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JULY 2005 NEWS

July 31, 2005

    Games News
    Square Enix have confirmed that Final Fantasy XII will be released in Japan in March 2006. With the translation time required it is unlikely the game won't be released in America and especially Europe until late next year. The question remains, with the Playstation 3 available will anyone still be interested in Square's RPG? Of course we will!

    PS3 Preview
    Heavenly Sword was one of the most impressive Playstation 3 games unveiled at this years E3 show. In this preview we give you all the game details announced so far as well as some of the stunning first screenshots of the game - which is running in realtime and NOT pre-rendered. This is set to be one of the best first generation PS3 titles.

    This Weeks Releases
    The quiet period continues with only two new releases last week. They include:

    July 29, 2005

      Games News
      Well we told you to get your copies quick. The OFLC has officially revoked the classification given to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas due to the content unlocked by the "hot coffee" mod. An official statement was released on the OFLC web site and is available here. If you want a copy of the game good luck as it can no longer be sold in Australia until modified and re-submitted for re-classification.

      COMPETITION - LAST DAYS!!
      Monster Hunter is one game that, if you play online, you must add to your collection. This game, from Capcom no less, is a massive RPG stlyed hunting game that will have you playing for weeks. Thanks to THQ Australia we have a copy of the game to give to one lucky reader. Simply click on the link and follow the instructions. Entries close Sunday night.

    July 28, 2005

      Games News
      According to our good friends at GamesWarehouse AFL Premiership 2005 will be released on September 8th. You can click here to pre-order the game for only $89.95 - saving $10 off the RRP. We still haven't received confirmation of this date from Sony, however it fits in with material and advertising we have seen.

      During last weeks Playstation Meeting Sony confirmed that the PSP software would be upgraded to version 2.0. Indeed that patch was made available for download to Japanese PSP owners from today. The updates are considerable with the biggest feature including a Web Browser. Other improvements include background wallpapers as well as support for TIFF, PNG, GIF and BMP images, transferring files wirelessly, greater security levels for wireless connections among other things. Something which Sony didn't really make light of is that version 2.0 includes more security to stop those pesky hackers. The good news for PAL gamers is that our systems will come with version 2.0 pre-installed out of the box. YAY!

      Electronic Arts Australia have confirmed that Star Wars Battlefront II will be released on the same day as the Star Wars Episode III DVD, November 2nd. Start saving.

      If you haven't run out and bought God of War you either have metal issues, or really dislike violence. It's a fantastic game and now Universal has announced they have secured the rights to develop a movie based on the ancient Greek story. According to Variety Charles Roven (producer of movies such as Bulletproof Monk, Three Kings and Batman Begins) and Alex Gartner (who produced Out of Time, The Upside of Anger and the upcoming Valiant) will produce the feature adaptation.

      UMD Movie News
      Sony Pictures has today confirmed that Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will not be released on October 28th as reported a couple of weeks ago. As yet a new date has not been set however the company has stated that the movie will be "released at a later stage during the year." At least that still indicates a 2005 release.

      Previews
      Rainbow Six: Lockdown is one of those games that is certain to generate a lot of interest. Ubisoft's Rainbow Six titles are highly regarded among both the games industry and gamers alike as being one of the best squad based tactical shooters. This latest game looks hot! Here's a preview.

    July 26, 2005

      Reviews
      Tekken 5 is a game that has almost every fighting fan the world over excited. The question remains however, could Tekken 5 be the greatest fighting games of all time? Graham has had a look at the game and was mighty impressed with Namco's efforts. Graphics, sound, gameplay and game modes all combine to make this one of the best fighting games of all time. Here's his full review.

      Games News
      Lionhead has confirmed they are working on some games for next generation consoles. Peter Molyneux has hinted that Black & White 2 may be converted to the consoles but they would have to overcome the lack of a mouse for the game.

      Electronic Arts have announced that Lord of the Rings: Tactics is in development. At the same time the company has confirmed they have secured the rights to the books by J.R.R. Tolkien allowing them to use scenarios not in the movies. Previously Electronic Arts could only use scenarios only seen in the movies (which was pretty much everything anyway we think!). As yet there is no date for the PSP game however late 2005/early 2006 is rumoured.

