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September 29, 2003

    Hardware Price Drop
    Nintendo Australia has followed Nintendo America's lead and dropped the price of the Gamecube in Australia to $AU199.95. Given the console is so far behind the XBox and PS2 we may not see a knee-jerk reaction from the leaders, but sales in the coming weeks could have a determining factor.

    Nokia has confirmed that their handheld phone/gaming device, the N-Gage, will be released in Australia on October 7th for $AU599. The games will retail for between $AU59 adnd $69 with around 1500 retailers picking up the device to sell. These retailers include C2One Communications, Crazy John's, Dick Smith Electronics including PowerHouse, Domayne, Electronics Boutique, Fone Zone, Harvey Norman, Myer, Optus World, Tandy, Telstra Shops, Strathfield. Personally I can't see the system doing too well at all. Too expensive as a mobile or a gaming system, and the PSP from Sony will blow it away graphically when displayed at the E3 show next year. Incidentally latest news is that the PSP will have similar power to the PS2 with the same CPU and a graphical processor clocking a bit slower, but with decreased screen resolution should look similar to PS2 games.

    Dead to Rights is Namco's latest action title to hit the Playstation 2 and is now available in stores following a lengthy exclusivity on the XBox. The game involves some very cool gunplay and action sequences. Unfortunately, the graphics are a major letdown and well below Namco's typically high standard. Here's the full review.

September 27, 2003

    Argonaut has confirmed that their upcoming platform game, I-Ninja will be a Playstation 2 exclusive in Europe, but the Gamecube and XBox ports will still be coming out in other territories. The game will be released in early 2004 and looks like one of the most exciting platform games in recent times (along with Jak II and Ratchet & Clank 2, oh and Prince of Persia: The Sands of time, oh and Beyond Good and Evil, oh and...)

    Namco has confirmed that Time Crisis 3 will be released in America on October 22nd for $US39.95 or $US59.95 with a gun. The game will also be released in Japan on November 20 with a PAL release to be confirmed.

    Rockstar Games has confirmed that Max Payne: The Fall of Max Payne will be released in America on December 3rd this year. No word yet on a PAL release date unfortunately, but it is coming eventually.

    Id Software have confirmed that Doom III will not be coming to Playstation 2 (or Gamecube) as the system is not powerful enough to handle the graphics engine and lighting required. Th company is planning an XBox port.

    Well this may be the strangest reason ever for a delay. Electronic Arts America has stated that they have delayed the release of Freedom Fighters by 5 days until October 1st at the request of retailes. Yes, apparently the retailers requested the delay for the games launch. Go figure. The game is already available in Australia and Europe and is well worth a look.

    Hardware Price Drop
    Nintendo America has confirmed that from September 25th the Gamecube will drop in price to $US99.95. Nintendo Europe has confirmed there will not be a price cut in October for the Gamecube. No word yet on any price cuts for the Playstation 2, but rumours persist of bundles to coincide with the Network Adapter launch in October. Time will tell.

September 26, 2003

    Electronic Arts Australia have confirmed their plans for online gaming in Australia with more details about their titles. Here's the press release:

      Sydney, Australia - September 25, 2003 - Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS), the world's leading interactive entertainment software company, announced that five EA console titles from the EA SPORTS, EA GAMES and EA SPORTS BIG brands will feature online gameplay this year for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system.

      FIFA Football 2004, Medal of Honor Rising Sun, SSX 3, Need for Speed Underground and The Sims Bustin' Out provide online experiences ranging from the ultimate football simulation to WWII combat, open mountain snowboarding, underground tuner car racing, and the wacky and unpredictable world of The Sims. All of the titles support hands-free chat through a USB headset. PlayStation 2 online play requires a broadband connection, a network adaptor, and memory card for the PlayStation 2.

      "EA's online play extends the gaming experience way beyond the boundaries of your living room," said Gerhard Florin, Managing Director of European Publishing at EA. "It gives gamers the opportunity to play with or against each other in some of the most exciting games this year no matter where they - or their friends - are located."

      FIFA Football 2004 will allow sports fans to compete against each other online in several two-player modes, ranging from friendly matches through to official tournaments and leagues. Players will be able to discuss tactics and post-match analysis through hands-free chat via a USB headset. And new features will be added as the football season progresses, including the ability to download team transfer updates.

