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JANUARY 2004 NEWS

January 31, 2004

    Games
    Capcom has confirmed that the Gamecube exclusive Killer 7 will not be exclusive to Nintendo's platform. In a surprising move the company has announce the PS2 port will ship in Japan and America on the same day as the Gamecube title.

    Codemasters have scrapped plans to release Colin McRae Rally 04 on Playstation 2 and PC in America. The XBox version will still be released there. Please explain...

    Preview
    .Hack Volume 1 Infection is possibly one of the strangest names for a video game. But the scope of this game is quite large, and the storyline, well, somewhat confusing. This game simulates a MMORPG meaning you don't need an internet connection - but doesn't that make it a normal game with lots of interactive characters? Still, it's great to see such a unique game getting a release in PAL territories. Here's a full preview.

January 30, 2004

    Games
    Is there anyone out there looking forward to Reflections' DRIV3R (or Driver 3 for those of you trying to work the name out)? Of course there is. With over 12 million sales of the first two games the third promises to be bigger and better. Sadly, Atari have just announced that DRIV3R has been delayed from March 31st to until June 1st. Apparently it has something to do with allowing more time for marketing and to meet the needs of shareholders expectations... Does that mean the game will be sitting in finished form for an extra couple of months? I have a suspicion the developers will still be pretty busy during this time...

    Preview
    Gradius V is the second time this series has been seen on the PS2 with Gradius III & IV being released way back in 2000. Older gamers will remember just how prevalent side scrolling shooters were until the end of the 16-bit era. The genre, sadly, lost favour with gamers, but Konami's latest effort looks stunning and should rekindle some interest. Here's an early (already stunning) preview of Gradius V.

January 29, 2004

    Preview
    Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is the second game in UbiSoft's stunning series. The first game, Splinter Cell was a massive hit, and this sequel looks set to offer massive improvements, and new locations. Here's a preview with the latest screens and information. Expect a release in late March.

    Games
    THQ has confirmed today that they will be publishing Hyper Street Fighting II in PAL territories on April 30th this year. Here's the press release:

      HADO-RYUKEN! CAPCOM CONFIRM BONUS MOVIE WITH HYPER STREET FIGHTER II

      LONDON, UK - 27th January 2004 - CE Europe, Capcom's European publishing arm, today confirmed that its forthcoming PlayStation 2 title, Hyper Street Fighter II, will include a bonus film - Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. This feature length anime movie sees Guile, Chun-Li, Ken and Ryu fighting side by side to defeat the infamous Shadowland organisation led by master criminal Bison. CE Europe is also able to confirm that the suggested retail price for the game and bonus movie will be £19.99. Hyper Street Fighter II is scheduled for release on 30th April 2004.

      Based on the acclaimed 'Street Fighter II Turbo' system, Hyper Street Fighter II features all the different versions of each character ever to appear in a Street Fighter II title and places them in one game. This perfect reproduction of the legendary fighting game will appeal not only to those who experienced the huge phenomenon that was 2D beat 'em ups during the late 1980s and 1990s, but also young players who have never played Street Fighter II before.

      While Hyper Street Fighter II utilises the character sprites and sound samples found in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, each character's actions are faithfully replicated from each specific Street Fighter game. For example, you could have Ken from the original Street Fighter II, before his dragon punch had its additional reach and his hurricane kick performed multiple hits up against Ken from Street Fighter II Turbo. It's going to be an epic battle through the Street Fighter universe to find out once and for all who is the ultimate warrior.

      Game modes include Champion Edition, Turbo, Super, Super Turbo and World Warriors. Icons will appear on screen in place of the Super Turbo super meter, denoting which version of a character you've selected. In addition to the fighting itself, Hyper Street Fighter II will also feature a gallery mode, which will contain artwork, opening and ending sequences from all the games and credits for the various instalments.