      Just a quick note that we have updated our preview of Dead To Rights II with the latest screens and info. The title is being distributed here by Electronic Arts and is due in October.

      Previews
      Michigan: Report from Hell was released last year in Japan and was certainly a title we didn't expect to see in PAL territories, but it is coming. This game, which was developed by the same people behind Killer 7 may not have the best graphics ever seen, but the premise is impressive. Here's a preview.

    July 25, 2005

      Previews
      SSX On Tour is the game we've all been waiting for - the continuation of EA's fantastic snowboarding series. SSX is the greatest snowboarding series of all time, and is back for a fourth outing on PS2. Not only does it look awesome with even bigger environments with more obsticles, but has some very big additions to the game including skiing.

      NHL 06 is one of those games that given the strength of previous titles in the series is almost certain to be great. Ice Hockey games are always tremendous fun. They're fast, violent and spectacular to look at - especially when EA Canada develops the game. Here's a preview with the latest screens and infomation.

      Capcom Classics Collection is coming to PAL territories folks. We've had retro packages in the past but this collection looks like setting new benchmarks with over 20 of Capcoms greatest arcade games including Mercs, Final Fight, Commando, 1943 and several more. Here's an early look.

      Alarm for Cobra 11: Hot Persuit is another in the increasing range of budget releases coming out for Playatation 2. THQ will be distributing this title due out in a couple of weeks which promises to have plenty of action on the streets as you use all means necessary to catch the crims. Expect a release in a couple of weeks.

    July 24, 2005

      COMPETITION - ONE WEEK REMAINING!
      Monster Hunter is a game that you must add to your collection if you play games online. This is a RPG stlyed hunting game that will have you playing for weeks. Thanks to THQ Australia we have a copy of the game to give to one lucky reader. Simply click on the link and follow the instructions. ONLY ONE WEEK REMAINS TO ENTER!

      Games News
      Many people have been asking me what is happening with the OFLC's review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I can tell you this. Firslty the OFLC are still reviewing the game and collecting information about the "hot coffee" mod. I don't know when the review will take place but it will likely be in the next week. There has not yet been a decision of if the game will be banned. Secondly we have received e-mails stating that some stores such as BIG W are already pulling the stock from their shelves, this is despite the fact that the game has not finished being reviewed. This does not mean the game has been banned - more likely that retailers are responding to its banning in America. Finally the game is still available in most stores, although it is starting to sell fairly quickly as people realise it may be Refused Classification any day now. If you want this game - and it is fantastic - then my suggestion is get it as soon as possible.

      Those waiting for Capcom's Killer 7 which was due out Friday are going to have to wait just that little bit longer. The game is now due out in Australia on August 8th.

      It also appears that those awaiting AFL Live 2005 are also going to have to wait a little longer with the game now looking like a September release, not August.

      Previews
      Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo is a car racing game based entirely on Alfa Romeo's. Sure it may have a pretty limited audience, but it's shaping up pretty well. Here's a preview of this racing game from Milestone - who were behind the very entertining PC game Screamer a couple of years ago.

      Stealth Force: The War on Terror is a game certain to stir up some controversy - especially given the events in England, Iraq and Egypt over the last couple of weeks. This budget game will be available here for only $29.95 and promises to be an interesting action game. Here's a preview with some of the latest screens and info.

      This Weeks Releases
      A pretty quiet week really with only one release worth mentioning:

    July 22, 2005

      Previews
      Shadow the Hedgehog is a darker much game then previous titles in the series, but Shadow looks like a great game - with plenty of weapons. Not only is this game about the speed but also about the ability to take out enemies. This is likely to be the biggest change to the Sonic universe since the move to 3D. Here's an early preview of the next Sega hit.

      Star Wars: Battlefront II is the sequel to last years hit game. The first Battlefront was a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe on PS2 with some superb 16-player online action. Indeed it is the best Star Wars game on Sony's system. Here's a look at the much improved (not that it need it) sequel.

