Rumor Control: Half-Life 2 gold (for real) and the PStwo ships early

[UPDATE] Also this week: SOE and LucasArts part ways, and 3D Realms' new game.

Rumor #1: Half-Life 2 is gold. Really. No foolin'. Honest.

Source: If we told you, we'd have to kill you.

The official story: Both VU Games and Valve declined comment.

What we heard: Ever since the release candidate for Half-Life 2 was submitted to VU Games in mid-September, a piñata has hung in the lobby of Valve's headquarters. The plan: to bust the sucker open when the game achieved gold status. Earlier today, GameSpot learned from a locally based source that "the piñata has been broken." Further evidence of the game's completion came in a press release issued this afternoon touting the first review of "the entire game." Though nothing official has been announced yet, it appears the fat lady is at last clearing her throat.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

Rumor #2: The new PlayStation 2's release date has been moved up to this week.

Source: Listings on EBgames.com and GameStop.

The official story: "The official launch date for the new-model PlayStation 2, as outlined in the announcement a few weeks back, is November 1. Nothing has changed since then." --Sony Spokesperson.

What we heard: This week, those eagerly awaiting the release of the new and improved, slimmed-down, and vaguely sexy PlayStation 2 got even more hot and bothered. Although Sony said the unit wouldn't hit the US market until November 1, both EBgames.com and GameStop are listing the device as shipping this week. EBgames.com's page still says that the "new PS2 is scheduled to ship on October 14, 2004." Sony quickly stomped out the rumor, though, saying the device will not officially ship until November 1. However, unofficially, numerous people already have the neo-PS2, and are eagerly posting pictures of the svelte console.

Bogus or not bogus?: Officially: Bogus. Unofficially: play 'em if you got 'em!

Rumor #3: 3D Realms is developing a new game.

Source: Game Matters, the blog of 3D Realms' Scott Miller.

The official story: "We're really not talking about this yet, but thanks for contacting us." --3D Realms' George Broussard.

What we heard: Although Duke Nukem Forever has been in the works for seven years, apparently 3D Realms is finding time to work on a new IP. This was revealed in Miller's blog, in which he said, "id is now working on an original project, and although we're known for Duke, we also helped bring Max Payne to the market, and we're currently working on an unannounced original game, too." Broussard's response confirmed the game's existence--but little else.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

[UPDATE] Rumor #4: LucasArts plans to end its agreement with Sony Online Entertainment to host Star Wars Galaxies.

Source: The number-one nerd news network, Slashdot.

The official story: LucasArts hadn't replied to an e-mail sent late in the day, Friday. SOE, however, provided the following comment on Monday: "There is absolutely no change in the business relationship between LucasArts and SOE."

What we heard: Saying the rumor was "heard through the grapevine," the Slashdot piece references two articles on Miss Match and Star Wars Galaxies: War Cry, saying there is strife between the Galaxies maker and host. "Now the day after the Jump to Lightspeed expansion goes live, they plan to announce the second expansion pack and the divorce between SOE and LucasArts," read the Miss Match article. "They will then give update us on the changes that will be made when LucasArts takes the controls." However, both articles admit to being very speculative. "Rumor is a nasty beast that leads past the swamps of heresay [sic], through the forest of tittle-tattle to the dark castle of speculation, and pretty soon your [sic] in the lost dungeons of assumption blindly flailing about for the lost chalice of scandal," read the War Cry post.

Bogus or not bogus?: SOE isn't one to comment recklessly. Updated conclusion: Bogus.

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