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MARCH 2004 NEWS

March 31, 2004

    Games
    According to rumours LucasArts are working on a game with Darth Vader as a lead characters. No one is talking about, or confirming the title, but something may appear at the E3 show. My guess (and yes it's a guess) is that the game will focus on the transformation years from from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader - much in line with the upcoming movie coming out in May 2005.

    Review
    Whiplash is one of the funniest games to be released in quite some time is available now thanks to publishers Eidos and developers Crystal Dynamics (who are now working on the next Tomb Raider for Edios). There wasn't much pre-release buzz for Whiplash which is a shame as it's rather good and well worth considering if you like platform games (and who doesn't?). Check out this review now.

March 30, 2004

    Competition - Last Days
    Just a quick reminder that there is only a couple of days until the competition to win a copy of Atari's Grand Prix Challenge is over. If you haven't got your entries in yet make sure you do so. A lot of people have been getting the questions wrong so the odds are still pretty good. Good Luck! The winner will be announced at the end of the week. Keep your eyes peeled for a new competition starting late this week as well!

    Review
    Forbidden Siren is one of the most atmospheric horror games to out from Japan in recent years and gets a PAL release before America. Sony Europe has done some work to the game (apart from a name change) with the dubbing of voices. Sadly it pretty much ruins the game. Here's the review of this disappointing title.

March 29, 2004

    Games
    Square Enix has shipped a massive 1.3 million units of Dragon Quest V in Japan with first day sales topping 772,078 units. With Square strong support of the American and European markets we can only hope the game will be released here eventually, but nothing is announced as yet.

    Preview
    Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has only recently been announced by Namco and the title looks like having the most visually impressive graphics seen on PS2 to date. Expect more of the classic flight simulation gameplay as well. Here's a preview with the first screens released from Namco. No word on online gameplay though.

March 28, 2004

    Bonus Offer
    Whoops I missed this press release when I did the update yesterday. Looks like Sony have a nice deal to tempt more people to the worlds number one console with $100 of extras when you purchase a system. Here's the press release:

      PlayStation Continues to Broaden Reach
      Consumer offer provides $100 bonus goods on purchase

      Sydney, March 25th, 2004 - Sony Computer Entertainment Australia today announced its Easter promotional offer that will guarantee consumers the best value for money in the interactive games market.

      As of today when a customer purchases a PlayStation®2 they will get a choice from a selection of 'best selling' games (Platinum) and a DVD remote control. Effectively the consumer will be given $100 in bonus goods after purchasing a silver or black PlayStation 2, priced respectively from $379 and $329.

      Offering consumers a Platinum game ensures their first taste of PlayStation 2 gaming is guaranteed to be rewarding. The Platinum brand was established to signify games that had achieved record sales and then are re-released at a great value price point (RRP$49.95). Among the Platinum titles are hit games including Gran Turismo 3, The Getaway, Ratchet and Clank, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X and Tekken 4.

      "The ownership of PlayStation 2 continues to broaden, especially with the release of broad game concepts like EyeToy and others in the works such as SingStar. With this in mind, we remain focussed on providing value propositions that appeal to all," said Michael Ephraim, Managing Director Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.

      There are over of 1.2 million PlayStation 2 consoles now in Australian homes and with by far the largest range of games, many of which are exclusive, PlayStation 2 has established itself as clear market leader. This offer, along with the strong and exciting range of new release software for 2004, will ensure ownership and the appeal of PlayStation 2 continues to grow.

      In contrast to similar offers customer will be rewarded with the bonus items at point of purchase. The offer will available while stocks last.

    Games
    Sony Europe has confirmed that Gran Turismo 4: Prologue will be released in Europe in May. According to The Magic-Box the game will include a special Making of GT4 and interview with Kazunori Yamauchi. When I queried Sony Australia regarding a release here they replied that they "have no information regarding a potential launch of Prologue in Australia". Fingers crossed then.

    Capcom Europe has confirmed that Resident Evil: Outbreak WILL NOT be online in PAL territories due to the complexities of different languages and Internet services. The game will be released in September with the 5 scenarios still promised to provide as much gameplay as previous titles in the series.

