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Sony have announced the sale of the 7 millionth Playstation 4. Impressive stuff - but how does that stack up against the Xbox One? Read on to find out.

ps4xbo.pngUnfortunately for worldwide sales of games consoles, there's no independent arbiter who can release figures - so the best we can do is piece together the evidence from whatever Sony or Microsoft have deigned to tell us. So what do we know about how the Xbox One is doing?

According to Product Reviews, the last official figures we have are from the end of January - when they announced 3.9 million Xbox One consoles had been sold. That's quite a long time ago now. So could the Xbox One catch up?

According to TechRadar, in February in the United States only they sold 287,000 PS4s and 258,000 Xbox Ones - so slightly less (but interestingly, they say that Microsoft still ended up with more cash because of the higher price of their console).

Meanwhile in PS4 land, it was only in early March when Sony hit the six million mark worldwide too. So they've sold a million consoles in about a month.

But this doesn't account for what is potentially the biggest game-changer since then: Titanfall.

So what is the Titanfall effect? According to The Graun, in the UK the release of the game led to an increase in Xbox One sales by a huge 96%. But this is for the UK.

So can we learn anything from this? Umm... not really. Both companies have only been releasing favourable numbers, so it is hard to read into the situation without having any directly comparable numbers. Essentially, the answer to how well the Xbox One is doing in comparison is a disappointing "nobody really knows".

Personally, I'd wager that the PS4 is still slightly head, but the Xbox One has narrowed the gap - but this is just baseless and irresponsible speculation.

Who do you think is winning? Let us know in the comments.

Our Titanfall (Xbox 360) Review

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It's one of the biggest games of the current generation so far - but how does it fare on Microsoft's older console? Here's our review.

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There's few things in life that massive robots wouldn't improve. Football? It'd be bettere if it were played with Massive Robots. Shakespeare? How about Much Ado About Massive Robots? Papal Mass? What if it were conducted by a Massive Robot?

So on that basis, you'd think Titanfall was going to be awesome, right? In essence, the game takes the traditional Call of Duty deathmatch formula - small maps with a bunch of players shooting each other, and adds Massive Robots into the mix.

In each match players start out on foot, and after a certain amount of time (which will vary depending on how well you're doing in-game), you can summon a Titan to drop from the Sky. Climb aboard and suddenly you need to shift your tactics from Vietcong to Shock-and-Awe.

This adds a nice piece of variety to what would otherwise be a fairly plain sci-fi shooter in the mould of Halo. Sure, there's some nice touches - like the ability to run up walls and perform parkour moves to scramble over obstacles, or the oddly satisfying "stealth pistol", which locks on to multiple targets before taking them all out in one pull of the trigger... but without the Titans, it'd be the same game we've played before.

Titans are a different beast - and surprisingly vulnerable. Unlike the Jaegers in Pacific Rim, Gundams in Gundam Wing or even the Megazords in Power Rangers, which could crush a human army with no trouble at all, Titans can be taken out by footsoldiers using special anti-Titan weaponry. Needless to say, taking down a Titan when you're on foot is a pretty satisfying experience.

The trouble is... well, everything else, or the lack of anything else. Though the game is presented as a premium experience, befitting of a piece of software designed to sell the next generation of hardware... there's a distinct lack of a single player mode. Sure, there's a "campaign" mode in which there is a vague attempt at sticking together a narrative, but ultimately you're not shooting up NPCs in a structured way to advance a story... you're just thrown into another deathmatch. Hmm.

Maybe this is just a personal preference, but I prefer single player mode. There's something to be said for following a story, and working your way through to achievable goals... hell, I'll even collect all of the little tokens scattered around the map in a sandbox game. But ultimately, isn't multiplayer gaming essentially futile? At the end of the game everything resets, and seconds later you're thrown back into the game, but this time with a different group of ten year olds shouting homophobic abuse at you over the headset. Great.

