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DECEMBER 2003 NEWS

December 31, 2003

    2003 Future Gamez Awards (Part 1)
    2003 Future Gamez Awards (Part 1) is the first part of the yearly awards here at Future Gamez. This first section covers the Worst Game, Best Cut Scenes, Best Peripheral, Best Publisher among many more categories. Check it out now. The second section will be put online in the coming days.

    New Years
    Just a quick note to wish everyone a great, and safe, New Year's Eve. I'm off to the Gold Class cinemas to see Return of the King in a little over 4 hours, and then when that finishes at about 10.00 I'll be off to either Surfers Paradise to battle the crowds, or to a more relaxed Paradise Point to witness the fireworks (Paradise Point is getting bigger and better every year).

December 30, 2003

    A Reminder
    A reminder to check back tomorrow for the first part of the 2003 Future Gamez Awards.

    Games
    Sega Japan has confirmed that Astro Boy: Tetsu Wan Atom will be released in that country on March 28th. Astro Boy is one of the best cartoons to make it outside Japan, and a return to consoles is most welcome. Hopefully the game will make it outside Japan one day.

December 29, 2003

    Forums
    Click here to go to the forums and post a message. Why? Because it's the easiest way to ask a question and get answers (Chris and I are in there almost daily), be it about release dates, gameplay, or anything else. There are almost 4000 posts in the forum and it can look pretty bare until you select "Show all Topics" in top drop down box. Don't forget you can also search for topics. See you there.

    Playstation 3
    According to The Magic Box Toshiba have announced that they have began a sample production of the PlayStation 3 memory chip, which uses the Yellowstone technology from Rambus. The memory capacity is 512MB, and speed is 3.2GHz.

    Preview
    Nightshade is the follow-up to Sega's moderately successful Shinobi is only a couple of months away now, and Overworks look to have made many changes and improvements to the game including more attacking moves in the air. Here's a preview including the latest screenshots of this hot looking title.

December 25, 2003

    Christmas Message
    Well it's that time of year again with Santa only hours away now. As with every year December is a mad house here as we try to review every game. However, even with Chris assisting this year, is was impossible - but we were close. Hence, our 2-3 line reviews below. We managed to review all of the main titles, and it should give you some idea as to the best games this year.

    Once again the Playstation 2 is dominating the market, it doesn't matter how XBox or Gamecube owners obscure the facts, the fact is that the Playstation 2 on a worldwide basis has a 3:1 installed base against the XBox, and around 4:1 for Gamecube with over 60 million consoles worldwide.

    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, Belinda Crowe & Ben Pollock (Who's my next contact up there?), Activision/Kristy Sheppard, Atari/Chris Eade (make sure I get a copy of the next Conflict game - PLEASE!), Electronic Arts/Burchin Ergin & Jamie McKinlay (I got my new, and improved, Cricket game!), Interplay/Tony Reed (I'm missing Interplay already...), Red Ant/Ivone Bozzi (damn that e-mail still isn't going - a year later!!), Sony Australia & related companies/Caroline Squire, Marie Najjar, Bronwyn Stubbs, Jacqueline Fegent and Adrian Christie (If there are any more of you...), Take 2 Interactive/David Powell & Simon Ramsey (I'm still looking for Manhunt...), THQ/Estelle Cleaver & Daniel Armstrong (Daniel - Defection eh?), UbiSoft/Owen Hughes (What an awesome year! Three cheers Hip-hooray, Hip-Hooray, Hip-Hooray), and finally Vivendi/Matthew Gain & Sally Robinson (Let's hope Vivendi last another year!).

    The biggest people to thank, however are you - the readers. Indeed many of you have become friends over the years and you have come to trust out judgement on games as well. I'm looking to expand to more people very early next year so if you're interested drop me an e-mail (didn't I say that last year as well??).

    Anyway, I just want to wish you all the best Christmas and hope you all get those games you asked Santa for. The site will be updating over the Christmas/New Year period with the 2003 Future Gamez Awards being announce New Years Eve.

