OCTOBER 2002 NEWS

October 30, 2002

    Games
    Some great news from Acclaim today as they have announced plans to publish Virtua Tennis 2, Virtua Cop: Elite Edition and Sega Bass Fishing Duel for PS2 in PAL territories. What is interesting is that this press release comes only days after strong rumours that Sega will start up their publishing division in Europe again soon - perhaps it is only rumour. Anyway, the press release pretty much sums up everything including release dates so here it is:

      Acclaim announces Co-Publishing agreement with Sega for Virtua Tennis 2, Virtua Cop: Elite Edition and Sega Bass Fishing Duel for PlayStation 2.

      Acclaim to bring three of Sega's classic hits to the PlayStation®2 in Europe.

      London, England (October 28, 2002) - Acclaim Entertainment (International), a division of Acclaim Entertainment, Inc, a worldwide interactive entertainment company, today announced that it has reached an agreement with Sega Corporation for the exclusive rights to publish Virtua Tennis 2, and Virtua Cop: Elite Edition on PlayStation 2 in Europe and Australia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Both Virtua Tennis 2 and Virtua Cop: Elite Edition are due for release in November.

      "We're very excited about this new agreement with Sega. These are great titles, proven arcade hits and they were all developed by Sega's own studios, which rank among the finest in the world. Individually they have garnered much praise from the world's gaming press and we're certain that PlayStation 2 gamers are going to be thrilled at the prospect of being able to play them on their own consoles soon." said Acclaim International President, COO Rod Cousens. "We are honoured to be the company Sega trusts to bring these coveted licenses to the PlayStation 2."

      Virtua Tennis first appeared in the arcades in 1999 and made its first home console appearance on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. It swiftly established itself as one of the best and most popular arcade tennis games of all time. The sequel, Virtua Tennis 2 improves on every element of the game and is packed full of extra features. Players can now serve, smash and lob their way past 16 top-ranked international male and female players, going head to head in singles matches or competing with up to 4 players in doubles and mixed-doubles matches. Featuring completely revamped Tournament, Exhibition and World Tour modes it's game, set and match for Virtua Tennis 2.

      Developed by SEGA-AM2, Virtua Cop was released on the Sega Saturn in November 1995 almost one year after its arcade debut. In the arcades it brought game fans what is still regarded today as one of the best gun shooters ever. With its stunning graphics and lightening-quick gameplay on the Sega Saturn it replicated its enormous success on to the home console. Its sequel, Virtua Cop 2 was released in November 1996 and surpassed the original with stunning gameplay and amazing graphics. In addition character animations were vastly improved and the entire environments became interactive, allowing the player to blast bottles, windows, lighting fixtures, fruit, almost anything. Virtua Cop - Elite Edition brings a huge amount of firepower and gameplay to PlayStation 2. Featuring over 15 stages through 6 different levels, a 2-player cooperative mode, training mode, gallery, and a high score ranking table, it will surely regain its crown as king of the shooters.

      Virtua Tennis 2 and Virtua Cop: Elite Edition will be released for PlayStation 2 in November 2002 with retail prices to be confirmed.

October 28, 2002

    Companies
    Following the failure of the Dreamcast Sega virtually disbanded their publishing arm in Europe with most titles published by Sony or Infogrames. Now hoever word is circulating that Sega are considering hiring 30 people to re-create their publishing division accross the territory. Expect more news at a later date.

    Games
    While there are some questions remaining as to if SCEE's The Getaway will make it out in time for Christmas (Sony still have the game set for December 6th), Team Soho have announced plans for an expansion pack containing an extra 12 missions (the full game has 24 missions in total), as well as a full blown sequel. The expansion pack should be released around a year after the first game while the sequel will be a couple of years away. At least the company has a lot of hope for the series which has cost almost $AU20 million to develop.

    Sega have announced that World Series Baseball 2K3 will be coming to Playstation 2 in March 2003 in America. This is the first time the series has hit Playstation 2 as the WSB2K2 was an XBox exclusive. Unfortunately there is little chance of the game hitting Australia.