So how about when Titanfall 2 inevitably drops, we get a proper campaign too?

Differences with Xbox One version

As far as I can tell, the game is pretty much identical to the Xbox One and PC versions - albeit with slightly less pretty graphics. In terms of gameplay, you won't be missing out by picking up the 360 version instead - presumably because the game was originally developed for 360 before Microsoft waved a big cheque at the developers to make the Xbox One upgrade.

The Verdict

So Titanfall is a polished game - you'd expect nothing less from such a heavily promoted title... but it is also only half finished. If you're a hardcore multiplayer gamer, then you probably won't notice what is missing - but if you like anything resembling plot, or story, or a game where you don't die every thirty seconds after being shot by ten year olds, then you might be left wanting more. It's one for the kids who were good at PE, not the kids who were good at English.

The public face of Xbox, Major Nelson, has posted on the Xbox blog details of the latest update to the Xbox One's system software - which amongst other updates, brings back notifications for when friends sign in to Xbox Live.

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Whilst the update lacks anything completely mind-blowing, there's a number of helpful tweaks and upgrades included that should make life on the Xbox One slightly easier. Here's Nelson's description of what's new:

Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You will also be able to easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.
Friends improvements. Notifications will be added to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live. This was one of the most frequently requested features, so we made it a priority to include it in this update. Also, friends who are in multiplayer will be identified in the friends list.
Kinect voice and motion improvements will continue to be fine-tuned for quality and reliability of Xbox One commands. For example, we've updated some of the gesture functionality to reduce false positives on non-hand objects triggering gesture commands.
Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements.
Blu-ray player supports 50 Hz video output for content recorded at 50 Hz. We'll also be updating the Blu-ray Player app in the coming days to round out these improvements.
Controller and headset adapter firmware updates will reduce audio static and improve wireless connectivity.
Silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand now available. If your console is in Instant On mode, the update will happen automatically and return to standby upon completion. This means you won't need to power on your console after an update moving forward. If you want to take future updates when available without waiting for your console to do it on its own, we've added this option under system settings and you'll be able to use it next update. It will only show as available when there is an update to take.

So it's all good stuff - we're particularly pleased to see the notifications on what games and apps are being updated, as there's nothing more satisfying than a software update.

Now all the Xbox One needs is some more games...

Sony have accidentally let the cat out of the bag - it seems The Last Of Us is coming to PS4 after all.

The Last Of Us, when it was released recently on the PS3 was held up as a milestone in videogame storytelling. Whilst a zombie game on the outside, this does not take the playful tone of Left For Dead or Dead Island - this is very real. Because the story

The leak was discovered by a NeoGAF forum member who discovered a listing on the Playstation store for "The Last Of Us: Remastered Edition" for PS4 - and posted this screenshot for proof:

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So that's pretty much confirmation, right? This image has also emerged floating around Twitter - calling it the "Game of a Generation" edition:

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So to the surprise of no one, it seems that Sony are intent on releasing the hugely acclaimed title on their newest console - not only is it an easy way of bolstering the so-far lacklustre line-up, but it'll provide another opportunity for Xbox 360 players to consider switching allegiances before upgrading to the latest generation.

Obviously there's no details on a release date yet (Sony's official reaction has been essentially: "What is this? Good heavens! I think you are mistaken!") - but we'll update you when we hear something.

There's been a lot of hype over the last 24 hours over comments made by Microsoft's Frank Savage who says that the company are "thinking through" plans to offer support for running 360 games on the Xbox One. However great this might be - I think we should approach these claims with a degree of scepticism. Here's why.

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First off, there's the simple technical challenge of making 360 games work. The 360 and Xbox One one fundamentally different hardware architecture - the new console made the switch to "x86" chips, which is what PCs use. This means that rather than simply make it possible to run software on the new console (think how you can run an app designed for Windows XP on Windows 7, say), they have to either build a software emulator or rebuild the game from the ground up. (The WiiU, by comparison, uses the same architecture as the Wii, which means it can use the same hardware).