March 27, 2004

    Personal & Competition
    Guess who's back, back again? Yep, I'm back from my trip to New Zealand which I'm glad to say I had a terrific time. Didn't see any hobbits, but I never realised Auckland has more Asian people then, well Asia! Had some great weather, did the touristy things and well, am back to work on the site again!! Speaking of which let's get onto the news, there's a bit around with the Game Developers Conference on at the moment. Oh yar, we've got more entries coming in for the competition and there's only a couple more days to go. Don't forget to get your entries in.

    Games
    Namco has confirmed that Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War will be released in Japan and America in Fall this year (Q'3). While no confirmation of a PAL release was made, it's certain to appear by years end. The game will once again include photo-realistic graphics and over 50 licensed real-world aircraft.

    Vivendi Universal has confirmed that they have a new Crash Bandicoot game in the works titled Crask Bandicoot: Twinsanity. This game will see Crash teaming up with his arch nemesis, Neo Cortex to overcome a new enemy, Evil Twins.

    Sony Europe has confirmed a deal for Guerrilla to create games exclusively for Sony consoles. The company is currently finishing production on the highly anticipated Killzone. No word yet on any other titles in development.

    The first PSP title has been confirmed as Death Jr. from Digital Eclipse. While the game is a platform/adventure title there are no other details, or a release date. While on the PSP Sony has confirmed that 81 developers are working on titles for the system from around the world.

March 20, 2004

    Personal & Competition
    I'm taking a couple of days off the site to attend a wedding in New Zealand so that should give you all time to enter the competition. There's a few more entries coming in now, but the odds are still better then lotto - a hell of a lot better actually.

    Review
    Destruction Derby Arenas has been a highly anticipated title on PS2 for some time now. During the PSOne era Reflections' Destruction Derby games were among the most loved games on the systems with action and excitement rarely seen today. Reflections, being the busy chaps that they are, handed development of the title to Sony, but can they keep up the high standards? Here's a review of this PS2 update.

    Games
    Disney Interactive has confirmed that sales of the Square developed Kingdom Hearts have topped 4 million units worldwide. The breakdown includes 2 million units in America, 1.23 million units in Japan and 820,000 units across Europe. A sequel is already in development.

    Capcom have confirmed that Killer 7 will be released on Playstation 2 in Japan and Europe. A US release has not been confirmed due to SCEA not passing the game for release there.

    Sony Australia has announced details about the new Sly Raccoon game. Rather then repeat it all here's the press release:

      SLY 2: BAND OF THIEVES

      Sequel to the Critically Acclaimed Sly Racoon and the Thievius Raccoonus Delivers Innovative Heist Gameplay, New Playable Characters, Interactive Environments, and Spectacular Comic-Book Inspired Graphics.

      London, March 2004 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe today announced the PAL release, in Winter of Sly 2: Band of Thieves, a comic crime caper, action-adventure game designed exclusively for PlayStation 2.

      Created by Seattle-based developer, Sucker Punch Productions, the company responsible for the worldwide million unit seller Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Sly 2: Band of Thieves incorporates many of Sucker Punch’s signature talents including award winning toon-shaded animation and art direction, visual style, immersive storylines, strong characters, and highly interactive worlds.

      Sly 2: Band of Thieves introduces never seen before design innovations, including all-new heist gameplay as players experience the next level of story driven, team based adventures. Incorporating a creative new approach to team play, Sly and his crew work together to plan and pull off a series of big heists. With an enhanced move set, including pick-pocketing, vent crawls, rooftop chases, and stealth attacks, and a team of unique playable characters,

      Sly 2: Band of Thieves delivers a true thieving experience as players explore the open environments and must think on their feet to survive. Sly 2: Band of Thieves breaks the rules of convention and truly immerses players into a world with no laws or boundaries.

      Sly and his crew are back! Say goodbye to the Brat Pack as you know it because there’s a new Raccoon Pack in town that is raring to go. Word is out that Interpol has excavated the robotic remains of Clockwerk – Sly’s nemesis and sworn enemy of the Cooper clan. Sly and his gang discover the parts of Clockwerk are missing, and embark on a quest to ensure Clockwerk is never reassembled. The journey takes Sly and his crew to the far reaches of the globe, and along the way experience a plot full of deceit, surprising twists, and an exciting romantic triangle that will leave you wanting more.

