Shacknews - Robert Workman

Infamous: Second Son (and the forthcoming First Light) developer Sucker Punch is going through a number of layoffs this week, reports IGN.

Sony confirmed the move in a statement, saying, "SCEA can confirm a reduction in workforce has taken place at Sucker Punch Productions. Sucker Punch is appreciative of the tremendous work team members contributed to the Infamous and Sly Cooper series, and wishes them the best in their next endeavors."

An exact number of layoffs wasn't given, but the layoffs are a bit of surprise considering the success of the studio, which Sony bought in 2011 after years with the platform exclusive Sly Cooper franchise and the introduction of the Infamous series. These kinds of reductions are all-too common in the industry after completing a project, however.

We certainly wish the staffers the best of luck in landing on their feet.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The folks at publisher Atlus came down to the newly-renovated Super Arcade in Walnut, CA to christen its overhaul with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. In addition to showing the game off on-stream and allowing arcade denizens to try the game out, Atlus also debuted a brand new trailer.

The trailer starred P4AU's duo of DLC characters: Tohru Adachi and Marie, going into bits and pieces of each character's individual stories. And of course, the trailer featured plenty of their attacks, showing off their Persona-based Bursts along the way. Both characters are set to debut as DLC, but will be available for free for the first week of launch. Watch the embedded Twitch stream below for an early look at P4AU and watch for the trailers at the 1:09:40 mark.

Watch live video from leveluplive on Twitch

But that's not all! Earlier today, Atlus also released another trio of trailers for three of the game's other characters. The evil Sho Minazuki (without a Persona), the just-as-evil doppleganger Sho Minazuki (with a Persona), and the even more evil Shadow Labrys. You can catch those trailers below.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is set to arrive on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 30.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Most of the time, video game ads get right to the point, showing footage from upcoming games or a cinematic that relates to the kind of stuff you can do in said game. However, that's not the case with Madden NFL 15.

With its latest commercial for the forthcoming football game, EA Sports went all out with ridiculousness, pitting comedian Kevin Hart against actor Dave Franco in a series of acts, ranging from slapping him silly to causing his girlfriend to leave to invading his office with cheerleaders. All in the name of Madden Season, of course.

The trailer gets even more ridiculous when NFL players start rapping a "Blah Blah Blah" song, a violin-playing bear appears on the surface of the pool, and Franco's house catching fire. Of course, with him responding, "LET IT BURN!"

Check out the ad below, and prepare for Madden madness when it arrives on August 26th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Blah blah blah, indeed.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Ye olde war 'tis about to commence anew! The two-person development team at Turtle Sandbox is officially ready to release Cannon Brawl, a little over a year after it was first released on Steam Early Access. The 2D action RTS is now poised to release on September 19.

Cannon Brawl sees two sides duke it out with various RTS-style units, like pilots, airships, and war machines. Different cannons and towers will wreak havoc on the opposing side, as each player scrambles to raise enough resources to demolish the opponent. The game features a full 20-mission campaign, as well as local and online multiplayer.

For more on Cannon Brawl, you can check out the trailer below, as well as a more-recent video detailing the game's transition to beta. Those that would rather not wait for the full release can pick up the game in its current state on Steam Early Access.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

NHL 15 is just weeks away from hitting the boards on both current and previous consoles, but if you're going after the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, you may notice a couple of things are missing.

EA Sports has confirmed that the popular Hockey League mode won't be present and accounted for in the new game, although Xbox 360 and PS3 owners will still be able to play it in full.    

When it came down to it, EA Sports producer Sean Ramjagsingh explained it was a quality issue. "As a franchise, we're 100 percent committed to the EA Sports Hockey League," he said, speaking on the EA Sports blog. "We're a franchise built on quality." That still doesn't quite explain why it's missing, but here's hoping we see it make a comeback next year.

Meanwhile, Online Team Play mode will also be missing once the game launches, but EA Sports intends to include that as a future update for it down the road, although a specific date wasn't given.

That leaves such modes as Play Now, Be a Pro, Be a GM, Online Versus, Hockey Ultimate Team and NHL Moments Live to be included in all versions of NHL 15. Will that be enough to make you buy the game, though?

NHL 15 releases on September 9th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Adventurers that have been making their way through the isle of Wraeclast are in for a treat today. Grinding Gear Games have deployed the latest expansion for Path of Exile, titled Forsaken Masters.

