APRIL 2002 NEWS
April 29, 2002
Well a couple of days ago I said that Interplay were looking to offload Shiny Entertainment and that the Matrix games were in doubt. Well news has just come through that Infogrames has bought the development studio for $US47 ($AU85) million dollars. The deal, which should be in stone within days gives Infogrames the rights to develop games based on the upcoming Matrix movies as well, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Although rumoured Electronic Arts has confirmed that Aliens Colonial Marines has not been cancelled. At this stage the game is still due out in November. The game was originally slated to be released early this year.
UbiSoft have announced that their upcoming action game, Splinter Cell is coming to Playstation 2. The game should be release on PC and XBox this year before a PS2 release in 2003.
Speaking of Electronic Arts they have announced their latest release dates for PS2 games in Australia to be released until the end of November. Remember that these are shipping dates and as such the games won't hit retail until a couple of days later. Also because these dates are so distant they are likley to change. Anyway here we go:
- 17th May - Tiger USA Tour 2002
- 31st May - F1 2002, Medal of Honor Frontline
- 19th July - Freekstyle
- 16th August - Simpsons Skateboarding
- 30th August - Need For Speed Hot Persuit 2
- 6th September - Gladiator Wrestling
- 20th September - Shox, NHL 2003
- 1st November - NBA Live 2003
- 5th November - Delta Force Land Warrior
- 8th November - Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets
- 15th November - Lord Of The Rings
- 22nd November - Aliens Colonial Marines
Sony has announced that it will surpass it's consolidates operating profit projections this year. PS2 and PSone hardware shipments in fiscal year 2001 amounted to 20.14 million and 8.25 million euros profit respectively, while software shipments amassed 135.77 million and 101.46 million euros. Sony is projecting shipments of PS2 units worldwide for the fiscal year (April 2002 to March 2003) of 20 million (1.67 million per month), according to a report on Bloomberg.
Yet another yearly update from Electronic Arts but this game involves a completly new game engine and all new style. It's definitely an improvement. Check out the review of Knockout Kings 2002 now.
Lack of Updates
Sorry about the lack of updates over the last couple of days but I have been flat out with Uni Assignments and will be for a couple of weeks yet. After I completed the last batch on Wednesday I was struck down with a bad flu. I've been in bed most of the weekend but managed to do this update and a review of Knockout Kings 2002. Hopefully I'll load up on drugs and be back to normal in a couple of days, but you're not missing much as most companies have pretty much closed the information channels in the lead-up to E3.
April 23, 2002
Gamecube Price Drop, Already?
Well if this isn't a bloody sign of determination, or panic. Nintendo have already dropped the price of the Gamecube, which is still to be released. The company was expecting to sell the system for $AU399 on the May 17 launch but has now lowered the RRP to $AU329. In Europe, which launches on May 3 the system has dropped from £169 to £129. Surely that's the first time a Nintendo system has dropped before it's launch and is obviously a reaction to Microsoft's dramatic 40% cut to take effect this Friday. Click here for more details. Well Sony? What next for the Playstation 2?
Could this be a shrewd move by Sony. For no apparent reason Codemasters have confirmed that the European XBox version of TOCA, or V8 Supercars Australia as it will be known in Australia, has been delayed by at least 6 months. This means that the PC and Playstation 2 versions will appear in June with Microsoft owners having to wait until 2003. The game, called Pro Race Driver in America will still be released there in June alongside the PS2/PC versions.
Tecmo have announced plans to resurrect their classic Rygar series. The game appeared way back in the NES/Lynx days where you played a Conan styled warrior battling through the levels. The game is apparently being inspired by Ridley Scott's Gladiator movie, and is set to hit the PS2 toward the end of 2002 or early 2003.
At the Playstation 2 launch Dynasty Warriors 2 was quite a hit. Now the sequel is available. Check out the review of Dynasty Warriors 3 now.