    Merry Christmas

    David Warner and Chris Gobbett.

    Review
    Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded has been in development ever since the first game was released last year. In fact, it's amazing that a company can produce a game such as this in so short a time, but they have and Chris has absolutely loved this game. I've played it myself and agree that this is one of the best games ever on Playstation 2. Check out the full review now.

December 24, 2003

    Review
    Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is, without a single doubt, going to be the biggest movie this year, and many are tipping it to be the second biggest movie of all time to Titanic. The first weekend of release worldwide has amassed $US246 million dollars. Thats how much the first two movies cost to make in total. Fortunately EA's game does the movie justice and follows on from the previous installment perfectly. Check out the full review of this movie tie-in now.

    2-Line Reviews
    Once again the games have piled up this Christmas, and we simply haven't been able to review all the titles. There are a stack here we will be getting to around New Years as they arrived a little late in the year to do full reviews. But as was the case last year we have done some 2-3 line reviews with approximate scores had they been reviewed.

      Simpsons: Hit and Run: Some reviewers have stated that this game is similar in gameplay and quality as Grand Theft Auto. I disagree. While it is a great representation of the Simpsons universe, this is merely drive from A to B within the time limit type game. [Expected Score 75-85%]

      My Street: An online game aimed at the younger market, but merely a series of simplistic games bundled together at full retail price. This is not what you bought your broadband adapter for. [Expected Score 50-65%]

      XIII: XIII arrived too late to be included in this years major reviews, but this FPS has been higly praised for its use of cel-shaded graphics. A fairly sold game that has a few flaws that stop it becoming great. The inclusion of online gameplay is a bonus. In a year of few FPS's this is a standout. [Expected Score 70-80%]

      Roadkill: Midway's violent GTA driving clone plays slightly better then it looks. This isn't one for the kids with plenty of swearing, but this could keep you entertained for a while, especially if you like running over people. [Expected Score 60-70%]

      Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home: The title of this game "Don't Try This At Home" pretty much sums up this game. It's wrestling and while the game is fun in the short term it soon becomes tiresome, dull and repetitive. [Expected Score 40-60%]

      NBA Jam: NBA Jam's heyday was long ago and it's never looked the same since. It's back to old-style NBA Jam gameplay, but is flawed and frustrating compared to gems like NBA Street II. [Expected Score 60-70%]

      The Sims: Bustin' Out: The Sims is a game that you'll either love or hate. This game has improved graphics, more options and most importanty online gameplay to meet/compete with a friend. Certainly improved from last years impressive game. [Expected Score 80-90%]

    A Reminder
    At the end of the year the 2003 Future Gamez Awards will be announced. This will tell you what we think are the best, and worst of the year, as well as the best games in all the main categories. Expect the announcements to start around New Years Eve. Stay Tuned.

    Another thing to remind you all about is the Preview & Release Schedule Page which I have just updated. All the games scheduled for 2003 have now been released and all the known 2004 releases are listed with their dates. Already it's shaping up as the best year ever next year with several AAA titles already assured. Check out the Preview & Release Schedule Page now.

December 23, 2003

    Games
    Sony Japan has confirmed there is an issue with Gran Turismo 4: Prologue. Some people with the GT Force Steering Wheel may not be able to get the gas pedal working (slight problem that!). Sony are exchanging defective copies of the game for free. Just over 270,000 copies of the game had been sold in Japan until December 14.

    Review
    Ghost Hunter is the latest game from Studio Cambridge, the team the brought us Primal last year. Certainly the graphics and sound in this game are stunning, but what about the gameplay? Read Chris' full review to find out what he thought about this title.

