DECEMBER 2002 NEWS

December 30, 2002

    2002 Future Gamez Awards: Part 1
    The 2002 Future Gamez Awards aim to highlight the best, and worst, of 2002 on the Playstation 2. This is the first part of the 2002 Future Gamez Awards which covers the worst game of 2002, the most original title, the best multi-player game, the best arcade port and more. The second part of the awards will be announced soon and will cover the different genres and best game of 2002.

    Want to join Future Gamez?
    As I mentioned in the Christmas Message a couple of days ago I will be looking for help, and in particular reviewers, to work on this site. If you think you have what it takes to become a reviewer please send me your details, and if you have a little time, perhaps a review that would suit this site to demonstrate your writing skills (which are hopefully better then mine!). You don't need to create actual html documents, as reviews will be submitted to me by text file or Word Document. I've already had several encouraging e-mails over the last couple of days and will be selecting at least one person early in the new year.

December 25, 2002

    Christmas Message
    As you can imagine, it's been frantic here over the last 2 weeks. Both The Getaway and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City were received a little later then expected, no doubt thanks to the post, which has meant major headaches trying to get reviews to you by Christmas, but it is done as today sees the posting of the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto: Vice City review. If you've already asked Santa for it - don't worry - it's a stunning game you won't be disappointed. If Santa hasn't remembered to get you a copy, you should head out on Boxing Day and pick it up - it's that good.

    Obviously running a web site such as Future Gamez predominantly by myself is a major task, and I will be looking for people next year to start contributing, in fact if you are interested drop me an e-mail. This year has been a phenomenal success for Playstation 2, although the XBox kicked back to life a little bit with Splinter Cell, although Santa has informed me that the Playstation 2 port of that game will include an extra level and should be out around March/April next year. The comparisons will be interesting.

    I really have to thank a lot of people for their support this year with the site. Without these people the web site would cease to be. Acclaim/Daniel Armstrong (BMX XXX - looking hot!), Activision/Kristy Sheppard, Electronic Arts/Burchin Ergin & Jamie McKinlay (still waiting/hoping for another Cricket title), Gamenation(Ozisoft)/Chris Eade (dude, you da man!), Interplay/Tony Reed (is there really an Interplay PS2 game coming out?), Red Ant/Ivone Servo (damn that e-mail still isn't going), Sony Australia/Anne Carroll & Caroline Squire (The Getaway was as good as you promised), Take 2 Interactive/David Powell & Leanne Pine (when's the next GTA coming?), THQ/Estelle Cleaver-Wilkinson, UbiSoft/Owen Hughes & Vera Shah, and finally Vivendi/Matthew Gain (I'm still enjoying The Thing - where's a sequel?).

    Of course the web site is not complete without you guys, the readers. Over the years I have come to know quite a few of you very well indeed. Knowing that you trust the reviews, the news and whatever else I put up there is so exciting for myself. Next year promises to be bigger and better - in amongst my own wedding in April!

    I leave you with the best Christmas wishes. I hope you all have a safe couple of days, and remember if you drink - have one for me... I will be taking a couple of days off over the Christmas/New Year break. If there's any major news it will go up but seeing as everyone is pretty much shut down the most you will get in the next week is perhaps a couple of reviews.

    Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and New Year,
    David Warner.

    Review
    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is easily the most anticipated title this Christmas. With around 5 million pre-orders worldwide Rockstar North had a lot of pressure to make this game better then last years stunning Grand Theft Auto III. Rather then take the easy road an just create a new set of missions the developers have opted to re-create an entirely new, and much improved, game. The results are amazing. Check out the review now, in case you needed any more convincing about this game.

    2-Line reviews...
    It's amazing how many games come in the post the week before Christmas. Delays in the post are killers, and unfortunately I haven't had time to play all these games enough to give you all an opinion. I mean do you really want reviews of these games or games like The Getaway and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? Not a hard choice is it? But then again some of these games are equally deserving. Here are some games that I haven't had time to get reviews out of yet... but below are some quick thoughts before the full reviews early next year.

    Alpine Racer 3: A solid racing game from Namco, but not up to the standards set by SSX Tricky. There's nothing fundamentally wrong, it just doesn't have the same gameplay. [Expected Score 65-75%]
    Disney Golf: My fiancee is a massive Disney fan, but even this game was too much for her. The physics engine is ok, the graphics cartoony, but the music and speech is very off-putting. Perhaps for the very young, but Tiger Woods 2003 is far superior. [Expected Score 50-65%]
    Monopoly Party: I never thought I'd say this - but this is a pretty good title. It's monopoly, but you can set every rule such as Free Parking, how many houses etc. Poor camera angles at times as you can't see who owns what during auctions, but a fun game in multi-player. [Expected Score 65-85%]
    NBA Live 2003: I haven't played the previous games, but this game is staggering. From the graphics, to sound to actual gameplay this one is definitely a winner. If you like basketball you could do a lot worse then this game. [Expected Score 80-90%]
    Spyro the Dragon: A fun platform game for fans of the originals. The camera angles and load times are the biggest problem but younger kids will likely get quite some enjoyment. [Expected Score 60-75%]
    Star Wars: Bounty Hunter: A very disappointing game from LucasArts. It has some great scenes, but the actual "Bounty Hunting" is almost non-existent and certainly pointless. I was expecting much better. [Expected Score 65-80%]
    Superman: Shadow of Apokolips: A very average game that takes inspiration from the
    cartoons. The graphics are poor, the gameplay confusing and the overall game a mess. Leave well alone. [Expected Score 40-60%]

December 18, 2002

    Games
    It looks as if Sony's The Getaway has had a big impact on gamers in Europe. According to official charts from the UK the game has toppled Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which has been at the top of the charts since release a couple of weeks ago. The Getaway has become the second fastest selling video game of all time with sales estimated between 150,000 and 300,000 units in the first week. In comparison Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has sold a massive 750,000 units to date. With no more major releases until well after Christmas it looks like these two games will rule the charts for some time yet.

    Playstation 3
    Toshiba have confirmed that production of the "CELL" processor will begin in 2004. It is widely rumoured that this joint venture with Sony will be the main processor for the Playstation 3. The processor has been heavily optimised for use on the internet for network processing etc.

    Review
    Colin McRae Rally 3 is Codemasters first attempt at moving the series from the PSOne to Sony's latest system, and the improvements are staggering. Car detail has increased from 700 to 14,000 polygons. Read the full review to see just how well this game stacks up.

December 15, 2002

    Games
    Bandai have announced that they plan on selling 1.5 million copies of their latest game Dragonball Z: Budokai worldwide. They have made a solid start in Australia with the game coming in at Number 3 on our charts behind EA's Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

    Infogrames has confirmed that the Playstation 2 and XBox versions of Driver 3 are currently scheduled for release in November 2003 while the Gamecube and PC ports have been pushed back until May 2004.

    Enix president Keiji Honda has confirmed that following their merger with Square the company is looking at developing an online Dragon Quest title. The Dragon Quest series, although uncommon outside Japan, is actually bigger then Square's Final Fantasy series making the potential for an online game enormous.

    Review
    James Bond 007: Nightfire, to give the game its full title, isn't actually based on any of the Bond movies, but rather takes inspiration from all the movies and melds it all into one video game. With some great cut-scenes and 4-player split screen mode this is one game action fans may want to consider. Check out the full review now.

    Crom needs you! Part 2.
    Well, according to Dark Horizons, Warner Brothers have re-secured the rights to the Conan movie. There is still no detailed information as to if this means the Arnold Schwarzenegger/John Milius project is going ahead rather then a kiddie friendly Conan so make sure you still sign the petition ASAP. Click here to add your name immediately.

December 12, 2002

    Crom needs you!
    Pretty much all the regulars to this site will know how much of an Arnie fan I am. Terminator, True Lies, Predator, Total Recall and Commando are all hardcore kick-ass movies that hark back the days when a movie didn't have to make a statement, didn't have to be politically correct, and well, included real body counts. But there is one movie that I still see as the hardcore of hardcore action movies, Conan the Barbarian. This is the most brutal, realistic downright fun and action packed barbarian movies in the last half century. John Milius who wrote and directed the movie has finished the script for a third movie called King Conan. The problem is that the owners of the Conan rights (Paradox) look like pulling the plug on the whole project in favour of a more "kid friendly" Scorpion King styled movie. Now Arnie is Conan, Milius makes Conan and Conan 3 must have these two people to succeed. You can let Paradox know that Conan must include Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius by signing this petition here and perhaps Crom can help save the day.

December 10, 2002

    Games
    Confirmation has come in from Sony Australia today about exactly what and how much has been cut from their upcoming title The Getaway which will hit shelves later this week. In all, 20 seconds of non-interactive cut-scenes have been removed - with absolutely no changes made to the gameplay or storyline. This 20 second scene involves the torturing of a captive which goes beyond that deemed acceptable in Australian video games by the OFLC. Once again there have been absolutely no changes to the actual gameplay so those with the game on pre-order need not worry.

    Schedule
    A reminder to all that I regularly update Australian release schedules which can be found on the Previews page on this site. This schedule runs well into next year and is updated at least weekly.

December 9, 2002

    Games
    PS2.IGN has put up a rumour that Electronic Arts are currently in the early development stages of another SSX title. This comes as little surprise give the success of the first two games in the series and the stunning SSX Tricky released last year.

    UbiSoft have confirmed plans to port Chessmaster to the Playstation 2. The game is the ultimate in chess simulations (is that the correct term?) and should be released in early 2003.

    Namco has confirmed that MotoGP 3 will include 15 race track which can be raced in either forward or reverse effectively making 30 tracks to race on. The game is expected to be release in Australia in mid 2003.

    Companies
    As rumoured a couple of weeks ago it now looks likely that Sega will be returning to publishing duties in Europe. According to this article on Bloomberg. It is expected the company will employ around 30 people to look after the distribution of titles accross Germany, the UK and France. The company is doing this to reduce marketing costs and has predicted sales of 2.62 million units which surpasses their 2 million sales break even point.

    Review
    Kingdom Hearts combines the RPG making talents of the Japanese developers and the characters and personalities of Disney characters from many different movies. If you have a Playstation 2 you no longer have to imagine it, you can live it with Kingdom Hearts, a wonderful RPG that will keep you entertained for weeks.

December 5, 2002

    Games
    Yet another game has fallen victim to the draconian laws for video game classifications. Sony Australia has confirmed that some cut scenes in The Getaway have been changed to make the MA15+ rating. It was previously thought that the game was passed unchanged. The edits made to the game only affect the cut-scenes with Sony Australia emphasising that absolutely none of the gameplay has been changed for release here. The Getaway is currently expected to hit the shelves on December 13th.

    Konami Europe has confirmed that sales of Pro Evolution Soccer 2 have surpassed 1 million units in PAL territories. This is a phenomenal effort after only 40 days on sale, and should have Electronic Arts a little concerned - although their FIFA series is still outselling Konami's at a ration of 2:1.

    Sega Japan has released a list of titles to be released on their Sega AGES brand in Japan, and eventually America and Europe. These titles include Golden Axe, Space Harrier, Phantasy Star, and Fantasy Zone which are all due in Mid 2003 in Japan. Folowing these titles, and without release dates yet, are Alex Kidd in the Miracle World, Gain Ground, Puzzles and Action: Tant R, Virtua Racing, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star IV: End of Millennium, Bare Knuckle (Street of Rage), Bonaza Brothers, Monoco GP, and Last Bronx. Best of all these titles are being updated from their Master System, Megadrive and Saturn graphics and gameplay.

    Forums
    A reminder to everyone to enjoy the Forums on Future Gamez which now has almost 3,500 posts from almost 200 users. 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.