      Sly 2: Band of Thieves blends many gameplay elements together, including stealth, thievery, platform adventure, combat, strategy, and exploration, into one huge world. The adventure takes place across numerous locations, including Paris, Prague, India, the Canadian Wilderness and more, each with unique and diverse landscapes and environments all waiting to be explored. With its unique cel-shaded illustrated rendering technology, innovative character designs, realistic physics and variety of gameplay, Sly 2: Band of Thieves is set to become one a massive hit.

March 18, 2004

    Games
    In recent days SCEA have released a patch for SOCOM II in America. As well as apparently fixing some bugs in the game it also closes some loopholes which cheaters in the game have been using. For obvious reasons SCEA aren't detailing the exact changes. With the PAL version due out in Australia in two weeks SCEE have confirmed that the PAL version, including the European version released some days ago, have already got this patch included on the DVD, American's must save it to memory card.

    Viewtiful Joe will almost certainly make an appearence in Japan by the end of 2004, but an American version is will apparently never happen after SCEA did not pass that game for release (as well as Killer 7). A PAL release is still possible, however more unlikely with no American port.

    Review
    Bond: Everything or Nothing is the latest James Bond title from Electronic Arts. This is easily the best Bond based game released on Playstation 2, but can it live up to Goldeneye? Here's the full review of this exciting third person action title. Yes, third person - the gameplay has changed, folks.

    Hardware
    Sony has confirmed that the PSX, the PS2 and DVD-burner system will be released in Europe in 2004. As yet the details are to be confirmed however with the Cebit show on in Germany an announcement may be made within days, if not, possibly at the E3 show.

March 16, 2004

    Games
    Well a bit of confusion surrounds Resident Evil Outbreak. After receiving an e-mail from THQ seemingly stating that the game would NOT be online, THQ have today re-stated the position that the online gameplay is still to be confirmed. I guess that news is somewhat hopeful, but personally now that a release date is just over three months away it is leaving the decision a little fine. Still, it's better news then from a week ago.

    Preview
    AFL Live Premiership Editionis yet another AFL title, but unlike previous games which were released at the end of the season Acclaim are releasing this title at the start of the current football season. Here's a preview with the additions and/or changes from previous games listed as well as screenshots.

March 15, 2004

    Competition
    Do you want to win yourself a copy of Atari's highly respected Grand Prix Challenge? It's pretty easy, all you have to do is click on the link to the right and answer a couple of simple questions. Make sure you put your name and address on the entry though. Get to it.

    Games
    If rumours are to be believed then Namco will be showing Tekken 5 at this years E3 show in May for release late this year. Namco are denying the rumours.

    Capcom has confirmed that they will be releasing Street Fighter III Third Strike: Fight For the Future on PS2 in Japan later this year. Australia will be receiving Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition on March 7th.

    Sci are apparently developing a new game for PS2 based on their Carmageddon brand. Expect a release in 2005.

    Preview
    Star Trek: Shattered Universe is a game I never thought we'd see in Australia, but the game has just appeared on Take Two's schedules for release later this month. Following Interplay's demise the game has been picked up by TDK and finished off. Although it was originally scheduled for release over two years ago it still looks pretty good. Star Trek and action fans should check out this preview now.

March 13, 2004

    Games
    Some interesting news today with Electronic Arts confirming that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will make use of the Eye Toy peripheral. The game will include sections and mini-games which will rely on your face in the game, and possibly your movement. Expect more news and details at a later date.

    Preview
    Alias, Jennifer Garner, Alias, Jennifer Garner - either will do really. Acclaim have invested a lot of time and effort in making one of the biggest TV shows in recent years into a great game. The effort looks to have paid off with some nice features and detail. Check out the full preview now.

March 10, 2004

    Games
    I managed to have a brief chat to THQ today regarding Capcom's highly anticipated Resident Evil Outbreak. There's some good news and some bad. I'll start with the bad which has been rumoured for some time new and that is that Resident Evil Outbreak will NOT contain online gameplay in Australia. I'm not sure if this also applies to Europe however I would assume so. The good news, however, is that the single player game is shaping up quite well and we will be released here as early as July 2nd.