The latter seems to be off the table - if you're going to rebuild the game from the ground up, then not only will the data on the game discs not work in the first place, but they may as well upscale the games with fancy new graphics and stuff - not easy, and essentially the same as developing a whole new game. Microsoft will want to build new Xbox One games.

So what about emulation? Emulation is intensive stuff - the way it works is by creating a simulation of the hardware and translating commands from the emulated hardware to the new hardware. A good rule of thumb for this is that the emulator needs to be ten times as powerful as the device being emulated - and though the Xbox One is a powerful beast, there's a lot going on before it even gets to gaming, so it may struggle, and in any case would require a lot of optimisation.

If you're wondering why other consoles have managed this is the past it is simple: the way the original PS3 model managed to run PS2 games was because Sony had squished PS2 hardware into the casing of the PS3 - it was literally running on the same hardware. Nintendo did similar with Gamecube support on the original Wii.

So that's the technical argument - basically, it is very hard to do. However, I think the more compelling argument is the economic one.

As I mentioned, the original PS3 release came with PS2 support. At the time this was a smart move, as it meant that the new console was not limited to the handful of titles in the launch window, and instead gamers could play the entire Playstation back catalogue. After a year or so, Sony updated the Playstation model sold in shops and quietly removed backwards compatibility... to very little uproar. The reason nobody cared anymore is because the console had bedded itself in, and crucially had plenty of its own games to play. Who wants to play old games when there's lots of new ones?

The 360 had a similar launch - though it wasn't natively backwards compatible with the original Xbox, perhaps like Microsoft are considering now, they did support emulation for a handful of major original Xbox titles - like Halo 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

So as time goes on, the case for backwards compatibility diminishes significantly - why would Microsoft want to spend so much time and money on making 360 games work on the new console, when they could instead sell you Titanfall and Watch Dogs? It's not like you playing old games will make them any money anyway. And won't most early adopters already own an older console to play on?

So really, I can't see it happening. I won't be surprised if they do announce individual support for big name titles - perhaps GTA5? Chances are though that the finance people at both Microsoft and Rockstar are already thinking of GTA6 instead.

The Simpsons pay tribute to Minecraft

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We've known for some time now that Minecraft is a phenomenon - but now we've proof in the form of what is perhaps the ultimate accolade: A Simpsons parody.

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In the episode that aired in America last night, the entire introduction sequence was reworked in the style of Notch's game - complete with a blocky Simpsons family and Moe making an appearance as a creeper.

You can see it here - or at least until it is yanked off of YouTube by Fox:

Whilst it has taken a few years now to earn a Simpsons parody, Minecrafters themselves haven't waited around - with this fan-made Simpsons intro made in Minecraft itself. Astonishingly, it has had over four million views:

Now when is Game of Thrones going to parody Roller-coaster Tycoon?

Like clockwork, another piece of downloadable content for Call of Duty: Ghosts has just hit the virtual shelves. Devastation, which brings four new multiplayer maps, a new weapon and a new single player campaign "Episode", will be exclusive on Xbox One and Xbox 360 for a short launch period.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the update is in the single player campaign. Rather than just have burly soldiers face-off against other burly soldiers, players instead are tasked with fighting monsters - including a "400-foot tall Cryptid beast". Here's Activision's description:

In the aftermath of the events at the Nightfall Program facility in the Alaskan wilderness, the Quick Reaction Force boards a mysteriously abandoned Chinese research vessel adrift in the South Pacific Ocean. Armed with multiple, mod-able versions of the Venom-X weapons that harness the power of Cryptid technology, players will pursue Captain Archer in an attempt to uncover what's become of Dr. Cross, all while battling against a new Cryptid enemy called the "Seeder", and culminating with players facing-off against a massive, 400-foot tall Cryptid beast from the deep - the "Kraken."