    A Rant
    Ever since I was a young boy Michael Jackson has been a hero of mine. (Before you laugh I have been listening since the early 80's - a time when he had respect.) But something is pissing me off a bit. We all know he has been charged with child molestation and supplying a substance to someone underage, and to be honest I'm not sure if he's innocent of guilty. What's pissing me off however are the people in the UK saying he should not be permitted into the country. What I want to know is what ever happened to being innocent until proven guilty. Certain people in the media and welfare groups seem to have the idea that because he's been charged he's unfit to be in the country. Very sad.

December 22, 2003

    Games
    Electronic Arts have ennounced that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is in development at EA's UK studios and will be released in May next year, just in time for the new movie. The game is looking fairly similar to the previous two Harry Potter games, although you will now also be able to control Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

    Sony Europe has confirmed that a sequel to The Getaway is still in development. Although this was talked about when the first game was released nothing has been heard about the title since. It's still coming, we just don't know when.

    Sales Figures
    Sony Europe have confirmed that over 3 million Playstation 2's have been sold in France since the system was released.

    Review
    Jak II: Renegade has been available for a couple of weeks now, but don't dismiss the lack of a review as a lack of interest. Postage just sucks at this time of year, hence the delays. The original game was groundbreaking for several reasons, but rather then simply create some new levels Naughty Dog has pushed this sequel to (stunning) new heights.

December 21, 2003

    Forums
    Click here to go to the forums and post a message. Why? Because it's the easiest way to ask a question and get answers (Chris and I are in there almost daily), be it about release dates, gameplay, or anything else. There are almost 4000 posts in the forum and it can look pretty bare until you select "Show all Topics" in top drop down box. Doing this will showsall the topics, and that includes almost every game. Don't forget you can also search for a topic of interest. See you there.

    Playstation 3
    Well this isn't really Playstation 3 news, but it may as well be. Rockstar, in their fanancial statements, have confirmed that Duke Nukem Forever will not be released until 2005. Considering it was announced in 1997 this truly is the best vapour-ware ever seen. How does this relate to Playstation 3? Well, obviously the PS2 wasn't going to be powerful to do the game justice, but with the PS3 also due in 2005 I'm going to put some money on it hitting that console at, or soon after, launch. Still, that's only my speculation.

    Review
    Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a great movie earlier this year, and somewhat surprised the world with a very strong worldwide gross of almost $US450 million ($AU650 million). Sadly this game is no where near as exciting, and should have been in development for well, about another 12 months. Here's the full review.

December 20, 2003

    Games
    Rockstar has confirmed that they will be publishing Angel Studios' Red Dead Revolver. The game was originally shown through Capcom but received some disappointing early hands on previews and was dropped by the company. Set in the wild West the game certainly has plenty of potential, and now that Rockstar is involved the potential for another GTA/Manhunt quality game is possible. Expect a late 2004 release.

    Sony have announced development of a new Ape Escape title in Japan. The game (in Japan) will be called Piposaru Olympia: Gekitou! Gacha Mecha Athlete which translates to Madcap Monkey Olympia: Fierce Fight Gadget Athlete although you can be certain that if it makes it outside Japan (let's hope) it will undergo a name change. The game will be released in Japan in 2004.

    Review
    Colin McRae Rally 04 is the latest game in the best rally series. This latest version promises improvements in most areas but will they be enough to warrant a purchase? Chris has been playing the game for the last couple of weeks and has completed a comprehensive review. In short, he loved it.

December 19, 2003

    Games
    Sony Europe has confirmed they have shipped 2 million Eye Toy units in Europe. Add the strong American sales on top of that and it's easy to see this game is a monster hit for the company. Eye Toy: Play 2 is currently in development for release in 2004, and there are rumours of other titles which will make use of the device. More on that later.

    Eidos has confirmed that Hitman: Contracts is currently in development. This is the third game in the series, and should be released worldwide in Q'2 2004. Once again Io Interactive are developing the title. The developers are promising improved controls, more weapons and a more gentle learning curve.

    Vivendi Universal have confirmed they will publish a game, which is being developed by Genuine Games, based on the hit movie Fight Club starring Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. The game will include locations and scenarios seen in the movie and should be released in late 2004.