    Acclaim have confirmed, sadly, that All Star Baseball 2005 will not be released in PAL territories. With EA not planning on releasing their MVP baseball game here on consoles it leaves baseball fans without a game to play. Hopefully someone will change their minds.

    Review
    Urban Freestyle Soccer is Acclaim's attempt at creating a street based soccer title. Chris has been playing the game for some weeks now and has completed his review. Is this game as good as the EA Sports BIG street based games, or has Urban Freestyle Soccer been a waste of his time. Read the full review now to find out.

March 9, 2004

    Preview
    Pacific Theater of Opertaions IV sees Koei spread their war strategy titles from Asia in the Dynasty Warrior titles to the Pacific during World War II in ths game. This looks like one of the most authentic war based simulations ever, and its due out soon thanks to THQ. Here's a brief preview with some screenshots.

March 7, 2004

    Games
    Something interesting has appeared on Atari's release schedules, a new game for PS2 called Unreal Assault. One would have to assume it's set in the Unreal universe however details are not available at this stage. The game is set for release on May 28th. Expect more news soon. Would anyone like to put some money on this being an online compatable version of Epic's FPS gaming masterpiece?

    Preview
    Hyper Street Fighter II The Anniversary Edition, to give this title its full name is a compilation of Capcom's many Street Fighter II games, which looks like a must have for fans of the series. Here's a preview with the latest news, including Capcom and THQ's decision to give us a bonus movie on DVD with the game!

March 5, 2004

    Games
    Konami has announced that Silent Hill 4: The Room will be released in Japan on June 17 making a PAL release by the end of this year quite possible. Strangely the company has not announced a release date for the XBox version in Japan.

    Sony Japan has confirmed that Vib Ripple (I said RIPPLE!!) will be release in Japan in their Summer (mid year). The game is a sequel to Vib Ribbon and Mojib Ribbon.

    Review
    Midway Arcade Treasures is a compilation of some of Midway's best games from the 1980's. Midway were one of the biggest players in the arcade business in the 1980's and 1990's. This compilation of arcade games is from the earlier decade and includes several classics such as Defender, Robotron 2084, Smash TV, Paperboy and Root Beer Tapper. Here's the review.

    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 forums. See you there.

March 4, 2004

    Games
    Sony has confirmed that the PSP (upcoming handheld device) will link into the PS2 and provide extra functionality. No details have been announced yet give that the device is still a year away but we can expect to hear a lot at the E3 show in May.

    Review
    I-Ninja is the latest game from UK based codeship Argonaut. Ever since the company released StarWing (or StarFox depending which territory you're from) the company has been one to watch. This game, I-Ninja has more in common with Sonic then a space simulator, and is a fairly entertaining title, albeit slightly lacking some spit and polish to take it to the top. Still, if you like platform games you may want to check out this review.

March 3, 2004

    Games
    Not sure if anyone is interested in this but Rockstar have announced a new game in their Grand Theft Auto series. What? You're all interested. Well here's the full press release...

      ROCKSTAR GAMES ANNOUNCES GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS

      New York, NY ­ March 1, 2004 ­ Rockstar Games, the world-renowned publishing division of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is pleased to announce Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the next iteration in the globally successful Grand Theft Auto franchise. Developed by world-class designers Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be available exclusively for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system and is expected to be in stores in North America on October 19, 2004 and in Europe on October 22, 2004.

      "In the past couple of years, we have put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to ensure we do everything possible to exceed people¹s expectations with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," stated Sam Houser, President of Rockstar Games. "Even though we still have eight months to go, we are starting to become very proud of what we have achieved and we can¹t wait to get the game into players¹ hands."

      Leslie Benzies, President of Rockstar North, stated, "We are extremely humbled by the success of the Grand Theft Auto series and it has made us push ourselves further than ever to create a title in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that will hopefully redefine the Grand Theft Auto series and revolutionize open-ended gameplay and video game production values."