Crikey!

The multiplayer maps sound interesting too - with one of the maps being a "reimagined" version of the fan-favourite "Dome" map from Modern Warfare 3. Here's how Activision describe them:

Set in a multi-level Mayan temple, "Ruins" provides the verticality needed for long-range weapons, while the underground pathways below are perfect for close-quarters showdowns. Skilled players that find and complete the map's unique Field Order will have the ability to become one of Hollywood's most formidable action film stars and the galaxy's ultimate hunter, the deadly Predator. As the Predator, players will brandish its dual wrist blades and shoulder-mounted plasma cannon, as well as be able to utilise the creature's keen hunting abilities to track down enemy players.
"Collision" takes place in the mangled remains of a cargo ship that's crashed into a New York City bridge. The map's tight corridors - made-up of burnt-out vehicles and demolished shipping containers - create a space perfect for run-and-gun players. Players that dominate "Collision" and complete the map's specific Field Order will be able take control of a heavily armed aircraft and rain down destruction from above.
"Behemoth" drops players atop a massive excavation platform in South America. The map's long sight lines are ideal for long-range weapons, while the confined interiors of the platform's control rooms make for intense SMG and Shotgun encounters. Completing "Behemoth's" Field Order will allow players to control an attack helicopter armed with a deadly, armour-piercing mini-gun as it circles the excavator searching for enemy combatants.
"Unearthed" is a reimagined version of the fan-favourite map "Dome" from Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3. "Unearthed" is full of new secrets and Cryptid artifacts for players to discover in this compact, versatile map, great for all play types. Unlock the map's Field Order and unleash the power of the Cryptids, with three "Seeder" aliens chasing down and inflicting heavy damage on enemy combatants.

The update also sees the inclusion of a new weapon: The "Ripper" - a hybrid SMG/Assault Rifle that will no doubt excite the slightly creepy guy you used to go to school with, who knew a little bit too much about guns.

Rockstar have announced details of the forthcoming spring update to Grand Theft Auto Online, which - counter-intuitively - actually restores a couple of bugs in the game.

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The complaints have come thick and strong from GTA players who enjoy carrying out stunts on motorbikes and bikes. Apparently the previous update fixed bugs in the physics - but though this may have created a more realistic simulation, it meant that some of the crazy stuff the stunters had been doing was no longer possible. Stuff like this, presumably:

The update will also bring with it some new features. Soon players will be able to own multiple properties (useful if you own a lot of in-game cars) and it'll be possible to design and build your own "capture" missions. For example, choosing where to place the bad guys, what needs to be retrieved and where it needs to get to.

"The High Life Update" as it is being called will bring with it a slew of new clothing options, cars and weapons. Apparently there will also be a new metric viewable to determine the mental state of other players, to see if they're more like Trevor or Michael.

This spring will also finally see the long-awaited launch of the GTA Online heists that can be completed with friends. Footage of one of the heists, in which players take a bank vault, leaked in February:

Finally in addition to a handful of other bug fixes, some nice additions include a "non-contact" mode for races, so other players can't bash you off of the road, and the ability to call Lester and have him pre-emptively call of the cops for a limited period of time, for if you want to go on a senseless rampage, but not worry about the consequences.

It seems even though it is now on the last generation consoles, GTA5 doesn't intend to get old any time soon.

Is Shenmue 3 coming to Xbox One?

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Phil Spencer, who has just taken the reins at Microsoft's Xbox division and has been talking on Twitter about Shenmue. Could... could it be? Should we dare to dream?

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No.

In response to the endless fan campaigns to get a definitive ending to the Shenmue series - which was left unresolved after Shenmue 2 on the Dreamcast (and original Xbox) way back in 2001, Spencer had this to say:

So you're saying there's a chance, right Phil? Please?