      Games News
      Just a quick note that we have updated a couple of our PSP previews with the latest (and might we add much more impressive) screens. The games are V8 Supercars 2 and Colin McRae Rally 2005.

      Playstation Meeting 2005
      Sony Japan have confirmed a couple of new games in development exclusively for the Playstation 3. The first is a title from Factor 5 who are most known for their Star Wars: Rogue Squadron titles on Gamecube of late. The new game which features plenty of dragons in the trailer is deep in development apparently and is called Lair. Another game announced is a sequel to the action game Gengi which is in development at Game Republic, the same team as the upcoming PS2 title.

      The first big news is that Sony have secured the rights to include the Havok physics and animation engines in the Playstation 3 development kits. The Havok Engine is one of the, if not the, best on the market and has been used in several current generation games such as Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and dozens of other titles. By including the physics engine in the development kit any developer working on the Playstation 3 can make use of the technology and will get full support from Sony.

      Sony have confirmed they have entered a licensing agreement with Epic to use the Unreal Engine 3.0 on Playstation 3. What this means is that Sony will fully support the most powerful graphics engine on the market and ensure developers have a smooth transition to the console with full support from Sony.

      If that's not enough Sony have also signed an agreement with AGEIA Technologies to include their AGEIA PhysX SDK into Sony's own PS2 development kit. One of the key strengths to AGEIA PhysX SDK is its multi-threading capabilities - an aspect which may prove crucial to getting the best out of the multi-core CELL Processor.

      Memories
      It was a sad day yesterday. As many of you would know James 'Scotty' Doohan passed away at the age of 85 after several years of ill health. We're big fans of Star Trek here, so much so that I even have autographed photos of the entire cast, and hearing of his passing was deeply saddening. Prior to Star Trek James Doohan was a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery At 19 he was a part of the D-Day landing at Juno Beach where he was shot several times by a machine gunner. He was hit in the leg four times, the chest (and was saved by a cigarette tin apparently) and also had the middle finger on his right hand shot off, something which the Star Trek creators hid for the majority of the episodes - although it is noticable in one of the greatest episodes, The Trouble with Tribbles. On Star Trek he was the engineer, the one who could create miracles when there was none. Did you also know however that it was James who invented the Klingon language which has been seen in Star Trek ever since the original series. It's a sad day but we can only hope James 'Scotty' Doohan has been beamed to a greater world. You may have left this world, but your travels are only just beginning.

    July 21, 2005

      Games News
      In some breaking news the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in America has ordered Take Two to remove all copies of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from stores in the country. The game was found to include content (sex scenes) requiring a higher rating then the M rating it was given. Retailers have two options - they can wait for Take Two to provide Adults Only stickers for the boxes, or await replacement copies with the explicit sex scenes (which are only accessable when the "Hot Coffee" mod is installed) are replaced with copies of the game which have had these scenes removed. Furthermore the developers must release a patch which allows parents to disable this aspect of the game once and for all. As yet there is no word on the OFLC's decision for Australia but without an R rating here the game is likely to either be Refused Classification or require censoring to be re-released - if indeed the OFLC find the content breaches the guidelines. If you want a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas it may be an idea to get in the car and head for your nearest shop now.

      Capcom has confirmed that Resident Evil 5 will be heading to the next generation, including Playstation 3, according to Famitsu in Japan. As yet no details or a date have been announced.

      Team Bondi isn't a development studio that many are likely to have heard of - not surprising given that the company hasn't released a game yet. The development team was founded by Brendan McNamara who is most known for working at Team Soho at Sony Europe. Team Bondi are based in Sydney and started with six people in 2003, currently employing 44 people and is looking to expand to 100 people in the coming months. What is most exciting is that the company has just announced its first game, L.A. Noire, which is a PS3 exclusive title. No word yet on a release date or even any details on the game.

      A couple of bits of news from Red Ant over the last couple of days. Firstly Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks has been given a release date of September 23rd in Australia and will sell for $AU79.95. Secondly The Suffering: Ties That Bind has been given a MA15+ rating from the OFLC and should also hit the sleves in late September.

