NewsPro Archive

January 2004

Friday, January 30, 2004

Release Date for Halo 2 Announced: Fall 2004
Steve @ 6:54 PM EST
Source: Bungie.net

So remember last year when we told you we don't announce release dates until we're confident we'll meet our deadline? Well now were confident. Halo 2 will ship in Fall, 2004. Please make a note of it.

Since you are our most important audience we wanted to tell you first. We've enjoyed your support, your patience and your loyalty, so this is the least we could do.

There will be a fair number of new details and announcements to follow over the next few months, and of course there's always E3. Here at Bungie.net, as you've recently witnessed, were ramping up a campaign of new content, details and snippets of info, just to keep you sated while you get ready for Fall.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

ESPN NFL Football Predicts the SuperBowl
Steve @ 1:40 PM EST
The Carolina Panthers are the SuperBowl Champions according to Sega and ESPN Videogames. Carolina 10, Patriots 9. Highlights and screen shots of the game are available on their site.

Check out this page for the complete wrap-up of the simulation:

http://www.espnvideogames.com/nfl

THQ Unveils MX Unleashed
Steve @ 1:33 PM EST
CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 29, 2004--THQ Inc. (Nasdaq:THQI) and Clear Channel Entertainment's Motor Sports division today announced that supercross series' title sponsor THQ unveiled MX Unleashed as the official video game of the 2004 THQ World Supercross GP/THQ AMA Supercross Series. The game is available for demonstration at several of the series events that began with the inaugural race earlier this year and includes this weekend at Edison International Field in Anaheim, California. Currently at development in critically acclaimed Rainbow Studios, MX Unleashed will be available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft in February 2004.

"THQ and Rainbow are thrilled that MX Unleashed is the official game of the 2004 THQ World Supercross GP/THQ AMA Supercross Series," said Peter Dille, senior vice president of worldwide marketing. "With the Freeworld areas featuring incredible off-road elements and vehicles, both core gamers and motocross fans alike will appreciate the wide-ranging gameplay in MX Unleashed."

MX Unleashed not only features a robust racing mode that motocross fans have come to expect, but also an expansive Freeworld mode that allows gamers to explore vast environments where they can race against and ultimately drive machines including a helicopter, monster truck, dune buggy, bi-plane, and trophy truck. Freeworld mode also lets players explore hits, jumps and runs in a variety of mini-games, and perform stunts like jumping off moving trucks or through hot air balloons, and catching big air off of the treacherous terrain. The game features realistic physics, including a clutch system and independent rider and bike animations, making it the most realistic interactive motocross racing experience to date. The game also features hot music tracks from a library of licensed music performed by some of the music industry's hottest artists.

For more information on MX Unleashed, visit http://www.thq.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Acclaim to Bring Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II to Europe
Steve @ 4:14 PM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, January 28, 2004 – Acclaim Entertainment, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that they have reached a distribution agreement with Avalon Interactive for the forthcoming release of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II in the UK, France, Benelux and Germany. The game, which was developed by Black Isle Studios under license from The Hasbro Properties Group, will be available on the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft on February 6, 2004.

“The Baldur’s Gate franchise is hugely successful and there is already significant demand for this sequel among hardcore gamers and fans of the series, so we’re extremely excited to have the opportunity to distribute it in four of the largest European territories,” said Rod Cousens, Chief Executive Officer for Acclaim. “This agreement further enhances and diversifies our portfolio as we continue to bolster our reputation as one of Europe’s leading distributors.”

“In Acclaim we have found the ideal distribution partner for these vital European territories,” commented Thierry Ortolan, Senior Vice President of Avalon Interactive. “We are confident that the strength of their sales and marketing teams in all these territories will ensure that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II continues the great success and industry recognition that the million-seller franchise has achieved to date. We are absolutely delighted to be working with them and look forward to a successful partnership.”

For more information on Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II visit the website at http://bgda2.blackisle.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Sega Announces Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku
Steve @ 1:24 PM EST
SEGA(R) of America, Inc. has announced that Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have awarded it the license to publish a console game based on the popular Cartoon Network series Samurai Jack. The videogame developed by Amaze Entertainment, named "Samurai Jack(TM): The Shadow of Aku," will be available on Microsoft Xbox(TM), PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, and Nintendo GameCube(TM) in March 2004.

Samurai Jack is the highly stylized, Emmy-winning action cartoon from Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dexter's Laboratory and the director of the popular new animated epic micro series, Star Wars: Clone Wars. "Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku" was developed for a broad audience by Amaze's Adrenium Games studio. It's a free roaming, easy to control action-adventure that's perfect for fans of the television series who are both casual players and hardcore gamers. Ensuring an authentic Samurai Jack experience, the team worked closely with the show's creator, artists, voice talent and composer. The game portrays all of Jack's signature moves and weaponry as the kinetic action sequences are combined with clever puzzles and engaging item quests.

"Amaze Entertainment has done an excellent job developing Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack into a viable videogame and SEGA of America is proud to establish a relationship with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to publish the title across all platforms," said Hide Irie, President and COO of SEGA of America. "We will continue to pursue strong strategic partnerships to create exciting and marketable software based on dynamic properties."

"Samurai Jack, an epic adventure from one of Cartoon Network's greatest storytellers, Genndy Tartakovsky, is a perfect inspiration for a high-action video game," said John Friend, senior vice president of Cartoon Network Enterprises. "We know that SEGA and Amaze Entertainment will bring a new level of excitement to the Samurai Jack property as we introduce interactive games across a number of platforms."

"This console game successfully captures the feel of Samurai Jack and offers compelling and diverse gameplay," said Philippe Erwin, vice president for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "Our collaboration with SEGA and Amaze has produced an exciting game that will provide fans with a new way to experience the unique world of Samurai Jack and also extend the reach of the Cartoon Network show."

"SEGA of America has an enviable history publishing great character-based video games and expanding the brand awareness of licensed properties in the consumer market," said Dan Elenbaas, CEO of Amaze Entertainment Inc. "A great game and brand like Samurai Jack deserves a strong publisher and SEGA has the strength and vision to make this a successful video game franchise."

Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack tells the story of a warrior banished to the future by an evil shape-shifting wizard. Samurai Jack must travel the world, encountering an amazing array of cultures and civilizations as he seeks the portal to send him back to his own time. A man of few words, Jack relies on his mental and physical training as a warrior to help him fend off the evil wizard's forces. The show is highlighted by its magnificent artistry, gripping action sequences and evocative score, giving Samurai Jack a cinematic feel.

Samurai Jack debuted in November 2001. More than 11.5 million viewers tuned in to watch one of multiple plays of the 90-minute premiere the first weekend it aired. Since then, Samurai Jack has established a strong fan base with its distinctive, hard-edged look and its tongue-in-cheek dialogue. An average of more than 2 million viewers tune in for each telecast. Of that audience, more than 13% are adults 18-34, making Samurai Jack one of Cartoon Network's top shows among young adults. 52 half-hour episodes of Samurai Jack have been created.

Sonic Heroes Arrives on Xbox (and PS2) For the First Time
Steve @ 1:20 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 27, 2004--Awarded "Game of the Month" and rated "A" by Play Magazine; billed "downright amazing" by IGN: SEGA(R) of America, Inc. today announced the availability of "Sonic Heroes(TM)" on the Xbox(TM) videogame system from Microsoft and PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system. The first original Sonic The Hedgehog(TM) console game in three years is also the legendary speed demon's first appearance on Xbox and PlayStation 2 consoles. "Sonic Heroes" on Nintendo GameCube(TM) was released on January 6.

"Sonic Heroes" challenges gamers to control three characters simultaneously, each offering the unique individual ability of speed, power or flight. Multiple teams follow their own unique story paths across 14 massive stages. Their combined objective: to thwart the plans of Sonic's arch nemesis, the nefarious Dr. Eggman.

"We are proud to see our marquee franchise reaching the largest possible gaming audience and running at Sonic speed onto PlayStation 2 and Xbox for the first time," said Scott A. Steinberg, vice president of entertainment marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. "We look forward to quickly establishing as strong a marketing presence on PlayStation 2 and Xbox as we have on Nintendo GameCube."

"Sonic Heroes" is designed to appeal to players of all ages and skill levels as they experiment with four unique teams comprised of classic Sonic friends and foes for a total of 12 playable characters. "Sonic Heroes" changes the face of Sonic the Hedgehog and action-platform games in general by offering innovative design while still maintaining the unrelenting action and speed that made the Sonic franchise so enduring over the years. "Sonic Heroes" also includes seven multi-player mini-games to ensure maximum replay value.

Since his birth 12 years ago, Sonic The Hedgehog has spanned several generations of videogame systems to appear in over 30 games that have sold more than 33 million units of software. Consistently a top-selling franchise, Sonic The Hedgehog continues to be a popular icon worldwide in 2004 and one of the most recognized and celebrated video game characters of all time.

"Sonic Heroes" is rated "E" for Everyone and is available at retailers nationwide for an MSRP of $49.95.

Brute Force Now a Platinum Hit
Steve @ 1:00 PM EST
Microsoft Game Studios today announced that the squad-based tactical shooter Brute Force has joined the list of Xbox Platinum Hits. The Xbox Platinum Hits lineup provides gamers with a choice of the most proven and critically acclaimed titles for Xbox, each available for an estimated retail price of $19.99 (U.S.) at most retailers. Platinum Hits games are sold in silver packaging with original product artwork. More information about Platinum Hits can be found at http://www.xbox.com/platinumhits.

Take control of any one of four highly specialized super-commandos in Brute Force, the action-packed sci-fi squad-based shooter game. Whether the encounter requires stealth, tactics, sniping or just Brute Force, the team is ready and able. Experience the intensity of a shooter game with the cunning strategies of team-based tactical combat. Play solo through six worlds in the extensive single-player campaign, or play co-operatively with up to three friends via split-screen or System Link. Battle it out in a multitude of competitive death-match modes with up to eight players. Download new campaign missions and multiplayer maps via Xbox Live to keep the game fresh for incredible replayability.

For more information on Brute Force visit http://www.xbox.com/bruteforce

Monday, January 26, 2004

Top 10 Xbox Games of December 2003
Steve @ 8:51 PM EST
Top 10 Xbox Titles for December 2003
Source: NPD

1. Grand Theft Auto Double Pack - Rockstar Games
2. Halo - Microsoft
3. Need for Speed Underground - EA
4. Rainbow Six 3 - UbiSoft
5. True Crime: Streets of LA - Activision
6. Madden NFL 2004 - EA
7. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun - EA
8. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - EA
9. Tony Hawk's Underground - Activision
10. Project Gotham Racing 2 - Microsoft

New Screens of Juiced & List of Features
Steve @ 3:25 PM EST
Juiced is a PS2 and Xbox console racing simulation that totally immerses the player in the lifestyle, community and risk-taking of the street modding scene in a unique and compelling way. Juiced doesn’t pay lip-service to the modding scene, it takes you there and involves you in it culture, risk taking and unique creativity… the car as a personalized art-form.

It’s not an arcade style game in the pure sense of the term, but it will deliver quick thrills and action. Most importantly, the depth of game play goes far beyond an arcade style racer, pitching you against a broad range of characters who aim to trash you by building the meanest looking, hardest driving street machines, then trouncing you in a series of increasingly risky challenges. They want your cash, your cars, and your pride.

Progression is not based on a scripted story, but evolves as your skills in modding and driving increase. You’ll have to work hard to get to where the real petrol-heads and money lurk, building up a collection of nitrous burning, eye popping monsters for every type of challenge. And once you’ve maxed your cars, the stakes are maxed out too.

Key features

Serious racing simulations have made their mark in the driving genre, but none deal with the street modding scene quite like this:
· Combines the driving and extreme-sports genres
· Build up the most respected street racing crew
· Collect and customize or ‘mod’ a wide variety of cars
· Recruit and manage drivers
· Compete for cash and cars
· Interact with characters from other crews
· Use team tactics to win races
· Enjoy the ‘home’ track advantage
· Progress by gaining respect and notoriety
· Organized Street Races and Race Track Events
· Highway Races and Special Challenges
· Use of real brands and recognizable licenses to add believability to the game world
· Use of actual auto manufacturer’s blue prints for more than 60 licensed in-game vehicles
· Believable, but highly accessible physics and handling
· Car and environment damage
· Cutting edge next-generation graphics
· Split-screen multiplayer gaming
· Online play on PS2 and Xbox

No Burnout 3 license this year? No Problem! Check out these new screens.

Juiced Screens

Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers Screens and Feature List
Steve @ 2:58 PM EST
D-Day, World War II, the descent of German occupied Europe begins with the Allied invasion of France. The campaign is supported by over 17,000 American and British paratroopers, dropped in behind enemy lines, during and after the assault on the beaches of Normandy. They pave the way for the Allied invasion by attacking the German forces from the inside.

Advancing within enemy territory, Allied soldiers will make their journey across Europe, thwarting the German war machine every step of the way. Throughout France, Holland, Belgium they will travel to the rolling hills and large plains of small farms and to the larger war-torn cities. As they move from strikes on isolated German positions to the liberation of people throughout western and central Europe, they will gain the utmost trust and respect of their superiors. Eventually, they will prove themselves worthy of the ultimate task: to prevent the Germans from developing a weapon that could forever change the face of Europe: the atomic bomb. This most dangerous and delicate mission takes them into the heart of the European conflict: The Fatherland.

FEATURES

· Varied & immersive missions that recreate the toughest battles of WWII including D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the bitter winter defense of Bastogne

· Two-player, same screen co-operative gameplay

· Rise through the ranks – starting as a Private, battle experience will earn you promotions and allow you to customize your character with new skills and abilities

· Instantly accessible controls keeps your mind on the gameplay, not the gamepad


· Incredible assortment of historically accurate weapons, equipment and devices to choose from

· Built with the award winning Snowblind Studios engine

Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers Screens

Metal Slug 3 & SNK Vs. Capcom: SCV Chaos Announced
Steve @ 2:19 PM EST
WALL, NJ. – January 26, 2004 – SNK NEOGEO USA CONSUMER CORPORATION, the US publishing arm of the SNK NEOGEO CORPORATION, announced today that the company has joined the Xbox third party program and plans to bring METAL SLUG™ 3 and SNK VS. CAPCOM : SVC CHAOS™ to the Xbox™ video game system from Microsoft in 2004. SNK VS. CAPCOM SVC CHAOS™ will be Xbox ™ Live compatible. The company is reviewing plans to develop many other of their popular gaming franchises are in development and the company plans on making several of their titles Xbox™ Live compatible.

“We’re fortunate in that we have several titles with devoted fan bases,” said Ben Herman, SNK NEOGEO USA CONSUMER CORPORATION president. “Xbox users are serious about their gaming experience and our titles fit the Xbox user perfectly.”

Friday, January 23, 2004

New Info and Screens for NBA Ballers
Steve @ 7:19 PM EST
NBA Ballers is the exclusive one-on-one basketball game highlighting the “bling-bling” lifestyle of today’s NBA superstar; chromed-out cars, ice, cribs and your crew all hinge on the killer cross-over. Experience your favorite NBA Superstars up-close and personal with 60 current NBA stars. NBA Ballers also features 24 of your favorite NBA legends dropping dimes and dunking in your grill to determine who IS the greatest baller of all time. You got game? Then bring it and bling it with NBA Ballers (coming to courts near you in April 2004).

New NBA Ballers Screens

NBA Ballers Screens

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Thief: Deadly Shadows Info & New Screens
Steve @ 4:03 PM EST
San Francisco, CA (January 22, 2004) – Eidos plc, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, today announced that Ion Storm has incorporated both first and third person playable points of view for gamers in the upcoming Spring 2004 release of Thief: Deadly Shadows. The long-awaited game is the third installment in the action stealth series originally created by Looking Glass Studios, and it is currently in development for the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft and PC.

In Thief: Deadly Shadows, gamers will be able to play in either third person or first person perspectives, and shift seamlessly between each on the fly. The new third person perspective will further immerse players into the role of Garret – the master Thief. Sneaking through darkly lit environments, stealing riches and ambushing unwary targets in third person presents a new, visceral gaming experience to the Thief franchise. Still, the tension fuelled gameplay in classic Thief first person view is there for returning fans of the series and newcomers alike. Ion Storm’s trademark dynamic lighting and shadow technology manifests in Thief: Deadly Shadows new levels of depth and tension to the game’s environments. Characters and objects cast real shadows that effect stealth gameplay, requiring the player to manipulate darkness and light to create your own shadows to hide in.

“Thief’s groundbreaking gameplay laid the foundation for the popular action stealth genre,” said Matt Gorman, Brand Manager at Eidos. ”Thief: Deadly Shadows revisits these roots and broadens its gameplay with the addition of the cinematic third person perspective and Ion Storm’s dynamic lighting and shadow technology.”

In Thief: Deadly Shadows, gamers once again take on the role of Garrett, a master thief. Garrett is rarely seen, never caught and capable of breaking into the most ingeniously secured places. Garrett steals from the wealthy and gives to himself, making his living in the dark and foreboding City. Preferring to be left alone to ply his trade, prophecies of an impending Dark Age dictate a different plan for the thief. In Garrett’s efforts to prevent this approaching Dark Age, he has inadvertently roused an ancient hidden evil. Without allies, Garrett finds himself standing alone between the City and the forces that would crush it.

New Thief 3 Screens

Colin McRae Rally 04 Announced
Steve @ 3:16 PM EST
New York, NY – January 22, 2004 – Codemasters, a global interactive entertainment software publisher, announced today that its internationally acclaimed rally game, Colin McRae Rally 04, is coming to the U.S. for the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft. The title will be available this March at a special suggested retail price of $19.99.

The gear grinding action is more intense than ever in the newest version of this award winning series. Instinctive car handling combined with new championships, custom rallies, new single and multiplayer gaming modes, and unique car part testing deliver the perfect rally gaming experience.

Players can drive in over 20 vehicles constructed in exquisite detail with improved physics and handling, giving the player even more control. The Mitsubishi EVO 7, Subaru Impreza and Citroen Xsara, alongside classic cars, are just some of the vehicles players can take through the mud and rocks. An advanced visual engine creates dramatic replays in jaw-dropping detail.

Additional game features include:

… 48 tracks and 4 shakedown stages through 8 countries including the U.S., UK, Australia and Japan.

… Player can compete in a full rally season or specialize in a 4 or 2 wheel drive championship.

… New Expert Championship Mode demands the best performance from the most die-hard rally fan with its tough damage settings and ultra-competitive AI drivers.

… Car part testing helps the player acquire new technology increasing the chance of success.

… Stages and Rally modes allow the player to race against the clock or go multiplayer with split screen play with up to four players. Saved runs can be seen on the stage as a ghost car.

… Create a Custom Rally with favorite or themed stages that can be compiled, saved and played at any time.

… Players can compete for best stage times and upload their times online using Xbox Live.

Colin McRae Rally 04 will be published in the US for the Xbox in March and is set to deliver the total rally gaming experience. For all the latest screens and movies and to join petrol-heads on the game's forums, visit the website at http://www.codemasters.com/colinmcrae04

Acclaim Announces Next Racing Title: Juiced
Steve @ 2:59 PM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, January 22, 2004 - Getting under the hood and into the
very heart of street racing, Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it has signed an exclusive global publishing agreement with Juice Games for their fall next-generation racing game, Juiced. Combining the best elements of simulation and arcade-style play, Juiced will feature more than 50 licensed vehicles; real-time modding
with hundreds of authentic aftermarket parts; realistic car physics and damage; and online head-to-head play, including for the first time ever, "crew based" team racing.

"Juiced is not just another handsome racing game, it is a full extension of the culture that embodies street racing," said Rod Cousens, Chief Executive Officer of Acclaim. "Today's racing enthusiast wants more than just the control of the steering wheel; they want to fully personalize their experience, from the drivetrain to the decals. Juiced will give players the opportunity to go from artist to overdrive and test their mettle online in one of the best head-to-head racing experiences ever brought to the next-generation platforms. Gentlemen, start your engines!"

"Acclaim is renowned for their ability to launch exciting and
successful new brands in a global marketplace," added Colin Bell, Juice Games' Managing Director. "Their proven expertise in the genre is perfectly matched with our technology and passion for game development. We're confident that this collaboration will continue to foster an ideal creative environment that will result in a world-class racing game."

Juiced, as in life, is all about the car. Style comes in a close
second to speed, and Juiced offers thousands of real-time modding
combinations that empower players to create their ultimate personality-infused street machines. But it takes more than a fresh coat of pearlescent paint to earn respect on the road; it takes the ball bearings to go up against the trash-talking, nitrous- burning faithful who want to strip everyone of their cash, cars and pride. Juiced lets players connect with their community and share the high-octane action by recruiting drivers to become part of their crew and race together as a team to put the brakes on the competition.

Juiced will offer many exciting features, including:

  • More than 50 licensed vehicles, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Dodge, Ford, Mazda Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Holden, Volkswagen, Fiat, Renault, Subaru, Peugeot and Chevrolet;

  • Hundreds of authentic aftermarket parts from leading manufacturers such as A'PEXi, AEM, Bridgestone, Ferodo, Konig, Alpine and HKS that provide players with thousands of personalized vehicle customization combinations;

  • Progressive, non-linear gameplay that enables players to build their characters and cars, and gain respect and notoriety by winning races and cash;

  • Unique blending of simulation and the high-octane appeal of
    arcade-style racing;

  • Ability to build custom racing crews that work together as a team to win races;

  • Authentic car physics and damage;

  • Online head-to-head play on all platforms.

    Juiced will be available in the fall for Xbox®, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment and PC at suggested retail prices to be determined. The official Juiced Web site will be launched in the coming weeks.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2004

    ESPN Major League Baseball Online Announced
    Steve @ 3:41 PM EST
    SAN RAFAEL, CA - (January 19th, 2004) - ESPN Videogames announced today that its highly anticipated baseball title, ESPN Major League Baseball, will incorporate broadband online play for both the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) videogame system from Microsoft(R). ESPN Major League Baseball is scheduled to release across North America in Spring 2004. ESPN Videogames are produced by Visual Concepts - Sega's sports studio.

    "Baseball is a sport filled with legendary contests," states Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts. "Whether during an inter-city showdown or a heated match-up between division rivals, the dramatic battles between pitchers and batters have created some of the most memorable moments in sports history. Adding online play to ESPN Major League Baseball is key to capturing this competitive spirit. Gamers will now have the ability to create their own extraordinary moments as they battle others from anywhere in the country."

    PS2 Only Continuing the ESPN Videogames standard to entertain and innovate, ESPN Major League Baseball will include the only complete online league experience for PlayStation(R)2 owners. The online leagues will give gamers across the nation the ability to create, manage and compete in leagues crafted in the distinguished style of the worldwide leader in sports - ESPN. Once they have completed a league game, gamers can instantly review online statistics and analyze play-by-play GameCasts that are automatically uploaded to the league page.

    ESPN Major League Baseball will also include voice-chat support for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) videogame system from Microsoft(R).

    For more information on the games, visit http://www.espnvideogames.com

    ESPN Major League Baseball will be available at http://www.mlb.com , the official website of Major League Baseball.

    Play ESPN NFL Football With OutKast on Xbox Live
    Steve @ 2:25 AM EST
    Step up to the mic and get ready for celebrity gaming on Xbox Live! Gamers who think they can tackle a round of ESPN NFL Football against today's hottest hip-hop act, OutKast, should sign up before February 2, 2004 at http://www.xbox.com/live . Players who register could win a chance to play against Big Boi on February 4, the week of the Grammy Awards Show. Lucky Xbox Live members will be able to play against the Grammy Award nominees online through Xbox Live. Future contests will offer gamers the chance to play online against some of today’s hottest stars of stage, screen and sound, including The Strokes, Phantom Planet, Fefe Dobson, Crystal Method and Skrape, with many more lined up to take on gamers around the world.

    Monday, January 19, 2004

    Tenchu: Return from Darkness Features & First Screens
    Steve @ 3:10 PM EST
    Tenchu®: Return from Darkness™ brings the acclaimed Tenchu® stealth ninja series to the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft – delivering the most realistic ninja action-adventure game ever. Based on Tenchu®: Wrath of Heaven™ for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Tenchu: Return from Darkness offers several new enhancements including two exclusive single-player maps, improved gameplay balance with re-tuned enemy intelligence and item placement, a user-interactive training mode, realistic graphics and an Xbox Live™ component featuring two player online co-op action.

    Features

    · New Stealth Attacks and Improved Fighting Engine – Master combo attacks, including stealth moves and jumping attacks, played out in realistic detail via a robust fighting engine. Gamers take on the role of three characters, Rikimaru, Ayame and Tesshu, an unlockable assassin, utilizing over 20 authentic ninja weapons and tools and earning new abilities and combos by racking up stealth kills.

    · Exclusive Xbox Content and Enhancements - Tenchu: Return from Darkness features 11 single-player maps including two new levels that take players on a journey to a samurai mansion and deserted pagoda temple. Improved gameplay balance with re-tuned enemy intelligence and item placement force gamers to think on their feet.

    · Xbox Live and Multiplayer Action – The Xbox Live mode allows for two-player co-op missions through six levels, as well as online voice chat functionality. The multiplayer action offers six levels and two modes of play – co-operative team oriented missions and Hunter-Hunted death matches.

    · New Restart and Continue Functions - Tenchu: Return from Darkness features two exclusive new functions for both hardcore and novice players. The restart function allows them to restart a mission with all of the items previously collected. The continue function, designed for novice players, alleviates the frustration of dying early in pitfalls and having to start at the beginning of a mission.

    · Multiple Mission Paths – Fans can complete unique mission objectives including espionage, theft and assassination. Crafted levels allow players to determine the most efficient way to achieve mission goals. Multiple game endings based on earlier decisions in the game and enemy placements, keep players coming back for more.

    · Stunningly Realistic Graphics and Special Effects – Taking full advantage of the Xbox’s graphical capabilities, Tenchu: Return from Darkness features 11 detailed levels with realistic lighting and weather effects, breakable items and authentic character animations.

    Developer: K2, Ltd.

    Release Date: March 2004

    Platform: Xbox video game system from Microsoft


    Tenchu Return from Darkness Screens

    Thursday, January 15, 2004

    Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers Announced
    Steve @ 3:32 PM EST
    GLEN COVE, NY, January 15, 2004 – Enlisting gamers to embark on one of the most important military campaigns of the 20th century, Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it is preparing for its June retail invasion of developer BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc.’s forthcoming next-generation World War II video game, Combat Elite™: WWII Paratroopers. Set to launch during the 60th anniversary of “D-Day”, Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers’ development team is comprised of former members of the celebrated Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon teams. In addition, the game will utilize the proven Snowblind Studios game engine and challenge players to rise through the ranks in more than 40 levels that recreate some of the most important battles of World War II.

    “Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers possesses the technology, graphics and gameplay to appeal to a broad global market, and BattleBorne has achieved a fine balance between creating a highly-engaging gaming experience and paying homage to the brave soldiers who served during this epic campaign,” said Rod Cousens, Chief Executive Officer of Acclaim. “With its unique approach to the genre and detailed authenticity, Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers could very well teach an entirely new generation about the significance of these battles in a way that they can easily relate to.”

    “We are very pleased that Acclaim has shown such enthusiasm for Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers,” added James Kosta, President of BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. “With more than two years in development and the solid foundation of its underlying technology, Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers will put gamers on the front lines of the most well known battlefields of WWII.”

    Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers

    World War II. June 6, 1944 - D-Day - The downfall of Nazi Germany's occupation of Europe begins with the Allied invasion of France. The campaign is supported by more than 17,000 U.S. and British paratroopers, dropped behind enemy lines prior to the assault on the beaches of Normandy. These brave troops pave the way for the Allies by attacking the German forces from inside occupied Europe, fighting their way through enemy territory to thwart the Nazi war machine from within. Their battles lead them through rolling hills, open plains, small farms and war-torn cities throughout France, Holland and Belgium.

    Eventually some prove themselves worthy of the ultimate challenge: preventing German development of a weapon that could forever change the face of Europe; the atomic bomb. This dangerous mission takes them into the very heart of the Axis; The Fatherland.

    Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers will include an array of features, including:

    ·More than 40 varied and immersive missions that recreate the toughest battles of WWII, including D-Day; Operation Market Garden and the bitter winter defense of Bastogne;

    ·Two-player, same screen co-operative gameplay;

    ·Rise through the ranks – begin as a Private and through battle experience earn promotions and that allow the customization of characters with new skills and abilities;

    ·Pick-up-and-play controls for ease of play;

    ·Incredible assortment of historically accurate weapons, equipment and devices;

    ·Built with the award-winning Snowblind Studios engine.

    Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers will be available in June 2004 for the next-generation video game systems at suggested retail prices to be determined. The official Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers site ( http://www.combatelitegame.com ) will be launched in the coming weeks.

    Acclaim to Publish Worms 3D
    Steve @ 3:29 PM EST
    GLEN COVE, NY, January 15, 2004 – This spring, early birds will have some serious competition, as Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it has signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Team 17 for Worms 3D, the latest installment in their popular video game brand that has sold more than 8 million units worldwide. Worms 3D, for the first time in the history of the popular series, transports players into a robust 3D world where they engage in epic battles against other teams of worms in an action-strategy game filled with outrageous, over-the-top weapons, humor and online head-to-head play.

    “Worms 3D illustrates how proven brands can evolve over time and reap the benefits from the latest hardware platforms,” said Rod Cousens, Chief Executive Officer of Acclaim. “We’re pleased to be working with Team 17 on this title, as well as its soon-to-be-announced title which will launch in the fall of 2004.”

    Worms 3D expands upon the successful history of the turn-based action strategy franchise, featuring a bizarre and outlandish array of explosive weaponry and laugh-out-loud instances that will forever change the face of war. Worms 3D enhances the classic Worms gameplay, including favorite series’ weapons such as ninja ropes, jetpacks and super sheep, as well as hilarious new weapons that were designed to take advantage of the new liberating 3D landscape. Worms 3D also includes fully destructible environments, more than 100 unlockable hidden features and a wide variety of single and multiplayer modes, including head-to-head online play.

    Worms 3D will be available in February across the next-generation gaming systems and PC at suggested retail prices to be determined. For more information on this game, please visit http://www.worms3d.com

    Wednesday, January 14, 2004

    Xbox Live Visits the Sundance Film Festival
    Steve @ 3:20 PM EST
    Get ready to race and rage with some of today's hottest stars when Xbox Live walks the red carpet at this year's Sundance Film Festival between January 16 and 23. After attending the Sundance premieres of films like "The Butterfly Effect" and "Saved," popular celebrities will be logging onto Xbox Live with special "Sundance" gamertags throughout the day to challenge gamers to rounds of Project Gotham Racing 2 and Amped 2.

    The annual Sundance Film Festival, a major program of Sundance Institute, is held each January and is considered the premier showcase for American and international independent film. The Institute supports non-fiction filmmakers through the Documentary Film Program by providing year-round support through the Sundance Documentary Fund and a series of programs that nurture their growth, encourage the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling and promote the exhibition of documentary films to a broader audience.

    Atari Previews DRIV3R - "Run The Gauntlet" Short Film
    Steve @ 3:16 PM EST
    LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 14, 2004--Further strengthening its position at the forefront of the entertainment industry, yesterday, Atari, Inc. held an exclusive preview event in downtown San Francisco, CA for a hands-on demo of DRIV3R - an action-packed driving adventure video game with ground-breaking graphics, more than 60 playable vehicles, and three mammoth, wide-open city environments: Miami, Nice and Istanbul. In addition, Atari screened a sneak peek of the rough-cut of "Run The Gauntlet" - a three-minute live-action short film inspired by DRIV3R and written and directed by Ridley Scott Associates' (RSA) Sean Mullens - as well as the behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

    In attendance were Driver franchise developer Martin Edmondson of Atari's Reflections Interactive; actors Michael Madsen and Michelle Rodriguez who lend their voices to the game's main characters; and Ridley Scott Associates writer and director Sean Mullens.

    The first vignette promoting the first 1-minute episode of "Run The Gauntlet" was posted on http://www.DRIV3R.com yesterday and the second vignette will be posted on January 19, building to the exclusive release of Episode I on the site on January 23, 2004.

    Developed by Reflections Interactive (an Atari studio), DRIV3R is slated for release in March 2004 for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. For additional information on DRIV3R visit http://www.DRIV3R.com

    Tuesday, January 13, 2004

    EA Ships NFL STREET
    Steve @ 3:47 PM EST
    REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 13, 2004--Electronic Arts announced today that NFL STREET has shipped to retail nationwide under the EA SPORTS BIG(TM) brand. The first game of its kind licensed by the NFL, NFL STREET boasts its ability to deliver a new brand of football. The game will be available on the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft, and the Nintendo GameCube(TM).

    NFL STREET, which was developed by EA Tiburon, the makers of the legendary Madden NFL football franchise, features fast-paced, 7-on-7 gameplay where players use stylin' moves, pitches, and brute force to power their way down the field. Players include over 300 of the NFL's biggest stars from all 32 teams plus NFL legends; Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, and Lawrence Taylor. Eight urban locales are more than just a place to play; they change how the game is played. Each field has unique dimensions and field surfaces like loose sand, dirt, mud, and turf can force a change in lineup and game plan.

    NFL STREET also supports online play for the PlayStation 2 console (requires Broadband connection and Network Adaptor for the PlayStation 2), allowing players to choose from several gameplay modes or build a unique team from the ground up with the Create-a-Team feature.

    The in-game soundtrack features an all original score from the X-ecutioners as well as licensed tracks from other Sony Music artists including Korn featuring Nas, Baby D featuring Bonecrusher and Dru, Bravehearts featuring Nas and Lil Jon, DJ Kayslay presents Three 6 Mafia featuring Lil Wyte and Frayser Boy, Fuel, Killer Mike, Grafh, Jakk Frost, Lil' Flip, Lostprophets, Wylde Bunch, X-ecutioners featuring Good Charlotte, and X-ecutioners featuring B-Real.

    NFL STREET is rated "E" (Everyone) by the ESRB and has a suggested retail price of $49.95. All of the NFL players featured in the game were made available from a license with PLAYERS INC, the marketing and licensing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. For more information on the online features of the product, see the platform-specific pages at www.nflstreet.com, the official home page for NFL STREET.

    Friday, January 9, 2004

    Yu-Gi-Oh! Announced for Xbox
    Steve @ 10:51 PM EST
    REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. - January 9, 2004 - Konami Digital Entertainment - America, a subsidiary of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced three new games to be released in the blockbuster Yu-Gi-Oh! series. Further expanding the rich Yu-Gi-Oh! world, Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Tournament 2004 will be available for the Game Boy® Advance, Yu-Gi-Oh! Xbox (working title) for the Xbox™ video game system from Microsoft, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos: Kaiba the Revenge for PC CD-ROM, in spring 2004. Each game stars the ever-popular Yugi and his loyal card-battling friends and ships with three exclusive limited edition game cards.

    The exciting Yu-Gi-Oh! Xbox (working title) game marks the debut of the top selling franchise on the Xbox video game system from Microsoft. Now, Xbox players can enjoy the unique interactive Yu-Gi-Oh! experience in the only game that brings the rules and gameplay of the popular trading card game to a 3D world. A card battling game at its heart, Yu-Gi-Oh! Xbox thrusts players into the heat of the action where they must duel against challenging foes and powerful monsters. Featuring beautifully rendered 3D graphics, the game brings the monsters from the hit franchise to life before players' eyes. Also available in the Xbox game are over 1,000 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, including exclusive cards that have never appeared in any other Yu-Gi-Oh! video game.

    Konami Announces Silent Hill 4: The Room for Xbox
    Steve @ 10:49 PM EST
    REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. - January 9, 2004 - Leading videogame publisher, Konami Digital Entertainment - America, a subsidiary of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., today unveiled plans for a fourth terrifying installment of the wildly popular Silent Hill series. Continuing to blur the lines between reality and horrific alternate worlds, Silent Hill 4: The Room for the PlayStation®2 and Xbox™ is set to once again strike terror into the hearts of gamers in Fall 2004.

    Taking the series in a new direction, apprehension and fear immediately run high when the new main character, Henry Townshend, finds himself trapped in his own cursed apartment. Only by exploring mysterious portals leading to disturbing alternate worlds will Henry begin to uncover clues as to why he is trapped. However, in true Silent Hill fashion, mysterious new characters, horrendous creatures, and the undead will use any means necessary to impede his progress. A tense atmosphere and grotesque enemies will get the player's heart thumping as Silent Hill 4 delivers a gameplay experience that fans and newcomers will never forget.

    Using state of the art technology, the development team has effectively created bone-chilling effects to add to the game's creepy atmosphere. Players will be able to see changes in environments over time, as the alternate world seeps into reality. In addition, Silent Hill 4 shifts between the first and third-person perspective, which is a first for the series. Beautifully detailed environments, a haunting soundtrack and the game's trademark psychological horror complete Silent Hill 4's overall fear factor as players travel between the room and their worst nightmare.

    Thursday, January 8, 2004

    Links 2004 Downloadable Content Released
    Steve @ 3:56 PM EST
    Microsoft Game Studios announced today the arrival of new downloadable content for the popular Xbox golf series, “Links 2004.” “Links 2004” now offers gamers a chance to improve their golf game on their Xbox and in real life. At the same time Mike Weir is teeing off to begin the official golf season, gamers will also be able to grip it and rip it on the same course, the breathtaking Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii after downloading it via Xbox Live. If a new course wasn’t enough, after downloading the course, one lucky gamer will win a new set of clubs and three others will win Suunto Golf Watches with built in GPS functions. Start the new year off right with a new course and a set of new clubs. The sweepstakes is open to U.S residents only.

    Beginning January 8, golfers will be able to download the Plantation Course at Kapalua via Xbox Live and four randomly chosen gamers will receive some very special golf prizes. The course download will be available to Xbox Live subscribers for $4.99. Gamers will need a valid Xbox Live account and “Links 2004.” Upon purchasing the download, each gamer will be entered into a random drawing to win a full set of golf clubs including irons, fairway woods, a driver, a putter, a wedge and a tour bag. Three runners up will win Suunto Golf watches with GPS functions.

