New Releases: April 12th – 18th

A mixed bag of genres this week; fighting, stealth, platforming and controversial crime-sim, each come tinged with a particular flavour of exclusivity. First we have the big ‘un, Splinter Cell: Conviction, a game that has received more column inches speculating on what platform it is or is not appearing on than actual discussion of the game itself.

Speaking of rampant speculation, this week also finally sees what many regard as the first sign of the apocalypse – content that categorically, absolutely, definitely will never be available on the PS3 – available the PS3.

There’s also another 360 exclusive you may or may not be aware of, along with a GOTY edition of one of the best PS3 exclusives of 2008. A game that won’t ever find its way to a rival platform. And that’s guaranteed.

Thursday:


Splinter Cell: Conviction

Release date: April 15th (16th in the UK)
Platforms: 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Synopsis: Sam Fisher returns, bearded, gruff and maybe wearing a little guy-liner for dramatic effect. Apparently taking inspiration from Uncharted 2 and Max Payne, Conviction is Ubisoft “going back to the drawing board” after what many perceive as a poor Fisher outing in Splinter Cell: Double Agent.

Multiplayer features are on offer, with both split-screen action and co-op sure to enthrall the stealth junkies out there. Fresh to the skulk-a-thon is new system “Mark and Execute,” the ability to prioritise targets just before they come into play. Early reviews of Splinter Cell: Conviction are extremely positive, with IGN awarding the game a hearty 9.3. EDGE gave it an 8. And we all know how much EDGE hate games.

Finally, OK, we’ll mention it; there’s no PS3 version. Or is there? The evidence to dispute Ubisoft’s sometimes vague, sometimes definitive assurances that Splinter Cell: Conviction is solely for Microsoft’s console can be found peppered across numerous (frantically updated) studio resumés and some less than concrete declarations at the start of the project’s development. (“It’s exclusive … for now.”) If it does come to the PS3 after so many denials from so many quarters, it wouldn’t be the first time we the gaming public were kept in the contractually duplicitous dark. Speaking of which …

Friday:

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City

Release date: April 16th
Platforms: PS3
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North

Synopsis: $50 million (allegedly) and countless hand-on-heart pledges that Grand Theft Auto IV’s two additional chapters were locked tighter than a frog’s arse as 360 exclusives, and here we are, six months later and with the same two cash cows making their appearance on the one console we were told would never see them.

We’ll likely never know the fine-print behind Rockstar and Microsoft’s GTAIV exclusivity deal, though rumours are abound that the episodes didn’t sell nearly as well as both parties had expected; the poor sales performance fuelling speculation that a get-out clause existed allowing The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony to subsequently appear on other platforms. Or maybe it was just a six month deal, puffed up and glamourised to appear as something it now obviously is not.

Regardless, the self-contained episodes should appease PS3 fans who were so disgruntled when Microsoft swooped in and plucked extra content of their favourite franchise away from them. They should be pleased, as reviews of both new chapters also suggest that they’re “more GTA” than GTAIV was. The best news? You don’t need the original disc to play the new content. Which, let’s face it, is quite handy considering how long it’s been since most of us experienced the original game.

Samurai Showdown Sen

Release date: April 16th
Platforms: 360
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: K2 LLC

Synopsis: The Samurai Showdown series was legendary back in the days when the arcade was king. While most people gravitated toward the dazzling shoryuken allure of Street Fighter II, many were equally beguiled by Showdown’s colourful characters and frantic swordplay. Samurai Showdown Sen is the fourth 3D version of the popular series (it’s number eleven if you want to count all the way back to 1993) and is a 360 console-exclusive. Considering the game’s popularity in Japan, and the lack of the 360’s penetration in the region, this decision has to be viewed as somewhat curious. In other words, don’t be surprised is a PS3 version magically appears with more characters in the future.

The game is set in 1791, five years after the events of the inaugural Samurai Showdown title, with the majority of the cast consisting of new fighters to the apple slicing party. Of course, it just wouldn’t be Samurai Showdown without Haohmaru, Nakoruru and the enigmatic Hanzo Hattori, all who feature in this new version. Early reviews have been less than stellar, suggesting this might be one for only the more serious fans of the series.

LittleBIGPlanet – Game of the Year Edition

Release date: April 16th
Platforms: PS3
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: Media Molecule

Synopsis: We’re not sure what self-respecting PS3 fan doesn’t have LittleBIGPlanet as part of their game library, but if you’ve been waiting for an even bigger bundle of burlap-themed joy to infect your life, here it is. The Game of the Year edition is simply the main game along with popular added content already available on the PlayStation Store. Last year’s North American version included the Metal Gear Solid content plus Monsters and History packs, so we’re assuming the European edition is something similar if not identical.

Seriously, if you don’t own this game by now, you really should check it out. Landmark milestones in gaming don’t come along that often. LittleBIGPlanet was most certainly one of them. (The next is ModNation Racers by the way. If you don’t believe me, just ask Nofi.)

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Please note: while every attempt is made to get both the dates accurate and every applicable game included, we are not infallible and mistakes will be made. Feel free to mention any omissions or corrections in the comments below. We’ll endeavour to correct the above and even thank you personally. We’re good like that. Finally, all dates are the official EU dates. Actual release dates in your country may vary to the dates shown above.