April 20, 2002
XBox Price Drop
At long last Microsft have bave admitted that the XBox is underperforming. As from April 26th the console, which sold for $AU649, will be dropped in price to $AU399. Customers who already splashed out on the console - shame on you to start with - will be send two games and a controller for free. You can read more about the price drop on the official site at this location. As an interesing side note for the first week of April in Japan the PSOne out sold the XBox 3,959 units to 3,427.
Australia isn't the only country to benefit with Europe also receiving a price cut from £299 to £199. No word yet on a price cut for Japan where, as mentioned above, the system is pretty much already "dead". Likewise America is still retaining it's price, while sales there remain fairly strong.
I guess the next logical question is "What about Sony?". Well at this stage there are no signs of a price drop announcement but now that the XBox is around the same price Sony will have to keep a close eye on their sales.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe have annoucend a new platform game called Rachet & Crank. The game is being developed by Insomniac Games, the same team that designed Spyro The Dragon on PSOne. Rachet & Crank will include massive levels, no load times and gorgeous graphics. The game sees you take controls of the furry space mechanic Ratchet and his refugee robot buddy Clank, who rides around on Rachet's back sprouting useful mechanical appendages, like the helipack. The game is currently expected to be released by Christmas.
Konami have announced Silent Scope 3 for Playstation 2 to be released (in Japan at least) by the end of the year. This time the company is promising brancing paths that all lead to different endings depending on your performance.
Acclaim has announced a 75% increase in Net revenues compared to the previosu year. Sales have been helped by strong titles such as All-Star Baseball 2003 which hit multiple platforms early this year. (That game is only weeks away in Australia). The company also detailed it's future plans including 17 PlayStation 2 titles, 14 GameCube titles and 18 Xbox titles, along with 13 GameBoy Advance games. Sadly their flagship platform title, Vexx has slipped into early 2003. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 is also slated for early 2003. Turok: Evolution and Aggressive Inline are both still expected in late 2002.
Although THQ has just bought out Rainbow Studios the company has several games in development for other publishers that will keep them busy until 2003. The company is working on games such as Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2, ATV Offroad Fury 2 and Splashdown 2.
April 17, 2002
According to reports sufacing in California LucasArts are about to announce a new Star Wars based game for Playstation 2. We already know that Bounty Hunter, which focuses on Jango Fett, is in the works but this game is said to be another title. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that the game will be an action/adventure title which follows the plot of the movie closely, much like The Phantom Menace game released in 1999. Expect more at E3.
Level 5, a development team in Japan, have confirmed they are working on Dark Cloud 2, a sequel to the superb Dark Cloud which sold fewer copies then it deserved to. No word yet on release dates or game details.
Konami Japan has confirmed that they are going to port Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams back to the Playstation 2. This slightly upgraded game was released on the XBox and at this stage will only be released in Japan (on July 4th), but it's possible, although unlikely, that it may be released in America and Europe eventually due to high sales of the original in these territories. Fingers crossed.
According to rumours and early retailer release dates Wipeout Fusion will be released in America through BAM! Entertainment on May 17th. Not too much longer to go now. In an interesting move Australia actually received the game in December 2001, even several months before the rest of Europe!
Sony have once again confirmed that they are planning on releasing Gran Turismo 4 in Japan in late 2003. Given the lengthy translation period for Gran Turismo 3 American and PAL gamers will likely be waiting until 2004. Fortunately Gran Turismo: Concept is still coming out in Australia sometime in June.
Interplay have confirmed reports that they are currently in negotiations to sell off Shiny Entertainment. The company has had a string of hits including MDK2, Messiah and Sacrifice but most interestingly they are currently working on a game based on The Matrix for Interplay. Exactly how this will fit into the deal remains unknown. Expect to hear more about this sale very soon if all proceeds well.
I have added a preview to Infogrames impressive looking racing game V-Rally 3. The game is due out on June 28. Check it out.
April 14, 2002
According to IGN Sony America are hard at work on a new "Conan-like, Disney-style beat-'em-up" called The Mark of Kri. Little is know about the game although it will be a 3D action arcade style game which focuses on a man name Rau and his bird (the ones with feathers) called Kuzo. The game is expected in mid 2002 and should be unveiled at the E3 show in a months time.
