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JULY 2004 NEWS

July 31, 2004

    Games
    UbiSoft have confirmed shipments totaling 2.7 million units of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow across all formats. Impressive numbers indeed.

    Sega Japan has confirmed that Virtua Fighter 2 will be released on PS2 as a part of the Sega Ages 2500 range of titles. The game will ship on October 14 for 2,500 yen (approx $AU32) and include both Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtua Fighter 2.1, an updated version which hit the arcades a year after the original. Sadly it remains unlikely the game will be released outside Japan with even the first Sega Ages titles still to be released.

    Prepare for the next round of censorship and game accusations. Dixons, a large electronics retailer in the UK, has pulled Rockstar's uber violent Manhunt from the shelves following the murder of a 14 year old boy, Stefan Pakeerah, by a 17 year old apparently obsessed with the video game. What is interesting is that the game is rated "18" in the UK meaning the 17 year old should not have even been playing the game. All I can say: Where were the parents?

    Preview
    Mercenaries is shaping up as one of LucasArts most exciting titles in years, not only due to the gameplay but also the premise, storyline, and the locations. With Pandemic Studios doing development this game looks like kicking off 2005 with a big bang. Check out the preview now.

July 29, 2004

    Games
    A couple of bits of news today from Electronic Arts, one will shake an industry, the other will have gamers foaming at the mouth. Firstly, Electronic Arts has confirmed that they have purchased Criterion Software. Criterion are of course the developers of the stunning Burnout 3 which is due out in September and Black which is a FPS/action title annouced for late 2005/early 2006. What Criterion are more well known for is the Renderware software which forms the basis for many games from dozens of developers worldwide. Essentially Electronic Arts will now be providing the middleware for games in future and while they could simply stop other companies using it this will apparently not be the case.

    The second piece of news is the announcement from Electronic Arts Australia regarding the Star Wars: Epsisode III. Here's the press release:

      LucasArts focuses the Force on upcomgin Star Wars: Episode III Video Game

      Sydney, NSW. – July 28, 2004 – Following the recent Lucasfilm Ltd. title announcement of the Star Wars®: Episode III Revenge of the Sith™ motion picture, LucasArts revealed today that it will release the Star Wars: Episode III video game on May 5, 2005, two weeks before the opening of the film. Currently under development, the third-person action/adventure game will deliver the ultimate Jedi action experience as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi join forces in fierce battles and heroic lightsaber duels until one’s lust for power and the other’s devotion to duty leads to a final confrontation between good and evil.

      In the Star Wars: Episode III video game, players will control all the Jedi abilities of both Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, including devastating Force powers and advanced lightsaber techniques involving robust combo attacks and defensive maneuvers. As Anakin, players will unleash the power of the dark side in ruthless lightsaber and Force attacks. As Obi-Wan, players will struggle to save the galaxy from darkness by focusing the power of the light side into swift and precise lightsaber attacks and using the Force to control enemy actions.

      Working closely with famed Star Wars stunt coordinator Nick Gillard, the development team is creating the most authentic lightsaber combat ever with choreography taken directly from the films as well as many new stunts created exclusively for the game under the auspices of Gillard. Expanding on the upcoming movie, the game will take place in never-before-seen locations that will give fans a sneak peek into the highly anticipated Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith film, releasing worldwide on May 19, 2005.

      A special advance behind-the-scenes preview of the Star Wars: Episode III video game will be available on the Star Wars Trilogy DVD slated for release September 22, 2004. This special feature reveals what makes the game the truest and most cinematic Jedi fantasy fulfillment ever produced in a Star Wars video game. Follow the game developers as they visit the movie set in Australia and work with George Lucas, Hayden Christensen and Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard to capture every nuance of the Jedi ways.

July 28, 2004

    Games
    Sony have already shipped Athens 2004 so if you have your pre-orders at local game shop give them a call. If you haven't got this game you may wish to check out the review, it's quite a good sports title.

    Companies are increasingly finding it tough to turn a profit these days, particularly for unlicensed games or those without a brand name behind them. Majesco has hit upon a winning formula it seems. Fortune have put up a rather interesting article which I recommend for a read. Click here to have a look.

    Review
    DRIV3R has been one of the most hyped games this year, and Reflections have been working on the title for almost three years now. Can this game live up to the hype and match the gaming greatness that is Grand Theft Auto. This review will tell you if they got it right, or dropped the ball. Read the review now to find out.

    Release Schedule
    Just a quick reminder that I update the Preview and Release Schedule page on a weekly basis. If you want to find out when a game is coming out this is the only place to be. Check it out now.

July 27, 2004

    Preview
    Oddworld Stranger is not going to be XBox exclusive like the previous game, it's coming to PS2 as well, and being published by Electronic Arts. Very little is known about this game - but all the known details are in this preview including the three screenshots released to date. Check them out now.

July 25, 2004

    Preview
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is coming out in October in case you haven't heard already - that's only three months away now. There was little doubt that Rockstar North's next GTA title would be big, but no one expected it to be this big - approximately five times the size of Vice City! For all the latest details check out this in depth preview.

July 24, 2004

    Games
    Sony Europe has confirmed that a sequel to ICO will not be released in 2004, but that the sequel, NICO, will almost certainly be released sometime down the track. The original title is easily one of the most original and exciting games on the system to date. It's pretty hard to find these days but well worth picking up if you can find it.

    Namco has given Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War will be released in Japan on October 21. The game is currently expected to be released in Australia in Q'1 2005.

    Preview
    Star Wars: Battlefront isn't too far away , it's due on September 22nd, the same day as the original trilogy arrives on DVD. The Star Wars universe is about to go online - in a big way. With up to 16-players, 4 competing sides and 10 planets this game is shaping up as a monster. Check out the preview now.

July 22, 2004

    Games
    Here's an interesting news story from the web site Fappin (click here for the full story) which could have major implications for mod chips worldwide. Sony has won a court case against an individual who was selling and installing mod chips. Here's a portion of the article:

      The judge, Mr Justice Laddie, ruled that the defendant, Mr David Ball, had behaved unlawfully by selling 1,500 Messiah 2 modification chips ("mod chips") to customers in the UK. The mod chips which Mr Ball had sold had circumvented the copy protection measures on the PlayStation 2 console and allowed pirated copies of PlayStation 2 games, unauthorised copies of PlayStation 2 software (backups) and unlicensed Japanese and American PlayStation 2 software to be played.

      The presiding judge then went further and confirmed that using such devices, knowing that they allow you bypass the PlayStation 2 console's technical protection measures to play pirated or copied games, is unlawful. He also concluded that advertising such devices and possessing them for a commercial purpose was also illegal.

    Review
    Way of the Samurai 2 is a game that will fly under the radar for many which is a shame - it's one of the best realistic samurai type games. Does that mean much though? The original Way of the Samurai was released almost two years ago through Eidos. While that game was never reviewed on Future Gamez, Allen has had a good look at this sequel.

July 20, 2004

    Games
    According to reports Capcom's Viewtiful Joe has been renamed to Viewtiful Joe: A New Hope in Japan to reflect Dante's inclusion in the PS2 game.

    Konami has confirmed that Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will be given its first public showing at the German Game Convention, to be held in Leipzig, Germany from August 19-22. It is believed that series creator Hideo Kojima will also be on hand at the show. Another high profiled game to be shown is the recently announced Pro Evolution Soccer 4.

    Sony have announced they will be releasing Siren: Special Edition in Japan on October 7. As yet no details about what this version will contain have been announced. The original Siren was released in Japan and Australia some months ago.

    Review
    Riding Spirits 2 from Spike is the Gran Turismo of bike games, well at least that's what the developer wants you to believe. According to Allen they've done a decent job of it too with adequate visuals and plenty of bikes tracks and options on offer. If you like your motorbike games then check this review out now.

July 19, 2004

    Preview
    Conflict: Vietnam has almost completed development, and is looking very impressive - both in terms of graphics and gameplay. Sci's Conflict series has become a monster hit selling well over 3.5 million copies of the first two games. The third game takes the place in a new location - Vietnam. Check out the preview now.

