Rumor Control: Halo 3 @ X05 & Thompson's anti-game law

Revolution specs revealed (again), Tourist Trophy PSP, and Jessica Alba.


RUMOR #1: Halo 3 will be shown to the public for the first time at next week's X05 event in Amsterdam.

Source: See below.

The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson.

What we heard: When Microsoft sent out press invites to X05 in mid-August, many recipients figured the company would use the occasion to unveil Halo 3. These suspicions began to build this month when Microsoft's corporate vice president Peter Moore coyly told Game Informer, "Bungie is busy. The boys are busy." Then Bungie's own Frank "Frankie" O'Connor dropped this seemingly throwaway line in the middle of his Tokyo Game Show report: "We have some cool stuff coming up for you in the next couple of weeks, including...Halo 2 running on 360." Could a peek of Halo 3 be far behind? Apparently not, as something purporting to be a leaked Halo 3 screenshot began making the forum rounds, stirring up rumors of yet another Microsoft viral marketing campaign.

But the clincher came earlier this week, when Britain-based Future Publishing sent out a release on Games Press for the launch issue of its new "independent" UK Mag, Xbox World 360. The release was accompanied with an image of the magazine's cover (pictured), which proclaimed "See the Future! Halo 3!" next to a high-res shot of everyone's favorite armored Spartan trooper. Given that the magazine goes on sale just days before X05, many a site theorized the cover story was a prelude to a Halo 3 preview similar to the Halo 2 trailer premiere at E3 2003.

Just one problem: It isn't. First, European games press reporters who have aquired copies of Xbox World 360 say it contains no new information whatsoever, merely "six pages of articles covering speculation from fans," according to As for the screen, it is being widely decried as not only a fake, but also a very old fake. (One poster on the GameSpot Forums is even claiming he made it himself.) Armed with this info, GameSpot contacted sources familiar with Halo 3's development, who freely admitted the game will be a "no-show" at X05. Jeez, are we going to have to wait until E3 2006?

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #2: Anti-game activist Jack Thompson has been asked by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to write a bill banning the sale of M-rated games to minors.

Source: One of Thompson's frequent mass e-mails to the games press.

The official story: Calls to the Florida Governor's Office of Legislative Programs had not been returned as of press time.

What we heard: For more than a decade, Thompson, a Florida-based medical malpractice attorney, has been one the most vociferous critics of the game industry. As outlined on his Web site,, Thompson says that "Video games are literally 'murder simulators' teaching our kids how to kill." Among other things, he:
--Asserts the original Doom video game had a major role in the 1995 Columbine High School massacre.
--Claims multiple copycat killings across the country were inspired by the Grand Theft Auto series
--Has called the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the US gameindustry lobby, a "criminal" organization with a "thug" president.
--Says The Sims 2 is packed with easily accessible "full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair."

Repeatedly, Thompson has called for states to pass laws criminalizing the sale of M-for-Mature rated games to minors. Now it appears he may get the chance to pen such a law himself. In an e-mail sent out Thursday, Thompson says he has "been asked by the Office of the Governor of the State of Florida, Jeb Bush, to draft and submit to him and to Florida legislators a bill that will prohibit the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors."

While such a bill would need to pass both houses of the legislature, the lawyer said that "The Office of Governor Bush has told Thompson that the Governor will sign such a bill if it is placed before him." In his e-mail, Thompson said that he would have the bill ready in the "next several days" so it could be submitted during the legislature's next session. When queried by GameSpot for more details, he would only say that he is the only person thus far who has been asked to submit a bill to the governor's office about M-rated game sales. He did not offer details about what kind of penalties the bill would prescribe for offenders or whether or not said penalties would be imposed solely on the clerks selling the games or also on the establishment selling the game and/or the game's publisher.

While Thompson's arguments about games' effects remain the subject of heated debate, it is unlikely he would make public claims about a state governor were they not true. And given the older-skewing demographics of Florida voters, the fact that game-restriction bills have already passed in less-conservative states (Michigan, Illinois), and the fact that game-bashing has become a bit of a cause celebre among politicians, the bill's passage into law is a distinct possibility.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

RUMOR #3: The technical specs for Nintendo's revolution console have been revealed...again.

Source: The G4 Forums by way of Ars Technica.

The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Nintendo spokesperson.

