Rumor Control: No GTA at E3 and no Half-Life 2 in '04

Microsoft buying BioWare and Brat and CDV's war of words over BREED are also among this week's items.

RUMOR #1: Half-Life 2 has been delayed until 2005.

Source: A Gabe Newell interview in Polygon magazine.

The official story: "Valve is still targeting summer for the completion of Half-Life 2."--Valve's Doug Lombardi.

What we heard: This week, a rather ominous-sounding Newell quote appeared on numerous under- and aboveground game sites. "We've already spent millions...and we're willing to spend as much as we need to make [Half-Life 2] the best first person experience ever," said Newell. "If that means delaying the game to 2005, we'll do it without any hesitation." Most sites sourced the comment as coming from an interview from Polygon magazine. However, only one--Halflife2.net--noticed a vital piece of information, namely, that the quote was from September 2003, when Newell was discussing hypothetical scenarios after the now-infamous code leak.

Bogus or not bogus?: This specific case is bogus. However, we'll believe Half-Life 2's current release date when we have the box in our hands.

RUMOR #2: Microsoft is buying--or has already bought--BioWare.

Source: Polygon magazine again.

The official story: "To us, it's really thin air."--BioWare spokesperson; "Pure speculation."--Microsoft rep.

What we heard: Conspiracy theories pointed to the reported purchase of the Knights of the Old Republic developer as the latest evidence that Bill Gates is the reigning dark lord of the Sith. However, BioWare and Microsoft reps blew off the story as the usual gamer gossip. However, a source within one of the companies dropped a hint that there may be something to the panicked posts after all and that the two companies would have something to say at E3. Of course, given their close collaboration on the upcoming Xbox-exclusive Jade Empire, a joint Microsoft-BioWare announcement could have nothing to do with a buyout. But bringing the top developer of console role-playing games in-house must be awfully tempting to the cash-flush software colossus.

Bogus or not bogus?: Guess we'll see at E3.

RUMOR #3: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will not be shown at this year's E3 expo.

Source: Rumor Control's favorite recurring guest star, SPOnG.

The official story: "We have not announced our E3 lineup yet"--Rockstar spokesperson.

What we heard: At first, the SPOnG story sounds tres authentique, quoting Rockstar North spokespersons as definitively saying GTA: SA "will be unveiled in June to selected press, retail, and distribution partners." However, the article starts second-guessing itself, saying the whole thing could be an elaborate stunt so that the media-savvy publisher could stage a faux-surprise showing of the game. However, the rumor does come just over a week after the sudden departure of Jeffrey Lapin, CEO of Rockstar's Parent, Take-Two Interactive. Though officially a resignation, Lapin's exit was rumored to be sparked by development woes at the publisher, evidence by the dual delays of Red Dead Revolver and The Warriors. Could problems with San Andreas, the 800-pound gorilla on Take-Two's release calendar, have hastened Lapin out the executive lounge door?

Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus. It's not like the follow-up to the best-selling game of all time needs to be present at E3.

RUMOR #4: The version of BREED CDV shipped to stores was not the same version submitted by Brat Designs.

Source: An expansive and vitriolic post on the official BREED forums.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: Once billed as a potential Halo rival, BREED has received almost universally dismal reviews since it was released last week. According to the GameSpot review, the main sticking points with the game are its "flimsy writing, atrocious voice acting, generic enemies and settings." However, one of the game's animators is reportedly claiming that the game's problems are not the fault of the developer. In a series of posts on the CDV forums, someone claiming to be Brat Designs' Billy "Bli" Allison stated, "We (Brat) finished BREED, but the released version wasn't the one we had finished." The person then leveled a series of charges against CDV, claiming the publisher rewrote and rerecorded the dialogue, "'brightened' up" subtle lighting, ruined textures, changed level scripts, and shipped a build of the game several generations behind the one submitted by Brat. The poster even claimed that CDV is holding back a patch submitted by Brat "several weeks ago" that fixed many of the game's technical issues. When confronted with the laundry list of allegations, CDV's American reps forwarded GameSpot's requests for comment to the publisher's German headquarters--who never responded. Attempts to contact UK-based Brat were also unsuccessful.

Bogus or not bogus?: In this case, the silence was deafening--and damning. Not bogus.

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