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This week in games

Much quieter, actually.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Listening for news in these last five days has been a bit like me trying to hear whether there is still a mouse in my flat. Quiet, in other words. But that doesn't mean nothing has happened.

Not least because today is finally the day you can get the long awaited Phantom Hourglass in your little DS slots, or play games like Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 on a console thanks to The Orange Box. Valve is so happy about it that it will be on Live this evening playing you at TF2, and presumably enjoying much less lag thanks to a new patch.

To catch up with the whole Friday list of games, pop over to Tom and his thoughts in What's New?

This week also finally gave us a look at what Tim Schafer has been up to since our favourite game of 2005, Psychonauts. Turns out that it is a third-person action game called Brütal Legend for PS3 and 360, where you play as roadie Eddie Riggs and amass an army in an ancient land of rock. SEGA also unveiled a new tennis game featuring all of its main characters, where each will have their own special moves, circuits, and play style - very much like Mario Tennis.

But the biggest revelations came from Capcom this week, at its European Gamers' Day in the dirty streets of London. Resident Evil 5 was notably absent from the list, but more than made up for by Street Fighter IV, Dark Void, Bionic Commando, Okami on Wii, and many more. Pop over to our roundup to hear Oli Welsh's take on events, or see our list of new screenshots and trailers for something more elementary.

Further down - lingering in the footnote of game announcements - were unconfirmed suggestions that GTA IV would have 16-player online play, and Bizarre still fending off questions about its Activision acquisition by saying it was not necessarily making an action game for one of its owner's existing IPs.

The Christmas spirit

Annoyingly, decorations have already started appearing in shops, and with it comes the dreaded realisation that you have lots of presents to buy. And, as always, that means ignoring it until it is too late to order anything online so your dad will get what he got last year whether he likes it or not.

No one feels the need to attract our Christmas budget (that never really exists) more than Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

NCsoft began sales talk this week by insisting that PlayStation Home would only be a success if enough people bought PS3 consoles, not the other way around. And that seemed one step closer to a reality, as the after effects of the European price cut and new 40GB model saw PS3 sales rocket by 178 per cent - the third highest week since launch.

Amid the back-slapping, Sony revealed that its new PlayStation Eye would be out on 7th November for GBP 25 - or earlier if you plan on picking up in The Eye of Judgement bundle.

But across the pond, money-laden shoppers still eagerly awaited news on a new, cheaper model and accompanying 80GB price-cut. Analyst Michael Pachter soon waded in and suggested this would not come until enough old stock had been shifted at full price. And either that happened, or Sony bit the bullet, because days later the official unveiling came.

The new 40GB unit would cost USD 400 and be out on 2nd November, and the 80GB model would be cut down to USD 500. Sony US boss Jack Tretton later came out and said all this had been possible because of getting rid of the expensive backwards compatibility, although we cannot help but think it has something to do with the continued and strong sales of the PS2.

Microsoft chipped in with a small fanfare as it announced a European HD-DVD deal to bundle five free films with each 360 add-on sold until the end of January. Serenity included. Shiny.

But not everyone was happy with the Redmond giant; Rare came out and criticised its owner for favouring Gears of War in the run up to Christmas last year, arguing that it would have sold loads anyway - unlike its unknown title Viva Piñata. Its huff seemed to continue into questioning about Perfect Dark 2, which it avoided commenting on by saying it only ever revealed a new project once it felt good and ready.

Nintendo stayed fairly quiet again this week, echoing its confidence in the lure of its console in the run up to Christmas - drawing back to previous comments that it would sell out and that its price did not need altering to do so. And as if by magic, Japanese hardware sales popped up and showed that DS had marginally taken back its hold on the market, after Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and new Slim units had caused a boom in PSP sales.

With so much market focus on consoles and the decrease in PC-exclusive titles, it seems convenient to predict that trusty mouse and keyboard days will soon be over. But no so, said Paradox Interactive, telling us that market segmentation was actually helping it sell its niche strategy games.

But who wants all these consoles anyway? EA bigwig Gerhard Florin doesn't - he wants one platform to develop for, and reckons that could become a reality in 15 years. And when it does, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will all have to share. Oho! They will like that.

Digital delights

Live Arcade welcomed the release of retro revamp Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe this week, alongside weird musical arcade creation Every Extend Extra Extreme by that chap Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment. In summary: the first was brilliant and the second not so much. Next week you will be able to download the Battlestar Galactica game on the service (and PC).

Also on Live this week was a demo for Smackdown, a Space Giraffe patch and a Lumines price cut. Fresh GRAW2 co-operative content will be on its way up in November, too, and there were hints and rumblings that we might be seeing Halo 3 and BioShock downloadable treats in the future.

The Virtual Console spouted three more into the Shop in the shape of World Heroes, Gate of Thunder and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. And because we really care about you, you lovely person, we have reviewed each one so you don't waste your money. We also heard that the downloadable game service Wii Software (WiiWare to its foreign friends) had snapped up another for its portfolio.

PlayStation Store fodder was most impressive for its three PSone games for three-and-a-half quid each (still no sign of PES 2008 demo), and word that we would be treated to an exclusive episodic comedy game featuring comedians with big name US telly shows to their credits. Tomorrow you will also be able create a fake Japanese PSN account and download the very pretty Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo, although it will disappear in November so be quick. Oh, and it will be in Japanese.

PC gamers, on the other hand, probably got the best samplers of the lot. Yours came in the shape of an open Unreal Tournament 3 beta demo and a Hellgate: London single-player demo - marred only slightly by a taster of Painkiller: Overdose.

All the rest

Tomb Raider: Anniversary will be in shops next Friday and is very good. Well, it was on PS2 and PC. You will also be able to download it from Live in November.

Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom has picked up a February date, which is a month after NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will be sold.

Those of you in the US will be also slightly peeved (we are not laughing inside) that no separate Rock Band peripherals will be sold until next year; so you will have to buy the entire bundle until then.

Elsewhere you will be ecstatic to know Playlogic has picked up adventure game Simon the Sorcerer 4, and 505 Games has signed Guilty Gear XX Accent Core for Wii.

Just time to tell you that FIFA dominated the UK charts again, although Halo 3 took the headlines in the US - frustrating film people who sat through poor weekend box office sales because of it.

That is not quite as bizarre as the British Intelligence that employs James Bond announcing it will be advertising for recruits in videogames, or Will Wright becoming the first gaming celebrity to be given the Fellowship BAFTA for his lifetime achievements - joining the likes of Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock.

But nothing tops you being able to journey up to Birmingham to take part in a real-life game of Pac-Man.

Well, nothing except a week's worth of videos on Eurogamer TV, that is.

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