    July 20, 2005

      Games News
      Well some great news today with Sony Pictures confirming that Final Fantasy Advent Children will be released on DVD on October 5th. The press release we received only confirms the DVD release however Sony Pictures previously confirmed that the movie - which takes place after Final Fantasy VII - will be released on PSP on the same day. More news as we get it.

      Eidos, and new owners Sci, have confirmed that Tomb Raider Legend and Hitman Blood Money will both be pushed back into 2006. In our opinion it's a good decision too, while both games were looking quite impressive (and yes, that includes Tomb Raider), Eidos really need these games to be monster hits to get their finances back in order.

      An interesting bit of news from Blizzard with the company asking for opinions about the company developing for handheld systems. Reportedly the e-mail (which we don't have a copy of) mentions Diablo II. It doesn't indicate that the company, who also develops Warcraft and Starcraft titles, are developing on handhelds, but they are at least considering it.

      Reviews
      EA Sports Cricket 2005 is without a doubt one of the most wanted sports titles this year with millions of gamers the world over awaiting this title. Unfortunately it isn't perfect, quite far from it in fact with some infuriating batting. Here's our detailed review of the latest cricket title from EA Sports.

      Fantastic 4 is the inevitable tie-in to the latest superhero movie. Activision, with developers 7 Studios, have done a pretty respectible jon. The graphics aren't the best but the game makes pretty good use of the four heroes with some nice unlockable content available as well. Here's our full verdict.

    July 18, 2005

      Games News
      Some people have been asking me what the retail price of the Playstation Portable here in Australia. I can clear this up pretty easily. Initially Sony announced a RRP of $429.95 for the system upon release. This is not the price however. A couple of weeks ago Sony Australia revised the price to only $AU399.95. Bargain!

      Reviews
      Dynasty Warriors 5 is actually the 10th title in the series if you count spin-offs. Anyone who has been playing PS2 games for any time would almost certainly heard of the Dynasty Warriors series with its massive battles and deep ancient Chinese history. Does this latest game do the series justice? Here's our full review.

      Full Spectrum Warrior took a while to be ported to PS2, but FSW (for short) is finally available on Sony's system. Is it as good as the hype suggests? Was the original XBox title really that great to start with? Here's Graham's verdict.

    July 16, 2005

      Games News
      Well we couldn't go another couple of days without a bit more news on Panzer Front AUSF.B - a game which the military geek in us is really keen to see. Sadly the game won't be out next week with Red Ant confirming it won't be out here until August 25th.

    July 15, 2005

      Games News
      Sony Japan have confirmed that Wanda & The Colossus, known as Shadow of the Colossus here, will be released in Japan on October 27th. Strangely the game is listed for release in America in September while PAL gamers will be waiting until early 2006.

      Electronic Arts has confirmed that The Godfather has been delayed in America until Q'1 2006 meaning a delay in PAL territories as well. Meanwhile the New York Times has stated that Marlon Brando was so ill when he recorded dialogue for the game that it is unusable. Apparently he was on a ventilator at the time. His dialogue will be used as a guide for another actor providing the voice of Don Vito Corleone.

      Atari Australia today announced that V8 Supercars 3 will be released here in Febrary 2006. The game will include 100 individual championships covering 35 different racing disciplines and while online gameplay isn't confirmed we expect it to be included.

      Reviews
      Champions of Norrath: Realms of Everquest , to give the game its full title, is an older game that we just picked up for review, and truth be told, it's a fantastic title. Here's Graham's review of this online game released around a year ago from Ubisoft.

    July 14, 2005

      Games News
      Confirmation today that Doom creator John Romero has left Midway. After being employed at the company in October 2003 he has been working on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. John has declined to confirm why he left the company but his departure will not affect the release of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows which is due out towards the end of the year.

      Reviews
      Destroy All Humans! was developed at Pandemic Studios right here in Australia and prior to release THQ made a lot of promises about this title. Indeed even pre-release previews around the world were very positive. Sadly the game isn't quite the masterpiece we hoped. Here's our full review.