July 16, 2004

    Games
    Electronic Arts has confimed a delay for their highly anticipated title Battlefield: Modern Combat. The news is not all bad as the developers, Digital Illusions, will be adding in an extensive single player campaign. Here is the complete press release:

      Console version of award winning franchise now scheduled for release in late 2005

      Sydney, NSW. July 15, 2004 - Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and Digital Illusions announced that Battlefield: Modern Combat, the latest title in the award winning game franchise, will feature a single-player mode when it ships in late 2005. The game is currently in development for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system and Xbox video game system from Microsoft.

      In addition to the single-player mode, new maps and additional features will be added to the game during the extended development period. The decision to add the single-player mode was made in response to consumer feedback.

      "Adding more time to the development cycle of the game will result in a more expansive feature set and a more compelling product," said Greg Richardson, General Manager, EA Partners. "We are confident that this decision will result in a stronger title and continue the advancement of the Battlefield brand."

      Featuring both single-player and multi-player modes mean that Battlefield: Modern Combat can be enjoyed by solo players or within an online multiplayer environment that supports up to 24 players. To play online, PlayStation 2 console owners will require a broadband connection, memory card and network adaptor for the PlayStation 2, while Xbox owners will require a subscription to Xbox Live.

      The first-ever Battlefield console instalment will drop players into the heat of battle on the high tech frontlines, entering a new modern era of combat with more firepower and new expansive environments. Armed with the latest modern weaponry, players can choose from more than 30 vehicles and 70 weapons, and communicate with one another in real time via USB headset. Players will choose to fight for one of three military superpowers: the United States, the Chinese, or the newly formed Middle East Coalition.

      Battlefield: Modern Combat will ship in late 2005 and will be published and distributed by EA under the EA GAMES brand.

July 14, 2004

    Review
    Kill.Switch has been out for a couple of months now, but it's never too late for a review which Chris has completed. Namco have always been a great arcade based developer and publisher, their action titles, however, haven't quite turned out as good. Is this game any different? Read the review now to find out.

July 13, 2004

    Hardware
    Sony Computer Entertainment's CEO Ken Kutaragi has confirmed at a Tokyo press that the Playstation 3 will be unveiled at E3 2005 (which is held around May) - although at what capacity remains unknown.

    Sony has confirmed that the PSX the Playstation 2, DVD burner will not be released in America or Europe until 2005, with Europe given a slightly more accurate date of prior to March 31, 2004.

    Review
    Serious Sam: Next Encounter is a game with a budget price, but certainly not a budget quality. Well, OK, the graphics and sound need some beefing up but the actual gameplay is tremendous and will have you hooked as you blast you way though almost 40 levels of action. Throw in online gameplay and this game is well worth the $49.95 price tag. Read the review now for all the gory details.

    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 PS2, PS3, movie or site related. There are now well over 4100 posts in the forums. See you there.

July 12, 2004

    Games
    THQ has confirmed that they will be distributing Metal Slug 3 in Australia. The game is currently scheduled for release around October. This is awesome news for gamers as this was possibly the best side scrolling shooter ever.

    Review
    Mafia is certainly an interesting concept. A game set during the 1930's in America during the heyday of the Mafia. Released on the PC almost two years ago now Take Two and Illusion Softworks have ported their hit game to the PS2. The question remains however, is it any good?

July 10, 2004

    Games
    Acclaim are re-releasing several titles in the next couple of weeks at a very tempting pricepoint of $AU29.95. These games include Aggressive Inline which Brodie has just reviewed today as well as other titles including Turok Evolution, Legends of Wrestling II, and Vexx. Shop around and you'll probably find the games cheaper at retail.

    Just a word of warning to those picking up Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain today that some stores aren't providing the free Network Adapter and game Hardware. Allen (the reviewer on this site) went to K-Mart to pick up a copy with the sales person stating he would have to send away for it. It's not true, it should be provided.

    Review
    Aggressive Inline isn't a new title, but Acclaim are reducing the price to $AU29.95 in the coming weeks (as well as several other titles - see news). Brodie has reviewed the title and obviously had a great time playing it. If you like your extreme sports then you could certainly do well to pick up this game. Read the review now.

July 9, 2004

    Games
    According to reports Blizzard have enlisted Swingin' Ape Studios to complete development on their highly anticipated, but oft-delayed title Starcraft: Ghost. This news comes only weeks after Blizzard announced Nihilistic were no longer working on the project. Californian developers Swingin' Ape Studios have previously developed the highly impressive and entertaining Metal Arms: Glitch in the System for Vivendi.