    According to The Magicbox Sega's Makoto Osaki confirmed that Virtua Fighter 5 is under development. As yet no platforms have been announced, but the PS2 would seem like a good bet given that the console already has two other VF titles on it.

    According to Larry Probst Electronic Arts have 8-12 titles in development for the PSP. The console is expected to be released in America around November/December with a pricepoint of $US199-249. Expensive yes, but apparenltly Sony are looking at making money on the hardware, not software which may keep software prices down.

January 27, 2004

    Games
    If rumours on IGN are to be believed then PS2 owners may be seeing the PC online hit Battlefield 1942 on the console. The PC game allows up to 64 players to battle online with real world maps and authentic World War II weapons, planes and vehicles. More news when, or if, it turns out to be true.

    Release Dates
    Well I've spent a bit of time updating the release schedule for the Playstation 2 releases in Australia. Over 20 additions about 20 date changes. Check out the release schedule on the Preview Page.

    Preview
    Firefighter FD18 Now recognised as one of the most heroic jobs after September 11 it is somewhat amazing that there has been a lack of firefighing games over the years. I guess that could be put down to the need for realistic fires and effects. Konami's title is a winner in that department for sure. This game looks hot.

January 25, 2004

    Games
    Not only content with snatching Burnout 3 from Acclaim but Electronic Arts have now announced that they will be publishing the third title in Free Radical Design's TimeSplitters series of games. Little is known about the game at this stage with a release not yet set for 2005. With over 2 million sales of the previous games this third title should see online gameplay finally included after it was dropped at the last moment in TimeSplitters 2. In a somewhat strange move Eidos didn't seem interested in publishing the third title - seemingly more interested in "owning" the intellectual property of their titles - Free Radical Design owns the TimeSplitter franchise.

    Square Enix has confirmed that sales of Final Fantasy X-2 have surpassed over 3 million units - and over one million copies in North America alone since the November release. The game will be released in PAL territories in February (almost a year after the March 13th, 2003 release in Japan).

January 22, 2004

    Review
    Manhunt The most controversial game ever is available now. From the makers of GTA: Vice City comes this sadistic action game wher it's kill or be killed. You'll need a strong stomach to play this one - it's violent. Still Manhunt is the most "stealthy" game ever. Here's a bloody full review.

January 21, 2004

    Games
    Electronics Arts has seemingly snatched the rights to publish Criterion's upcoming Burnout 3. Although previous games in the series have been published by Acclaim it seems that the mighty dollar has won out. Electronic Arts has confirmed that the PS2 game will have online components, but given their non-online stance with the XBox that systems may miss out. The game is expected to be released in late 2004.

    Evolution Studios has confirmed that they are working on World Rally Championship 4 for the PS2. Hopefully they will be looking at a more realistic physics engine in future - and not the dumbed down game which (if rumours are correct) Sony insisted on for previous versions.

    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.

January 20, 2004

    Games
    UbiSoft have shipped an interesting little pinball styled game today called Flipnic. It retails for $AU49.95 and is well worth a look.

    Preview
    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Forget about the name, this game is all about quality. Hideo Kojima knows how to make a stunning title, and this looks set to leave everything for dead. There are plenty of details about the game announced so far, but as usual way too much remains a mystery for eager gamers. Still, here's a full preview with all the facts.

January 19, 2004

    PSP
    We're still undertermined it we will be covering the PSP here at Future Gamez, but until we know for sure we'll keep you informed of any developments. The biggest rumour to hit this week is that Sony are going to bump the memory up from the planned 8MB to an impressive 32MB. Apparently the developers were telling Sony that 8MB simply wasn't enough to create solid 3D engines, and given that the system is as powerful as a PS2, that was essential.

    Preview
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Although the recently rumoured John Woo movie was never greenlit, Konami's game based on the four most famous turtles is due out soon. The cel-shaded graphics look wonderful but it will come down to the gameplay to determine if this game is any good or not. With release in April we won't have long to find out.