      Previews
      Panzer Front was a title we thought was dead and buried when it dropped of Atari's release schedules recently. It was a shame too as the title was a quite impressive looking tank simulation. Fortunately for Australian gamers (and as reported here yesterday) Red Ant have picked up the distribution rights to the title - and it's due out around July 21st. Here's a brief preview.

    July 13, 2005

      Games News
      Some great news today for tank fans. Yes I mean those steel boxes with a whopping big gun. Red Ant have confirmed they have picked up the rights to distribute Panzer Front AUSF.B here in Australia. Better still the game is due out on July 21st - that's only 8 days away.

    July 12, 2005

      Games News
      Well it looks like Take Two may be in a spot of bother with the OFLC over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As many of you are aware there is a patch floating around for the PC, PS2 and XBox game which unlocks some sex mini-games - something which wasn't made aware to the OFLC. Note: This is NOT a feature that is available in the game without the consumers explicit intent to patch the game. Click Here to read the official press release from the OFLC. The question remains, should a company be responsible for people hacking into their code to unlock and/or modify features not provided? Take Two weren't available to comment when this issue came to light after business hours today - expect more tomorrow but our suggestion is that if you want this game get it now!.

      Speaking to Nikkei Electronics, Kutaragi has apparently confirmed that the PS3 has had its router capabilities removed stating that it was adding too much cost to the system. Details are still sketchy but it now looks like the system will have a WAN port and two LAN ports without router capabilities.

      Not to be outdone by the OFLC's classification of AFL Live 2005 the other day for Sony with a G rating, in a somewhat predictable move NRL Rugby League 2 has also been given a G rating. The games should be relased in August and September respectively.

    July 11, 2005

      Special Feature
      As many of you know we have decided to cover the PSP in detail on this site in future. The system is damn hot - think a PS2 shrunk down, placed in a tiny little box and a lovely 4.3inch screen smacked on the top. It's fantastic. We've just put up our first lot of information about the system so ladies and gentlemen... This is PSP...

      • Hardware Specs: A complete list of all technical specs running the PSP.
      • PSP Games: PSP Game Release Schedule and previews of many of these games.
      • PSP Movies: A list of upcoming UMD movies viewable on your PSP.

      Reviews
      God of War is a title which millions of gamers in Europe and Australia have been waiting so patiently for since its US release over 4 months ago now - but the wait has been worth it. My, has it been worth it. This game is simply sensational and unless you have a strong objection to gallons of blood there is absolutely not to pick up this game. Here our full review, although I think you already get the drift.

    July 9, 2005

      Games News
      Some news from America with confirmation that The Guy Game from Top Heavy Studios has been banned. The game is essentially a trivia game with young girls answering the questions during their Spring Break (kind of like our Schoolies on the Gold Coast). Problem is that if they get the question wrong they had to lift their top. Unfortunately some of the girls were as young as 17 - meaning they weren't legally permitted to give permission to appear in the game - as a result a lawsuit was filed. The game was never released in Australia.

      Sega has confirmed that they have entered a development deal with Secret Level to develop a game on next generation systems. Secret Level are currently working on America's Army: Rise of a Soldier on PS2 and XBox for Ubisoft. Sega hasn't confirmed what title Secret Level will be working on other then it will be "re-creating a classic Sega franchise". Hot rumours about the game include House of the Dead, After Burner, Virtua Fighter or Sonic following their showing on a demo reel at E3.

      This Weeks Releases
      Some pretty big releases this week with Electronic Arts releasing their highly anticipated Cricket 05 and Sony releasing some fighter from Namco known as Tekken 5:

    July 8, 2005

      Games News
      Capcom has announced some details on their highly anticipated PS2 port of Resident Evil 4. The game has now been given a release date of November 18th in Europe, with Australia likely to be within a week or so of that date. Also the Playstation 2 port will include 5 new scenarios for Ada Wong, as well as new weapons and items.

      Electronic Arts today confirmed that their baseball title on PSP, MVP Baseball, will not be released in Australia. Some readers on the forums had noted that some Electronics Boutique stores apparently have packaging for the title.

