Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss all the recent Call of Duty news, what Ubisoft needs to focus on in the Assassin’s Creed series, Game Freak’s dedication to the portable platforms, and the long awaited return of the PSN.

Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.

Anthony Taormina

Trading Places

Though many expected Modern Warfare to take some steps to improve as far as the multiplayer was concerned many did not see it copying some of the ideas of its biggest competitor: Battlefield 3. Even more interesting is that not only is Modern Warfare 3 borrowing pages from Battlefield’s book with destructible environments and large-scale maps, but Battlefield 3 is borrowing from Modern Warfare’s book with more scripted events and a single player focus.

While each is in direct competition to another, with each new reveal they move closer and closer to being direct facsimiles of the other. Sure, there are key differences between the two, but it seems like in order to capture the other’s fans, they are trying to ape some of their most appealing features. Are we on the path to a future where an annual release of Call of Duty and Battlefield is expected, and each borrows the successful features from last year’s title?

Andrew Dyce

Assassin’s Creed 3 Better Not Have a Smoke Monster

After what seemed like only a month or two rest, Assassin’s Creed is once again at the forefront of my mind. Brotherhood was a joy to explore, but as far as the greater story went, it really only added to the mystery and questions surrounding Desmond. Now with both Revelations and Assassin’s Creed 3 on the horizon, the idea of finally understanding half of the game’s plot has gotten me more than a little anxious, and somewhat worried. After three full games, I still don’t quite know what the Apple or pieces of Eden are, and have followed the story to this point more on faith than understanding. The last time I did that was with the ABC series Lost, and that didn’t end as well as I’d hoped.

So if Revelations and AC 3 really do wrap up and explain the story like the developers are promising, this series stands a good chance of ranking among my favorites of all times. But if the team at Ubisoft start cutting and pasting plot points that never really followed one arching narrative, it could overnight become one of my biggest disappointments in recent years. I know I’m not alone, so please Ubisoft, don’t let us down!

Sebastian Gaweda

Stepping Up to the Plate

Modern Warfare 3 is on everyone’s minds right now, and with no gameplay yet revealed, it’s probably going to remain that way until E3 brings all the juicy details to the forefront. In the past I was critical of EA’s and DICE’s harsh words towards their competitors, saying that they shouldn’t trash talk until they’ve proven themselves first.

In some ways, it might not even come down to that. Activision was silent until this week about their latest Call of Duty, and from what we’ve seen so far, they may have been busy creating a real slugger to step up to the plate. With the possibility of destructible environments and vehicles coming to join a host of features fans already love from the series, Modern Warfare 3 may end up being a much bigger competitor than anyone imagined. So look out EA and DICE, it looks like there’s still plenty of fight left from Call of Duty.

Riley Little

Poke-Passing On Consoles

The portable versions of Pokemon have always been a treat to fans, but the one thing that we’ve always wanted was a console version of our beloved franchise. Game Freak doesn’t seem to be nearly as gung ho though, and recently expressed their disinterest in working on a main Pokemon game for a Nintendo home console.

I was a little puzzled by Game Freak’s complete dedication to Nintendo handhelds, and even though their portable games are awesome you’d think that maybe they’d want to mix things up a bit and work on a different Nintendo console. Even if that isn’t the case, there is huge potential to reach out to console gamers and expanding the fan base by making a core Pokemon game for a Nintendo home console.

You can’t really blame Game Freak for not wanting to work on a game for the Wii in particular however, because the console is not powerful and is on its last legs (courtesy of the new Nintendo-made console en route). Fortunately, the Wii 2 is less than a month away from its big reveal, and with the promises of HD graphics, a traditional game controller (minus the touch screen), and presumably some significantly enhanced online, a main Pokemon game could work extremely well.

Jacob Siegal

The Waiting Game

As of last night, the PlayStation Network is officially back online throughout the United States, and PS3 gamers couldn’t be happier. This saga of frustration and anger has finally reached its conclusion… at least, for now.

There’s a saying that goes, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.” This is not the case in this specific instance. It is going to take months before the millions of unsatisfied and endangered consumers will be able to put real trust in Sony again. Hopefully the welcome back package is just the beginning of their efforts to get back on our collective good side.

It will be very interesting to see how many people decide to come back to the PSN, or if there will be a significant drop in the user base. No matter how much resentment gamers may hold toward Sony, it’s going to be hard to avoid jumping back online to start gaming again. Sony, don’t take advantage of this. Now more than ever, you need to show the wary public that you care about your customers for more than just your cut of their paychecks.

What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments, on Twitter @ GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant.