NewsPro Archive

December 2003

Monday, December 29, 2003

Xbox Exclusive Reaches Its First Milestone - 100 Reviews
Steve @ 6:50 PM EST
With our latest review addition of Project Gotham Racing 2, our total games reviewed comes to 100 reviews! While there are a lot more than 100 games out for Xbox, we try our best to provide you with reviews for the newest games. We are here to stay, and we are already working on our next 100!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year
Steve @ 6:06 PM EST
We hope everyone had a great holiday. There probably won't be many updates this week. The staff at Xbox Exclusive wishes everyone a Happy new year. Be safe!

Monday, December 22, 2003

Acclaim and BattleBorne In Agreement
Steve @ 3:50 PM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, December 22, 2003 – Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it has entered into an exclusive global publishing agreement with Reno-based developer BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. for their soon-to-be announced video game for the next-generation gaming systems. Comprised of former members of the celebrated Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon teams, BattleBorne is currently utilizing the critically acclaimed Snowblind Studios technology and their own proprietary tools to develop the game.

“We are very pleased to enter into this publishing agreement with BattleBorne,” said Rod Cousens, Chief Executive Officer of Acclaim. “We’re confident that consumers will be equally excited when we unveil the game next month on our web site.”

“Acclaim’s aggressive and forward-thinking approach to the industry made them the obvious choice to work with,” added James Kosta, President of BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. “BattleBorne has been hard at work on this title since 2002 and we believe that our technology, combined with that of Snowblind Studios, is going to impress everyone who sees the game.”

About BattleBorne Entertainment

BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. is a leading multimedia design group nestled in the mountainous Reno/Lake Tahoe region of Nevada. Formalized in 2002, BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. is named for after the Nevada State motto – “Battle Born”. BattleBorne represents the collective efforts of a cutting-edge 3D design and animation studio, a graphic arts and design studio, nationally recognized software design and programming pros, and an international investment banking and consulting group. Team members include the Producer for Fallout 2 & Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and the Lead Artist for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.

Friday, December 19, 2003

New Bundle Packs Available for Xbox Music Mixer
Steve @ 5:08 PM EST
Let's get this party started! Microsoft Corp. today announced that four new Xbox Music Mixer karaoke song bundles are now available for download via Xbox Live, and more are soon to follow. Xbox Music Mixer allows aspiring singers, VJs and party hosts to bring down the house with a Karaoke engine that lets players sing to nearly any song. It also includes PC media sharing, customized soundtracks, visual accompaniments, custom photo slide shows and a host of various audio features. Each downloadable music bundle includes five smash hits and is guaranteed to keep the party jumping all night long. Each bundle is available for $9.99 (U.S.).

The following bundles are now available:

Alternative Rock Vol.1
Best of 80s Pop Vol.1
Best of 90s Rock Vol.1
Children's Vol.1
Christmas Vol.1
Classic Rock 70s Vol.1
Country Female Vol.1
Country Male Vol.1
Karaoke Classics Vol. 1 and 2

For a complete list of available songs visit http://www.xbox.com/en-us/musicmixer/downloadablecontent2.htm

The Suffering Website Launches
Steve @ 4:38 PM EST
CHICAGO – December 19 2003 – Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, today announced the launch of the official website for The Suffering. Players can now step into the seedy underbelly of a maximum security penitentiary that is The Suffering by visiting http://www.thesuffering.midway.com.

The Suffering revolutionizes the horror genre by combining intense action-oriented game-play with an authentic prison environment haunted by ghoulish apparitions. Traverse the intense and shocking world of a maximum security penitentiary in the role of Torque, an inmate accused of a brutal crime he may or may not have committed. Trapped in this ghastly environment and beset by horrific creatures, Torque is constantly challenged to stay alive and wield all manner of weapons in his fight to escape the nightmare that has been unleashed on Abbott Penitentiary.

The Suffering will be available on March 8, 2004 for the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system and the Xboxď video game system from Microsoft.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Red Dead Revolver Announced by Rockstar
Steve @ 4:39 PM EST
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 18, 2003--Rockstar Games, the world-renowned publishing division of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., is pleased to announce Red Dead Revolver for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft. Developed by Rockstar San Diego, this stylish, western gun-fighting extravaganza is expected to hit retail shelves in Spring 2004.
"We are excited to announce this astounding new franchise which portrays one of the most fascinating periods of time in American history," said Sam Houser, President of Rockstar Games. "Red Dead Revolver is Rockstar Games' first foray into the wild west and the Rockstar production team is eager to deliver an engaging and visually stunning experience that pays homage to this era."

"With this game, we have pushed ourselves technically, stylistically and gameplay wise further than ever before," said Diego Angel, President of Rockstar San Diego. "We are aiming to make a western experience that sparks memories of the past as well as looks forward with an inventive new approach."

Red Dead Revolver is a fast-paced, arcade style, third-person shooter set to deliver the ultimate western experience on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The action of Red Dead Revolver combines a multi layered storyline and breathtaking graphics that authentically recreate the look and feel of the classic 'spaghetti westerns' of yesteryear. After garnering strong industry buzz and a loyal following, Rockstar Games acquired this title from Capcom Co., Ltd. in 2003.

Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban Announced
Steve @ 4:38 PM EST
Harry Potter(TM) fans will experience the magic and peril of Harry's third year at Hogwarts(TM) in the highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(TM) videogame shipping in spring 2004, Electronic Arts announced today.

For the first time gamers will play as friends Ron Weasley(TM) and Hermione Granger(TM) as well as Harry Potter, switching between characters and utilizing their key attributes and skills to resolve challenges and overcome enemies. The three friends will need to combine their strengths and master a variety of new spells as they face Harry's most terrifying opponents yet: the escaped convict Sirius Black(TM) and the Dementors(TM), the sinister guards of Azkaban prison.

From the opening scene on the Hogwarts Express(TM) to the climatic finale on the shore of the great lake at Hogwarts, the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban videogame will immerse players in the magical world of Harry Potter. Players will unravel the mystery surrounding Sirius Black and his escape from the infamous wizard prison Azkaban, as they take part in the most exciting and challenging Harry Potter videogame adventure yet. Gamers will encounter a host of new characters and creatures, engage in a variety of sub-quests, fly on a Hippogriff, reveal the secrets of the Marauder's Map, and take on their friends in multiple two-player challenges.

Under development by EA's UK Studio, the team behind the worldwide success of the Harry Potter library of games that have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is scheduled for release for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), Game Boy(R) Advance, and PC CD-ROM.

Top 10 Xbox Games for November 2003
Steve @ 3:54 PM EST
These are ranked by sales from The NPD Group.

November 2003

1. Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack - Rockstar
2. True Crime: Streets of LA - Activision
3. Halo - Microsoft
4. Rainbow Six 3 - Ubi Soft
5. Need for Speed Underground - EA
6. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun - EA
7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - EA
8. Tony Hawk's Underground - Activision
9. Counter-Strike - Microsoft
10. Project Gotham Racing 2 - Microsoft

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Crimson Skies New Downloadable Content Released
Steve @ 1:40 PM EST
Flying aces rejoice! Microsoft Game Studios today announced that new content for Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge«, the smash-hit action game of the holidays, is now available for download via Xbox Live and from the official site. The free content includes the brand-new Fury plane, the Caverns multiplayer map and a Windows Media Player skin.

Small, agile and armed to the teeth with a pair of machine guns on each wing and a secondary rapid-fire machine cannon, the lightly armored Fury is made for dogfighting. The Fury’s maneuverability is ideal for the twists, turns and confined spaces of the Caverns. In the newest multiplayer map, bases are located in two cavernous tunnels connected by a single, twisting — and often deadly — passage. While flying aces race through the perilous passage at breakneck speeds, pilots lacking the intestinal fortitude for such skilled flying can play it safe by manning one of three AA guns that defend each base. But whatever players' individual roles may be, victory in these dangerous skies requires strategy and focused teamwork.

Topping off these free offerings is a downloadable Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge skin for Windows Media Player available from the official site ( http://www.xbox.com/crimsonskies/ ). This red-hot skin brings the high-flying action of Crimson Skies to your PC, showcasing unique analog controls and a Devastator-inspired look.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Aston Martin DB9 to Be in Race Driver 2
Steve @ 3:19 PM EST
New York – December 16, 2003 – Codemasters, a global interactive entertainment software publisher, announced today that Race Driver 2: The Ultimate Racing Simulator will be the first video game to fully simulate the new Aston Martin DB9. The DB9, one of the world’s most sophisticated and technically advanced sports cars, will be featured in a global exclusive for Race Driver 2, which launches in spring 2004 for the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft and the PC.

The 6.0-liter, 450 bhp, V12 Aston Martin DB9 is just one of the 35 powerful racing and production cars in Race Driver 2 that will make gamers feel like driving champions. Along with the DB9, additional cars include the Aston Martin DB5, the fabulous Ford GT, the super fast Koenig C62, the Land Rover Bowler Wildcat, the Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34), and the Jaguar XJ220.

Race Driver 2 also boasts the most diverse range of motor sports ever seen in one game, including GT Sports Car Racing, Street Racing, Rally, DTM, V8 Supercars, Global GT Lights, Rally Cross, Formula Ford, Open Wheel Grand Prix, and Classic Car Racing.

The game features 52 racing circuits at world famous locations including Laguna Seca, Surfers Paradise, Euro Speedway, Donington Park, Kyalami, and Road America.

Race Driver 2 supports head-to-head online play via Xbox Live, and head-to-head online play for the PC. Register for development and game updates online at http://www.codemasters.com

Hitman: Contracts Officially Announced
Steve @ 3:14 PM EST
San Francisco, CA (December 16, 2003) Eidos, one of the world’s leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, today announced the eagerly awaited return of the world’s deadliest assassin in Hitman: Contracts. The game is the third instalment in the critically acclaimed, multi-million selling Hitman series. Hitman: Contracts is being developed by Io Interactive and will be available for PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft, and PC in spring 2004.

