NewsPro Archive

March 2003

Monday, March 31, 2003

Midway Announces Spy Hunter 2. First Screens Inside
Steve @ 1:36 PM EST
CHICAGO – March 31, 2003 – Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, announced today that SpyHunterâ 2, the high-speed, mission-based, action/combat racing game is scheduled to ship in fall 2003 for the PlayStationâ2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft and Nintendo GameCube.

SpyHunter 2 is a powerful progression in the mission to save the world from the sinister grip of the global criminal terrorist group, Nostra. SpyHunter 2 features an all-new, extremely powerful and customizable G-8155 Interceptor with new vehicle transformations such as an off-road 4-wheel drive vehicle, an off-road motorcycle and a snow ski. In addition, the gameplay includes upgradable offensive and defensive weaponry, as players fend off enemy vehicles throughout massive levels set across enormous regions. A new mysterious, sexy female agent has also been added to the mix to increase the intensity of SpyHunter 2’s fast-paced action.

“SpyHunter 2 defines the next level of high-speed, mission-based action/combat racing,” said Helene Sheeler, vice president of marketing, Midway.

SpyHunter 2 introduces an all-new terrorist threat and it is up to Alec Sects to command the world’s most sophisticated super spy vehicle to save the world. Exclusive weaponry such as an auto- tracking turret and an indestructible armored shield are combined with landmines and oil slicks for an impressive defense that will immerse gamers in 16 action-packed levels set across four gigantic regions. Each region is interactive and dynamic, allowing players to choose their own paths and fight against giant end-of-mission bosses, including eight all-new Nostra/Phoenix enemies. The excitement also continues with the latest version of the Interceptor’s online computer, Leonie 2.0, designed to aid in mission-critical tactics and information.

SpyHunter 2 Key Features:

· Sleek New Vehicle – Brand-new G-8155 Interceptor with new vehicle transformations--snow and off-road--equipped with a new advanced weapon and equipment system that allows players to customize the vehicle with weaponry to suit personal style of play.

· New weapons – Auto-tracking turret and an indestructible armored shield have been added to the gameplay as well as new defensive weapons such as land mines, oil slicks and smokescreens, which allow gamers to play more strategically.

· New Enemies – Giant, end-of-mission boss battles including eight all-new original Nostra/Phoenix enemies that require players to use strategy and innovation in addition to firepower and speed. Also added is a cutting edge enemy AI, which reacts based on player’s behavior.

· In-Depth Missions – 16 exciting levels set across four gigantic regions that are interactive and dynamic, allowing gamers to choose their own paths through mission areas.

· Mysterious and Compelling Storyline – Nostra is back and deadlier than ever! Discover more about who Alec Sects really is, and the mysterious female agent who is somehow intertwined with him.

· Introducing New Technology – Leonie 2.0 is the latest version of the Interceptor’s online computer that is designed to provide mission-critical information and tactical advice during missions.

Now check out the Screens!

Spy Hunter 2 Screens

Reminder: MechAssault T-Shirt Contest Extended
Steve @ 1:19 PM EST
For those who have been on the forums trying to win yourself a MechAssault T-shirt, we are giving everyone one more week to put in a few more posts. And if you haven't registered, please do so in order to win a MechAssault T-shirt. Click here for the contest rules. Good luck!

Friday, March 28, 2003

Furious Karting Now Available
Steve @ 3:00 PM EST
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 28, 2003--Warning! Helmets are NOT included. Atari today sent gamers on a wild ride with the release of "Furious Karting" available exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. Developed by Paris-based Babylon Software, "Furious Karting" is an extreme go-kart racing game soaked in attitude and hard-wired with pure adrenaline.

"Strap yourself into a miniature rocket ship and hang on for dear life -- extreme sports has never seen racing as over-the-top as `Furious Karting,'" said Jean-Philippe Agati, senior vice president and head of Infogrames, Inc.'s Los Angeles studio. "With ultra-hip characters who know no fear and amazing graphics powered by Xbox, `Furious Karting' is an entirely new racing experience with slap-you-in-your-face edginess!"

