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JANUARY 2003 NEWS
January 29, 2003

    Games
    Sega Rosso has delayed the release of Initial D: Special Stage for the Playstation 2 in Japan from March 27th to June 26th. Apparently the delay is to further improve the quality of the game. No word yet on a PAL, or even American, release.

    Not really concerning Australia but Everquest Online Adventures has gone gold in America. This game will be most interesting in that not only will gamers have to shell out $US49.95 for the game, but also $US9.95 per month to play the game online. The game is expected to be released in America on February 12th with no PAL release announced to date.

    Preview
    Midway are looking to resurrect their fighting franchise with some major changes to this game. The extra power provided by the Playstation 2 has allowed the developers to include an all new fighting engine, 3D graphics and, of course, new fatalities. Better still Midway are including a story type more in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.

    Ulala is back again and United Game Artists look to have progressed the dancing game quite a bit further. Now some may say that Lara Croft is the hottest video game babe, but my vote goes to Ulala. It may not be apparent in still photos but when she moves... Anyway it's a great looking game so check out the preview.

January 25, 2003

    Welcome
    Before we hit todays news I would like to officially welcome Chris Gobbett to the team here at Future Gamez. Many of you will already know Chris as chrisg in the forums where he was made a moderator only a couple of weeks ago. I have already locked the young man up in the dungeon where he has already been slaving away at a review for WRC II Extreme which is well worth a read. It's a pretty impressive game too. Once again, welcome Chris.

    Help required
    I am still looking for another person to be added to the list, and if you already sent in an e-mail over the last couple of weeks I will still be getting back to you - Chris was decided upon before the previous callout. If you also want to contribute to Future Gamez send me an e-mail with your details.

    Review
    It's Sony's big rally racing game prior to Christmas, and while I never got the review of WRC II Extreme out in time for the festive season, that is not an indication of disinterest. In fact, there are very few reasons for racing fans not to pick this title up now - according to Chris Gobbett anyway. Here's Chris' first review for Future Gamez and it's well worth a read.

    Games
    Eidos Interactive had some good, and some bad news regarding its games. Firstly the company confirmed that its Christmas 2002 games, TimeSplitters 2 and Hitman 2: Silent Assassin have surpassed 2.9 million units in sales. The bad news however is that Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness has been delayed until an unspecified Q'2 2003. While this will allow developers to polish the game it will also benefit from the release of Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life in cinemas.

    Universal Interactive and Blue Tongue Software have finally announced that Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis which is based on the Steven Speilberg movies will be released on PlayStation 2 on March 21st in America. The game is basically a theme park builder similar to Theme Park, but with dinosaurs as the exhibits. The game has 12 missions ranging from rescuing park visitors to stopping dinosaur rampages, a soundtrack with 10 songs, and over 25 different species of dinosaur.

    Electronic Arts and Warner Brothers have announced a cd-publishing deal which will see Warthog's Looney Tunes: Back In Action being released. The game is actually based on a movie of the same name which is set for release in November 2003.

    Activision and Dreamworks SKG have announced the signing of a deal which will see Activision publishing games based on three upcoming animation movies - Sharkslayer, Madagascar and Over the Hedge. The first game, Sharkslayer is expected to be released sometime in 2004 to co-incide with the movie with the other games released sometime after that.

January 21, 2003

    Games
    Namco has confirmed that they are hoping to sell 2 million copies of Soul Calibur 2 on all three major consoles. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts Australia have confirmed that they have secured the rights to the title in this territory as well as Europe. No release date is give, but with America set for August we can expect it around that time as well.

    Those of us that thought that American developed platform games don't sell particulary well in Japan will be surprised to learn that Sony's impressive Ratchet & Clank has sold an impressive 406,389 copies including 31,111 copies last week. To put this in perspective Konami's highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid SUBSTANCE has sold 131,585 units with 10,452 last week and even the very Japanese styled Dark Chronicle only 214,394 units with 8,893 last week.

    Companies
    Effective from last weekend Sega's CEO Peter Moore has resigned his position at Sega America. Peter has been at the company for 4 years now and saw the companies struggles with Dreamcast and most recently dismal sales of the Sega Sports titles including NFL2K3 which sold only 100,000 units of an expected 1 million odd. Tetsu Kayama, CEO of Sega Corporation, the publisher's Japanese parent company has taken over the role. Peter Moore has actually taken up a new position at Microsoft as their 'Corporate Vice President of Retail Sales and Marketing'.

    Preview
    Devil May Cry 2 is the sequel to last years hig game from Capcom. Taking action to a new level the original Devil May Cry sold extremely well worldwide and was critically praised for it's unrelenting action and style. This sequel looks set to further expand the game with bigger locations, new features and better action. Check out this preview now.

January 17, 2003

    Games
    Namco has announced details on Soul Calibur 2 which will be release in Japan on March 27. The Playstation 2 version of the game will see Heihachi (from the Tekken games) as an exclusive on the console. In comparison the Gamecube has Link (deom Zelda) as an exclusive character while the XBox gets Spawn from teh cominc books and movie. Today Electronic Arts Europe has confirmed that they will be publishing the title in PAL territories, although Electronic Arts Australia hasn't been contactable to confirm that they will be publishing this Namco title down under. Typically, Sony publish the Namco titles in Australia.

    Konami has confirmed that their new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game will be release in America in October 2003. As yet there are no screens or details about the game which is set to hit PS2, Gamecube, PC and Gameboy Advance - but seemingly not the XBox.

    Although it hasn't been confirmed as yet it now looks like Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness may be delayed from its expected February release date in Europe. Several European web sites are reporting that expected review code still isn't available. If there is a delay it will hopefully be minor with any announcements expected soon.

January 17, 2003

    Games
    Nintendo had an abysmal Christmas, not only in Australia where the Gamecube captured only 3% of the market, but worldwide where the lack of a big Christmas title to rival Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on PS2 or Splinter Cell on XBox. But today things got a lot worse. Capcom has today confirmed that their five titles for Gamecube, namely Resident Evil 4, Viewitful Joe, Dead Phoenix, Killer 7 and P.N.03., aren't Nintendo exclusives as first thought. Apparelty this was a "miscommunication" which was never picked up months ago. Resident Evil 4 will be a Gamecube exclusive, but the other 4 titles may appear on other consoles in future - Playstation 2 included.

    It looks like Sony Europe has finally picked up the rights to publish Sega's Shinobi. The game is expected to hit the shelves, in Europe at least, sometime in May.

    Koji Igarashi, the producer of Konami's legendary Castlevania series, has condfirmed that he is working on a new game to hit consoles. Unfortunately no details about what the game is (it may not even be related to Castlevania), the consoles or release date have been announced. The only thing that was confirmed was that it was a home console, and not a handheld.

    Midway has announced that Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance has sold over a million copies since going on sale in America in late 2002. The game is expected to hit Australia thanks to Acclaim on February 14th.

    Australian Sales
    Australian Christmas sales figures are finally in for the consoles. As expected the Playstation 2 was way ahead with 84,477 units sold in the three weeks to December 31st. The Xbox, despite its poor overseas showing, managed a strong 45,939 units - a tad over half the Playstation 2 figure. The big loser was the Nintendo gamecube with a paltry 5,846 units - and no, that's not a typo.

    Review
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is a magnificant game on the PC, and the conversion to Playstation 2 is more then welcome. But due to technical limitations some of the PC components have been stripped out. Does this PS2 conversion still do the game justice?

January 15, 2003

    Games
    Gamenation have confirmed that Sega Sports NBA2K3, Sega Sports NHL2K3, and Sega Sports NFL2K3 have all been postponed slightly until April 4th. The first game, Sega Sports NBA2K3, was expected in February. Still, given their strong reviews in America I'd wait a year just to play these games. Expect some previews soon (no relly, I promise - sort of).

    Preview
    Splinter Cell was previewed a week ago, but UbiSoft have just released a batch of new, and much improved screens. Even if you've checked out the preview recently you'll want to see just how well this game stacks up against the XBox - and it's very well indeed.

    RTX Red Rock didn't really inspire a lot of confidence with the rather dull shots released around E3 last year (that's May 2002 for those unsure), however this latest batch shows a lot of improvement and promise. This is one game that LucasArts will be hoping can help their flagging brand name following some major disappointments.

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

January 10, 2003

    Preview
    Splinter Cell was only announced yesterday and Future Gamez is proud to be one of the first locations in the world to provide you with three screenshots of the game. Anyone doubting the Playstation 2's ability of keeping up with the XBox in terms of lighting and Shadows need only look at these screens to know that this game will be something special.

    Games
    According to Electronic Boutique Australia Splinter Cell is scheduled for release in Australia on March 27th. As yet UbiSoft have not confirmed a release other then Autumn 2003.

    One of the best games in 2002 was Sony's Frequency, although the game never sold in large numbers. Unsurprisingly, a sequel is in development and has the coolest name for a sequel - Amplitude. The game will include music from bands such as Weezer, David Bowie, Quarashi, Garbage and Logan 7, according to GameSpot, with a total of more than 20 tracks. Amplitude will include online features and is certain to be an online launch title in Australia.

    Australian Sales Figures
    According to Australian IT, Australians spent a massive $AU825 million on games and game hardware during 2002, or $AU2.3 million per days making 2002 the biggest year on record. This figure includes $AU180 million during December. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which sold a massive 68,000 copies in only 2 weeks in December has become the biggest selling game in a single month, overtaking the 58,000 units for Pokemon Gold in December 2000. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets managed to sell 102,000 copies in December across eight different platofrms.

    Some more extremely impressive sales figures, this time from Sony Australia regarding Christmas sales. Most interestingly while the XBox trails Gamecube in Europe, the XBox and Playstataion 2 destroyed Gamecube in Australia with the Playstation 2 selling 16 times more units. Hell, even the PSOne sold more then the Gamecube. Here we go:

      PLAYSTATION 2 ACHIEVES $68 MILLION SALES IN 3 WEEKS
      Christmas 2002 Smashes all Previous Records

      9 January 2003, Sydney - Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCE Aust.) today announced that it had broken all previous records over the Christmas peak selling period, achieving the highest ever sell-through for both PlayStation 2 hardware and software.

      In the last 3 weeks of 2002 (9th - 29th December), Australians spent $121,265,927 on video game consoles, hand-held gaming devices, software and accessories. PlayStation 2 hardware, software and accessories accounted for $68,721,252 - which translates to a massive 57% share. (Source: Inform)

      Indeed, sales figures from independent research company, Inform, reveal that for the last 3 weeks of 2002 over 84,500 PlayStation 2 consoles were bought by Australian consumers, reflecting a 48% market share - with its closest competitor at 26%.

      Market Share for Video Game Console & Handheld Market - 9th - 29th December 2002 (Source: Inform) Name Format % Market Share
      PlayStation 2 Next Gen. Console 48%
      X-Box Next Gen. Console 26%
      GameCube Next Gen. Console 3%
      PSone Console 6%
      GameBoy Advance Hand Held 13%
      Other 4%

      Despite increased marketing activity from competitors, the PlayStation 2 brand surged ahead, supported by some of the best software available in its history. Sales of PlayStation 2 games accelerated markedly, with a massive 416,000 units sold during this key 3 week period, an increase of over 156% compared to the same weeks of the previous year, making it the best season ever for PlayStation 2. In the final week of 2002, 15 out of the Top 20 selling software titles were PlayStation 2 titles. (Source: Inform)

      Consumers who expressed an enormous vote of confidence in PlayStation 2 were rewarded with top selling software titles such as The Getaway from Sony's Soho studio, which was the #2 selling PlayStation 2 game in the week of Christmas, second only to GTA Vice City which has sold almost 3 million copies throughout the PAL Territories since its launch in early November. (Source: Inform)

      Commenting on the record breaking Christmas selling period, Michael Ephraim, Vice President of SCE Europe and Managing Director of SCE Aust/NZ cited contemporary new technology and new concept games on the PlayStation 2 as the driving force for the season's outstanding success. "PlayStation 2 software took a major step change in both graphic quality and innovation in 2002, from film quality gangster titles such as our own The Getaway, to the family friendly fusion of fantasy and Disney in Squaresofts Kingdom Hearts.