The series was a Big Deal for a number of reasons. Developed by legendary Sega designer Yu Suzuku, and with a focus on building a detailed environment and storytelling, we may not have the sandbox games we have today without it.

Sadly though, it appears that Microsoft still aren't interested in helping Ryo avenge the death of his father.

A new mobile game called Run An Empire aims to combine the strategy of skill needed for the likes of Civilisation or Settlers of Catan with the real world - by turning your local area into the game board.

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The developers Pan Studio have just launched - what else - a Kickstarter, to raise the initial £15,000 they need to finish the game, and things are going well - with it being nearly 2/3 funded.

The way it works is by using the iPhone's geolocation, so that when you go for a run it will figure out where you've gone on a map and 'capture' different territories once you've looped around an entire area. As all players use the same map, you can capture territory from other players, and they can take it from you. Apparently to secure a location, doing multiple trips around the same area will make it harder to take. So if you run the same circuit every morning, you'll build a veritable fortress.

Apparently the focus of the game is on the game, and not fitness - though that is obviously a fortuitous secondary outcome. The developers also reckon that success in the game will come from the determination of players and not just sheer physical ability (though I wouldn't fancy my chances if I lived on the same street as Mo Farah).

What's also nice is that the app will display various analytics on the amount of territory you hold, and you can customise your empire's name and crest, for showing off to other players.

It sounds like fun - and is a good demonstration of what augmented reality can do for gaming. Here's hoping it inspires Nintendo to make a real Google Maps Pokemon game too.

Okay so this is going to sound insane... but could the new Amazing Spider-Man 2 game for PS4, which is being made to tie in with the new film, actually be pretty good?

Now don't get me wrong - I love Spider-Man, but as a rule games being made to tie-in with films are pretty much always terrible (Goldeneye on the N64 being the honourable exception that proves the rule). So you'd be forgiven for being very apprehensive about a game that directly ties in with the new film... especially given the rebooted films themselves are - in essence - completely unnecessary (what's wrong with Tobey Maguire?)

But check out this gameplay footage posted by Sony yesterday, which shows off some of the web-slinging action... it actually looks pretty fun.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a... umm... Dark Knight can.

The game is clearly taking an awful lot of inspiration from the Batman: Arkham series - almost to the extent that if I were in charge of Wayne Enterprises, I'd be on the phone to the legal department. But for gamers, that's no bad thing - as the Arkham series (which, consistent with the movie rule above, is not actually directly based on any Batman film) is great, when you ignore the most recent of the three, Arkham Origins.

In the video, the developer explains some of the key game mechanics. Essentially, it's a sandbox game set in New York City, and Spidey can swing between buildings, firing off webs with the left and right trigger - using a smartphone to help navigate to the next objective.

There's even an annotated "heads up display" type mode for identifying enemies - which in this instance is obviously spidey-sense mode.

Even combat has an Arkham familiarity - with groups of thugs able to be taken out with ranged takedowns, whilst hanging upside-down (just like Batman!), or with good old fashioned street fighting. Like the Batman games too, finishing moves will be slightly more cinematic. Watch the video though - and try and tell me you weren't a little bit excited when you saw Peter Parker pull the guard up with a web and smash his face against the wall.

One thing that is new and unique is multiple suits - each with their own power-ups and special abilities, which should make gameplay a little more varied.

So it is okay to get excited? The previous game in the series has a lukewarm 66% on Metacritic but this... looks like it could be rather nice indeed.

It must have been a weird few days for Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey. The 21 year old (yeah, sickening isn't it?) not only is a couple of billion dollars better off, but it must feel like the entire internet has turned against him. To respond to the critics, he took to Reddit, personally intervening in the many threads discussing it. Here's our pick of his responses.

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On original Kickstarter backers being "frozen out" of the success:

"Don't blame us, blame draconian government regulations regarding "accredited investors". CliffyB met the criteria, and invested before the success of the Kickstarter. Same goes for the comment by Chris Plante: We could not have taken money from middle class investors even if we wanted to!"