As mentioned previously, the new expansion features new story content centering around the featured seven Masters that wander the continent. They'll randomly pop up at any point to offer missions that will help improve player reputation, leading to the eventual reveal of the Masters' hidden secrets.

Other additions include an unlockable Hideout area, an updated passive skill tree, revamped content, new items, mods, skills, and 'Rampage' and 'Beyond' Challenge Leagues.

For more on Forsaken Masters, check out the Path of Exile website and watch the trailer below.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Last week, 4J Studios announced that it was done with development work on the PlayStation 4 port of the popular game Minecraft, and it was only a matter of time before the game went through final testing and, eventually, release on the system. Unfortunately, the team has run into a minor setback.

During the final testing phase, Sony has reported that the game has failed, resulting in it not being released as the developer had planned. However, it's back to work on fixing the errors that Sony has reported to them, and when they're fixed, they'll simply apply it again.

Said the developer in a Tweet, "Sony found some issues we have to fix in their final test of #MinecraftPS4 :( We're fixing, but we need to go through the process again."

There's no word on a new release date, but hopefully it can still make a holiday-timed release, considering its popularity on other consoles.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The summer season kicked off with Karl Fairburne taking his trusty sniper rifle and beginning his latest hunt for Nazi forces. Sniper Elite 3 opened up the sniping frontier to more open-world settings, with Fairburne hitting camps in the Northern African landscape. The result was more of the Sniper Elite action that fans have grown to enjoy, as well as some more cringe-worthy X-ray blasts.

But the folks at Rebellion aren't finished, as they're fully supporting the multiplayer aspect of Sniper Elite 3 with new maps and game modes, while also tasking single-player snipers with saving Winston Churchill from assassination. To learn more, Shacknews reached out to lead designer Mike How and asked about the future of Sniper Elite 3, while also sending in some questions from our platoon of Chatty community posters.

Shacknews: Sniper Elite 3 has gone from WWII on the African front to helping save Winston Churchill. You've released the first part of the story, but can you offer a hint as to what comes in the next two parts?

Rebellion lead designer Mike How: The next two parts will have Karl discovering the when and where of the plot to assassinate Churchill. He now knows who's involved in the plot, so must discover when it will occur and where.

Many players want to have that 'enemy at the gates' style battle and we are trying to feedback to that desire and lead players up to that moment with the three part campaign. We want to give the player a penultimate sniper battle with a fierce German sniper.

Shacknews: What made you want to venture into alternate history, like going back and killing Hitler or rescuing Churchill from an attempted assassination?

How: With the DLC campaign we wanted the player to feel like they had a hand in writing history. It's crazy not to listen to your team during development and there was a lot of support for doing a mission about the Casablanca convention. And of course, we want to do missions that promote interesting gameplay, too!

Killing Hitler is always going to be a fan favourite that probably stems all the way back to our first battle with him in Castle Wolfenstien. There's an inherent satisfaction to putting bullets in bad dudes. I guess we are lucky he had a history of working with doubles which affords us a bit of carte blanche to kill him or his doubles in different settings.

Shacknews: In looking at these missions and also at the Sniper Elite series as a whole, how do you feel that Karl Fairburne has grown as a character? In what ways has he evolved since his character was first conceived?

How: Snipers have often been regarded with a certain amount of fear even amongst their own troops. Regular infantry may not even know who they kill but snipers have the power to end a life with the exhale of a breath and the squeeze of a trigger. Karl's character is kept purposely quite dry to feedback to this. He keeps to himself and doesn't tend to forge alliances hastily, relying on his own skills for survival. You have to imagine someone who’s been killing as long as Karl would have seen people come and go and learnt it's best to keep to yourself for the most part.

Shacknews: Are there other WWII scenarios that Rebellion would be interested in visiting for the Sniper Elite series?

How: I wouldn't rule it out. We like appealing to some of the fanciful technology of the timeline. There's still so much untapped potential for exploration in that era and how a methodical sniper like Karl might have played his part to help the allies achieve victory. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't stumble on something utterly insane that either the Germans or the allies were using in that theatre of war.

Shacknews: Sniper Elite took a bit of a detour with two Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army games. Is this a series that you guys would like to re-visit with Sniper Elite 3's updated engine?