Hitman: Contracts delivers more action-packed and suspenseful missions, with a greater variety of ways to make the perfect hit and an increased arsenal of firearms and close-combat weapons. A new graphics engine showcases Hitman’s ‘work’ in brutal detail and brings new locations to life. An improved control system and more gradual learning curve will ensure that the game is accessible to all aspiring hitmen.

Hitman: Contracts takes you into the mind of Agent 47, the most ruthlessly efficient contract killer in history. The game begins in Paris as Agent 47 finds himself wounded and trapped in what is a dangerous situation, even for him. Hitman: Contracts explores the dark psychology of killing for a living and promises to be the darkest, most disturbing episode in the series.

Janos Fl÷sser, managing director of Io Interactive says: “Hitman: Contracts will reveal a new side to Hitman. The game will be epic, highly disturbing, but most importantly an enjoyable experience. The technology we are employing will make it one of the most advanced games on the market.”

Mike McGarvey, CEO of Eidos says: “The Hitman series has massive mainstream appeal and is already well established as one of the industry’s biggest original intellectual properties. Hitman: Contracts is a sure-fire hit for 2004.”

The Sims Bustin' Out Ships for Xbox
Steve @ 3:03 PM EST
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 16, 2003--Electronic Arts today announced that The Sims(TM) Bustin' Out for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft, and the Nintendo GameCube(TM) has shipped under the EA Games brand. For the first time, Sims console players can get their Sims out of the house and into all-new locations to play, work, and meet a cast of outrageous new characters.

"Gamers will go crazy over the all-new locations, wacky characters, and exciting careers in The Sims Bustin' Out," said Sinjin Bain, vice president and executive producer of the game at EA's Maxis(TM) studio. "We've added ten times the content of the first Sims console game, to make sure Sims fans are entertained for a very long time."

In The Sims Bustin' Out players can now get out of the house and travel to 16 wild new locations to socialize with 25 outrageous characters. Players can choose from challenging careers like Gangster, Paramilitary, or Mad Scientist. Depending on what career track you choose there are now several different ways to play the game. Players can now drive their scooter or a variety of unlockable vehicles to visit locations such as Shiny Things Lab where they can invent a Rocket Gnome or Casa Caliente to try out their love potions on a friend.

Players can unlock and collect hundreds of social moves and objects as they progress through the game. Players can try their luck with moves like Booty Spank and French Kiss or they can unlock objects exclusive to the console such as the Climbing Wall and a Mutant Plant.

Featuring a completely overhauled game engine, The Sims Bustin' Out displays stunning graphics and Sims that are more life-like than ever. Players can customize their Sims right down to the color of their eyes with a variety of new facial feature options; Sims characters will also have distinct and noticeable personalities that will affect gameplay. For example, a shy Sim will be a wall-flower at the dance club, but an outgoing Sim will be rocking around the dance floor, showing off his moves.

For the first time in The Sims franchise history, PlayStation 2 console gamers can enjoy weekends with no work obligations by going online.(1) The Sims Bustin' Out for the PlayStation 2 console features two-player cooperative online play, where players can invite friends over to check out how they have decorated their home, build skills, or trade social moves and objects. When players first go online, they will enter a lobby where a matchmaker screen displays the astrological signs, genders, and personalities of other Sims, so that players can effectively choose their gaming partners. The game features an online trading system that will allow players to swap social interactions and objects they have unlocked. Players also can communicate with voice chat using a keyboard or USB headset (USB headset and broadband connection required) and get valuable tips on how to complete a career.

The Sims Bustin' Out for the Nintendo GameCube supports connectivity with The Sims Bustin' Out for Game Boy(R) Advance. When connected, Game Boy Advance players will unlock a hidden game cabinet that will allow them to use their Nintendo GameCube Sims to play mini-games on the Game Boy Advance and earn extra Simoleons. Players can also download and play their Nintendo GameCube Sim in the Game Boy Advance world and obtain Simoleons, improve motives, and build skills to bring back with them to the Nintendo GameCube version. This enables players to take their Nintendo GameCube Sim with them anywhere. Additionally, The Sims Bustin' Out supports High definition 720p TV for the Xbox.

All console versions have memory card support so players can take their Sims over to a friend's house. Players can play with a friend in two-player mode, which is available throughout the entire game.

Monday, December 15, 2003

America’s Sexiest Gamers Announced
Steve @ 6:29 PM EST
London, UK. – (December 15, 2003) – America’s sexiest gamers have been found! Gamer.tv (www.gamer.tv), the online destination dedicated to the thriving world and lifestyle of video games and online games, announced today the winners of its Search For the Sexiest Gamer contest. In a spectacular Grand Final held Friday, December 12 at Universal CityWalk, adjacent to Universal Studios Hollywood, 21-year-old Ashley Jenkins of Odgen, Utah and 20-year-old Colin McGannon of West Palm Beach, Fla. outwitted opponents through three rounds of competition to earn the titles of Mr. and Ms. Sexiest Gamer. Jenkins and McGannon each took home the grand prize of a free trip to London.

Spectators convened upon the Universal CityWalk Cinema Plaza stage to watch the sexy gamers in action, hoping to see once and for all that the gaming community is a very attractive group! Contestants competed in three rounds of competition to showcase their video game knowledge, personalities and sex appeal. In the first round, contestants were brought on stage to answer video game trivia. The second round saw a fashion show of sorts, with contestants strutting their stuff and winning the votes of the judges and audience. In the final round, the contestants competed against one another in a popular video game currently on the market.

“Gamer.tv set out to prove that gaming has officially moved from geekiness to sexiness and The Search for the Sexiest Gamer has proved that to be true,” commented Chris Bergstresser, CEO, Gamer.tv. “We've also been positively encouraged by the huge number of entrants and voters and look forward to building on this on www.gamer.tv in 2004.”

Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb, hosts of TechTV’s popular “X-Play” and well-known members of the video game community, served as emcees for the event. Accompanying Sessler and Webb on stage were members of the Sexiest Gamer celebrity judges panel, featuring renowned game developer/industry expert Stevie Case and Wind-Up Records modern rock recording artist Strata.

The two-month Search for the Sexiest Gamer campaign saw over 1,000 contestants place their photos online at www.sexiestgamer.com and attract over 350,000 users, who in turn cast a staggering 4.7 million votes. Using the average voting scores, a top ten was whittled down for the final. A Search For the Sexiest Gamer contest was also held simultaneously in London, with the winners receiving a trip to Hollywood.

For more details on Gamer.tv’s Search For The Sexiest Gamer, please go to http://www.sexiestgamer.com or http://www.gamer.tv

Friday, December 12, 2003

EA Announces Fight Night 2004
Steve @ 9:36 PM EST
Heavyweight Champion of the World Roy Jones Jr. has reached an agreement with Electronic Arts, the world's leading interactive software company, to be the cover athlete and spokesman for its new boxing game, EA SPORTS(TM) Fight Night 2004. Jones' will serve as the game's spokesman, and his image will be featured on packaging and merchandising for the game, which is currently in development for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft(R).

"Being selected as an EA SPORTS cover athlete is one of the greatest honors in sports today, and I'm thrilled to be on the cover of EA SPORTS Fight Night 2004," Jones said.

Built from the ground up to deliver the bone-crushing action of championship boxing, EA SPORTS Fight Night 2004 is an all-new boxing game that features revolutionary new gameplay mechanics and a dramatic new-school attitude to immerse players like never before. Innovative new analog Total Punch Control allows gamers to throw punches, block, bob, and weave with unprecedented fluidity and precision. The game also includes a deep create-a-player option, career mode, and online play* for the PlayStation 2 console via EA SPORTS(TM) Nation.

One of the most dynamic stars in boxing today with a record of 49-1 with 35 KOs, Roy Jones Jr. is the undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. He is also a former Olympian and National Golden Gloves winner and has held several Championship titles in his professional career, including the Heavyweight title.

EA SPORTS Fight Night 2004 is slated to ship in Spring 2004.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Race Driver 2 Announced by Codemasters
Steve @ 4:14 PM EST
New York, NY – December 11, 2003 – Codemasters, a global interactive entertainment company renowned for its portfolio of motor sport video games, announced today its most ambitious motor sports project to date, Race Driver 2: The Ultimate Racing Simulator. Slated for release in Spring 2004 for the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft and the PC, Race Driver 2 will provide gamers the most diverse and thrilling range of motor sports ever seen in one game. Designed as the definitive racing experience, the game will feature complete head to head Xboxü Live and PC online functionality.

“The depth of Race Driver 2 is unparalleled,” said Steven Lux, senior vice president of U.S. marketing for Codemasters. “The game features a completely new physics model, deformation system, and graphics engine. Couple these with Xboxü Live, and Race Driver 2 delivers the ultimate online racing experience.”

Race Driver 2 boasts an incredible variety of motor sports, including Street Racing, Stock Car, Open Wheel Grand Prix, Truck Racing, GT Sports Car Racing, Rally, DTM, V8 Supercars, Global GT Lights, Rally Cross, Formula Ford, Classic Car Racing, and more.

“Visually, Race Driver 2 is going to be stunning,” said Gavin Raeburn, head of Codemasters’ racing development studio. “Our new rendering engine features complex dynamic lighting, perspective mapped shadows, multipass textures, procedural standing grass, and a host of post production techniques including true motion blur, depth of field, and iris effects – all at a rock steady 60fps.

“Race Driver 2 also features our most advanced and intuitive handling model to date,” continued Raeburn. “Every physical nuance of each vehicle type is accurately modeled, from tire deformation when cornering to the centrifugal engine forces and complex aerodynamics.”

Race Driver 2 will feature officially licensed tracks and championships as well as some of the world’s most powerful racing and street cars, including Ford (Mustang Cobra R, Ford GT, GT90, Falcon BA, F150 Lightning Pickup), Aston Martin (V12 Vanquish, DB7, DB5), Jaguar (XJ220, XKR, and E-Type), Mitsubishi (3000 GT, EVO 7), Subaru Impreza WRX, ABT-Audi TT-R, AMG-Mercedes CLK, and more.

The game will feature 52 racing circuits including Texas Motor Speedway, Pikes Peak International Raceway, Laguna Seca, Surfers Paradise, Euro Speedway, Donington Park, Kyalami, and Road America.

Race Driver 2 will continue the pioneering use of cinematic plot in racing games with the narrative being played out completely from the first person perspective. The player will see what the lead character sees, and will be able to create his own history. A “reality style” eliminator story will capture the competitive intrigue of 12 drivers battling their way to win the ultimate racing experience: a drive as a Masters Grand Prix professional. Visually, the cinematics will triple the detail of Pro Race Driver with characters now created from over 12,000 polygons.

Race Driver 2’s core development team began work on the title in summer 2002 and now includes over 40 of Codemasters’ finest motor sport game engineers. Gamers can register for development and game updates online at http://www.codemasters.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

$25,000 XSN Sports World Championship
Steve @ 12:01 AM EST
Think you can steady your nerves to hit a game-deciding free throw with no time left on the clock? How about smash a cross-court backhand winner in the final set of a championship tennis match? Can you hole a 30-foot putt on 18? What about ride the rails on the world’s hottest mountains? Now try it with $25,000 on the line. Welcome to the XSN Sports World Championship, the most competitive and intense online sports tournament in the history of console video games.

The XSN Sports World Championship will be held Feb. 11–12, 2004 in Los Angeles. Eight participants, with one guest each, will be flown to that city to compete for a $25,000 grand prize and the bragging rights that come with the title of XSN Sports World Champion.

To make it to Los Angeles, XSN Sports gamers must register for and win an online feeder tournament that will be held for each of the six XSN Sports game titles: “NFL Fever 2004,” “NHL Rivals 2004,” “Amped« 2,” “Top Spin™,” “NBA Inside Drive 2004” and “Links« 2004.” Two at-large gamers will be invited to round out the competition. The feeder tournaments, broken into two official rounds per week, will begin Dec. 29 and continue through Jan. 27, 2004. Feeder tournament winners will collect a $1,000 check and trophy, and earn a free trip to Los Angeles to compete for the overall title.

The six feeder tournaments are as follows:

“NFL Fever 2004” Championship Series
“NBA Inside Drive 2004” Championship Series
“NHL Rivals 2004” Championship Series
“Top Spin” Championship Series
“Links 2004” Championship Series
“Amped 2” Championship Series

Microsoft, Xbox Live and XSN Sports will crown the ultimate sports gamer in all six of the titles the XSN Sports World Champion. Proficiency in all the games is necessary to have a shot at winning the top prize. If “Top Spin” is your game, that could get you as far as winning the “Top Spin” Championship Series, but to win the XSN Sports World Championship you’ll want to develop skills in “Links 2004,” “NFL Fever 2004,” “Amped 2,” “NBA Inside Drive 2004” and “NHL Rivals 2004” too. No online gaming athlete will pocket the $25,000 unless he or she can compete in multiple games.

The XSN Sports World Championship will be the most grueling and competitive sports online tournament in the history of video games, with the top 256 XSNsports.com gamers in each sport taking part in the six feeder tournaments. Do you have what it takes to qualify?

With registration starting next week for the XSN Sports World Championship, there has never been a better time to pick up the latest XSN Sports titles and begin practicing. Use the next few weeks to build your XSN Sports resume, improve your stats and battle against the world’s best XSN Sports gamers on http://www.xsnsports.com/. If you want a shot at the glory and the cash, you must play more than you have ever played before.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma Hits Xbox
Steve @ 4:28 PM EST
Infiltrating stores nationwide today, Atari's "Mission: Impossible(R) - Operation Surma" brings all the action and intrigue of the "Mission: Impossible" movie franchise to the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft and the Game Boy(R) Advance. Developed by Atari's Paradigm Entertainment, "Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma" presents players with a true mission impossible as they become IMF agent Ethan Hunt in an effort to stop the diabolical plans of the Surma Corporation.

"With `Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma,' players will be thrust into an authentic `Mission: Impossible' experience, complete with the latest spy gadgets, stealth action, incredible combat and plot-twisting suspense fans have come to expect from the franchise," said Steve Allison, vice president of marketing, Atari Inc.'s Los Angeles studio. "The stealth action category continues to surprise gamers with new and innovative game play experiences and `Operation Surma' is no exception. Our unique connection to one of today's strongest Hollywood movie franchises will complement our focus on delivering incredible game play with all of the powerful lead characters, fascinating villains, elaborate double-crosses and cunning treachery of a real `Mission: Impossible.'"

In "Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma," players step into the role of Ethan Hunt as he traverses the globe uncovering the insidious mysteries behind the malevolent Surma Corporation and its newly developed virus, the Ice Worm, which allows Surma to break into any computer system in the world. Armed with the hyper-cool, super spy technology and weaponry inspired by the "Mission: Impossible" movies, such as miniature remote-controlled devices, micro cameras, tranquilizing darts and character disguises, Hunt must lead his elite team in preventing Surma Corp. from taking over the world.

"Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma" features groundbreaking gameplay that empowers players to choose the tactics and game play style they wish to use in tackling mission objectives. For example, as Hunt, a player can forge an uneasy alliance with questionable characters in order to gain the upper hand against an overwhelming enemy force; or, the player can charge in, blasting away with the latest top secret IMF weapon; or, the player can slide silently in and out of the shadows, penetrating enemy lairs unnoticed. Ultimately, the nature of the adventure lies in the player's hands. Ving Rhames, who played Luther Stickell in both "Mission: Impossible" feature films, reprises his role by lending his voice and likeness in the game. As part of the IMF team assigned to assist Ethan Hunt in his efforts, Luther will provide critical mission intelligence, hack security systems and generally sweep target areas clear of enemy detection devices, thus allowing Hunt to penetrate more effectively.

"Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma" Features:

-- Open-Ended Gameplay: Players will be empowered to play the game the way they like. Take out a guard and dispose of his body, sneak behind the guard and slip by unnoticed, distract the guard to another area, tranquilize the guard remotely or even take him prisoner are just a few options at the players disposal for nearly every situation.

-- Super Spy Gadgets: As with any "Mission: Impossible," the gadgets are where it's at. "Operation Surma" will put dozens of super-cool gadgets at players fingertips, including: The Wasp, a miniature remote-controlled "bug" with a devastating "sting"; a directional microphone used to overhear distant conversations; binoculars featuring a digital camera for evidence gathering; Electronic Warfare darts for disabling critical electronic devices; and, much more.

-- Agent Moves and Abilities: As Ethan Hunt, players will have at their disposal all the moves that any respectable super agent has spent years perfecting, including: vaulting and mantling of objects; hand walking on ledges; wall hugging through tight spaces; crouching and creeping to keep a low profile; hand-over-hand maneuvering on pipes and girders. In addition, players will be able to execute numerous stealth disabling, restraining and finishing maneuvers on enemy characters.

-- Gameplay Locations: Led by Mission Commander Swanbeck, players will follow clues and undertake missions in exotic locations around the world, including: the Los Muertos research facility in the southwestern United States; Sansara Prison in Northern Africa; and, Yugaria, a fictional eastern European country.

"Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma" is now available at retail stores nationwide with an estimated retail price of $49.95 and an ESRB rating of "T" for Teen. Additional information about "Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma" can be found online at http://www.mi-game.com

Namco Releases R: Racing Evolution
Steve @ 3:39 PM EST
San Jose, Ca., (December 9, 2003) – Leading video games publisher and developer Namco Hometek Inc. announced today that its highly anticipated, intricately detailed, action racing experience, R: Racing Evolution, has begun shipping to retail outlets nationwide. Developed for the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox« videogame system from Microsoft, and the Nintendo GameCube, R: Racing Evolution is rated T for Teen and carries an MSRP of $49.95.

“This isn’t your typical racing game,” said Yasuhiro Noguchi, Senior Director of Research and Development at Namco Hometek Inc. “Incorporating awesome graphical quality and high performance driving physics with a spectacular storyline, R: Racing Evolution is a fantastic balance of simulation and arcade racing.”

R: Racing Evolution incorporates licensed real-world vehicles that allow for upgrades and modifications, 14 tracks from real-world and fantasy locations, 8 different racing styles, including GT, Rally, and Drag, New “Interactive Driver AI System” enhances realistic racing situations, and In-game radio communications – incoming transmissions from crewmembers and rival drivers! How did they get all that into one awesome, adventure packed title you ask? Evolution baby!

Developed by the makers of the legendary Ridge Racer« and MotoGPü series of racing games at Namco Ltd., R: Racing Evolution offers the unique Racing Life mode, a story-driven racing game that chronicles the intense competition and deep rivalries found within the heart of the professional racing circuit through beautifully rendered CG sequences and adrenaline-pumping in-game race challenges. With five additional game modes at the player’s fingertips, R: Racing Evolution captures the essence of intense competition and immerses players deep within the racing circuit rivalries.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Starting Dec. 9, included in every Nintendo GameCubeü version of R: Racing Evolution, lucky patrons will find a copy of the always lovable Pac-Man« in the new game Pac-Man Vs. This unique new multiplayer version of the all-time classic arcade video game brings a new style of game play to the consumer by allowing players to compete head-to-head using a Game Boy Advance and a Nintendo GameCube, connected by a Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance cable.

For more information on R: Racing Evolution visit http://www.racing-evolution.com/

Monday, December 8, 2003

THQ Announces The Punisher
Steve @ 1:31 PM EST
CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 8, 2003--THQ Inc. today announced "The Punisher" for the Sony PlayStation(R) 2 computer entertainment system and Microsoft Xbox(TM). Developed by THQ's internal studio, Volition Inc.(R), The Punisher, based on the popular Marvel vigilante, is scheduled to make its interactive debut in fall of 2004.

"`The Punisher' is one of Marvel's grittiest heroes delivering a unique brand of vigilante justice that is a perfect fit for the video game universe," said Germaine Gioia, Vice President of Licensing, THQ. "We look forward to working with Marvel in bringing a perfect blend of classic comic book and filmed franchise versions of `The Punisher' to console gamers across the globe."

Tim Rothwell, President of Marvel's Worldwide Consumer Products Group, said: "The Marvel Universe and all of its characters continue to provide engaging content in the interactive arena, and THQ is doing a great job translating this popular vigilante to the major consoles. This is a game that will satisfy long-time Punisher fans of the Marvel Comics series as well as any new fans turned on to the character after his feature film adaptation this April."