      Medal of Honor Rising Sun will provide intense online multiplayer action for up to eight soldiers. Players will go head to head across nine levels ranging from the jungles of the Pacific to the streets of the Orient. There will be a variety of options and customisable match parameters available including selection of Weapon Sets, Friendly Fire, and Time Limit options. Players can find and join games using the EA matchmaking service and will be able to choose from a selection of Axis and Allied soldiers. Once play begins, soldiers can communicate with voice chat using a USB headset for more coordinated team play or taunting competitors.

      Need for Speed Underground will allow up to four players to race online in all four of the game's driving modes: drag racing, sprint racing, circuit racing, and drift racing. Players will be able to take the cars they've customised offline into the online arena to show off their tricked out rides and show up the competition. A comprehensive ranking system tracks the top 100 riders, top lap times, and more for the ultimate in bragging rights. Need for Speed Underground will also offer cross-platform online play, allowing PC and PlayStation 2 gamers to seamlessly compete online for the first time.

      SSX 3 will allow players to get on board and compete online in a range of two-player cooperative modes across Backcountry, Slopestyle, Big Air, Super Pipe and Race events. Players will be able to take their customised characters online, meet their opponents in the lobby and chat together via a USB headset before heading out on to the treacherous mountain peaks.

      The Sims Bustin' Out will feature two-player cooperative gameplay online, which lets players work their way through any of the game's unique career paths. The game will also feature an online trading system that will allow players to swap unlockable social interactions such as Pull Finger and Moonwalk or objects like a Climbing Wall and DJ Booth. In addition to bestowing bragging rights, these wacky social interactions and highly coveted objects will also affect the gameplay. Online play will also feature a lobby where a matchmaker screen displays the astrological signs, genders, and personalities of other Sims, so that players can effectively choose their gaming partners. Since two Sims are better than one at getting the job done, online play will make it even easier to accomplish goals, satisfy motives, and get your Sims into trouble in The Sims Bustin' Out.

    Need For Speed Underground has just been confirmed as having online gameplay in Australia, on the Playstation 2. Gamecube and XBox owners will miss out. Combined with stunning graphics it's had not seeing this game as a massive boost to Sony's online services starting in October. If you haven't had a look at this preview yet then now is the time.

September 25, 2003

    According to this story on the Australian news site online gaming in Australia has been delayed by a week from October 10 to October 17, due to a bug in Hardware, the game to be bundled with the network adapter. To date Sony Australia has spent around $2 million setting up online gaming in Australia. The Playstation 2 network adapter will be released for $AU69.95, with Hardware being thrown in for free. The service will only work with a broadband connection (which you must have seperately), but as has proven with the trials currently taking place (yes, that includes me) the network gaming is working very well indeed. Interestingly, it looks like Microsoft will get the jump on Sony with XBox Live scheduled to launch on October 8 in Australia.

    Black & Bruised is a very arcade styled boxing game, and a very nice looking one at that with some wonderful cartoon styled graphics. But boxing games have always had a hard time attracting a mainstream audience. Will this game fare any better, it's unlikely. Here's the full review of Digital Fiction's Black & Bruised.

September 23, 2003

    Sony has confirmed that despite earlier rumours (or was it fact?) that Gran Turismo 4 would be out in time for Christmas the game will not be released until early 2004. As far as I'm concerned they can take as long as they wish to fine tune what is certain to be another "must have" title on Playstation 2.

    Electronic Arts has sent out a press release confirming they will be publishing Square's Final Fantasy X-2 on Playstation 2 in early 2004 accross Europe and PAL territories. The game was released in Japan on March 13th 2003 and has sold well over 2 million units to date.

    Sony hAs confirmed that their Jet Li starring game, Rise to Honor will be released in America in January 2004. Let's hope the game has improved significantly from earlier builds where dull graphics and poor controls hampered gameplay.

    Despite earlier announcement from Electronic Arts it appears as if they will only have 5 titles in PAL territories geared for online gameplay. These titles include FIFA 2004 from EA Sports and four EA Games titles including Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, SSX 3, Need For Speed: Underground and The Sims Bustin' Out. The question remains what has happened to the other sports titles promised with even the perfect online game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 missing out on the action.

September 22, 2003

    Dynasty Warriors 4 is yet another update in Koei's massively popular series on Playstation 2. The game remains faithful to previous titles in the series but adds a bit more polish to an already impressive title. If you've enjoyed past games in the series this you will want to get this. If you've never owned a title in the series there is no better time to start. Here's the full review.

September 16, 2003

    Well there has been some mention of late of a bug in AFL Live 2004 with regards to changing teams during a full season. Having spoken to Acclaim Australia they admitted that they are aware of the error which passed both Sony and Microsoft's internal testing and are looking at ways of rectifying the situation. Let's hope that Acclaim does the right thing by the consumer and offers some form of solution. Watch this space for more details soon.