    Developers
    In what can only be regarded as a fantastic move by the Victorian government $AU250,000 has been allocated to purchasting Playstation 2 development kits for small start up developers. At a cost of about $AU20,000 each 5 small developers will each receive two Playstation 2 kits. The developers include Tantalus Interactive, Lucid Software, Bullant Studios, Hemicube and That Game. The Game Developers Association who set up the deal is now looking at expanding it to other states. More details can be found in this and this article on Australian IT.

    Review
    Burnout 2: Point of Impact is the game that the original could have been. Better graphics, more game modes and more excitement make this game a must have. If you like your fast arcade styled racing then this is the game for you. Check out the review now.

October 25, 2002

    Forums
    A reminder to everyone to enjoy the Forums on Future Gamez which now has almost 3,300 posts. Want to discuss today's news? Want to talk about the games you're playing? Got anything to say or ask? Click here to go to the forums and post a message.

    Games
    Some news today from Eidos that they have delayed the release of Tomb Raider:Angel of Darkness from November to February 7, 2003. The game is currently in the final stages of testing and bug removal but needed a little more time before completion.

    Eidos has also confirmed that their soccer simulation, Championship Manager 4, has also been delayed until February 2003. It is unclear if this title will actually be released in Australia.

    A couple of release date changes for Electronic Arts games today. SHOX has been given a release date of March 25, 2003, much later then expected given its delay so close to release. The second game to be delayed from a December release is Star Wars: Clone Wars which won't hit the shelves until January 17, 2003.

    Personal
    Sorry about the lack of updates over the last week or so. I've been battling a shocking virus which had me in bed for almost a week, and at the same time have two massive university assignments due next week. The site will be updated over the next week, but not as frequently as normal. Fortunately it's been a pretty quiet couple of weeks. In the coming days you can look forward to reviews of Burnout 2: Point of Impact and NHL 2003.

    Rumour
    Most of you have been getting the rumour correct. The clues are a little too easy, but I still can't announce anything yet. For those who are guessing incorrectly I can tell you to have another look at what the WILD bird was saying, and it's nothing to do with online gaming here. Speaking of which...

October 22, 2002

    XBox Gone In Oz?
    It could be that within months there may only be two consoles remaining in Australia, and it's not due to slow sales. According to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer the company may stop selling the XBox after a man selling mod chips won his court case a couple of months ago which effectively ruled that mod chips aren't illegal. Now this may seem like a pretty harsh move from Microsoft, especially considering the company originally touted that the XBox would have no regional lock, but changed their minds only months from release. Certainly statements such as this won't help Microsoft in Australia if customers are concerned about the system being pulled off the shelves. Microsoft are currently trying to get laws introduced to outlaw mod chips. More power to Sony and Nintendo.

    Rumour
    Well it must be turning into a wildlife sanctuary where I am, yet another WILD bird that speaks broken English dropped in with some interesting news. Apparently while flying near an ARMy base he heard that a major Sony game will now be released by a 3rd party publisher. There will be a lengthy wait however, with the RPG not expected until early next year. Lets see if more of you get this right by e-mailing me your guesses here.

    Games
    Capcom have announced some release dates for their games in Europe, and therefor Australia. First is Auto Modellista which is set for release on November 29 in Europe. This was previously known but what is new is the release date for Devil May Cry 2 which will be released in Europe on March 21, 2003. In a great decision both games will include a 60Hz mode. Hoo-ray!

    Review
    Madden NFL 2003 may not be everyone's idea of an interesting sport, but there is no doubt that this game series is among the best in the world. Sadly the PAL game doesn't include online gameplay however there are many other improvements that makes this game an essential purchase, even for owners of last years version. Check out the review now.

October 17, 2002

    Games
    Following on from yesterdays news that BMX XXX has been banned in Australia here is an official and rather brief statement from Acclaim regarding the matter.

      ACCLAIM ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES THAT BMX XXX WILL NOT BE RELEASED IN AUSTRALIA

      SOUTH MELBOURNE, VIC, October 17, 2002 - Acclaim Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: AKLM) announce today that its title BMX XXX originally planned for release late November, has been refused classification by the OFLC and will subsequently not be released in Australia. Acclaim are still very buoyant about its remaining key releases for the pre-Christmas period which include AFL Live 2003 for Xbox on 31st October; Haven Call of the King (from Midway) on the 22nd of November and Legends of Wrestling 2 in early December.