How: Rebellion is always trying to develop and push its IP forward, so if the development work for Sniper 3 is a good fit for other IP, you can bet we'll be using aspects of that tech to help push another title forward to critical and commercial success.

Shacknews: I know there was initial disappointment when it came to four-player co-op not being a part of the Sniper Elite 3 package. Has there been thought put into patching it in later on?

How: 4 player co-op wasn't within the scope of the project and to be honest, I don't know that it blends as well with the franchise as titles like NZA. You have to pick your battles and we were happy to deliver on polished 2 player co-op at 1080p. I'd also worry that 4 players running around blocking sightlines or griefing each other might get too chaotic.

Sniper Spotter relationships work well. We never rule anything out, fun gameplay trumps realism but it needs to feedback to the franchise; purposeful and tactical sniper play.

After answering our staff's questions, How then shifted to questions from our Chatty community.

Dusty_Slim asks: Did the D-day giveaway for Sniper Elite V2 help raise awareness about how great the Sniper Elite series is?

How: We knew the 'free' offer would go down well, but I think it surpassed everyone's expectations. It was downloaded about two and a half million times, and at its peak had as more simultaneous players than some of Steam's most popular games. It's not like every single one of those players has bought Sniper Elite 3 right away - PC gamers are pretty savvy and like to shop around before making the plunge. What we do know is that we had record PC pre-orders and hundreds of thousands of people added SE3 to their Steam wish list.

winterface asks: How intense were your anatomy studies, given how detailed some of the x-ray kills are?

How: The artists are all well-equipped from their studies to do justice to the anatomy of a human being. Pushing further with the muscular layer no doubt meant some had to dust of old books for reference and re-examine the internal workings in detail.

GrimmyD asks: What's coming down the line for content for regular users and Season Pass owners? Is there more coming for multiplayer or will you move on to the next game in the series?

How: There is actually some awesome MP content on the horizon. There was a lot of good feedback on Overwatch gameplay so we have been exploring more prototypes for Sniper 3 DLC. The MP content includes bespoke no cross maps and massively expanded MP arenas that promote a lot of new tactics and gameplay choices. Many of these will also have no cross variants, so we are certainly taking onboard all the community feedback and acting on it.

hirez asks: Was there ever a kill animation where you went "Whoa, that's actually too violent?"

How: I don't think so, no. I still look at our kill cams with fascination rather than horror. The anatomical quality of what is going on draws it more towards a fascinating documentary feeling rather than cheap gore tricks.

As a kid I was watching the Korn "Freak on a Leash" music video and it absolutely blew me away, watching this bullet carve a path through various items in slow motion. People have an inherent fascination for slow-motion bullets and the damage they inflict. It's not everyone's cup of tea no doubt, but I think there’s more than enough people who share that fascination to make it a unique draw card for the IP.

For more on Sniper Elite 3, check out our review.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Up until now, Xbox 360 owners have had to contend with minimal space on their precious consoles, with only 320GB to deal with. And considering most of the games take up a pretty good amount (around 7 GB or so), it's only a matter of time before that space runs out.

However, Microsoft is ready to provide its owners an alternative, as the company has announced a new 500GB model, giving it the most space to date.

Although the new hard drive doesn't have a release date yet, Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb stated that "it's on the way" and shouldn't be too far off. The device will sell for $110 upon release, $20 less than what the 320GB went for with a pre-installed game.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

The hits just keep on coming for Nintendo's Wii U console this week. After being told that Ubisoft wouldn't release any more mature-themed games for the system following Watch Dogs later this year, Activision just delivered another blow with the news that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare won't be coming to the system.

Sledgehammer Games co-founder Michael Condrey confirmed the news today via Twitter, when a fan asked of the game would be on Wii U. Condrey simply responded, "No, no Wii U. That was an Activision decision. We are focused on XboxOne, PS4, and PC." (Don't forget that the game is still coming to Xbox 360 and PS3, however, with High Moon Studios handling the conversion.)

The last couple of Call of Duty games haven't done well on the Wii U, despite a reasonable amount of hype. Both Black Ops II and Ghosts failed to find an audience as established as on other consoles.

No word from Nintendo on the decision, but we're pretty sure it isn't taking it lightly.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases on November 4th for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.