On whether Oculus apps will now be forced to carry advertising:

"That is a developer decision, not our decision. If someone wants to sell a game with built-in ads, they will have to deal with the natural consequences."

On "Why Facebook?"

"Why would we want to sell to someone like MS or Apple? So they can tear the company apart and use the pieces to build out their own vision of virtual reality, one that fits whatever current strategy they have? Not a chance."
"We have had a lot of interest in the past [from other companies looking to buy], but only from people who would tear us apart and make us work on their own stuff. We have zero interest in doing that, and there is no number that could convince us otherwise. Facebook is going to give us access to massive resources, but let us operate independently on our own vision. There are so many things we can do that used to be impossible."

On what the $2bn will actually be spent on.

"We have not gotten into all the details yet, but a lot of the news is coming. The key points: 1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. More news soon. 2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects. 3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon."

On whether Facebook will build its own equivalent to Steam or the app store:

"We are already working on our own VR game platform/launcher, but we are not going to force everything to go through it. Facebook has no interest in changing that, they believe in what we have been doing all along."

On whether Oculus will require a Facebook login to use (will this be Palmer's Nick Clegg moment?):

"I guarantee that you won't need to log into your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift."

On Oculus's use by the gaming community:

Almost everyone at Oculus is a gamer, and virtual reality will certainly be led by the games industry, largely because it is the only industry that already has the talent and tools required to build awesome interactive 3D environments. In the long run, though, there are going to be a lot of other industries that use VR in huge ways, ways that are not exclusive to gamers; the current focus on gaming is a reflection of the current state of VR, not the long term potential. Education, communication, training, rehabilitation, gaming and film are all going to be major drivers for VR, and they will reach a very wide audience. We are not targeting social media users, we are targeting everyone who has a reason to use VR.

So what do we think? Personally, I'm particularly intrigued by the custom hardware point - if they can build specific displays for Oculus, and not just use mobile phone screens that will be a much better product. I'm cautiously optimistic. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Sonic heads to Hyrule in new DLC

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Whilst Sonic and his friend Mario have been getting on great together for a few years now (just don't mention the bad old days), Sonic and Link from the Legend of Zelda seems like a slightly less obvious fit. Bizarrely though, as this new downloadable content for Sonic: The Lost World shows... it actually seems to work.

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The bonus level is out today - and is free! And much like the Yoshi level released a while back, it mashes up the mechanics of the new Sonic game with some classic visuals and monsters from the Zelda series. In the trailer, you'll see that rupees have replaced rings, the Gorons put in an appearance, as do the weird skeleton things that used to pop out of the ground in Ocarina of Time.

The N64 classic appears to be the source of most of the inspiration - though at certain points in the level Link himself appears flying on the back of his bird from the Wii's Skyward Sword.

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Delightfully, all of the classic Zelda music and sound effects put in an appearance... and the chickens will even fight back if you dare attack them.

It looks like fun - here's hoping next up we get Sonic mashed up with the immensely frustrating 2048.

When The Last Of Us came out last year, it was seen as the PS3's last hurrah, and in some quarters is viewed as the greatest game of the last generation. So it's perhaps not surprising that given both the critical and commercial success, Sony are apparently considering bringing it to the PS4.

The Last Of Us, when it was released recently on the PS3 was held up as a milestone in videogame storytelling. Whilst a zombie game on the outside, this does not take the playful tone of Left For Dead or Dead Island - this is very real. Because the story

According to Escapist, the beans were spilled by the boss of Playstation Turkey, Sercan Sulun who in the middle of a long interview - speaking in Turkush - accidentally(?) confirmed the existence of TLOU for PS4. Apparently it'll be coming out both on disc and PSN this summer (complete with the DLC built in).