    Review
    The Thing is one of those rare games where you expect nothing from it but find out it is one of the most enjoyable titles to be released on the system. This game adds a twist to the survival horror genre in that it allows you to create a squad to help you find out what has happened at the Antartic base in the movie. This game is pure excitement from beginning to end. Check out the review now.

October 16, 2002

    Games
    Well some of you took some pretty wild guesses at what Big Mr X was getting at the other day, with many guessing the cancellation of online gaming in PAL territories. Fortunately it's not as bad as that. However, what I can now confirm is that Acclaim's BMX XXX has been refused classification (which essentially bans sale of the game) in Australia by the Office of Film and Literature Classification Board due to excessive sexual content and language. Unfortunately, due to the drastic cuts that would have to be made to the game, Acclaim will no longer be releasing the title in Australia. In America several retailers including Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and KB Toys are refusing to stock the game. Well a bit of controversy never hurt anyone and I expect this to be one of the biggest games this year. Time to ring that importer.

    Vivendi have confirmed that their highly anticipated platform game, Malice will not be released until after New Year. The game is currently in development at Argonaut and was scheduled for a November release.

    Acclaim have confirmed a couple more games for release in Australia. First up is NHL Hitz 20-03 which will hit the streets on November 7th. Two weeks later Acclaim will release Midway's Haven: Call Of The King followed by ATV Quad Power Racing 2 on November 30th. Finally, and the game which will have many excited, myself included, Acclaim will be distributing Midway's Defender on December 5th.

    Activision have confirmed that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 has gone gold and is in production. The game will hit the shelves in November.

    Review
    It's been a while coming but the review of AFL Live 2003 is on Future Gamez now. This isn't the best sport game on the Playstation 2, far from it, but it is the best AFL game ever and fans of the Australian sport will love this game. Check out the complete review of this highly anticipated title now.

    Preview
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is one of the most technically accomplished soldier simulations on PC. The Playstation 2 game includes the original PC game as well as the add-on pack and promises plenty of excitement. Check out the preview for all the detail and latest screens prior to the late November release.

October 13, 2002

    Games
    According to reports beginning to surface Grand Theft Auto: Vice City looks like following the fate of the previous game in the series by being forced to undergo changes before being released in Australia. Apparently the game contains scenes in a strip club and sex in one of the cut scenes which have to be altered. This will likely cause a delay to the game, but only by a couple of weeks with a November release now likely. At the time of writing I was unable to get in contact with the Australian distributors.

    Rumour
    Today a chirpy little bird, let's call him Big Mr X, dropped into the office today with some disturbing news. Apparently there may be a major disappointment about to be announced for Playstation 2 fans in Australia, and no, it's not the news about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City above. Sadly Mr X had a sore throat and couldn't tell me what it was about but rest assured the news should break this week. Drop me and e-mail to this address to tell me what you think it is.

    Hardware Sales
    According to this article on Australian IT the Playstation 2 is still easily outselling the Gamecube and XBox, despite the Gamecube being boosted with the release of Mario Sunshine, easily the systems biggest release this year. Here's the breakdown of last weeks hardware sales:

      Playstation 2: 7,462
      Gamecube: 2,503 (up from 818 the week before Mario Sunshine launch)
      XBox: 2,409

    Review
    Tekken 4 is a true sequel to Tekken 3 on the PSOne. While Tekken Tag Tournament has kept fans of the series happy on Playstation 2 to date the horrific PAL conversion didn't win Namco or Sony any fans. Fortunately this game is a brilliant conversion from NTSC. But how well does the gameplay stack up? Read the review to find out.

October 11, 2002

    Games
    LucasArts have announced that they have completed work on Star Wars: Clone Wars with the game going gold. America will see release of the title on October 29th with the Australian release currently set for December 5th.

    Sega's AM2 division has announced a new Playstation 2 exclusive title. Called The King of Route 66 the game sees you behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler truck in a race from Illinois to California. The game is currently scheduled for release in Japan in March 2003 with and American and PAL release expected mid year.

