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...and we're back - Christmas news round up

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Image credit: VG247


Happy New Year. We're glad we shut down over Christmas. You didn't miss a whole lot.

By far the most important story over the break was news that Free Radical cut its workforce by 140 to just 40.

The developer was confirmed as being in administration just before the Christmas holiday.

Speaking to 1UP, Cameron Gunn of administrators ReSolve Partners said, "We made around 140 employees redundant yesterday, effective 31 December (the date up to which they had been paid). We're still trading on with the remaining 40 or so employees, have advertised the business for sale and have received some strong interest."

News broke mid-December that staff had turned up for work only to be locked with a notice on the door telling them to adjourn to a nearby hotel.

Free Radical aside, other noteworthy Christmas news included confirmation that Mistwalker JRPG Cry On has been cancelled.

"AQI decided to cancel the project after analyzing the current market environment and forecasts for the future. We deeply apologize for troubling those who were awaiting its release," said a company rep.

Cry On was apparently part of "Hironobu Sakaguchi's triumvirate of Xbox 360 titles," says this 1UP piece (the other two being Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey), and for those of you who don't know, the game "was to be an action-RPG featuring a Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack [and] character designs by Kimihiko Fujisaka."

Full round up below.

A Lord of the Rings Conquest multiplayer demo hit Xbox Live over the Christmas period, and it was also confirmed that a Skate 2 demo was be available this Thursday.

PlayStation 3 owners weren't left out in the cold, however, as PSN got a bumper Yuletide update, including the previously announced Wipeout HD demo.

Capcom announced that PSP will be given its undivided attention in 2009, with a spokesperson writing on the PlayStation Blog, "So what’s in store for 09? Well, I’m working with Grace and Ro at SCEA to come up with some innovative ways we can offer games and programs on the PlayStation Store. You can expect to see a whole slew of downloadable PSP and PSone titles from our vault next year."

Staying on the PS3 tip, Media Molecule's Alex Evans told IGN that the team has got LittleBigPlanet running in first person mode, if you can believe that.

And just to keep the Sony first-party end up, Uncharted: Among Thieves creative director Amy Hennig told Edge magazine that Nathan Drake will be romping around Tibet, have a love interest and use 'action stealth' in the upcoming sequel.

In more action adventure news, Eidos and Microsoft said it would give away a wetsuit to Xbox 360 Tomb Raider: Underworld owners, while everyone could download the entire soundtrack for free from the Tomb Raider Chronicles website.

Famitsu reported that publisher Spike is porting Way of the Samurai 3 to 360, the game to be released in Japan on February 26.

Square Enix said it will assess the re-use of Epic's Unreal Engine only if its developers feel a game warrants its use. Last Remnant's art director, Yusuke Naora, told Edge, "The decision on whether to use Unreal for future projects will be decided on a case-by-case basis; we’re not going into game productions thinking we want to use this or that middleware.

"Rather, we’ll examine what it is we want to achieve with a game and then decide on the best tools to use in reaching that goal."

Last bit from Japan: Kotaku has translated this Dengeki piece listing the country's best sellers in 2008. Suffice to say Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G won, with Pokemon Platinum (DS) and Wii Fit coming second and third respectively. Full top 30 through the link.

Bungie released some Halo ODST concept art over Christmas, showing mostly marine garb. BioWare got in on the screenshot action too, releasing new images and concept art of upcoming Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic.

Last, but not least, the BBC published the thoughts of gaming luminaries such as Will Wright and Peter Molyneux on games and gaming in 2008.

A fitting end to the year. Thanks to Kotaku, 1UP and IGN for all the stories.

By Mike Bowden

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