With the next gen war hotting up, this month's U.S. edition of the Official PlayStation 2 magazine has devoted much of its efforts to looking ahead to the PlayStation 3, and has revealed a number of interesting factoids that have had FastFingeredForumites getting hot and bothered over recent days.
First of all, a release date for the PS3 is discussed, with a March 2006 date once again mooted for Japan, and a summer 2006 launch for the rest of the world, which is good news if we can believe the rumour mill.
Limited hands-on action for the machine will be present at TGS, the piece claimed, with next January's CES show reprtedly being the main launch stage for the PS3. It's expected that there will be a "significant [PS3] presence" at the event. Best book those tickets to Vegas now, people.
In performance terms, apart from the usual partisan stuff about development sources claiming the Sony machine's not only more powerful than the 360, but easier to programme for, there's not much we haven't heard before.
Tellingly, other sources OPSM U.S. spoke to concede that both will have their strong points, and that only titles exclusively made for either machine will take full advantage of the hardware. The piece also mentions that final development hardware will be delivered to studios in December, giving some indication of when Sony is expecting to release its next machine.
Online support is also addressed, with Sony expected to follow Microsoft's lead and get a fully integrated online offering up and running, complete with friend tracking, messaging and all the stuff Xbox Live does already.
Games wise - and this is where things get interesting - OPSM2 US reveals a few items of gossip on GTA 4 (as it's being referred to), claiming that "Rockstar North is creating a specialized game engine for PS3 that will bring GTA 4 to life to a degree that the PS2 games could only hint at," with the aim being to create "a city that's less repetitive and where everything - and everyone- looks and acts more like they would in the real world on every level." Good stuff; but will it come out next year, as is hoped?
Metal Gear Solid 4 details have also fallen into its laps, describing the Kojima Productions title as "a cross between Rambo and Black Hawk Down," with Solid Snake apparently dropped into an urban warzone with artillery going crazy around him, taking out his cover. Buddy AI is said to be crucial this time around, while a new camera system will reportedly be an essential part of the experience. With our men currently prepping themselves up for TGS, expect more, er, solid news very soon.
Elsewhere, an exhaustive list of games has been cobbled together by the mag, with too many to mention here (and some being obvious best guesses), but the general theme of their list being to basically come up with every single big franchise and make an educated guess. We're sure you could do a pretty good rundown right now
Some that have us positively salivating, though, are the likes of a new Ghouls and Ghosts, a new Team ICO project, and other already announced projects like Resident Evil 5, Alan Wake, and updates to all our current favs. Take your pick.
But never mind the rumours. Join us later this week and early next week as we uncover all the facts on the next generation offerings with full coverage from Tom and Rob direct from the show floor, including some very special Nintendo coverage