    Vivendi have announced the Rebellion's Judge Dredd vs. Judge Death will be release on the Playstation 2 and PC in the second half of 2003. The game is a First Person Shooter where you play the part of Judge Dredd who is hunting his arch nemesis Judge Death.

    Japanese gamers will be disappointed to learn that Enix has delayed the release of the highly anticipated Star Ocean 3 from November 28 to March 2003 in Japan. The delay has simply been put down to more development time being required to bring the game up to acceptable standards.

    Electronic Arts have announced the track list which will appear on FIFA 2003 which is due for release in a couple of weeks time. Here's the music you'll be listening to:

      To Get Down (Fatboy Slim Remix) - Timo Maas
      In My Mind - Antiloop
      Jumpin' to the Moon (Unexplored Field Mix) - A.Mia
      Hide U - Kosheen
      Pride - Kosheen
      Real Fonky Time - Dax Riders
      Dy-Na-Mi-Tee - Ms. Dynamite
      Played a Live (The Bongo Song) - Safri Duo
      Bigger and Better - Spotrunnaz
      Independent - Sportfreunde Stiller
      You Held the World in Your Arms - Idlewild
      Complicated (Pablo La Rossa Vocal Mix) - Avril Lavigne
      Drivin - Bedroom Rockers
      Force - D.O.G.

    Preview
    Gungrave is a shooter developed by Red Entertainment and to be published in Australia by Activision. With some terrific graphics and intense gameplay this game will keep shooters quite happy. The game is currently expected to be released in mid November. Check out the preview with screens and info now.

October 9, 2002

    Games
    Those of you worried about the delay of EA's arcade styled rally game SHOX can relax a little easier. According to EA Australia "As for Shox nothing to be worried about, the release date has just slipped further that's all.". So the game is still coming, although there isn't a new release date as yet.

    THQ and Volition have confirmed that they have completed development of Red Faction 2 which will be released in America on October 16th, slightly earlier then expected. Australian gamers will have to wait until November 22nd to play the most anticipated shooter of the year.

    Capcom America have confirmed that Auto Modellista has been delayed until January over in America to allow more time to re-work the networking code. This delay is unlikely to cause a delay to the PAL version, which is due on November 29 due to the online component being removed in our version.

    Sales
    Bloomberg are reporting sales in Japan for the first half of the new financial year (April 2 - September 29). The Playstation 1 and 2 has a massive 82% of the market with the other 18% split between the Gamecube (14%) and XBox (4%). Here are the official sales figures for each console during the 6-month period:

      PlayStation 2 - 1,620,000
      GameCube - 303,800
      PSone - 110,000
      Xbox - 89,000

    Release Schedule
    Just a note to let you all know that I have done a major update to the Australian release schedule and Preview Page with the latest dates. As we are getting closer to Christmas more titles are being locked into their final dates, although several games have been delayed until January or later including The Sims (January 13), Primal (January), and Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (March 3).

    Preview
    Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has just been delayed until 03/03/03 (cool date eh!) but the company has just released some new screens and info showing just how great this title will be. With an extra 6 months to polish off the game this now looks certain to become one of the great platform games. Check out the preview now.

    Preview
    Star Wars: The Clone Wars is yet another game from LucasArts. This game, which is being developed by Pandemic, actually follows the events of The Clone Wars which take place between Episode II and Episode III in the cinemas. With some great visuals and solid gameplay this will be a winner. Check out the latest screens and info now.

October 6, 2002

    Games
    Electronic Arts have surprisingly delayed SHOX until a date To Be Determined only weeks before release. I have been unable to reach EA Australia for comment on the situation to date, but will report back the reasons as soon as possible.

    Review
    Dino Stalker is Capcom's most recent entry to the PS2 light gun game market. While it still uses the light gun for shooting the game has an added twist in that rather then being on rails you can use the D-Pad on the light gun to move around within the levels. Unlike most other light gun games the developers have put a little bit of an effort into the storyline as well. Check out the review now.