According to a report from EGM in America Capcom Digital Studios' director of R&D, David Siller, has confirmed that Maximo 2 is in development. The game will be similar in style but will include more "user friendly" camera angles, more game time for the Grim Reaper and more gameplay elements. As yet the game is still a long way off with Capcom not even planning to announce the title at the E3 show next month. Remember that the original Maximo: Ghosts to Glory was announced at last years E3, about 9 months prior to release.
Well, rumours are persisting that Rare may be going multi-platform. The latest news is that Activision may be trying to buy the developers and allow them to develop on whatever ssytems they want. Of course the Nintendo second party developer waon't come cheap, especially considering the company owns the rights to many seemingly "Nintendo exclusive" brands such as Perfect Dark and Star Fox Adventures. This rumour started circulating last Christmas with Rare sending out Christmas Cards showing a Christmas tree with many systems wrapped up in christmas paper including XBox and Playstation 2.
Batman: Dark Tomorrow which was going to be an exclusive Gamecube title will now also be hitting the Playstation 2 and XBox. The game hasn't been seen much yet but is expected to be released in late 2002.
According to reports from Japan it now looks like Soul Calibur 2 is set for release in August. Expect the PAL release around Christmas.
I have added a preview to SCI's impressive looking squad based combat game Conflict Desert Storm. The game is due out in June and could be a good one for action fans. Check it out.
April 10, 2002
Well once again it looks like PAL gamers are in for a treat. With a release of May 31 Final Fantasy X will include not only the International version of the game which includes some additions including new quests but also a bonus disc full of extras. While still to be confirmed for Australia, but highly likely given that almost every game is identical to Europe, this looks like another reason to wait for the official PAL release. Here's what to expect on the bonus DVD:
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within original theatrical trailer
Final Fantasy History (V through to IX with preview of FFX footage)
Final Fantasy X trailer 1 (FMV + gameplay)
Final Fantasy X trailer 2 (FMV + gameplay)
Kingdom Hearts Tokyo Game Show 2001 preview (FMV + gameplay)
Kingdom Hearts E3 2002 Preview (FMV + gameplay)
Interviews with the development team:
Producer - Yoshinori Kitase
Character Designer - Tetsuya Nomura
Event Director - Motomu Toriyama
Battle Director - Toshiro Tsuchida
Scenario Writer - Kazushige Nojima
Sound Producer - Nobuo Uematsu
Executive Producer - Hironobu Sakaguchi
Interviews with voice actors:
James Arnold Taylor (Tidus)
Hedy Burress (Yuna)
Yoshitaka Amano profile
Storyboards, 16 Image boards (original character design, original background design, concept art)
FFX Theme song 'Suteki da ne' promotional music video featuring Japanese pop star Rikki
Sony have just announced that they are porting their Massive Multi-player RPG, Everquest to the Playstation 2. The PC versions is arguably the biggest online RPG and is currently expected to be released around Mid 2003. This will certainly be one of the most important games for Sony's online plans after the launch.
Sega fans looking forward to a port of the stunning Dreamcast game, Skies of Arcadia are going to have to wait quite a while longer. Expected to be released in the latter half of this year to coincide with the Gamecube port, Sega have just announced a delay for the PS2 version until March 2003 at the earliest. No reason has been given for the delay.
I guess to makeup somewhat rumour is starting to grow that Sega are porting Virtua Cop 1 & 2 to the PS2 as a bundle. This is yet to be confirmed but sources are looking at a possibly August release in America. It's possbly, especially more so give the co-development of Vampire Night with Namco, that the games may be compatible with the Gun-Con 2 guns.
Today a review of one of the most exciting games on Playstation 2 to date, ICO. What can be said about this game? Five words. Exciting, Atmospheric, Stylish, Engrossing and Stunning. Get the picture yet?