    Review
    EA Sports Cricket 2004 is the highly anticipated sequel to EA's massive selling EA Sports Cricket 2002. This game improves in every department with better graphics, sound and gameplay - including a lot less (but still some) faults/bugs. If you like cricket they you'll certainly want to check this title out. Here's the full review.

December 18, 2003

    Games
    According to reports This Is Football 2004 and SOCOM II (both online titles) will be released in Europe around March 2004. As mentioned yesterday Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, which is also online, was expected around March 2004 in Europe, but looks likely to be delayed until a later date.

    Capcom have confirmed that they will be publishing both Riding Spirits II (in March 2004) which is a motorbike racing game and Way of the Samurai 2, an action title in Q'2 2004 in Europe. The games will be distributed in Australia through THQ. The first Way of the Samurai was a dececnt game which never managed to sell well despite Eidos' publishing muscle behind it.

    Review
    Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon is the third, and apparently final, game in the classic point and click series. The developers have made some massive updates for this latest game. Chris has played and seemingly loved this game. Here's the full review of this stunning adventure title.

December 17, 2003

    Games
    Sony America has confirmed they are delaying the release of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain from February 2004 until Spring (Q'2) 2004. This will give the developers extra time to polish the game properly. No word yet on a PAL release, but it may take a little longer due to the online gameplay.

    Review
    Secret Weapons Over Normandy is yet another LucasArts title which has been developed outside the publisher. Flight sims are fairly uncommon on consoles, and even on PC's in recent years. If made well they can be great, if made poorly they can be horrific. Fortunately this is the former. This is one game you'll want to check out.

December 16, 2003

    Review
    Need For Speed Underground is one of those rare games that really makes your jaw drop. According to the Electronics Boutique store at Pacific Fair this is the second biggest pre-ordered game this Christmas (behind NRL Rugby League). With stunning visuals, sound and gameplay it's easy to see why. This is awesome.

December 15, 2003

    Games
    Koei have confirmed that 3 titles will be making it to Europe in 2004. These titles include Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends (expected through THQ on February 27) and at a later date Romance of the Three Kingdoms VIII and Pacific Theatre of Operations IV.

    Sales
    Sony has announced sales of 5 million Playstation 2's in the UK. That's a fairly impressive figure with Sony still dominating the market easily over the rivals. Of course, and dispite what other console owners will try to tell you, solid sales ensure a sizable number of future titles.

    Review
    Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is the second Batman game on Playstation 2 from UbiSoft. Introducing a new character into the Batman universe should always be an exciting experience, but this gameplay in this title lets is down considerbly, even with a $AU49.95 price tag. Here's the full review.

December 14, 2003

    Playstation 3
    Sony and Toshiba have announced that the CELL processor (to be used in Playstation 3) will go into production in March 2004. The production run, however, is only to test the chips and ensure they are functional with production for the retail version not expected until 2005. The CELL processor uses 65nanometer technology as opposed to most other chips today which use 90 nanometer processes. This reduction should allow for cheaper chips (in future) and more power. It's starting to get more exciting now, isn't it?

    Games
    It must be hard being a Kiwi. People are always trying to pull the wool over your eyes, you can never order a six pack (although there is apparently an unusual number of sex packs over there), but now one of the hottest games this year, Manhunt, has been banned in the country due to excessive violence.

    Sony has announced that they will be releasing all four episodes of .Hack in Europe with the first title expected in March 2004.

    Capcom's BioHazard Outbreak (known as Resident Evil Online outside Japan) has sold an impressive 101,377 units on the first day on sale in Japan.

    EA Sports have announced a new game, EA Sports Fight Night 2004 for release in early 2004. The game is a boxing game promising unprecedented control - inclusing using the analogue stick to throw the punches. Exactly why the company ditched the Knockout Kings title remains unknown but this PS2 version will be online (in America at least). Expect more details soon.