October 3, 2002

    Games
    Sega have confirmed that the first games to be re-developed by the 3D-AGES company announced yesterday will be Monaco GP and Fantasy Zone. No specifics were given as to which version of the games will be developed for Playstation 2, or if there will be any improvements over the original. Another thing which I neglected to mention yesterday is that 3D-AGES will also look at brining some of D3's Simple 2000 series of games to America and Europe under the label as well.

    Eidos has confirmed that Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has gone gold making it's release certain for the next couple of weeks. The game is due out in Australia on October 18th.

    Black Label Games has signed a deal with Mirimax to develop PC and console games based on Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie Kill Bill. The game, to be published by Vivendi Universal. Although the movie starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Lucy Liu will be released in cinemas in October 2003, the game isn't expected until 2004 to coincide with the DVD release.

    Speaking of Shinobi yesterday news has just come in that the game will be released in Europe through SCEE (Sony). Sega titles are all being negotiated for release separately as the company isn't tied in with one distributor in the region. Apparently Sony Europe will be making an announcement next week about the title, and a release date.

    Rumours are growing that the Argonaut developed, Vivendi Universal published platformer Malice will be delayed from November to early 2003. Apparently the XBox version has a poor frame rate which must be fixed prior to release on all systems. Expect an announcement of a delay, if there is to be one, in a couple of weeks time.

    Review
    UFC: Throwdown is the first game in this series to make it to Playstation 2. This is the most brutal, and fun, fighting game ever seen on a console. In the game you can pit different fighting styles together from a list of almost 30 real-life fighters. This isn't for those against contact sports, but it's certainly worth a look. Check out the review now.

October 2, 2002

    Games
    Sega and D3 have announced a joint venture company to be called 3D-AGES Inc. Each company has invested 10 million yen capital (about $AU1.5 million) with Sega taking a 51% controlling stake and D3 a 49% stake in the company. What is so exciting is that the company will release a series of low priced classic Sega games for Playstation 2, similar to D3's Simple 2000 series in Japan. The company is aiming to release 15 titles during 2003 with the first expected in Q'2 2003. One of the best things, however, is that the company are planning to release the games not only in Japan, but also in North America and Europe making an Australian release likely. As yet no titles have been announced.

    Sega Overworks have confirmed that their upcoming action game Shinobi will include around 20 hours of game time, but to fully explore and discover everything the game will take around 50 hours. That's extremely impressive for an action game such as this. The Japanese release is set for December 5th, and as yet there is no PAL date for the game.

    I put up the preview only yesterday but news has come through that Eidos' highly anticipated TimeSplitters 2 has been delayed a week from October 18th to October 25th.

    Preview
    TimeSplitters 2 looks like becoming the best FPS of 2002. Some awesome graphics and spectacular characters make this game quite unique. As mentioned above the game has just been pushed back to October 25 so you have another week to save for this must have title. This preview includes the latest details and screens. Check it out now.

October 1, 2002

    Games
    There has been some minor delays to some Electronic Arts games. Madden NFL 2003 will now be released this week, NHL 2003 has been pushed back to October 11th, while SHOX has been pushed back to October 18th.

    A couple of highly anticipated games hit the shelves last week. The first was Sega's impressive racing game Ferrari F355 Challenge and Lethal Skies from THQ/Sammy.

    Companies
    According to Bloomberg Capcom are about to post a loss of 105 million Euro for the current fiscal year ending march 2003. This is a massive blow for the company which has some of the strongest franchises in the industry. The big news is that according to C&VG Microsoft is apparently looking at buying the company. It will certainly cost a lot more then Rare, but would be a massive blow to Sony and Nintendo. This could be the biggest shake-up in the industry since Sega exited the hardware business.

    Sales
    Sales figures for the month of August in America have been released and it's looking very rosy for Sony and the Playstation 2 outselling the XBox and Gamecube around 3:1. Here's the figures
    PlayStation 2 - 454,000 units
    GameBoy Advance - 158,000 units
    Xbox - 137,000 units
    GameCube - 128,000 units

    Review
    V8 Supercars Australia has been the quickest selling Playstation 2 game in Australia since it's release with over 25,000 copies sold in the first 2 weeks. The Australian V8 cars aren't the only ones in the game with 13 championships on offer. Can the game live up to the tremendous hype which it has received? Read the review to find out.


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