About "The Punisher"

Driven by a hatred of crime bordering on insanity, Frank Castle became The Punisher, a one-man army whose mission goes far beyond revenge. Taking on the city's high-powered crime lords, he wreaks havoc on the corrupt with methods reserved for those on the wrong side of the law. "The Punisher" video game represents the best of over 30 years of "Punisher" comic books and depicts some of the grittiest storylines in the Marvel Universe.

"The Punisher" film, starring Thomas Jane, John Travolta and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, is a production of Marvel Studios and Artisan Entertainment, and will hit theatres this April.

For more information about "The Punisher" and other THQ products visit http://www.thq.com

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Namco Ships I-Ninja for Xbox
Steve @ 7:54 PM EST
San Jose, Ca., (December 4, 2003) – Leading video games developer and publisher Namco Hometek Inc. announced today that I-Ninja, the company’s action adventure character-based game, has begun shipping to retail outlets nationwide for the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft. The game, also currently available for the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system, is rated T for Teen and carries an MSRP of $49.99. Consumers purchasing Nintendo GameCube versions of I-Ninja may also receive a free copy of Pac-Man vs., the new multiplayer game exclusively for Nintendo GameCube with connectivity to Game Boy« Advance.

“With gravity-defying game play at every turn, no enemy is safe from the wit and attitude of young Ninja,” says Jon Kromrey, Senior Producer at Namco Hometek Inc. “This ultimate warrior will have you shredding, swinging and kick jumping well beyond the holiday season.”

I-Ninja offers a high intensity action adventure experience in five exquisitely detailed environments, each strategically designed to test rookie protagonist Ninja and his unique skills. Challenged by the evil villain Master O-Dor and his army of evil Ranx, Ninja travels from beaches to mountains and beyond, taking on a cast of fearsome enemies with an assortment of weapons, rage-based power-ups and a host of gravity-defying moves. Armed with years of training and a giant ego to boot, he earns new Ninja belts, recovers lost relics and comes to face his nemesis in an ultimate showdown. While graceful in honor, Ninja proves deadly in combat.

With the destiny of the world resting on his big head, Ninja challenges the powers of gravity to traverse and succeed in any situation. Utilizing specialized manga-style ninja moves, Ninja runs on walls, swings from chains, grinds rails, kick jumps and turns his sword into a helicopter. Along with his abilities, Ninja has many weapons at his disposal, including shurikens, swords, blowguns, rocket launchers and guided missiles. Combined with high-end CGI graphics, hand-painted environments and six cinematic movies from renowned animated filmmakers Don Bluth and Gary Goldman of Don Bluth Films, Inc., no stone is left unturned in I-Ninja.

For more information on I-Ninja, including downloads, art assets and games, visit http://www.ininjagame.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

ESPN Major League Baseball Announced
Steve @ 5:31 PM EST
SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 3, 2003--ESPN Videogames has announced its newest sports title set to debut in Spring 2004 -- ESPN Major League Baseball. Formerly known as the "World Series(R) Baseball 2K" series, ESPN Major League Baseball will deliver the exhilarating drama and heart-pounding action of the "Major Leagues." ESPN Videogames is proud to announce that New York Yankees(R) slugger Jason Giambi will be the official spokesperson and cover athlete for ESPN Major League Baseball. Providing players with the complete ESPN experience, ESPN Major League Baseball will feature two stalwart ESPN baseball veterans: Jon Miller and Karl Ravech. Miller, who is set to begin his 15th season on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, will handle the play-by-play duties on the virtual diamond, while Ravech, the host of ESPN's Baseball Tonight, will provide the in-studio analysis.

"Baseball fans instantly recognize the names of Jon Miller and Karl Ravech," says Greg Thomas, president of ESPN Videogames. "Jon is considered one of today's best baseball commentators and his voice instantly registers a comfortable warmth for baseball fans when they listen to him call the balls and strikes. Meanwhile, Karl brings a distinguished poise to his broadcasts for both ESPN's Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter. Together, they bring a new level of ESPN integration into our game."

In addition to adding these two ESPN heavyweights, ESPN Major League Baseball will feature brand new ESPN integration elements to enhance the broadcast atmosphere. New television-style cut scenes and dynamic close-ups build the drama of the game. ESPN-styled wipes, overlays, the innovative K-Zone(TM) and GameCast are additions gamers will also see this spring. K-Zone is an exciting, exclusive visual tool integrated by ESPN used to visually create each batter's unique strike zone. GameCast is another innovative tool that gives the user an in-depth, pitch-by-pitch analysis of simulated games, and also allows the player to join in a simulated game in progress at any time. Developed by Blue Shift Inc., ESPN Major League Baseball is scheduled for release on both the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Microsoft(C) Xbox console. ESPN Major League Baseball and other ESPN Videogames titles are produced by Visual Concepts -- Sega's sports studio.

For more information, visit us online at http://www.espnvideogames.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

TDK Mediactive is Now Take-Two Licensing
Steve @ 3:05 PM EST
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 2, 2003--Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. announced today that it has completed the purchase of TDK Mediactive, Inc. ("TDK"), a California based publisher of video game franchises based on popular licensed properties, including The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Land Before Time, Robotech, The Muppets and Corvette.

The terms of the acquisition were modified from those previously announced on September 3, 2003 principally to reflect the termination of TDK's videogame publishing rights for future versions of DreamWorks LLC's motion picture Shrek. However, the consideration payable to the shareholders of TDK, other than TDK USA Corp. ("TDK USA"), TDK's majority stockholder, has not been reduced.

Take-Two has purchased TDK for approximately $12.8 million, consisting of $0.55 per share for each of the 23,005,885 shares outstanding (approximately $12.6 million) and approximately $0.2 million to retire outstanding stock options. In addition, as a condition to the purchase agreement, Take-Two has satisfied approximately $9.7 million of outstanding liabilities (which as of the closing date constituted all of the liabilities of TDK to TDK USA) consisting of working capital advances and debt between TDK and TDK USA, by paying $4.3 million in cash and issuing $5.4 million in restricted shares of Take-Two common stock (or approximately 165,000 shares) to TDK USA. The working capital advances were principally for product development milestone payments, marketing expenses and advances to licensors incurred since July 18, 2003. These amounts are effectively reduced by approximately $8 million owed to TDK by Take-Two principally for products distributed by Take-Two under the terms of the distribution agreement with TDK.

Commenting on the acquisition, Jeff Lapin, Chief Executive Officer, said, "The addition of TDK's well established mass market and children's licensed properties will complement our portfolio of proprietary brands, and will provide an excellent platform for Take-Two to further expand and diversify its product offerings. In addition, we believe our proven product development and marketing capabilities will enhance TDK's product offerings and our distribution resources will offer additional outlets for TDK's products."

Effective immediately, certain trademark license agreements covering the TDK and Mediactive trademarks have been terminated, except for limited sell-through rights respecting existing products. Also, effective immediately, TDK Mediactive is changing its corporate name to Take-Two Licensing, Inc.

DRIV3R to Feature Hollywood Talent
Steve @ 2:53 PM EST
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 2, 2003--Atari has signed a blockbuster Hollywood cast to lend voices to its greatly anticipated video game, DRIV3R, scheduled for release in Spring 2004. Michael Madsen, Ving Rhames, Mickey Rourke and Michelle Rodriguez will play the lead roles in the third installment of the gritty, crime-fighting Driver video game series, one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. DRIV3R is being developed by Atari's Reflections Interactive for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

"DRIV3R recreates the excitement of a Hollywood-style blockbuster action film and combines it with the adrenaline rush of an action-adventure video game full of sinister criminals, nail-biting car chases and international crime syndicates," said Steve Allison, vice president of marketing in Atari Inc.'s Los Angeles studio. "By casting the game with top Hollywood talent, DRIV3R truly solidifies the look and feel of an interactive movie. Atari is well known for pushing the envelope of collaboration between the video game industry and Hollywood, and DRIV3R will once again raise the bar for what gamers will come to expect from interactive entertainment."

Michael Madsen, who has starred in blockbuster crime films like Kill Bill, Donnie Brasco and Reservoir Dogs, will give voice to DRIV3R's lead character Tanner, the jaw-breaking undercover cop and master "Wheelman" who dominated the first two installments of the Driver series, and who in DRIV3R will stop at nothing to bring down an international car theft syndicate. Ving Rhames, who has appeared in films that include the Mission: Impossible series, Pulp Fiction and Con Air, will provide the voice of Tanner's hardnosed partner, Tobias Jones. Mickey Rourke, famous for his roles in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Thin Red Line and 9 1/2 Weeks, will be the voice of Jericho, the sinister leader of the international crime syndicate. Michelle Rodriguez, best known for her roles in S.W.A.T., The Fast and the Furious and Blue Crush, will provide the voice for Calita, the sexy leader of a Miami car theft ring.

Developed by Reflections Interactive (an Atari studio), the masterminds behind Driver and Driver 2 - which have sold more than 12 million copies worldwide - DRIV3R is an action-packed driving adventure game that stays true to its roots, incorporating the cinematic gameplay and gritty street crime of its predecessors with ground-breaking graphics and three mammoth, wide-open city environments: Miami, Florida; Nice, France; and Istanbul, Turkey.

Featuring Hollywood-caliber production values and a gripping, narrative story line, DRIV3R casts players once again as undercover cop Tanner who, alongside his partner Tobias, must infiltrate a global car theft ring, an assignment that leads to tire-squealing chases and fierce on-foot firefights while tailing gangsters, chasing witnesses, stealing cars and unloading massive clips of ammo to bring the criminals to justice.

DRIV3R is expected to be available worldwide in Spring 2004 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Additional information about DRIV3R can be found online at http://www.atari.com

Monday, December 1, 2003

Deus Ex: Invisible War Shipping
Steve @ 11:47 PM EST
Eidos announced today that Deus Ex: Invisible War will be shipping to retailers in North America tomorrow December 2nd, and will be in stores December 3rd.