      "Game developers are increasingly harnessing the power of the PlayStation 2 to create games that set new standards in graphic excellence. With the launch of PlayStation 2 online gaming in the Winter and innovative new game concepts such as EyeToy set to attract a whole new audience to gaming, 2003 promises to be another exciting and rewarding year for the PlayStation 2 gamer", Mr Ephraim concludes.

January 9, 2003

    Sales Figures
    Yes, it may be technically inferior, but that hasn't slowed down the Playstation 2. In fact, during 2002, which was meant to give hope to XBox and Gamecube, the Playstation 2 has proven once and for all who is the king. Despite higher pricing the Playstation 2 managed to sell a whopping 6 million units in Europe. In comparison, the Gamecube shifted a paltry 1.5 million units while the XBox was left floundering in third place with only 1.4 million sales, this is despite the release of the highly acclaimed Splinter Cell prior to Christmas. Time to crack open that champagne bottle Sony Europe.

    Preview
    Metal Gear Solid: SUBSTANCE is an expanded edition of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty with all-new game modes, hidden characters and storylines. In fact the storyline remains pretty much the same as the original game (or else we would be playing Metal Gear Solid 3), but this game also includes over 500 new VR and alternate missions. This is one game, even owners of the original, will want to pick up.

    Games
    Namco has confirmed that Ridge Racer VI is currently in development and will be coming to all next generation formats. Additionally the company has also confirmed that for the first time the game will include real cars thanks to new licensing agreements. The game is currently scheduled for release in March 2004.

    Sega Rosso have confirmed that a new Sega Rally game will be released in Japan during 2003. While no format was given it is likely it will hit the arcades first, followed by possible home conversions in late 2003 or 2004.

    According to EGM Namco are currently working on an updated version of their classic game Splatterhouse which from memory appeared on the Megadrive all those years ago. Nothing is confirmed as yet, but if it is, don't expect some child-friendly game.

    Sony America have announced they will release Everquest Online Adventures on February 12th. To play the game online gamers will have to pay a fee of $US9.95 per month. At $US120 per year ($AU180) it will be interesting to see how many people play the game.

    Playstation 3
    Reuters are reporting that Sony and Toshiba have licensed the Rambus' Yellowstone and Redwood memory technology for PlayStation 3. Yellowstone is a Octal Data Rate (ODR) signal technology with a clock speed of 3.2GHz; and Redwood is an ultra high speed parallel interface between different processors, which runs 10 times faster than the latest processors.

January 8, 2003

    Games
    UbiSoft have (finally) confirmed Splinter Cell for the Playstation 2. Here's the press release:

      TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL PREPARES TO INFILTRATE OTHER PLATFORMS

      Already available for Microsoft's Xbox, the internationally acclaimed espionage game is set for launch on other consoles this autumn.

      Paris, FRANCE - January 7, 2003 - Ubi Soft(r) Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, announced today that it will release Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for the PlayStation(r)2 computer entertainment system as well as for Nintendo's GameCube and Game Boy(r) Advance by autumn 2003. Impatient fans will be treated to a PC-version of the blockbuster game earlier this year.

      Since its initial release for the Xbox video game system in November 2002, Splinter Cell has gone on to sell 1 million units in North America alone, and 600, 000 units in PAL territories. It boasts an average rating of 94.4 (out of a possible 100), based on a sample of 54 reviews, and was most recently awarded GameSpy's Xbox Game of the Year 2002 title.

      Splinter Cell on the Xbox has already been one of the most talked about games in the industry during this holiday season and the game is now anticipated to be very popular on the other platforms this autumn. By expanding the game's release, Ubi Soft confirms its commitment to offer outstanding moments of entertainment to all players as well as its long-term ambition for the Splinter Cell brand.

