News from the virtual world:
- THERE WILL BE BLOOD: When news of its $2 billion bid for Take-Two Interactive became public in February, no one thought Electronic Arts would take no for an answer. So it wasn't a big surprise when the takeover attempt turned hostile, with EA taking its $26-per-share offer directly to Take-Two stockholders.
Take-Two executives say the EA offer is the wrong price at the wrong time, particularly with "Grand Theft Auto IV" " the inevitable blockbuster from Take-Two studio Rockstar Games " arriving at the end of April. Shareholders have until April 11 to take up EA on its deal, and Take-Two has asked them to give it some time to review the offer.
EA chief executive John Riccitiello said Take-Two's studios " including "BioShock" developer 2K Boston/2K Australia (formerly Irrational Games), "Civilization" developer Firaxis and the sports experts at Visual Concepts " would benefit from a more stable environment at his company. But in an interview with the BBC, he made clear that his company's "primary interest" was in Rockstar.
"In case of Rockstar I would point out that the leaders are young, vibrant, they're talented and committed," Riccitiello said. "And what we have got right now is a corporate issue that has nothing to do with the people who build these games."
- ARMY OF TWO: Take-Two executives had a lot to say about EA's bid during the announcement of the company's first-quarter financial results, but they also took some time to talk games. The big revelation was that, as expected, Take-Two's new 2K Marin studio is working on "BioShock 2." Ken Levine, creator of the award-winning original, will be involved in the sequel, but his 2K Boston/2K Australia studios are focused mainly on developing a new property.
A less predictable announcement came from Take-Two's 2K Play subsidiary, creator of the surprise Wii hit "Carnival Games." We'll be seeing two expansions of that franchise this year: a version for the Nintendo DS and a miniature golf spinoff for the Wii.
- EXTRA HELPINGS: Too bad for Take-Two that it doesn't have a trademark on "2"; it could make a lot of royalties from all the sequels that have been discussed recently.
BioWare has just released the first downloadable mission for its epic role-playing game "Mass Effect," and we're not sure how much more additional content will be sold on Xbox Live. But you can rest assured that a full-blown sequel is in the works, since BioWare has always described "Mass Effect" as the first installment of a trilogy. General manager Greg Zeschuk, in an interview with MTV News, said, "Mass Effect 2" gives BioWare "the chance to actually make things a little bit richer" " including side missions that are less repetitive and better integrated than those in the original.
And then there's "Motorstorm 2," the sequel to the PlayStation 3's best-selling game. Publisher Sony is promising a new setting for the off-road racer, switching from a Monument Valley desert to a lush Pacific island crowded with jungles, swamps and spewing volcanoes. It will add a four-player split-screen mode, and will introduce monster trucks to the competition.
- ALPHA DOG: Obsidian Entertainment is best-known as the studio behind "Knights of the Old Republic II" and "Neverwinter Nights 2" " sequels to BioWare hits. Happily, Obsidian's next project is an original: "Alpha Protocol," described by publisher Sega as an espionage role-playing game. It could do for secret agents what "Knights" did for Jedi, with every action you take influencing what kind of spy you become.
Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, who has the best name in video games, promises an "intricate story, engrossing characters, and significant character advancement with fast-paced modern combat. 'Alpha Protocol' embraces everything we enjoy about making RPGs from a fresh perspective."
- NEW IN STORES: Sin City is under siege again in Ubisoft's "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2" (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3). ... If you like your sports games a little goofy, try "Sega Superstars Tennis" (360, Wii, PS3, PlayStation 2, DS) and Sony's "Hot Shots Golf Out of Bounds" (PS3). ... The war of the worms continues in THQ's "Worms: A Space Oddity." ... Konami has two unusual DS offerings: the adventure "Lost in Blue 3" and the personal organizer "Diary Girl." ... If you're the one who always sings "Ice Ice Baby" at karaoke night, Sony's "Singstar '90s" (PS2) is for you.