      Over 30 million units of the Grand Theft Auto franchise have been shipped to date, including over 11.5 million units of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and over 10.5 million units of Grand Theft Auto 3.

March 2, 2004

    Games
    Capcom are reportedly working on Devil May Cry 3. No details are available yet but let's hope the game returns to the brilliance of Devil May Cry rather then the rushed sequel, Devil May Cry 2.

    Midway has confirmed that they are working on a new Mortal Kombat title for release on console. The game, titled Mortal Kombat: Deception. The game will feature online gameplay (in America at least) and will see the return of old favourites such as Scorpion, Baraka, Mileena and Sub Zero. The developers are also promising multiple fatalities for each character.

    Sony has confirmed they have secured the rights to develop a game based on the Athens Olympics later this year. Athens 2004 will be an exclusive to Playstation 2 and is being developed by Eurocom. Interestingly the game will apparently use a new control method rather then button mashing of past Olympic titles. Expect more news ahead of the July release.

    Review
    Maximo Vs Army of Zin is the second game in Capcom's legendary series, and has just been released in Australia. This game is a great follow-up to last years effort with more enemies, better graphics and several improvements to the overall gameplay. Here's the full review - check it out now!

    Personal
    Sorry about the lack of updates over the last week or two, but I have been completing my Thesis for my Teaching Degree (Which was sent in today, 2 weeks late!). Yep, I'm going to be a full time teacher within a couple of months. The good news, however, is that rather then reducing the updates to this site to take on a full time job my time on Future Gamez will increase as I will be finished with uni... forever. (Didn't I say that after my Comptuer Science Degree??) Anyway, expect updates to get back to normal now.

March 1, 2004

    Games
    It's not very often you get news like this but Atari have confirmed that Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon has been moved forward a month from June to May. Development at Melbourne House (yes, in Melbourne) has been progressing well and early viewings have been extremely positive. Here's the press release from Atari:

      YOUR PLAYSTATION 2 WILL BE TRANSFORMED IN MAY

      The Ultimate Interactive Transformers Experience Is “More than Meets the Eye”

      Sydney, Australia, 27th February 2004 – Atari, one of Australia’s leading sources of interactive entertainment proudly announces that “Transformers”, published by Atari and developed by Atari Melbourne House, will release for PlayStation 2 in May 2004.

      Transformers is a revolutionary 3rd person 3-D action/adventure game. Players enter the world of Transformers as they become one of three Autobot robots and control their character’s every move and decision. The massive robots can explore numerous rich 3-D environments on foot or convert to vehicle mode for high-speed maneuvering. Players will battle Decepticon forces with an arsenal of weapons including cluster rockets, homing missiles and vortex cannons.

      Transformers has been developed in Australia by Atari Melbourne House. “We’re working diligently to develop a game that expands upon the Transformers brand to deliver a truly unique experience with intense gameplay, vast environments and an emphasis on combat,” said Andrew Carter, vice president of product development for Atari’s Melbourne House. “Every massive environment and character model will be delivered with an unprecedented level of visual realism by harnessing PlayStation 2 system’s powerful graphics technology and techniques – resulting in incredible rendering effects and absolute immersion for players.”

      “Atari is a leader in interactive gaming and has the talent to bring the world of Transformers to life through a dynamic and engaging game that will captivate fans of all ages,” said Tom Klusaritz, Vice President of Publishing for Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide, the licensing and promotions arm of Hasbro.

      Transformers characters are now armed with the ability to evolve as players collect different types of Mini-con robots that power-up character’s abilities. Mini-con characters possess a unique ability to make ordinary Transformers characters extremely powerful and are desired by both the Autobots and Decepticons. The ultimate goal is to free the Mini-con race, battle to defeat Megatron warrior and his evil army of Decepticlones to save the Earth from destruction.

    Unsurprisingly the Square-Enix developed - EA published Final Fantasy X-2 has hit the Australian PS2 game charts in the number 1 sales position, as well as number 1 on the game charts covering all systems.

    Preview
    Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon is the latest game from Melbourne House, and it looks simply stunning. Based on the latest Transformers cartoon series this action title looks like taking the world by storm. Atari have just moved the release forward from June to May, so you'd better save quickly.


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