What we heard: The latest Revolution spec leak got a lot of play on popular PC site Ars Technica, and later on the ubiquitous Gizmodo. But it all stems from a G4 forum poster who goes by the oh-so-original handle "Han Solo," who was, according to his profile, an "insider" at developer Factor 5. A formerly GameCube-exclusive studio, Factor 5 has since branched out to other platforms and recently unveiled its first next-generation console game: Lair for the PlayStation 3. That said, according to studio president Julian Eggebrecht, "Any talk of us abandoning Nintendo platforms altogether is just not true." So, chances are that if the shop doesn't already have a Revolution dev kit, it has at least been debriefed on the console's capabilities.

So what did Solo say? He claims that the center of the console will be a dual-threaded IBM Custom PowerPC 2.5GHz with 256KB L1 cache and 1MB of L2 cache, 512MB of 700 MHz 1T-SRAM, 32MB RAM linked to the CPU and GPU, and a PPU (Physical Processing Unit). The GPU will be an "ATI Custom-based RN520 core"--the R520 being the code name for ATI's soon-to-be-revealed new graphics processor and the "N" standing for Nintendo--which will run at 600MHz and support up to 2048x1268 resolution. It will have 32 parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines, a polygon performance of 500 million triangles per second, and be capable of around 50 billion shader operations per second.

How legitimate does all that sound? One hardware expert contacted by GameSpot harbored doubts. "Unless Nintendo hopes for a die shrink by the time of the launch, the Revolution would hardly have the air flow necessary to cool off that stuff," he said. "If its anything like ATI's current-gen architecture, even their low-end parts have pretty beefy fan cooling." However, another hardware insider was more optimistic: "It looks very plausible. The PPU stuff is interesting. It'll be a helluva lot easier on developers--that is, if the Nintendo tools don't suck."

Bogus or not bogus?: Plausible? Yes. Actual? TBD.

RUMOR #4: Polyphony Digital's new PlayStation 2 motorcycle game, Tourist Trophy, is coming to the PSP.

Source: An listing, which was quickly taken down.

The official story: Sony Computer Entertainment America reps did not return requests for comment.

What we heard: Shortly before Tourist Trophy's existence was revealed at this year's Tokyo Game Show, a product page for a PSP version of the two-wheeled racer popped up on Though EB took it down and deleted its content almost immediately, Google cached the URL. When accessed, browsers still clearly identified the placeholder page "Tourist Trophy PSP" (see image gallery).

But was the list a case of EB accidentally revealing an unknown game--as it did the Xbox 360 Burnout Revenge--or did a data-entry clerk misidentify the PS2 version of the game? From the evidence present, that can't be determined right now. That said, Tourist Trophy developer Polyphony Digital is currently working on Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, a PSP version of its best-selling car racing game. So it's a pretty safe bet that if Tourist Trophy does well, we'll be seeing pocket crotch rockets on the PSP not long thereafter. Incidentally, no longer lists platforms in the titles of its product pages.

Bogus or not bogus?: The EB page leans toward not bogus, but it's unlikely that a PSP Tourist Trophy would come out before Vision Gran Turismo, which is still almost a half a year away.

RUMOR #5: Sin City starlet Jessica Alba is developing her own game.

Source: See below.

The official story: Ms. Alba's representation was unavailable for comment.

What we heard: If you’re a heterosexual male gamer, it sounded way, way too good to be true: Jessica Alba, subject of hundreds of Internet shrines and millions of fantasies, is developing a game. Audible scoffs of disbelief could be heard in the GameSpot offices when word of the supposed Alba project spread...until it turned out to be completely true.

Like the similarly worshipped Elisha Cuthbert, who revealed 24: The Game's existence over a year before it was officially announced, the actress told that, "I'm developing a video game." Though she didn't name a platform, developer, or publisher, the actress did say she will be a fully playable character. "I am going to be in the game, yeah," she told MTV. "There's going to be a character that's sort of inspired by me, and I'll voice that character." Sadly, though, dreams of Alba blasting enemies Lara Croft-style will remain just that: dreams. "We're still in prototype mode, but it's nonviolent," said Alba. "It's basically based off a new thing that kids are doing, an X-Games sport that hasn't really become mainstream yet." Jessica Alba's Land Luge? I'd buy that for a dollar...

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

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