    The par 73, 7,263-yard Plantation Course at Kapalua, the opening event on the professional tour, is the course of the champions. Each January, the course hosts an elite field of the previous year's winners. The grand scale of the course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore unfurls across natural geographic formations and pineapple plantation fields that take your breath away. The addition of Kapalua brings the total number of courses in “Links 2004” to ten. “Links 2004” also features real international courses like St Andrews, Loch Lomond, Grey Wolf, Four Seasons Resort Aviara and New South Wales just to name a few.

    With the cold weather keeping most golfers in doors for the winter, “Links 2004” offers golfers a variety of exciting options for play. Gamers can compete in Stroke, Match Play, Nassau, Skins, Stableford, Best Ball and even Alternate Shot matches. Players can also select the player count, course and course conditions for their match. In addition, “Links 2004” offers online play via Xbox Live. Golfers from all over the world are coming together for a round of golf and “Links 2004” now offers a new “Fast Play” mode, where golfers play simultaneously (not turn based) and a full round can be completed in a fraction of the normal time.

    “Links 2004” delivers one of the most realistic and competitive golf experiences available for Xbox. As part of the XSN Sports brand, “Links 2004” offers gamers the ability to create and compete in their own online golf tournaments via Xbox Live while keeping track of hard-earned stats on their own virtual sports page, the centralized website http://www.XSNsports.com.

    Xbox Media Center Extender Kit Announced
    Steve @ 3:53 PM EST
    LAS VEGAS — Jan. 7, 2004 — This evening during his keynote address at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveiled Windows® Media Center Extender Technology. The software will power a new generation of products that will extend the Media Center Edition PC experience allowing consumers to access their favorite digital entertainment, such as live and recorded television, photos, movies, and music that reside on their Windows XP Media Center Edition PC, from any room in the home - regardless of where the PC is located. Media Center Extender Technology will not only provide access to rich content and services, but will enable devices throughout the home to utilize the full processing and storage capabilities of the PC creating new opportunities for services and providing unprecedented choice and access to content for consumers

    Alienware Corp., Dell Inc., Gateway Inc., HP, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Tatung Co. and Wistron Corp. are among the industry-leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) working with Microsoft to bring these products to market in a variety of hardware form factors, including set-top boxes and televisions, by the 2004 holiday season. Consumers can enjoy the benefits of Media Center Extender technology through a set-top box connected to their television or can purchase a new television with this technology fully integrated. In addition, Microsoft announced the Xbox® Media Center Extender Kit, which will combine an Xbox DVD title with a dedicated remote control, allowing consumers to extend their Windows XP Media Center Edition experience around the home using their Xbox game console.

    "Consumers are telling us that they don't want to be tied to the room where their PC lives to look at their digital pictures or view a program recorded on their Media Center PC," said Joe Belfiore, a general manager in the Windows eHome Division at Microsoft. "With industry partners, we are meeting this demand by developing innovative products that give consumers the freedom to enjoy their digital entertainment experiences anywhere in the home."

    BloodRayne 2 Story & Feature List
    Steve @ 3:46 PM EST
    BloodRayne is a dhampir, born from the unnatural union of vampire and human. Blessed with the powers of a vampire but cursed with the unquenchable thirst for blood and a weakness to sunlight, Rayne is challenged with her most personal battle yet in BloodRayne 2.

    When we last saw BloodRayne in 1935, she joined forces with the shadowy Brimstone Society to destroy a supernatural Nazi bid for dominance. Her father, Kagan, an influential Nazi collaborator, was killed in an accident at the close of the War. Cheated of killing Kagan herself, Rayne has spent the last sixty years ferreting out and destroying his many offspring, her siblings. They have banded together and formed the Cult of Kagan, pledging to carry on his legacy of creating a new era of vampire supremacy where humans are mere cattle for the bloodthirsty predators that hunt them. BloodRayne’s nefarious siblings have created “The Shroud,” a mysterious substance which, when released, renders the sun’s lethal rays harmless to vampires and twists nature into a nightmarish perversion. Now only BloodRayne stands between an unsuspecting humanity and a horrifying vampire dawn.

    Features:

    ·New acrobatic action on poles and rails offers variations for fast-paced blade and gun combat

    ·Advanced melee combat for deeper, more precise fighting with more than 30 combos. Do the combo you want, when you want to do it. After earning a combo, it’s added to a reference menu accessible on the Pause screen so skilled fighters can test out all of her available moves.

    ·12 fatality finishing moves like “the cleave” and “stab and behead” let you end feeding sequences with a flair

    ·Motion-captured movements and new soft body physics system for more dynamic and realistic kills

    ·New devastating powers include Enhanced Blood Rage and Ghost Feed
    ·All new highly destructible, interactive environments set in a modern day city

    ·Revamped aura vision serves more integral role in game play

    ·New Experience System lets you upgrade weapons and abilities based on how you play the game; creative killing is rewarded with bonuses

    ·Harpoon has new functionality: BloodRayne can pull environmental objects down on attackers and use the harpoon to stab and throw enemies

    ·Remapped controls make melee combat easier and more accessible

    ·Fill the Bloodlust meter to activate Blood Rage for damaging over-the-top attacks

    ·Terminal Reality’s modified Infernal Engine produces highly detailed environments with lifelike physics and real time shadows

    Tuesday, January 6, 2004

    Links 2004 Cheat Codes
    Steve @ 2:59 PM EST
    Microsoft released some cheat codes for Links 2004 this week.

  • To unlock all courses -- press and hold the Left and Right triggers. Press X and Y at the same time.

  • To unlock all skill points, challenges and career mode tours -- create a character with the name SafariTK. Note: This player profile will NOT work online.