Rumor Control: Next-gen Xbox controllers and Xbox Half-Life 2's summertime blues

This week: Microsoft's upcoming console giveaway, SWAT 4 for Xbox, and MGS 4 comes to E3.

more screens (2)
more screens (2)

RUMOR #1: Images of the next-generation Xbox controllers have been leaked.

Source: Two images (pictured) e-mailed to GameSpot by a reader.

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

What we heard: Last week, the Microsoft-connected Web site "leaked" what looked like a partial glimpse of the controller for the next-generation Xbox. Over the weekend, a pair of photos showing what looked like the real thing hit the Web. Though blurry, they did seem to confirm several rumors, namely that the controllers will be wireless and will no longer have the black and white buttons, instead sporting what appear to be two shoulder buttons above the triggers. The controllers also appear to be missing memory card slots, giving some ammunition to speculation that the next Xbox will save all game information on a detachable, external hard drive, which players can take with them. While Microsoft would not comment on the controllers, at least the public has to wait only a month to see the console itself, as it will be officially unveiled on May 12 on MTV.

Bogus or not bogus?: Compared to the "official" glimpse of the next Xbox controller, this is looking not bogus.

RUMOR #2: Half-Life 2 will be released for the current-generation Xbox this summer.

Source: Early copies of the next issue of Official Xbox Magazine.

The official story: See below.

What we heard: In 2002, Valve Software announced that its then-forthcoming PC shooter Half-Life 2 would also be released for the Xbox. Since then, the port was reportedly scrapped, then reconfirmed for the console, only to be rumored to be scrapped again. However, no information on the Xbox Half-Life 2 has been released since the PC version shipped last fall, causing some to believe that the graphically groundbreaking game would in fact be a launch title for the next-generation Xbox. That all changed over the weekend, when images from the next issue of OXM hit the Web--including an image of its cover, which clearly showed Half-Life 2 hero Gordon Freeman. However, when presented with images from the magazine, a Valve spokesperson demurred, saying only, "Every picture tells a story, don't it?"

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

RUMOR #3: SWAT 4 either was or is in development for the Xbox or its successor.

Source: The .ini file of the PC version of the tactical squad-based shooter.

The official story: “SWAT 4 is not, and was never, in development for Xbox. There is no Xbox 360 version in development, either.”--VU spokesperson.

What we heard: Acting on a reader tip, GameSpot examined the .ini file of SWAT 4, the recently released and critically acclaimed shooter from VU Games and Irrational Games. The file contained subfiles titled "[XboxDrv.XboxClient]" and "[XBoxAudio.XBoxAudioSubsystem]." Since the former had "TextureDetail=Medium" and "SkinDetail=Medium" settings, it means there either was or is a version of SWAT 4 in development for the current-generation Xbox. Presumably, a next-gen Xbox version of the game would "be cranked to the max" graphicswise, according to one PC gaming expert. Given that VU had not commented on the .ini file as of press time, it remains to be seen whether or not SWAT 4 will storm consoles in the future or whether its console mission was aborted before it could begin. [UPDATE] However, VU Games says the .ini file's Xbox settings are just bits of errant code. "I believe that code is a relic of the Unreal engine code that’s in there," said a rep.

Bogus or not bogus?: [UPDATE] Although we originally said not bogus, the case is no longer quite so cut and dry. Stay tuned...

RUMOR #4: Metal Gear Solid 4 will be revealed at E3.

Sources: The UK version of Official PlayStation 2 Magazine.

The official story: "This is just a rumor, and we don't comment on rumors."--Konami of America spokesperson.

What we heard: While Konami confirmed the existence of a fourth Metal Gear Solid game last November, it has not said when the public will first catch a glimpse of Solid Snake's latest adventure. However, the UK version of OP2M says that the first footage of the game will be unveiled during the grand finale of Sony's PlayStation 3 press conference on May 16. That would make sense, since Konami gave the world its first glimpse of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in 2003, one year before its release. If, as rumored, Metal Gear Solid 4 will be a launch title for the PlayStation 3, it will likely come out in 2006, when the console is expected to debut. However, a 2006 launch for MGS4 would break with the traditional three-year interval between Metal Gear games.

Bogus or not bogus?: We'll have to wait until May 16 to find out.

RUMOR #5: Microsoft is planning a cross-promotion with Pepsi that will see it give away next-generation Xboxes.

Source: The always interested

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

What we heard:. Citing unnamed sources, Engadget says that Microsoft plans to partner with Pepsi to aggressively hawk the next-gen Xbox to the public. The campaign will reportedly be similar to Pepsi's cross-promotion with iTunes earlier this year. Buyers of bottled Pepsi beverages will receive a code that they can register online for a chance to win a next-gen Xbox console. According to the site, "supposedly they’ll be giving away one console every ten minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine weeks straight" until the console goes on sale. If the device hits the market in mid-November as expected, the contest would start sometime in September. If that is the case, the giveaway theory raises a major question: What next-gen games will owners of the new Xbox be able to play? Two other theories could provide an answer: one, that the console will come with a revamped version of Halo 2 preloaded on it, and two, that demos for all next-gen launch games will be available online via Xbox Live. Regardless, while wild-sounding, a next-gen Xbox giveaway is feasible, given Microsoft's deep pockets (can you say "$50 billion in the bank"?) and its desire to dominate the next generation of console gaming. It also wouldn't be without precedent: In his keynote address at this year's Game Developers Conference, Microsoft corporate vice president J Allard handed out more than 1,000 Samsung HDTVs to curry favor with the game makers in attendance.

Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus, given Engadget's track record.

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