Rumor Killers: Killzone 3 and Motorstorm 3 for Xmas, Tomb Raider 9 too, DS 2 and PSP 2 at E3

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…)

Killzone 3 and Motorstorm 3 in time for Xmas?

Let’s be honest, Killzone 3 and Motorstorm 3 are more of an issue of ‘when?’ than ‘if’, with news this week hinting towards a potential "Christmas 2010" as an answer for the former title, at least.

A news piece over at play.tm cites “sources close to Sony” stating that Killzone 3 is going to be out by Christmas. Killzone 3, in case you’ve forgotten, has been reported as “deep in development” since October last year. CVG also happened to alert the Internet this week of a quote in a recent issue of PSM3, saying we could expect to hear some details on the game within the "next few months".

From a business standpoint, that makes a lot of sense; Killzone 2 went gold at the end of January last year, which will give Guerrilla games a fairly standard almost-two-years development cycle if they want to hit a November 2010 release.
With the engine pretty much sorted – Killzone 2 is still one of the most aesthetically sublime games on the market – and the core mechanics already locked down, it’s safe to assume Guerrilla won’t need quite as long to make another game in the series. It would be a shame to see their engine remain unused for long. Nobody wants (or can probably afford) a situation that mirrors Konami and the virtually untouched multi-million dollar technology behind Metal Gear Solid 4.

Any good first-party publisher will ensure they have a racing game covering a holiday season alongside their shooter. With Gran Turismo 5 heading for yet another indefinite pit stop, the spotlight could potentially turn to something else… something like Motorstorm. Which brings me to the news that some super sleuths at TheGamingLiberty recently uncovered WHOIS reports for Motorstorm 3 filed by SCEE.

Internet news site extraordinaire VG247 obtained a response from Sony over the matter: “It’s not uncommon for us to secure the URLs containing the names of our successful IP, and those actions should not be interpreted as an announcement of a new title in a franchise,” said the representative. That makes sense, but a quick web search reveals that neither uncharted3.com nor singstar27.com has been registered. Make of that what you will.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think these rumors are likely. I imagine they’ll keep doing the rounds, building up to an eventual reveal of both games and their release dates at E3.

Martin’s Verdict: True

Tomb Raider 9 this Xmas – with Motion Support?

German site Videogameszone put up a news story this week claiming that not only would ’Tomb Raider 9’ see a Christmas 2010 release, but that it would support Sony’s Arc (working title) controller.

I’m not convinced a new Tomb Raider game isn’t in development, but I’m also unwilling to accept that one is, either. Crystal Dynamics has suffered from some extreme downsizing in the last year, but the studio has also been advertising jobs for work on a “most prestigious AAA franchise”.

My problem with Videogameszone’s article is that it seems too much like a false syllogism. The story combines an Ian Livingstone interview in May 2009 with a piece of speculation from Spanish site Gamelosofy. Because Livingstone promised the next Tomb Raider game – whenever it might be – would “surprise a few players and re-invigorate the franchise”, the website concludes that this might mean the inclusion of motion controls and then decides a Christmas release would make sense because it’ll be two years from when we last saw a game in the series.

That game, Tomb Raider: Underworld, currently holds a Metacritic ranking of 76 and famously failed to meet sales expectations. As one of the games that got caught up in the mania of 2008’s holiday release schedule, I’d imagine it’s far more likely that if we see another Tomb Raider game, we’ll be seeing it released in the summer, around the same timeframe as one of last year’s commercial sensations, Batman: Arkham Asylum. Both articles also ignore the need for Square Enix Europe need to develop for the 360, as well.

I’d say it’s probable that Crystal Dynamics are working on a new Tomb Raider game, but the rest of these rumors are bunk. Speculating over what established gaming franchises will incorporate Sony’s and Microsoft’s new motion controllers seems to be in fashion at the moment, but how would they possibly work with Tomb Raider’s rigid platforming and precise jumps?

The answer: they wouldn’t.

Martin’s Verdict: False

[The above is concept art via gadgettastic]

PSP 2 and DS 2 to be unveiled at E3?

The brilliant Shane Bettenhausen, former executive editor at 1UP and now Ignition Entertainment’s Director of Business Development, recently hypothesised on the 4 Guys 1up podcast about the PSP 2 and DS 2: he thinks they’ll both be announced at this year’s E3. "I think the big story of E3 is DS 2 and PSP 2", he said.

More interestingly, he believes both bits of hardware will exist on a level playing field. "DS and PSP both existed in completely different sides [of the spectrum]," he continued. "If those two put out similar products at the same time, it really evens the playing field". The implication here is that Sony will bung in a stylus interface and Nintendo will ramp up their specs, leading to two handhelds that are far more similar than what we have now.

An announcement at E3 doesn’t mean a 2010 release, either; it’s entirely feasible that these consoles could be announced for 2011 release, which would then make the original DS 6 years old. Sony’s PSP has been doing the rounds for a similar amount of time, the machine popping up in March 2005 for the US. Those are both pretty exceptional life cyclee. The Game Boy Advance only lasted 3 years before being superseded.

Then there’s another recent rumor, that dev kits for the DS 2 have already been shipped out to developers.

On the other hand, we’ve been suffering a bit of a global moneygeddon recently and the R&D costs for a new handheld device would be gigantic. But both the PSP Go! and the DSi have been a bit underwhelming, and Nintendo’s sales are starting to slow down. Both companies will inevitably be seriously looking into where they can take their devices from here.

Bettenhausen’s a bit of a wise owl when it comes to the guessing game. He was widely believed to be the brains behind EGM’s rumor-tastic Quarterman column. Plus, now that he works for a developer, he’s probably privy to even more delicious secrets than ever before. I wouldn’t discount what he has to say.

To add fuel to the fire, CVG are claiming the DS 2 will contain motion controls similar to the gyro in the iPhone. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata also recently stated any DS successor would have “highly detailed graphics”. Seeing as Sony is also desperate to emulate Apple’s success, I’d say we’ll definitely see them follow suit with their next hardware revision. 

Martin’s verdict: True

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