      "With its all-around stupendous reviews and now its record sales, Splinter Cell is blazing a trail the likes of which the industry has rarely seen. We are eager to take the run-away success of this game to an even wider audience," said Yves Guillemot, President and CEO of Ubi Soft Entertainment.

January 7, 2003

    Preview
    Indiana Jones & the Emperors Tomb is the latest adventure for the worlds most famous archaeologist. LucasArts have just released some new pics from the PS2 version, and they're hot. With a release sometime in March this is one game that action game fans are certain to be interested in.

    Review
    Monopoly Party is, somewhat obviously, an electronic version of the worlds most popular board game. With two main gameplay modes - classic and Party - and several different themes there is certainly some variety. But is the game really worth your hard earned cash?

January 6, 2003

    Want to join Future Gamez?
    I would personally like to thank all the applicants who want to review games for this site. If you haven't heard back from me, don't worry, I'll get to you all. Indeed, there are some very good applicants and as yet no decisions have been made as to those successful. If you haven't sent me an e-mail yet and would like to review games for the site (which may involve some freebies) then drop me an e-mail. I'll be sending out more details to all applicants soon for information and possibly test reviews so I can see how well you right. (If you didn't pick that mistake up, don't apply - just kidding)

    Review
    Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a game based solely on Jango Fett's bounty hunting exploits. The game is set before Episode II, and gives gamers some insight into the characters past with an all new storyline and details how he was chosen to be cloned to create the Clone Armies seen in the movie.

January 5, 2003

    Games
    As many of you should know the saving grace for XBox over Christmas, Splinter Cell is coming to PC this month, and Playstation 2 around March/April. Although the graphics will undoubtedly be dumbed down a little for the Playstation 2 version it is now confirmed that the game will include an all-new level not seen in the XBox or PC game. This level will apparently take place in a Powerplant of some kind. More news as it comes in.

    If rumours are to be believed then Square will be putting a sneak preview of Final Fantasy XII with Final Fantasy X-2 which is set to be released in Japan in March.

    Sony have announced that the highly anticipated (in Japan at least) Arc the Lad: Spirit of the Dead Dust will be released in Japan on March 20 at 5800 yen.

    Sega Smilebit have denied rumours that they are working on a sequel to Jet Set Radio Future for any console. Sales of the game in America and Europe on XBox were extremely poor with Infogrames actually dropping the title after the first run.

    While talking about Sega Smilebit the company has confirmed that while Hundred Swords has been canned on Playstation 2 they will be releasing a surprise title in Autumn 2003 for the console.

    Review
    Disney Golf was released the week prior to Christmas in Australia thanks to EA Games. Several Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, make an appearance in this game from T&E Soft. Make sure you read the review to see if this is an enjoyable game for kids, or even some adults.

January 3, 2003

    Preview
    Activision Anthology is a classic gaming compilation that delivers nearly 50 Activision games for the Atari 2600 from Barnstorming to River Raid and never-before-released titles - all for the first time on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. This is one game that retro gamers are going to want to check out - especially at the low RRP of $AU49.95!

    Review
    Alpine Racer 3 is a port of the classic arcade game to the Playstation 2. However, instead of the ski input we are left with the Dual Shock 2 controller - and a trick system that makes Winter Games on the Atari 2600 look complex. Still, snow based racing fans may want to check out this review.

January 1, 2003

    2002 Future Gamez Awards: Part 2
    The second part of the 2002 Future Gamez Awards highlights the best games in each of the major genres including action titles, sports games, platform games and RPG among others. The second part also highlights the game with best sound, and best graphics before announcing the Game of the Year on Playstation 2. This is a must read article to ensure you're getting the best out of your system.

    New Years Wishes
    Just a quick note to wish everyone the best for the New Year. 2002 has been a dramatic year with some big highs and lows, both in gaming and in world events. Hopefully 2003 will be a much more enjoyable, and less aggressive year on both fronts. Anyway I hope you are all over your hangovers from the wild New Years celebrations.


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