original Xbox.

The upside of this, though, is that the team at Sega will already be familiar with getting the Lindberg tech up and running on both the PS3 and 360. That means a port job, if one is underway, wouldn’t be too complicated for the team. Probably. Ultimately though, I think the rumour rings true. Provided they can keep the file size in check, it simply seems too convenient an itch for Sega to resist scratching.

Martin’s Verdict: True 

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