Players will assume the persona of one of eight uber-contemporary racers with varying nationalities as they speed through a wide variety of racing locales that include indoor stadiums, classic outdoor tracks and extreme fantasy courses that defy conventional laws of physics. Up to 11 opposing go-karts will be competing at once, each featuring fully animated and hyper-aggressive adversaries as well as intricately rendered vehicles.

Several game play modes will keep players coming back for more, including Scenario (story), Arcade, Time Trial, Tutorial and multiplayer battle mode, featuring pick-ups and tricks to play on rival racers. In addition, the game allows players to experience "Furious Karting" in their own way - if the game is played aggressively, special challenges are unlocked; if played fairly, the player is rewarded with "happy endings."

"Furious Karting" is now available exclusively for Xbox at retail stores nationwide with an estimated retail price of $29.99 and an ESRB rating of "T" for Teen.

Atari Bringing Dead Man's Hand Exclusively to Xbox
Steve @ 2:50 PM EST
Atari is bringing all of the drama and fast-paced action of the Old West exclusively to the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft this fall with "Dead Man's Hand," a first person shooter chock full of gun fights and dripping in frontier lore. In development by Human Head studios, the creators of "Rune(R)," "Dead Man's Hand" uses the latest Unreal(R) technology from Epic Games to provide amazing graphical performance, non-stop action and enhanced multiplayer capabilities through Xbox Live!(TM)

"`Dead Man's Hand' will be an amazing recreation of the Old West, from the high drama of showdowns to the window-smashing action of shoot outs to the bitter plights of vengeance," said Steve Allison, vice president of marketing for Infogrames, Inc.'s Los Angeles studio. "Using the power of the Xbox and Unreal Technology together, Human Head is creating one of the best looking, best playing and truly unique first person shooters ever released. Xbox owners are in for a real treat, both in single player and against online foes through Xbox Live!"

In "Dead Man's Hand," players will step into the boots of El Tejon, a master gunslinger riding with one of the roughest gangs in the West, known as The Nine. When the ruthless leader of The Nine betrays El Tejon, El Tejon turns to a life of vengeance, vowing to put every member of his former gang six feet under.

Through an epic single player story of vengeance and betrayal, the player will travel the American Frontier, experiencing bar fights, shoot outs, stagecoach chases and other definitively Western scenes. "Dead Man's Hand" captures the grandeur, action and drama of the Old West with six-shooters, rifles, black hats, horses, hombres, dancing girls, riverboats, saloon poker and many other iconic images.

Besides straight shooting, "Dead Man's Hand" incorporates unique gameplay elements taken from the Old West. Gamers will try their hands at blasting desperados from the back of their trusty steed and shooting it out on a moving train, ducking just before going through tunnels. In addition, as the game progresses, players will acquire "Legend," a unique scoring system that awards points as the player blazes a path into Western folklore. When accumulated, Legend will allow gamers to pull off amazing trick shots and death-defying feats. Players will also be able to pick their own path through the game, revealing new mission choices as the game progresses.

Saloon poker also plays a major role in "Dead Man's Hand." Players will sit down for a poker game before each mission as a bonus round. If successful, the player will earn bonuses such as additional Legend, health or ammo. The player then decides whether to gamble their initial earnings for bigger bonuses. However, they could lose all of their bonuses in the process.

More than 20 adventures will challenge gamers, through the deserts, hills and towns of the old Southwest, across the mountains and mine shafts of the great Northwest, and in the riverboats and cities of the Midwest. Missions will take place upon vast maps that feature detailed indoor and outdoor locations, from rickety old saloons to sprawling mountain vistas to dark mysterious mineshafts.

Players will have nine different Old West firearms to choose from, each modeled on the real pistols, shotguns and rifles that made the Old West famous. Other weapons include knives and dynamite, as well as fixed Gatling guns and cannons that will blow enemies clear into the next county.

Players will be able to compete against other Xbox owners via Xbox Live! as well as against friends in their living room in split screen multi-player mode. A variety of competitive and cooperative play modes will be available.

Utilizing the power of the latest Unreal technology by Epic Games, Human Head has developed an amazing recreation of the sweeping vistas and rustic canyon towns of the American Frontier. The sophisticated in-game physics engine will make hats fly off enemies when they are shot, bad guys fall off roofs, knock over barrels and bust up furniture as they drop; and wagons and carts buck and bounce realistically as they race across the desert floor.

Human Head's unique "Semi Persistent World" technology (SPeW) enables varying terrain through mountains, deserts, prairies, and river valleys. This technology enables multiple missions to be played on the same map and reveals new missions as the game progresses. In addition, SPeW allows for many items that get changed or destroyed in one mission to remain destroyed when players return on later missions.

The name "Dead Man's Hand" itself is steeped in Western folklore. History reports that the famous "Wild Bill" Hickok, the Prince of Pistoleers, was murdered with a single shot to the back of his head while playing poker in a Deadwood, South Dakota saloon -- the first time he ever sat with his back to the door. The poker hand Wild Bill held when he died was two pair -- black aces and black eights. Since then, this hand has been known worldwide as the Dead Man's Hand.

"Dead Man's Hand" is scheduled for release on Xbox in Fall 2003.

ESPionage Announced from Midway
Steve @ 2:47 PM EST
Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, announced today that ESPionage(TM), is in development and is expected to ship in Fall 2003 for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and Nintendo GameCube(TM).

ESPionage challenges players to use their most powerful weapon -- their mind -- as they try to master the first action/stealth game to integrate traditional weapons combat with extensive Psi (psychic) mind powers. Combatting a terrorist movement set to overthrow world order, Nick Geller -- an elite American Psi-Operative -- fights using telekinesis (lifting and throwing objects), pyrokinesis (controlling fire), remote viewing (going "out-of-body" to plan attacks), mind drain (draining Psi energy from enemies), aura view ("seeing" elements that aren't visible in the real world) and mind control (taking control of enemies) to fight against an army of programmed, psychic terrorist super soldiers that will stop at nothing to reach their goal.

"Never before have players been given the ability to use Psi mind powers in an action/stealth game," said Helene Sheeler, vice president of marketing, Midway. "ESPionage provides a highly entertaining experience that opens up unique and creative combinations of the way gamers can play the game."

As Geller, players must conquer a programmed super soldier army and its psychic agents while using Psi powers. In addition to Psi capabilities, players have access to traditional weapons such as handguns and automatic weaponry. As players strategically navigate seven huge immersive levels within four distinct compounds, they encounter multiple ways to solve missions, which greatly adds to the replay value.


ESPionage Key Features:

-- Psi Powers - The first and only action/stealth game to integrate weapons combat with extensive and unique Psi mind powers including:

-- Telekinesis - The ability to lift people and objects and hold, move or throw them in any direction.

-- Pyrokinesis - The ability to launch a wall of fire that ignites everything in its path.

-- Mind Control - The ability to take control of enemy bodies.

-- Remote Viewing - The ability to go "out-of-body" to see through doors to plan your "attack" and/or get information you would not be able to get in physical form.

-- Mind Drain - The ability to drain Psi power from enemies, which results in death to the victim.

-- Aura View - The ability to "see" elements that are not visible in the real world.

-- Action and Stealth Combination - Intense, fast-paced action with strategic stealth elements. The emphasis is on action, with elements of stealth.

-- Traditional Weapons - In addition to Psi mind control powers, traditional weapons, such as handguns and automatic weaponry, still play a major role in gameplay and combined with the Psi powers create an extraordinary and powerful gameplay dynamic.