    Review
    SWAT: Global Strike Team wasn't really near the top of my "want to play titles" list, but over the last week it is one title that has kept me engrossed for hours on end. Here's the full review of the game that plays much better then it looks, although not for too long.

December 13, 2003

    Playstation 3
    Well the first Playstation 3 title has been confirmed. According to reports developers Climax are working on a game codenamed Avalon which is, unsurprisingly given the developer, a vehicle based game, which may include sea and air sections as well. The game is also headed to XBox 2. The developers are aiming for a 2005 release.

    Games
    Activision Chairman and CEO, Robert Kotick has confirmed that a sequel to True Crime: Streets of LA is in the works. No word yet on a platform or release date.

    Review
    Wallace and Gromit in Project Zoo isn't likely to be everyones cup of tea, but according to Chris Gobbett, who has spent the last couple of days playing the game for review, fans of the TV show will probably get a kick out of this game. Here's the full review of this game with all the details.

December 10, 2003

    Games
    Konami have confirmed they will publish Y's VI: The Ark of Napishtim worldwide in 2004. The game is being developed by Nihon Falcom.

    Electronic Arts have confirmed they are working on titles for the PSP. No details yet on what games are being worked on, but you can bet there will be most of the sports range.

    Companies
    Yet another developer has closed its doors. This time it's Black Isle Studios, the RPG division of Interplay. This developer has worked on titles such as Fallout on PC (indeed Fallout 3 has been canned as a result), Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment and was also involved in Baldur's Gate.

    Sales Figures
    Everyone loves sales figures, especially if you're a PS2 owners, and the PS2's dominance in Europe is continuing. Last week sales in the UK topped 98,000 units. The Xbox managed sales of 23,000 units while the Gamecube continues to improve with 19,000 units. The n-Gage sold 100 units.

    Review
    Crash Nitro Kart is an update to Crash Team Racing on the PSOne. Crash Bandicoot returns to the PS2, not as a platform game, but rather in karts to race around a variety of tracks. The game is certainly aimed at the younger gamer, but it still a somewhat enjoyable title for the older kids among us. Here's the full review.

December 9, 2003

    Games

      If you thought that NRL Rugby League was only going to be a small title think again. The game has set pre-order records at Electronics Boutique Eastgarden store with 1,060 pre-orders. Remember, however this is in NRL heartland so sales around the rest of Australia (especially in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia where AFL rules) is likely to be much more limited. Here's the press release:

        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

        Wellington, NZ - December 9, 2003 - Anticipation for the soon to be released videogame "Rugby League" from Sidhe Interactive and Tru Blu Games has reached new heights with the announcement of record breaking preorder levels for the title.

        EB Games Eastgarden's store in Sydney, Australia, have broken the worldwide single store preorder record for that international retail chain with over 1,060 units of the Rugby League game being preordered at that location alone. The record was formerly held by a US based EB store for preorders of "GTA3: Vice City".

        With several days before the release of Rugby League remaining, the Sydney store is expected to set a formidable record for future games to topple.

        "We are very excited about the response we have had from consumers and the high presales reported by retailers", said Mario Wynands, Managing Director of Sidhe Interactive. "Combined with the positive reviews the game has received, we are looking forward to a great launch for the title".

        Rugby League (known as "Stacey Jones Rugby League" in NZ and "SuperLeague Rugby League" in Europe) will be available from December 12, 2003 for the Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and PC platforms.

    December 7, 2003

      Games
      Well it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has played the game but Sega is suing publishers Fox Interactive (and parent company Fox Entertainment) and Electronic Arts as well as devlopers Radical Entertainment for breach of copyright. The case revolves around the game Simpsons: Road Rage which Sega is alleging is a rip-off of their classic game Crazy Taxi. While there may be a case in this instance it makes you ask the question. Who developed the first FPS, the first realtime strategy or first kart racing game?

