Rumor Control: N-Gage 2 specs and the Xbox 360 (again)
This week: LucasArts cuts KOTOR II's story, Star Wars Republic Commando's sequel is in the works, and Circuit City sells the PSP a week early.
RUMOR #1: The next Xbox will be called the Xbox 360...again.
Source: A resurgent wave of speculation, most notably from SPOnG.
The official story: Wait for it... "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson.
What we heard: Several weeks back, word began to circulate (boosted by visual evidence) that the next Xbox would be called the "Xbox 360." At the time, it was the latest in a series of rumored names that included the "Xbox 2," "Xbox Next," and "NexTbox," and many (including RC editors) shrugged it off. But the rumor resurfaced last week on the Web and at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. According to one alcohol-fueled conversation overheard by a GameSpot editor, the moniker is "99 percent certain" and stems from American consumer testing of nongamers (that is, parents), who were asked to pick from a list of potential Xbox 2 names the one that they found superior to "PlayStation 3." True to Spinal Tap-ian "but these go to 11" logic, those surveyed reportedly picked "Xbox 360" since it's like "3," only "60" better. Is it a case of drunken babble or in vino veritas? The world will have to wait until E3 to know for sure.
Bogus or not bogus?: Given the sheer volume of reports, this rumor is looking more and more not bogus.
RUMOR #2: The specs for the N-Gage 2 have been leaked.
Source: Minimalist tech site ArcadeStation.
The official story: "Nokia doesn't comment on market rumors or speculation."--Nokia rep, borrowing a page from Microsoft and Nintendo's book.
What we heard: Last week, N-Gage chief Gerard Weiner told Reuters that Nokia was working on an "improved" version of the tepidly selling phone-game deck, which it would unveil in the "next few months" (that is, E3). This week, its alleged specs were leaked onto the Web. According to the very obscure site ArcadeStation, the machine will have a hefty 90nm CMO OMAP2420 "system-on-a-chip" processor and a power-frugal 2D/3D graphics accelerator with SIMD co-processor PowerVR MBX with VGP. For those not well versed in mobile-phone tech, GameSpot Mobile's Avery Score sniffed this one out. "High CPU clock speeds drain battery life much more than a GPU would," he said. "It seems strange that Nokia would include such a high-clocked CPU when they're adding a much more power-efficient graphics processor. It's plausible, but just surprising." However, Score urged caution by pointing out the obvious about ArcadeStation, saying, "I don't know if that's a reliable source."
Bogus or not bogus?: Like with the Xbox Next, er, 360, we'll likely have to wait a couple of months to get the skinny on the son of N-Gage.
RUMOR #3: A sizable chunk of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords' story was cut.
Source: An angry editorial on Star Wars fan site TheForce.net.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: When the Xbox version of Sith Lords was released last year, it received a largely positive reception. But soon after the PC edition hit store shelves in February, the game became the subject of a backlash. Gamers poking around the PC version's code found "numerous audio clips containing lines of cut dialogue," which appear on the forums of Sith Lords developer Obsidian Entertainment. On those same forums are written examples of more deleted dialogue. Normally, such clues would point to a cover-up--but the developers freely admit that some of the original game spec never made it to the gold master. After several days, Obsidian CEO and president Feargus Urquhart and LucasArts producer Mike Gallo sent a joint statement to GameSpot that said, "The truth of the matter is that, much like a movie, a certain amount of the game ends up on the cutting room floor... When it comes to KOTOR II, there was material cut at various times in the game's making, including at the end of the game's development cycle." However, the pair sidestepped accusations that the game was rushed to make the tail end of the crowded 2004 holiday season. "Often the original ideas or design just don't make sense when put in the context of the final game as it is being put together," they said.
Bogus or not bogus?: Unfortunately not bogus.
RUMOR #4: LucasArts is already working on a next-gen console sequel to Star Wars Republic Commando called "Star Wars Imperial Commando."
Source: A game one sheet e-mailed to GameSpot Editors.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: As the hype for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and sales of Star Wars Republic Commando surge, it would only seem logical that LucasArts would be thinking up ways to combine the two properties. So when a reader e-mailed RC a one sheet for an "Xbox 2" game called "Star Wars Imperial Commando," it seemed plausible indeed. The game outlined flips the premise of Republic Commando: Instead of defending the republic against evil forces, players help the empire hunt down and exterminate the outlawed Jedi. Sounds delectably dark, eh? Well, according to LucasArts, it isn't happening. "At this time, it's not a title or concept that is on our current or future development slate," said a rep. And if the Imperial Commando concept sounded familiar, that's because it first surfaced in 2004. "This is an old game concept that first found its way online last June," the rep said.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus...but a great idea.
RUMOR #5: Circuit City has begun selling the PSP early.
Source: GameSpot's own community forums.
The official story: "What? No man, the PSP goes on sale next Friday. Where'd you hear that?"--bewildered Circuit City salesperson.
What we heard: Midday Thursday, reports began to surface that people who had reserved the PSP from Circuit City had received an e-mail saying the portable was available. "We wanted to let you know the item you requested from circuitcity.com is now BACK IN STOCK" (emphasis in the original), the automatically generated e-mail reportedly said before naming said item as "Product Desired: Sony PlayStation® Portable (PSP™)." The e-mail went on to say that the PSP was "available to be ordered through the circuitcity.com website for direct shipment to your home as you indicated when you requested to be notified." So many people began to order the PSP that Circuit City yanked the product page from its online store, according to reports. Those reports were made more credible by the fact that as of press time, the PSP product page was still curiously missing from Circuitcity.com. However, whether or not Circuit City actually sent out any PSP units has yet to be determined.
Bogus or not bogus?: . As embargos are often accidentally broken by retailers, the premature product-page listing is more than likely Not Bogus. But if you think you can waltz on down to your local Circuit City before next Thursday and buy a PSP, you're living in bogus-land.
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