September 10, 2003

    Sony has announced that on September 6th the company shipped the 60 millionth Playstation 2 worldwide. Here's what Sony said in their press release:

      Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that cumulative worldwide shipment of its PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system reached 60 million units on September 6, 2003. Since its launch in Japan on March 4, 2000, sales of PlayStation 2 have grown rapidly around the world and it continues to gain worldwide popularity while reaffirming its position as the standard entertainment platform in homes. With year-end/New Year holiday season approaching, SCEI will further increase hardware production to meet active demands.
      Shipment of 60 million units within 3 years and 6 months since the launch is 1.6 times more in volume compared to the same period after launch of the original PlayStation, and a year and a month faster in penetration speed.

    Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness was hyped as an evolution in the Tomb Raider series. Eidos promised a darker and more sinister game with improved gameplay mechanics. What we got is more of the same, nothing else. Check out the full review before you plunk your hard earned cash on this game. Tomb Raider fanatics need only apply.

September 8, 2003

    As many of you know AFL Live 2004 hit retailers accross Australia a week or so ago. The game has been selling like hotcakes so much so that Acclaim are experiencing some delays in getting replenishment stock to ship to stores, and even to reviewers. If you want a copy of the game I suggest you take a trip to your local retailer right now. Expect a review of AFL Live 2004 in a week or so (hopefully).

    One game which hasn't received a lot of press but has been shaping up quite nicely is Rebellion's Judge Vs Death. The game was slated to hit European retailers in September but the company sent out (unintentionally) beta versions of the games to magazines and web sites for review. Rebellion realised this when reviewers were ringing up with faults that had been fixed for the final game. As a result the company has delayed the release of the title until October by which time reviews of the final game should start appearing.

    THQ Australia has confirmed that Dynasty Tactics 2 will be released here on November 28, a little over a week after the European release. The game, developed by Koei, is a turn based strategy game set in the Dynasty Warriors universe.

    Capcom has confirmed that it has some doubts concerning Resident Evil: Outbreak being online in Europe. The reason is the different online setup for Europe compared to Asia and America. The game is scheduled to hit Japan in November 2003 with and early 2004 release likely in Europe. The game is playable offline.

    After a starring partnership to bring the world the first two TimeSplitters games it looks like Free Radical (the developers) are looking for a new publisher for TimeSplitters 3 which is currently in development. Exactly why Eidos isn't going to be publishing the third title remains a mystery. The third game is slated for all three consoles so a multi-platform publisher is a certainty with Midway, Electronic Arts, Acclaim and Activision (the current favourite) all possibilities.

    Speaking of Eidos the company has announced that they are back in black (financially) with four million selling titles over the last financial year. Those games were Championship Manager 4, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, TimeSplitters 2, and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

September 6, 2003

    Gamenation has confirmed that Headhunter: Redemption has been pushed back from November 2003 to February 2004. The game is certainly shaping up as one to watch as the original game (reviewed here) was a solid title.

    Shinobi is a game that many old school gamers have been waiting in anticipation for some time now. Sega have put quite a bit of effort into this title that looks nice enough, plays well enough and sounds good enough, but won't capture that "classic" status of the originals. Still if you like the original titles, or action games in general then this is well worth a look. Here's Chris Gobbett's full review of the title.

September 3, 2003

    Playstation 3
    Sony has spoken out about the Playstation 3 console currently in development deep inside Sony's laboratories. Ken Kutaragi stated that the Playstation 3 will be backwards compatible not only with the Playstation 2, but also the PSOne games through software emulation. Sony also denied reports on CNN last week that they were to use an nVidia chip in the Playstation 3, stating the the graphics chipset will be custom made.

    Bloomberg are reporting that Shinichi Okamoto has left Sony. He was the chief technical officer and was working on the Playstation 3 console.

    Valve's director of marketing Doug Lombardi has confirmed that Half-Life 2 will be coming to Playstation 2. As yet no details about a release or which company is porting the title has been announced.

    Activision has confirmed that Snoop Dogg will headling the artists, and over 50 music tracks, in the sound department on True Crime: Streets of LA. The game is expected to be released in the coming months.

    Play It, the low budget game developer has announced that they have secured the rights to release a game based on the upcoming movie Underworld. The movie, starring Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman, sees Vampires and Warewolves battle in a Romeo and Juliet styled love story. The game should be released after the movie later this year.