According to Escapist's translation of the Turkish, Sulun responded to a question about a sequel to the game on PS4, saying "There is no information about a new The Last of Us game but I can share this knowledge; as of this summer, The Last of Us will be on the PS4. Both on PSN and physically.... The PS4 version will also include the DLC so you will be able to play 'Left Behind' as well."

Which I guess is a bit like having a chat with a policeman about the weather and accidentally blurting out where the bodies are buried.

Frankly, we'll be surprised now if the PS4 port doesn't happen - they've probably only kept it quiet until now so as to not cannibalise sales of the PS3 version. How many gamers would have decided to wait if they knew they'd be able to get it on PS4 too?

Videogames are all about vicarious experiences. Where else but in games could you storm Omaha beach, fly through space or endlessly try to arrange powers of two? There's one experience though that, until now, has never been fully realised in the virtual world: Being a goat.

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Luckily Goat Simulator has it covered The game looks like... well... some sort of sandbox game where you play a goat. Or maybe Tony Hawks but with goats... I'm not entirely sure.

In any case, the developers have just released the below trailer - which is a parody of the famous Dead Island trailer from a few years ago.

Here's the original Dead Island trailer, for reference.

And here's some actual gameplay footage:

Though the gaming community are undoubtedly giddy with anticipation, there's every indication that the game is going to be bahhhhd. Not least because the developers themselves admit it, saying on their website:

"Goat Simulator is a small, broken and stupid game. I t was made in a couple of weeks so don't expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats. In fact, you're better off not expecting anything at all actually. To be completely honest, it would be best if you'd spend your $10 on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat."

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The game is due for release on Steam (PC) on April 1st. Here's hoping that the main goat character makes its way into the new Smash Bros roster too.

Given how the WiiU's big controller can be used without the TV being switched on, and fits in the palms of your hands, it is perhaps natural that Nintendo have thought to bring a bunch of handheld titles to the Virtual Console.

Want to feel old? I remember excitedly saving up for a Game Boy Advance on launch day in 2001, and being the coolest kid in the school yard when I showed off the isometric adaption of Tony Hawks 2 (I was almost too cool - that's why my classmates always beat me up, right?). Now though titles from the console are considered suitably retro enough to release as a cheap digital download.

On the 3rd April, the first three titles will be launched. I've left Nintendo's breathlessly excited copywriter's descriptions in, as I'm not sure I could muster the same levels of enthusiasm. The titles will be:

Advance Wars (£6.29) is a critically acclaimed turn-based strategy game, in which you must lead your Commanding Officers to victory. Take control of ground, air and naval forces and face enemies across more than 100 battlefields, tackling a range of terrains and weather conditions.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (£6.29), the first game in the Mario & Luigi series is a zany, action-filled role-playing game, which lets you control both of these stars simultaneously and take part in turn-based battles. Mario and Luigi must work together to explore the vast lands of the Beanbean Kingdom and defeat the evil witch who has stolen Princess Peach's voice.
Metroid Fusion (£6.29) offers classic bounty hunter, gun-toting action but with an added twist: hero Samus Aran has been attacked by a deadly parasite! Cured by Metroid DNA, Samus is bestowed with unique new powers, and sets out on a quest to hunt down and face the mysterious 'SA-X'. Metroid Fusion combines an engaging original story with intense platform action in classic Metroid series style.

These will be followed on 10th April by Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Warioware Inc: Minigame Mania, and on 17th April by F-Zero Maximum Velocity and the critically acclaimed Golden Sun (though I'm sad to say I could never get into it).

Finally on April 24th, Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 will be joining the fray.

What's nice is that if you were a Game Boy Advance owner like me, and never got a Game Boy Advance SP, this is the first time you'll have been able to play the above games on a screen where you can actually see what is happening.

The next Assassin's Creed title has just been announced and I am already super excited. Judging by the teaser trailer it is going to be set during REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE. Which for any non-historians reading, is one of the most fascinating historical periods.