January 18, 2004

    Games
    Konami have become the first third party Playstation 2 publisher to release a game in China. The game is none other then Winning Eleven 7: International, the Japanese equivalent of Konami's phenomenal Pro Evolution Soccer 3. This becomes the second game released in the territory after the equally stunning ICO.

    Preview
    Headhunter Redemption The first Headhunter was a much overlooked title, especially being release within weeks of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. This sequel is shaping up very nicely indeed with some gorgeous graphics and a soldid storyline. Here's a preview with the latest details and screenshots.

January 17, 2004

    Games
    As many of you know UbiSoft's phenomenal Beyond Good & Evil had some disappointing sales around the world, that was despite some glowing reviews from around the world. The XBox and Gamecube version will be released on February 26, and will have a lower RRP of $49.95. The good news for PS2 owners is that the game will also be reduced to that price on the same date. If you don't have Beyond Good & Evil already, you now have no excuse to get this awesome title.

    Preview
    Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers Acclaim have today announced a new World War II game for release in June, just in time for D-Day. This top-down action title looks like a blast, and the developers have potential having worked on games such as Fallout 2, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Here are the first screens and details about this game.

January 15, 2004

    Games
    I think this one is exciting enough to speak for itself really...

      LUCASARTS ANNOUNCES DETAILS ON STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT
      Sydney, NSW – January 14, 2004
      – LucasArts officially announced today the exciting details regarding Star Wars Battlefront, an intense open-ended multiplayer action game set in the Star Wars® universe due out this fall for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Xbox video game system from Microsoft and the PC. Star Wars Battlefront will put fans and gamers in the heat of the action as they re-live all of the epic battles from the classic and prequel eras of the Star Wars universe.

      Both console and PC players will be able to participate in the most memorable Star Wars battles set in over 15 environments across 10 diverse planets including Hoth, Geonosis, Yavin, Tatooine and Naboo. Players will be able to select one of over 20 different soldier types from four factions: Rebel Alliance, Imperial Army, Clone Army and Battle Droids. Each soldier will have specialised abilities and the freedom to use ground-based turrets found on the battlefront as well as over 15 diverse ground and air vehicles including the AT-ST, X-Wing and speeder bike.

      Star Wars Battlefront will be optimised for PS2 online, Xbox Live and PC online. Console gamers will be able to battle against 16 players over the Internet or 32 players connected via LAN. PC gamers will be able to battle against 32 players over the Internet or 64 via a LAN. The game will also support voice chat through compatible headsets for the PS2 and Xbox console systems as well as PC.

      In addition to the single-player and various multiplayer modes offered in Star Wars Battlefront, a unique “Conquest” mode adds an innovative and strategic gameplay element to the action. After each battle is completed and the planet is conquered, the winning team will be rewarded with a special “bonus” ability that can be deployed in future battles in an attempt to take over the Star Wars galaxy planet-by-planet.

    Review
    The Sims: Bustin' Out Electronic Arts have unleashed their second Sims based game on Playstation 2 and while there is no major changes (exept online gameplay) this game has several enhancemnts inclusing new locations, new characters and new careers. Here's a full review of the game.

January 13, 2004

    Preview
    Gran Turismo 4 Sony's premiere racing series is about to be unleashed for the fourth time (excluding demo and special versions), and the developers, Polyphony Digital, have added a tonne of new features. 50 tracks, 500 cars and, oh, online gameplay! This is one game that almost every PS2 owner worldwide will want in their collection. Here's full preview with several stunning screens.

January 12, 2004

    Games
    Konami have announced several new games at a conference this week. The first is Neo Contra which continues the classic shooting series. This latest game will include more 3D styled graphics and action. NanoBreaker is another new game announced and sees you playing a military cyborg out to stop and army of man hunting machines. WWX Rumble Rose is a new wrestling title, but before you groan, it stars women wrestlers which should keep us interested. Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim has also been announced for port from PC to PS2 and will be most welcome if the RPG makes it to PAL territories eventually. Finally the biggest game announced is most likley Silent Hill 4: The Room which should see a release around Christmas time.