April 7, 2002
Well Rockstar have just denied that there is a new Grand Theft Auto game called Grand Theft Auto: Vice. The games name appeared on Gamestop.com last week but has been removed. IGN received this statement from Rockstar about the game's appearance:
"Grand Theft Auto III is already the best selling ps2 game to date, and is heading up the all-time game chart at a frightening rate and it shows no sign of slowing down, it is still selling incredibly well, so I guess it's no surprise that people are interested in what's coming next, but keeping up with the rumour mill is proving impossible! Unfortunately the info on GameStop.com was incorrect and has been removed, but that said...we are really glad people are excited, and we are still humbled by the response the game has received."
What I can tell you is that there is a new game now listed on Take 2's Australian release schedule called Grand Theft Auto 3: VC which is scheduled for release in November. Is VC short for something (I would doubt Vatican City somehow) or is that the name? Time will tell but we can expect more at this years E3 show in a months time.
Capcom have confirmed the America release date for Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny. The sequel to last years smash hit will be release on August 27. While there is no release date for the PAL version with Capcom's track record of lengthy conversions, although I can't see why it takes so long with borders and no 60Hz mode included, we shouldn't expect it before about October-November at the earliest.
Some good and bad news today from the one story. The good news is that THQ have bought talented developers Outrage Entertainment, the makers of the Descent series on PC, which guarantees their financial stability in coming years. The company is now working on a new action title for PS2. The bad news is that work on their current Playstation 2 project, Rubu Tribe has ceased. Interplay apparently tried to shop the game to other developers but it was not picked up. The following was placed on the official web site today:
RUBU TRIBE PROJECT CANCELLED
Rubu Tribe has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control. We greatly appreciate the enthusiasm and encouragement during the development of the product. Although we’ve had to cancel Rubu Tribe, the Outrage teams are already hard at work on several other projects that will be announced soon.
Sticking with Interplay for the moment the company has confirmed that development of Star Trek: Shattered Universe has ceased. Apparently the declining popularity of the original Star Trek series has forced the company to stop development fearing losses.
I have updated the preview today to Codemasters impressive, and very original looking game, Prisoner Of War. This is going to be one game to keep an eye on in the lead up to a June release.
April 6, 2002
Sony Australia have just confirmed the latest batch of release dates. Some of these games are slightly different to the European dates posted on March 28. Lilo and Stich, for example, will be released in Australia in September to coincide with the movie release. Here are the dates;
April 5 - Parappa the Rapper 2
April 26 - Draken 2
May 10 - Virtua Fighter 4
May 31 - Final Fantasy X
June* - Vampire Night
June - Frequency, Smash Court Tennis, Gran Turismo Concept
September - Lilo & Stich, Space Channel 5 V2
*Note: Vampire Night will also be delayed until June in Europe.
According to reports on the web Studio 33 is currently developing Destruction Derby 4. Reflections, the developers of the earlier games, have been busy working on the Driver and Stuntman. As yet there are no details or expected release dates for Destruction Derby 4 but the game is most welcome.
According to reports Activision have snapped up the rights to Steven Spielberg's latest movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise. While the movie is to be released mid year in America the game will likely be several months behind with a PS2 port likely. Expect confirmation at the E3 show, or earlier.
Konami has confirmed that they are declining to renew their ESPN sports license. Personally I think this is a good move as Konami's ESPN titles are usually poorly received and are generally seen as the worst the company has to offer. The games currently in development will be completed before Konami moves the development teams onto other games.
Today I have added a review of Namco's MotoGP 2. It's taken a while to get the review up, but that isn't any indication of reluctance to play the game at all. In fact this is the best motorbike racing game on the Playstation 2 with more options and tracks then last years impressive game.
While talking about reviews some of you may have noticed some slight changes to the details at the top of the review page. From now on I have removed the Price and Online Gameplay categories due to the fact that almost all games released are $99.95 and there are no online games, and won't be for some time. These have been replaced with the Widescreen Mode and Sound Format categories which will be much more useful to the majority of people.
