Rumor Killers: Tomb Raider Reboot, Resident Evil 5 Wii, and PSP2’s Crazy Specs

Rumor Killers is back, and this week Jennifer Allen is here to sort out the facts from the fabrications, including whether Lara Croft will return with a whole new look.

Tomb Raider reboot on the way?

With the release of some intriguing concept art from a mysterious mole within Eidos – or should that be Square-Enix Europe now – the Internet rumor mill went into frenzy at the sight of potentially new, very different-looking Tomb Raider. It looks to be a total reboot for the series; the game will be open-world rather than linearly constrained like previous titles, and the concept art suggests a wide array of new weapons to offer more creativity to its combat.

I don’t think anyone would be particularly surprised at the idea of another Tomb Raider game, but a non-linear open-world Tomb Raider is an interesting concept. The series has been somewhat lacking in imagination in recent years. Although titles such as Legend and Underworld were reasonably well received, even the most ardent of fans would have to admit the series is practically the same as it was back when it debuted in 1996. To continue to compete with this generation of gaming, this is exactly what’s needed for the Tomb Raider franchise.

The concept art shows a younger, thinner, and dare I say less endowed Lara, suggesting another prequel for the series. This would provide a perfect opportunity for a massive series reboot. I am confident that this rumor is extremely likely. The very fact that Four Player Co-Op, the first site to publish the information, was asked to take it down by lawyers from developer Crystal Dynamics suggests that they were almost certainly onto something. We also know that, despite huge job losses for Crystal Dynamics earlier this year, they are working one “one of the most prestigious AAA franchises in the industry” – if that’s not a new Tomb Raider, I’ll eat my keyboard. So perhaps what we have here is an ideal example of what to expect from the new combined force of Square-Enix and Eidos, and maybe this is the beginning of classic Eidos franchises like Tomb Raider and Hitman getting a revamp to bring them back to their earlier glory days (I surely hope so – Ed).

TGR says: Highly likely

Resident Evil 5 for the Wii?

Resident Evil 5 was a huge success upon its release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, achieving the fastest sales in the series’ history. It may not have lived up to the massive expectations, but players lapped it up in their thousands upon thousands. It’s no wonder then that many Wii owners feel a bit disappointed at the lack of announcement regarding Resident Evil 5’s arrival on their system. After the Wii version of Resident Evil 4 being hailed by many as the greatest Resident Evil release ever, surely it makes sense to develop RE5 for the Wii? The rumors of such a release have certainly been around for a while. Ever since Sega of America President Simon Jeffrey stirred things up this time last year by hinting that RE5 would come to the Wii, the buzz has spread on whether the game would even be possible on the Nintendo system.

Events this week served only to confuse matters further. During a preview of the Wii’s new Resident Evil light gun game Darkside Chronicles, Capcom’s Chief Producer Maschika Kawata announced that RE5 on the Wii was technically possible, but with inferior visuals. Kawata then explained that “a gun shooting game like Darkside Chronicles makes much more sense for Wii so, in short, ’Resident Evil 5 Wii Edition’ isn’t likely to happen”. Fair enough, then, except he then changed his mind later by stating that developer “Cavia has surprised us with the quality of graphics in Darkside Chronicles, so it may actually be possible after all…”. Confused yet?

Can RE5’s impressive graphics be ported into something passable on the Wii?

Looking at screenshots and video footage of Darkside Chronicles, I’m as impressed as Kawata by what Cavia have managed to achieve with the Wii’s capabilities. It doesn’t rival the PS3 and Xbox 360 graphically, but it does an extremely good job of trying. I very much doubt that Wii owners would mind slightly inferior graphics if it gave them the chance to play RE5, especially if the game was adapted to Wiimote controls like RE4 was to great effect. I do have some concerns regarding the co-op mode introduced in RE5, namely whether the graphical engine would struggle to deal with two players at the same time. Although there’s a lot going on in both RE4 and Darkside Chronicles, the engine in both didn’t have to deal with two players having 100% free movement, something that could put strain on the Wii’s processing power.

I think it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll see Resident Evil 5 on the Wii anytime soon as everything seems rather uncertain in the Capcom camp regards what’s actually going to happen. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear eventually. There’s certainly plenty of interest for it, with RE4 still proving extremely popular on the Wii and the original Resident Evil recently being released for the system. More significantly, I suspect many people who own a Wii as well as a PS3 and Xbox 360 would still buy RE5 for the Wii, simply because of the change in controls. It’s just a matter of whether Capcom thinks it’s financially worthwhile to get, for example, Cavia to port the game across using Resident Evil 4’s game engine. With RE4 on the Wii being the best-selling version of the game, that surely is a no-brainer.

TGR says: Unlikely, for now.

Harder, better, faster, stronger PSP2 on the way?

Is this the PSP2? Or is it too good to be true?

The Sony PlayStation Portable has had a slightly troubled life, one that reminds me a bit of the dear old Sega Dreamcast and the dilemmas it faced. The PSP is the superior handheld console in terms of computing power and multimedia capabilities, yet it has been consistently defeated by the Nintendo DS, and it’s even struggling against the Apple iPhone. I’m sure if the PSP was a person, he would be an emo teenager, greatly misunderstood and ignored by far too many people despite being secretly quite nice. However, the is one thing this emo teenager has going for it, and it’s that he’s a fighter. Only last month, it was announced that there would be a new iteration of the console: the PSP Go. It will offer a huge size reduction along with Bluetooth, plenty of internal memory, and most controversially it has done away with the UMD slot. The removal of the UMD slot is Sony’s way of encouraging players to download their games from the PlayStation Store, attempting to emulate the way the iPhone has become so popular for gaming. It really is so convenient to download a game while you are on the move compared to buying a physical item, and it’s a move that will be interesting to see if it can bring success to Sony like it has to Apple. We’ll start to learn more upon the PSP Go’s release in October.

But now has reported that the PSP2 is already on the horizon and currently in development. It looks to be as powerful as the original Xbox, beating its competition into touch by quite a lot. even claims it will be able to run DirectX 10, which sounds amazing if it’s actually true; theoretically it could be a huge leap in processing power in the realm of handheld gaming . As well as all the power it offers, the specifications suggest that it will be clever in the way it uses its power, potentially increasing battery efficiency, significant given that battery life has often been one of the deciding factors in the handheld wars. We only have to look back at the battle between the Nintendo Game Boy, Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx; the latter two may have been more technologically advanced, but with their shocking battery lives they didn’t stand a chance against the endurance of the Game Boy. After all, what’s the point in owning a handheld that needs charging every few hours?

The question is just how plausible any of this is. I have no doubt that the PSP2 will arrive eventually, but these specifications do sounds a little too good to be true. Essentially it’s a handheld Xbox with DirectX 10 capabilities, but also efficient battery life? Potentially with these sort of specifications, Sony could have a winner on their hands, especially if they do manage to keep the battery life high. Also, there have been ongoing complaints that the PlayStation 3 has been too difficult to develop for, so if the PSP2 is based upon Direct X technology, it will be much simpler to develop for, meaning hopefully more games released for it and a platform for Sony to combat the might of the Ninendo DS on. It all sounds too perfect for me, and I suspect something has got to give before the actual PSP2 announcement. Let’s hope for out sake that whatever gives doesn’t call it all to collapse horribly.

TGR Rating: Likely, but not in its current guise.

Author: Jennifer Allen