December 2, 2002

    Games
    Gamenation have confirmed their release schedule, and there are a couple of major additions. We already confirmed releases for Sega's 2K3 games the other day, but there are several more to get excited about. Firstly Konami's Metal Gear Solid: Substance is set for March 1, while Contra: Shattered Soldier is set for March 7. Konami's Silent Scope 3 is set for 17th January while Zone of Enders 2 will hit the shelves on 4th April. Here's Gamenation's complete release schedule.

      Out Now - LMA Manager 2003, Dragonball Z: Budokai
      December 6 - TimeSplitters - Platinum, Monopoly Party
      January 17 - Silent Scope 3
      February 7 - Sega Sports NBA 2K3, Battle Engine Aquila
      February 14 - World Of Outlaws Sprintcars 2002
      February 21 - Evolution Skateboarding
      February 28 - Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness, Grand Prix Challenge, Frogger Beyond
      March 1 - Metal Gear Solid 2 SUBSTANCE
      March 7 - Contra Shattered Soldier, Zapper, Sega Sports NHL 2K3
      March 14 - Nickelodeon Party Blast
      April 4 - Zone of the Enders 2, Sega Sports NFL 2K3

    Review
    Virtua Tennis 2 is the sequel to the hit arcade and Dreamcast title from a couple of years ago. With 16 real life players, numerous customisations and a terrific World Tour mode this is the best tennis game ever. Best of all Acclaim have released the title at the reduced price of $AU69.95 making this an essential purchase for fans of the sport.

December 1, 2002

    Games
    Well it looks like it may be a little premature with the BMX XXX announcement the other day. Apparently it is still not certain that Acclaim will release the title in Australia, as it must still be passed by the classification board, and was placed on their release schedule by mistake. Still, at this stage Acclaim are hoping to have more information in the coming weeks, and will confirm if BMX XXX will be released here at all.

    Some great news today with Gamenation (formally Infogrames Australia) confirming that they will be distributing three Sega Sports titles here in Australia in early 2003. The first game is Sega Sports NBA 2K3 which is due for release on 7th February 2003. Sega Sports NHL2K3 is next onto the shelves on March 7th 2003 while Sega Sports NFL2K3 is expected to be released on 4th April 2003 but sadly doesn't indicate on the press release any online gameplay as in the American version. Still all three of these titles are exceptional in quality and offer a great alternative to EA's sports range. Hopefully PAL gamers will support these titles to ensure future editions are also released here.

    Acclaim Australia have sent out their latest release schedules, and it contains a couple of pleasing additions, and major date changes. Obviously the biggest surprise - as mentioned on the site a couple of days ago - is the addition of BMX XXX which according to Daniel Armstrong is still to be confirmed for release. Defender makes an appearance in mid March while the oft-delayed Vexx and Kemco's Batman: Dark Tomorrow are now set for the end of March. Here's the complete list:

      Out Now: Virtua Tennis 2, Virtua Cop: Elite Edition, Haven: Call Of The King
      16/1/2003: BMX XXX *subject to classification
      06/2/2003: ATV Quad Power Racing 2
      14/2/2003: Legends Of Wrestling 2, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
      28/2/2003: Paris Dakar Rally 2, Speed Kings, Groove Runner
      14/3/2003: Defender
      30/3/2003: Vexx
      31/3/2003: Batman : Dark Tomorrow
      24/4/2003: Jeremy McGrath Supercross World 2003

    A couple of weeks ago I ran a cryptic clue about a game coming out. Many of you got it right. I can now confirm that UbiSoft have picked up the rights to release Wild Arms 3 in Australia. This RPG, published by Sony in other territories, is expected to be released in Australia on January 30, 2003.

    Review
    Hitman 2: Silent Assassin isn't for the feint of heart. You play Agent 47 from the first game, and assassin. He has tried to retire peacefully and works in a Church. One day the minister - his friend - is bashed and kidnapped. The only way to find him is to re-join the agency and do some work for them. This game is bloody fun, bloody well designed, and bloody. Check out the review now.


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