-- Intense Storyline - An engaging and compelling storyline reveals the mystery of Nick's identity and the origin of his Psi powers while infiltrating the compounds of "The Movement," a powerful psychic terrorist organization.

-- Multiple Levels and Compounds - Seven huge and immersive levels within four distinct compounds spread throughout the world.

-- Deep AI - Adaptive artificial intelligence makes enemies extremely aware of the player's actions and delivers more intense, realistic fighting.

-- Multiple Methods for Solving Missions - The non-linear design allows the gamer to conquer the mission in multiple ways, allowing for endless replay value.

Midway Games Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment software. Midway videogames are available for play on all major videogame platforms including the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube(TM) and Game Boy(R) Advance.

For more information about Midway Games visit http://www.midway.com

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Atari Ships V-Rally 3
Steve @ 3:30 PM EST
Atari has shipped the latest installment of the hugely successful "V-Rally(TM)" racing series -- "V-Rally 3" -- to the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. With more than 4 million units in the series sold to date, "V-Rally 3" -- already a hit on Sony PlayStation(R)2 -- promises to be the most authentic rally racer on Xbox.

"`V-Rally 3' presents an incredible range of tracks, fully detailed cars and a powerful game engine that allows for stunning graphics on Xbox," said Jean-Philippe Agati, senior vice president and head of Infogrames, Inc.'s Los Angeles studio. "The vast array of interactive tracks, challenging AI and intuitive controls will satiate any rally fan's desire for realism while at the same time maintaining the fun that made the `V-Rally' series a worldwide leader in racing games."

In the game, players pilot highly detailed cars across meticulously hand-crafted tracks, created to produce unprecedented racing realism. Scurrying spectators run from oncoming speedsters while deformed car parts fly off during collisions, making tracks and races come alive as never before.

All of the most coveted rally cars on today's circuit are included, including the Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7, Citroen Xsara, and the Ford Focus. Gamers have the ability to customize each one to their own unique racing strategy and style.

Three modes take gamers through the most extreme driving conditions including mud, snow, rain, standing water, bright sunshine and ice. Single and multiplayer versions of Time Attack and Challenge modes are included, as is the all-new V-Rally mode, where gamers live the life of a professional rally driver, strategically planning their careers, earning and selecting offers from major sponsors, and racing their way to the top of both divisions, 1.6 and 2.0 Liter.

The powerful game engine allows for enhanced interactivity, including realistic car physics, destructible track elements, high-resolution cockpits and all the progressive damage that gamers expect from careening as fast as possible through hostile landscapes. The new collision engine and physics model provide the realism and professionalism that mud-slinging racers have been hungering for since the last incarnation of the franchise.

The original "V-Rally" game, developed by Infogrames' Eden Studios, the French software team known for its mastery of racing games, debuted on PlayStation in 1997. The game soon became one of the system's benchmark racers and set the standard for racing graphics and great playability. Eden Studios brings its development expertise to "V-Rally 3."

"V-Rally 3" for Xbox is available at North American retail outlets for an estimated retail price of $29.95 and an ESRB rating of 'E' for everyone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Take-Two Ships State of Emergency
Steve @ 3:45 PM EST
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 25, 2003--Rockstar Games, the world-renowned publishing division of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., proudly announces the street date for State of Emergency for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

Developed by VIS, State of Emergency, already a "Greatest Hits" title for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system is expected to hit retail shelves at a MSRP of $19.99 on March 26th, 2003 in North America, and will be available in Europe on April 4th, 2003.

"State of Emergency was a tremendous success on the PlayStation 2 with its over the top style, unique attitude and technical achievements. The Xbox has allowed us to add a multitude of improvements, most notably the frenzied addition of multiplayer modes. Xbox owners have yet to play a multiplayer game this intense," said Jamie King, Rockstar Games' Vice President of Development. "At a competitive price point of $19.99, the Xbox title offers players the chance to enjoy State of Emergency with all new multiplayer modes and get great value for their money."