      Sony has announced that they have shipped 130,000 copies of their game SIREN in Japan. They were expecting to sell 100,000 copies. The horror game is scheduled for release in Europe in March 2004, and will be renamed to Forbidden Siren.

      First day sales of Gran Turismo 4: Prologue (a cutdown version of the full game) have reached a staggering 79,754 units. In total Sony Japan expectes to sell around 300,000 units. Another notable game selling well in Japan (especially given the content) is EA's Medal of Honor: Rising Sun with 40,561 sales on the first day.

      Review
      The Italian Job is based upon the recently released movie. While critically panned, was a commercial success and the game tie-in was assured. With such a style of movie the potential for a brilliant game was always there, but sadly appears not to have been realised. Chris has completed the full review.

    December 6, 2003

      Games
      Rumours from Japan are starting that Psykio will be bringing their classic shooters Gunbird 1 and Gunbird 2 to the Playstation 2. Now word yet on a release date.

      Konami have announced that they have sold 6.5 million copies of games in their Dance Dance Revolution games worldwide. Expect plenty more on the way then.

      Review
      Time Crisis 3 is the third game in Namco's premiere shooter series, and is easily the best. The graphics have been improved, and the new features are impressive. If you like light gun games then you'll want to check out this. Here's the full review.

    December 5, 2003

      Games
      Another day another dollar, but Terminator 3 came out on DVD today. Not the best extras (the commentary with Arnie is pretty funny though) but the movie transfer is excellent. Go get it. Not game news? Oh, OK then, Terminator 3: Rise of the Macines had been delayed until December 12, but Atari have just brought it forward again to December 5th.

      Capcom have confirmed that they will be releasing Onimusha 3 in Japan on February 26th next year. The game introduces French actor Jean Reno (The Professional) to the series.

      Preview
      NRL Rugby League is the most pre-ordered game this year on Playstation 2, and I haven't even done a preview of the game! Well, here it is. Check out the latest info and exclusive screens of this stunning looking title. If you haven't pre-ordered you's better be quick to the shops on December 12.

    December 4, 2003

      Games
      In recent days I've been playing a game from Midway called Roadkill. To be honest this is easily one of the most violent and profanity filled games I've ever seen but has passed OFLC with a MA15+ rating. To be honest I'm surprised it passed, but it has so there's one for the gamers. The game should be released in the next week or so, and you can expect a review soon. Oh, if you're wondering what it's about think of a cross between Twisted Metal: Black and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but with a lot more blood.

      Review
      Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is the latest game in Electronic Arts' premiere First Person Shooter series. This game is set after the attack at Pearl Harbour and in the locations around Asia against the Japanese. Unfortunately it seems the Electronic Arts have dropped the ball on this title as it has ended up as one of the biggest disappointments this year.

    December 2, 2003

      Games
      Sony Australia has confirmed that NRL Rugby League will be released here in Australia on December 12. This highly anticpated game looks set to become one of the biggest sellers ever in the country. Electronics Boutique Australia-wide have stopped any more pre-orders as they have reached their allotment. If you want a copy you'd better be quick this one will be hot.

      Review
      Bust-A-Bloc is one of the budget games being released from THQ for $AU29.95 on Playstation 2. As an update to the classic block breaking game, Breakout, this is a pretty good effort, and worth a look. Here's the full review.

    December 1, 2003

      Games
      EA Games have announced that they will be publishing Namco's R: Racing in March 2004. The game is essentially a sequel the the very disappointing Ridge Racer V.

      Review
      Beyond Good & Evil is the latest game from Michel Ancel, the creator of Rayman. If you thought Rayman was cool then check out Jade in this stunning adventure game. The graphics and sound are superb while, more importantly the storyline is engrossing. You'll want this game after reading this review, I guarantee it.

      AFL Live 2004 is one of the hottest titles released this year. While the previous game was a solid attempt at recreating the sport (or religion if you're like many people), the sequel could have gone so much further. Unfortunately it doesn't advance the series much at all. Here's the full review.


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