      Previews
      Battlefield 2: Modern Combat still hasn't got a confirmed date in Australia, but it is on its way. Electronic Arts have spent considerable time with the development of this game, but it looks all the better for it. This preview is choc full of the latest details including the latest screens of this quite impressive looking online title.

    July 7, 2005

      Games News
      It's only a small bit of news but according to the OFLC web site AFL Premiership 2005 has been given a G rating meaning it can be released as soon as finished. The game is still expected in late 2005.

      Take Two have confirmed that Virtual Pool Tournament Edition won't be coming out on Playstation 2 in Australia. The XBox version is still on its way for release next week.

      Previews
      Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is currently in development at Capcom. Although we were told that the previous Onimusha title would be the last in the series it was never really going to be the case. This fourth game in the Onimusha series looks stunning and should be a wonderful finale to the series on Playstation 2 upon release next year.

    July 6, 2005

      Games News
      According to the latest information we've smuggled out of EA's headquarters the company is planning on releasing Tiger Woods PGA Tour on PSP on September 5th, four days after the systems launch in Australia. The game will have a RRP of $79.95.

      Bandai have confirmed that they will have one game available for the Playstation 3 launch in Japan. It is likely, but not confirmed, that the game will be the Mobile Suit Gundam title shown at E3. Koei has confirmed that their action extravaganza, Ni-Oh, won't be relaesed until Summer 2006 in Japan making a late 2006 release in PAL territories likely.

      Previews
      Okami may not be a name you recognise however I plead with you to have a look at this game from Capcom's Clover Studio - the same people behind Viewtiful Joe. This is one of the most original, graphically stunning titles on PS2. In fact the game deserves an artistic award even before we've seen the final build. Here's a very early look.

    July 5, 2005

      Games News
      Well the PSP isn't even out in Europe or Australia but Sony have something to worry about. According to reports hackers have managed to crack the security of the system in order to run games off a memory stick. Indeed games such as Maclean's Mercury, Lumines, Coded Arms and Puzzle Bobble are already apparently circulating on the Internet. The exploit works with version 1.0 and 1.5 of the PSP's software - which is used in Japanese and American systems. We expect the European version will lock out this piracy - in the short term at least.

      Previews
      X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocolypse may have one one of the longer game names that we can remember, but one thing is certain - this title is smoking hot. The original X-Men Legends was a real surprise - a very solid game that made great use of the X-Men License. This sequel looks many times bigger - and better!

      Ultimate Spider-Man isn't the name of the next movie. In fact this game isn't based on either of the two movies already released in the Spider-man series. This new game, also in development at Treyarch, is based on the comic books, with comic book styled presentation. Don't dismiss this game as it promises to be the best Spider-man title yet. Here's an early look.

    July 3, 2005

      Games News
      According to Famitsu the Playstation 2 Hard Drive will be sold seperately from the system. If rumours are to be believed the hard drive may be up to 80GB in size - compared to 20GB for the XBox 360 drive.

      Previews
      Peter Jackson's King Kong should need no introduction - not Peter Jackson nor King Kong. We just saw the trailer for the movie before War of the Worlds (which is an awesome movie) and it blew our socks off. This game tie-in looks dead on identical to the scenes in the trailer. This game looks sensational - check out our preview.

      Prince of Persia 3 is the conclusion to the Prince of Persia trilogy on Playstation 2. The Prince is back for his third outing and the developers look to have made amends for the disappointing second title with a return to a lighter world and more balanced gameplay. Check out the preview with latest screens.

      This Weeks Releases
      A couple of monster releases last week with Sony unleashing several must-have titles and a couple of other releases as well:

    July 1, 2005

      Games News
      Sony Australia has announced that their Platinum range of games will be discounted from $49.95 to only $29.95. At this stage we're not quite sure which titles are involved - some people say the Sony titles only however Electronic Arts also confirmed many of their titles will also be dropped to $29.95. Shop around guys there are some spectacular games available at bargain prices!

      Reviews
      Batman Begins is one of those games that you naturally worry about - it's a movie tie-in. If you haven't seen the latest Batman movie you're missing out on something special. As expected Electronic Arts have released a game to tie-in, but is it as good as the movie? Here's our verdict.


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