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It was when the old monarchical order was overturned and our conception of freedom was changed by enlightenment ideas. Secularism, science and individual rights took root in Europe as ideas of inherited privilege, superstition and censorship were discarded. What an absolutely perfect setting for an Assassin's Creed title: "Nothing is true, everything is permitted".

Here's hoping you'll hang out with Thomas Paine and have to lend a hand storming the Bastille.

And if you'll indulge me for a moment, if you check this post I wrote waiting for Assassin's Creed IV - I called it! - successfully predicting a future setting.

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Can you tell I'm excited? If you want to do some background reading with something accessible, I recommend Mark Steel's Vive La Revolution.

Is Rescape about to change gaming forever?

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This is the coolest thing that you'll see today. Imagine a first person shooter like Call of Duty - but one that takes place in your office, or somewhere a bit more familiar than you're used to. A new Kickstarter (what else?) has just launched called Rescape - which combines some clever image capturing technology and a mission behind enemy lines. What more could you want?

Go on, press play on this now:

The way it works is by using a special 180 degree camera bolted on to your iPhone (presumably connecting via bluetooth). It will then map out the room you're in by analysing the images, and will build a 3D model - one that can apparently be quickly skinned to add some flavour to your environs. In the video you can see that whilst the basic room structure remains the same, it is possible to turn your work colleagues into fellow soldiers and blow out the wall so that behind it is not the accounts department, but a more interesting vista.

To play, you mount your phone (current plans only support the iPhone - 5S, 5C, 5, with experimental 4S support) onto the white plastic body (which is reminiscent of the Wii Zapper accessory), and your phone essentially becomes your scope through which you can aim shots. Even at this early stage, apparently multiplayer is supported so you and a friend can team up.

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The Rescape developers have already compared it to Paintball or Lazer Tag. When the Kickstarter is delivered, it will apparently come with a ready built game to play with the new kit - but also a bunch of development tools for developers.

Really it is a tantalising glimpse of the future - where real world environments can become the game. Just imagine if someone managed to combine this tech with the Oculus Rift - so we can all wander around buildings with a headset on - having a virtual shoot out with real world obstacles.

Good news for Microsoft this week as Titanfall has entered the charts in the UK in the number one spot - besting not only not only the new South Park game, but Dark Souls II. Not bad for a game only available on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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Taking a look at the rundown from GamesIndustry.biz, you have to wonder if this could be a turning point in the console race. Apparently 70% of people who bought an Xbox One this week also bought Titanfall - and hardware sales will no doubt have shot up too.

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So far in the console race it is widely believed that the PS4 is currently beating the Xbox One in the UK by quite some margin. At the start of the year it had sold 45% more units than the Xbox One.

Given how crucial early adopters and hardcore gamers are to the console's success, and how it is positioned as it becomes more widespread, the Titanfall uptick can only be a good thing for Microsoft. Let's just hope for their sake that my prediction about Titanfall eventually going multiplatform proves wrong.

Google Play Games platform coming to iPhone

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Whoops, someone at Google has hit the "publish" button too early and spilled the beans on the company's plans to launch their gaming platform - Google Play Games - on iOS devices (ie: iPhone and iPad).

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Baked in by default to newer versions of Android, Play Games works a bit like Apple's Game Center, providing developers with a common platform on which to share game data. In other words, it will manage high score tables, multiplayer invites, achievements and even cloud-saved games. What makes this particularly intriguing is that it could work across platforms - bridging the Android/iOS divide and enabling iPhone users to challenge Android friends at multiplayer games.

This isn't all - Google have also announced plans to upgrade Play Games, and enable users to send each other in-game gifts - presumably driven by Google Plus. This means that now rather than spend all of your hard-earned real money on pretend Candy Crush money, you can now take the virtual begging bowl to your friends to fuel your addiction too.

This was all set to be revealed at the Game Developers Conference on the 18th March - so if you're going, try to act surprised when they tell you about it.

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