Decibel comparisons between the three successor consoles have given gamers all-powerful science to justify what they already know, namely that the Wii and PS3 are as quiet as little Johnny under a bed when he’s due for a whuppin’, and the 360 is constantly on the verge of taking off. Engadget reports that Microsoft has a partnership with the outrageously-hyphenated BenQ-LiteOn-Philips to produce new, quieter, and faster drives. These drives aren’t offered as replacements for current owners (though I’m sure a little warranty-voiding wouldn’t get in your way) but instead are being included in new consoles. In fact, the given value of "new" is somewhere around "since November," according to some consumer reports.

Rockstar Games has made a glorious announcement to combat the charming goodwill of the Grand Theft Auto themed SuperBowl Coke commercial: their paean to sadism, Manhunt, is getting a sequel. While that news makes me tremble a bit in my garters — I loved the style and narrative of the first — what’s surprising is the list of consoles it’s currently slated to appear on. It’s coming to the PSP, the PS2 (still kicking like Mr. Hands!) and the Wii. Looks like Nintendo’s not at all concerned about shaking the kiddie stigma early on in the game this generation. Expect a chorus of outraged individuals to strike up their poorly-composed song in the coming months, possessing no understanding of the phrase "target audience." Discuss in our Wii forum thread, and check out the trailer from the official site!

Kotaku posted a link this morning to a marvelous resource: The Ultimate Console Database. In its hallowed halls you will be able to find specifications, write-ups, and pictures of more than 600 game-playing devices. Have you ever wanted to be the insufferable know-it-all whose every utterance lost you friends? You already are! Now you can be even more.

Jeff Minter, the game developer behind Llamasoft and general mammal-phile, has posted on his blog that his upcoming shoot-em-up Space Giraffe is nearing completion, with an alpha build expect to be released to Microsoft in the coming week. Space Giraffe is going to be an Xbox Live Arcade title — pending MS approval — which means that you may end up seeing it some time. (I’ve got no other qualifications I can put on that.) Minter is an old soul in the developing world, and a man whose imitations are generally perceived as the sincerest forms of flattery. You can expect Space Giraffe to feature familiar, but highly-tuned, gameplay.

Tekken or Virtua Fighter? The PS3 is receiving a significant boost with the release of Virtua Fighter 5, on which I have spent my drool but not yet my dollars. The game is getting high marks across the board, with particular attention paid to the latest iteration of the deep fighting system and the graphics (which is kind of like me saying that I paid attention to the plot and the characters in a given DVD release, but eh). Following in its heels, Tekken: Dark Resurrection is going to be making its way to the PS3’s North American online store in the coming weeks. The game was something of a revelation on the PSP, so let’s hope it makes a good transition to the stationary console. If it does, then fighting game enthusiasts will start making stupid posts on various messageboards about "wallets" and "unprovoked relations" and stuff. Tekken is expected to cost somewhere around the $20 US range.

The nominations for awards at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference have been announced. These are the accolades that come from people who exist professionally in the gaming world, and who pay attention to those elements which might be considered art. Mountain Dew is banned from the premises. The full press release is here, but for the reductionists among you: Okami kicks ass, Oblivion managed to impress, and LocoRoco has the most adorable sound design this side of my niece.

Since the inception of Microsoft’s Gamerscore ranking system and Achievement points, people have been asking, "Where are my tangibles?" and also demanding to be rewarded for spending time in their hobby. Well, in a chicken-or-the-egg move, Microsoft has announced a gamer rewards program, beginning Febrary 12th. Live subscribers will have the opportunity to register with Microsoft, and after April 12th will be given swag (virtual and physical) in accordance with their Gamerscore. The whole thing makes very little sense, until you see that it’s a cross-promotion with Old Spice, which is what a person of indeterminate gender I’m acquainted with always seems to be wearing when s/he/it asks me to lunch.

This is just a fun bit of reading to leave you with. A while back, Engadget commissioned Ben Heckendorn (of the famed 360 laptop mod and more) to hack a Wii down into a laptop size. He did, and it was awesome, and now Engadget has just posted the third and final part of Ben’s step-by-step guide. Part 1 is here, followed by part 2, and part 3.