    Konami have also announced that the long awaited Gradius V will be released in Japan in April. No word yet on a PAL release.

    Preview
    Puyo Pop Unless you follow the Japanese game market you may not have heard of this game (which is also known as Puyo Puyo), but it is the most popular puzzle game besides the legendary Tetris. With over 3 million sales in the series to date this latest game looks like the best yet. This Sonic Team developed game is out soon - here's a preview.

January 10, 2004

    Games
    C&VG have been digging around and it's not good news for fans of Gran Turismo. Apparently Sony has now confirmed that the PAL version of Gran Turismo 4 will not hit the shelves until June or July. No word yet if that means the Japanese and American release dates have shifted back from Q'1, or if the PAL delay is due to the online network needing more time to be setup (The PAL network is different to Japan/America with Capcom even uncertain if Resident Evil Online will be online in PAL territories).

    And it continues... On December 17, 2003 Take Two (parent company of Rockstar) registered the trademark GTA: San Andreas, GTA5 and GTA6. Interestingly they did not register the full Grand Theft Auto name.

    Well, it appears as if rumours were incorrect with Capcom re-confirming that Resident Evil 4 will be a Gamecube exclusive. Damn...

    UbiSoft has confirmed that they have secured the rights to release Tecmo's Project Zero 2 - Crimson Butterfly in Europe and Australia. The original on XBox is one of the most atmospheric horror games of all time. Expect the PS2 sequel (which is actually a prequel) to be released in Q'2 2004. Yet another powerful title from UbiSoft - hopefully this one will sell in the numbers it deserves.

    Preview
    Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 has been available on PC and XBox for some time now, but UbiSoft have just announced a port to Playstation 2. No, scrap that, this isn't just a port. UbiSoft's Shanghai studio are adding in many new features, including a split screen mode, better enemy AI, more scripted events and new online maps. This is shaping up as one of the best action games on the system.

January 8, 2004

    Games
    It seems that Amazon.Co.Uk can't make up their minds about the listing for Grand Theft Auto: Sin City. The game was listed for release on November 14, then November 5, now it's December 31, 2004 - basically meaning they have no exact date. They have also today changed the name to Grand Theft Auto: Next Episode. Could it be that Sin City was taken from recent rumours, or is it the real title leaked early. Is the game coming out in November, or was that also specualtion. Time will tell.

    According to reports from America some stores are selling Beyond Good & Evil for the insanely low price of $US9.95. If you live in America you MUST pick this title up at this price. For those of us in PAL territories this game is still and excellent purchase even at full price. Sales have been extremely disappoiting, the game didn't make it into the Top 20 in the UK over Christmas, but don't let that fool you - this is an awesome title.

    Preview
    DRIV3R is the third game in Reflections driving/action series, and is just about to be unleashed on the Playstation 2. With three months to go this game is already looking absolutely stunning. Fans of GTA games (which is pretty much everyone) will do well to check out the preview of this game prior to the March 16 release.

    Sales
    Sales figures for December 15-27 in the UK have been released. The Playstation 2 managed to sell an impressive 190,000 units in total, the XBox 80,000 units, and the Gamecube 41,000 units. On the handheld front the Gameboy Advance SP sold 72,000 units, Gameboy Advance 2,550 units and the Nokia N-Gage continues to astound (for all the wrong reasons) with a massive 380 units!

    Sony Japan has confirmed that the Playstation 2 has indeed gone on sale in China in both Shanghai and Guangzhou. The system was released on January 1st, 2004 and sells for 1988 yuan ($AU312). Only one game is available at the moment, but it's one of the best ever, ICO.

    Sony Japan has also confirmed 100,000 sales of their PSX system in Japan. This may not sound like a lot however it was over 35% of total DVD recorder sales during the period.