April 4, 2002
In a press release today Sony, Eidos Interactive and Core Design have confirmed the latest Tomb Raider game. Titled Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness the game will be a Playstation 2 exclusive on consoles. Here is a section of the press release from Sony:
Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness to appear exclusively on PlayStation 2
Eidos Interactive announces that the new Tomb Raider game Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness will be exclusive to PlayStation 2 on the videogame console format. The game will be released on PlayStation 2 and PC on 15th November 2002.
Mike McGarvey, CEO of Eidos says: "Eidos is delighted to be bringing the icon of the PlayStation generation exclusively on to PlayStation 2. With the enormous success of the PlayStation brand, the continuing strong sales of PlayStation 2 and the combined marketing strength of Eidos and Sony, we are confident that Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness will be the biggest and best Tomb Raider game to date."
Chris Deering, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) says: "The combination of the original PlayStation and Tomb Raider was hugely successful and created a gaming phenomenon. With the adoption of PlayStation 2 growing three times as quickly as the original PlayStation and with well over 6 million PS2 owners in Europe, the Tomb Raider phenomenon is set to go from strength to strength."
Here is a section of the press release from Eidos:
Sydney, 26th March, 2002 - GameNation, Australia's premier source of interactive software, proudly announces the approach of 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness' for PlayStation 2 and PC. Published by Eidos Interactive and developed by Core Design, it is scheduled for release towards the end of 2002.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is classic Lara as both hunter and hunted relying on her ingenuity, athleticism and a new edge that has arisen from her dark inner demons. However, this time she faces more evolved characters and situations, calling for more involved decision-making. Lara now has the ability to interact with characters and the choice of which path to take. Upgrading her trademark style and look and dropping her into a bombshell scenario calls for a new resourcefulness making her a stronger and more complex heroine.
Adrian Smith, Operations Director at Core Design says, "Our vision is to take the player somewhere dark, a place they might not necessarily wish to go, but a place they will have to venture if they are to bring Lara back. Lara will have some tough moral choices to make. It's no longer a clear-cut case of good versus evil - this is a more complex tale, which will ask more complex questions of the player. It will be a new experience for people who have played Tomb Raider in the past."
Despite being released only a month ago on March 7th Capcom have announced that they have shipped 1 million units of Onimusha 2. To date the game has sold through 794,587 units with 125,264 units sold in the last week alone. The game is expected to be released in America and Europe in the latter part of 2002.
Sales for Virtua Fighter 4 in Japan are also impressive with sales just surpassing 500,000 units, a rare feat these days and a good boost for Sega with the game just hitting the shelves in America and the PAL release expected in early May.
Yet another preview today, this time for the recently announced Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness. This is a very impressive looking title, even at this early stage. Check out the preview for all the details and some of the latest screen shots.
April 2, 2002
Well I guess I should wish everyone a great April Fool's Day for yesterday. While some people picked up on yesterday's news story, some of you didn't. Oh they joys of some of running a web site like this and the e-mails I receive.
In a surprise announcement today Sega's AM2 division announced that they are porting the hit arcade and Dreamcast title, Ferrari F355 Challenge to the Playstation 2. This is a pure simulation of one of the most exclusive cars in the world and was a wonderful game. The game is currently expected to be released in late 2002.
I have added a preview to Acclaim's quite impressive looking Turok Evolution. Check out the preview now.
April 1, 2002
Well a big surprise today two major Japanese development companies have declared a merger which has stunning ramifications for the gaming industry. Today Namco and SquareSoft announced that they are merging into one company to be called NamcoSoft. The company will come into effect from July 1, 2002. What is concerning is that as a part of the deal the merged company will be focusing on very high end games and films only and have vowed to only develop for the best system or systems available. The press release stated that at the moment that only includes XBox and Gamecube. No more Namco or Square games on PS2? It's hard to believe, but it looks that way. Fortunately, this should only affect new developments and not games currently in development such as Final Fantasy XI and Tekken 4 which are expected this year. More news as it breaks.
Had to take down the poll for a day or so as the web service is having trouble creating the new one for me. Expect the new poll soon.
2001 E3 SHOW