    Review
    Red Dead Revolver is a highly anticipated title if only because it was picked up late in development and given a good working over by Rockstar, the developers of some small series called Grand Theft Auto. This game is set in the Wild West and is well worth looking at. It's a blast - here's the full review.

July 8, 2004

    Games
    From Software has confirmed they have secured the rights to the Tenchu series from Activision. They will now develop and distribute titles in the series.

    UbiSoft has confirmed that Far Cry Instincts has been delayed until Q'1 2005 to ensure the game is of the highest quality possible. Most interestingly this the first time UbiSoft has officially mentioned the PS2 version, which until this time had only been speculation.

    Review
    Star Trek: Shattered Universe has been in development hell for a couple of years now due to Interplay's financial trouble. Fortunately Global Star picked up the rights to publish this title here, and at the budget price of $49.95. Read the review to see if this is value for money, or if the game should be left alone.

July 7, 2004

    Games
    Here's an awesome deal thanks to Sony Australia. If you purchase Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain you will also receive the network adapter for free, as well as Hardware Online Arena. That's $169.95 value for only $99.95. Shop around, or wait for a Target or K-Mart sale and it would be yours for closer to the $80 mark! Sensational. If that doesn't get you into online gaming nothing will. Oh yar, of course both those games are online compatible. Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain will be released on 9th July. The game will apparently be release by itself for $89.95 (according to Topshop.com.au), but you may as well pay the extra to get a friend online if you already have an online adapter, or keep it for spare.

    Preview
    Crash Unlimited will hit Australian shelves just in time for Christmas. Although the last couple of Crash Bandicoot games didn't set the world on fire there is something exciting about any new Crash Bandicoot game - one of the most loved game characters. This latest title promises many improvements - and no load times thankfully.

July 6, 2004

    Games
    SNK Playmore has confirmed that Metal Slug 4 will be release in Japan on September 22. At this stage there is no confirmation of a PAL release, however Ignition have picked up Metal Slug 3 for release in Europe in October. If that game sells well it's possible the sequel may be picked up at a later date as well. Here's hoping.

    Preview
    Cold Winter sound much like a Cold War and Nuclear Winter. Could be close I guess. While this game isn't due until early 2005 it's already looking very impressive. Vivendi have high hopes for this title but if the gameplay matches the graphics they needn't worry. It's looking awesome.

    Preview
    Resident Evil Outbreak is the highly anticipated offline title in PAL territories. No, that's not a misprint. As most of you know the European version won't include online gameplay like America and Japan. Still this is shaping up as one of the best Resident Evil titles, and is likely to reinvigorate the series. Read the preview to find out why.

July 4, 2004

    Review
    Gran Turismo 4: Prologue has been much talked about since being released in Japan in late 2003, Europe in June and in America.. never!? Is it a demo, or is it a cut down racing game? One thing is certain, if you want to see what GT4 is going to be like (in a small dose) this is the only choice. Here's a review.

July 2, 2004

    Games
    Genki will be releasing Kengo 3 in Japan on September 22nd.

    Review
    Athens 2004 is due out on July 30, and is a major coup for Sony. If you want to play a game based around the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, as well as the 25 events on offer in the game, then you'll need a PS2. Sony has secured the rights to make a game on the event, and it's a winner. Check out the full review now.

    Preview
    Sly 2: Band of Thieves is the sequel to the million selling original title. Sucker Punch Productions have been working on this sequel since the original was released, and this game is looking even bigger, and even better as a result. Check out the preview of the game now.

July 1, 2004

    Games
    Well it looks like Atari are going to remain pretty quiet about Shellshock Nam '67 and its refused classification in Australia (read yesterday's news). When I spoke to Chris at Atari today his only response when press about the reasons for the classification and what Atari were going to do about it was "I can't say anything at this stage. More information on this will become available at a later stage."

    Preview
    Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is one game to keep a close eye on if you’re a fan of the movies, as almost everyone is. This is the third game based on LOTR from EA Games, but this time the game is more RPG then action styled, and covers all three books/movies. This game is looking hot.


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