January 7, 2004

    Games
    UbiSoft have today confirmed that Rainbow Six 3 will indeed be coming to the Playstation 2. The game is scheduled for release in PAL territories on March 18, 2004. Better still the game is not only looking comparable to the Xbox game, but will also include new levels, better enemy AI (they now grab civilians for protection etc). Oh yar, the game will now support the headset! Rainbow Six 3 is being coded at UbiSoft's Shanghai studio, the same team that did the excellent port of Splinter Cell last year. The levels are being altered from the PC/XBox game to provide different challenges, and a couple of enhancements.

    Well, confirmation today that AFL Live Premiership Edition will indeed include the 2004 fixture and players, but there might be even more. According to Acclaim Australia the developers are looking at improving the commentary and throwing in some more animations. This is still to be confirmed, however, with an official press release expected in the coming weeks. There may be a couple more surprises in store too, so stay tuned!

January 6, 2004

    Games
    Well here's something quite unexpected. Acclaim have a new game on their release schedules and it's none other then AFL Live Premiership Edition. Sadly Acclaim's offices was shut by the time I got the e-mail so I haven't been able to confirm any details however my assumption is that it includes all the 2004 players and fixtures. The game is expected to be released in April, just after the full season starts and will have a RRP of $AU69.95. Expect more soon.

January 5, 2004

    Playstation 3
    Some details regarding the Dual Shock 3 controller (for use with the PS3) have been leaked to C&VG. Apparently according to leaked information from an unnamed developer the controller will be wireless as standard. Apparently there will also be a new button on the underneath of the right arm on the controller. I only hope that the PS3 has 4 (or more) controller ports built into the system, or if it's wireless it can cope with that number as well.

    Games
    According to Amazon's UK web site (here) the next Grand Theft Auto game will have the name Sin City. Sadly there is still no firm release date with a Q'3 2004 release mentioned by Take Two a couple of weeks ago.

    Game Informer are reporting that Capcom's BioHazard 4 (known as Resident Evil 4 outside Japan) may no longer be a Gamecube exclusive. Apparently after the games release in 2004 the game may be ported to other systems, with XBox and PS2 the likely candidates.

    Atari has announced that they have reached and agreement for Ridley Scott Associates to create a 3 minute movie sequence for the upcoming game Driv3r. RSA is the company owned by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator) and Tony Scott (who has directed some of the spectacular BMW mini-movies). The short movie has been written by RSA's Sean Mullens, is called "Run The Gauntlet" and stars Tanner, the hero in the game. The short movie will be released in 30 second bits starting January 23 on the official Driv3r website.

    Activision has announced they they have secured the license from Dreamworks to develop a game based on Shrek 2. The second movie is expected in cinemas in mid-2004 with the games expected sometime around that date. Activision also have the rights to make games on Dreamworks' three other animated movies - Shark Tale, Madagascar, and Over the Hedge.

    A couple of weeks ago Sony were set to launch the PS2 in China. At the last minute however the launch was canceled with rumours pointing towards piracy, and an extremely non-talkitive Sony. Now, however, rumour is spreading that it was in fact the Chinese Government that stopped the launch by making it illegal to import or sell game consoles in China. Sony are apparently now trying to label the console as an Entertainment Device.

    Christmas Sales
    Well it looks like game sales in Australia over the 2003 Christmas period were very disappointing, This article mentions that game sales have only increased 2% this year, compared to 31% in 2002. The article mentions one possible reason for the small growth is the high price of the PS2 and XBox.

    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.

January 3, 2004

    2003 Future Gamez Awards
    2003 Future Gamez Awards (Part 2) is the second and final part of the 2003 Future Gamez Awards. This section covers best game in most categories including Sports, RPG, Adventure, FPS, Action and Platform game as well as best sound and graphics and finally the Best Overall Game of 2003. If you missed out on the first part check out the news from a couple of days ago.

December 31, 2003

    2003 Future Gamez Awards
    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).


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