State of Emergency re-invents the old-school street brawler genre by combining over an unprecedented 250 characters on screen with an endless array of special fighting moves, weapons and interactive environmental objects. State of Emergency's comical cartoon style complements its arcade driven gameplay.

Additional information about State of Emergency is available at www.rockstargames.com/stateofemergency

EA Ships The Sims for Xbox
Steve @ 3:42 PM EST
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 25, 2003--Electronic Arts today announced that The Sims(TM) for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and the Nintendo GameCube(TM) has shipped. Players can create and control their Sims like never before with level-based gameplay, two-player modes, and dynamic 3D graphics.

"The unique and challenging experience of The Sims is now available on all next-generation console platforms," said Sinjin Bain, Vice President and Executive Producer of the game at EA's Maxis studio. "After the wildly successful launch of The Sims on the PlayStation(R) 2, we are excited to bring the zany and creative gameplay of The Sims to Xbox and GameCube players."

Now Xbox and Nintendo GameCube players can create and explore in an entirely new 3D world of The Sims. The Sims for the Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube features an all new level-based mode called "Get a Life," where players can start with just one Sim and move him or her through life's big moments including moving out of Mom's house, getting a job, and having a family. As players progress through new challenges, they will unlock console exclusive objects. A love tub and aromamaster are some of the wacky items your Sims will discover and use to spice up their lives. Both versions will also feature the classic Sim-style open-ended gameplay.

Players can interact with a cast of madcap characters that are exclusive to the next-generation console platforms, including a Monkey Butler that can be unlocked to serve the every whim of your Sim. Customizing the appearance of a Sim reaches a whole new level of detail with accessories such as stylish hats, trendy glasses, cool hairstyles, and an enormous variety of clothing options. Unique to the console versions, players will be able to make changes to their Sims appearance mid-game with the unlockable vanity mirror. In addition, players can play The Sims with or against each other in challenging two-player modes.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Sega Announces Otogi - Myth of Demons Xbox Exclusive
Steve @ 8:18 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO - (March 24, 2003) - SEGA(R) of America, Inc. today announced that "Otogi(TM) - Myth of Demons" is currently in development and will be released in the U.S. this September, exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

Set in ancient Japan and steeped in real-life folklore and mysticism, "Otogi - Myth of Demons" is the story of Raiko, an undead warrior who must stop a ferocious demonic army that has been unleashed upon the Earth. As a long-forgotten doomsday myth materializes, Raiko must quickly master more than 30 weapons and 12 varieties of magic to dispatch endless hoards of demon warriors, massive boss characters and everything else that gets in his
way.

Blending frenetic fast-paced 3D action with deep RPG elements that allow gamers to upgrade weapons, magic and character attributes, in addition to managing an inventory of special items, "Otogi - Myth of Demons" delivers more than 25 massive, highly-destructible environments to explore and decimate. Trees, walls, furniture and even entire buildings can be destroyed as gamers master dozens of special moves and techniques that make for the most intense, stylish combat available on Xbox.

"'Otogi - Myth of Demons' delivers an amazing blend of stylish, over-the-top action and a rich story, loaded with exotic historical and literary overtones," said Mike Fischer, vice president of marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. "Add jaw-dropping 'Xbox only' graphics, addictive RPG elements and more than 15 hours of gameplay and it's clear that 'Otogi - Myth of Demons' is a 'must-have' title for casual and hardcore gamers alike."

Friday, March 21, 2003

Midway Online Cheerleader Vote
Steve @ 8:05 PM EST
CHICAGO – March 21, 2003 – Midway Sports, the sports brand of leading software industry publisher and developer Midway Games Inc., announced today the five finalists for the Midway Sports Nationwide Cheerleader Tryouts. From March 21 through April 11, fans from around the nation can cast their vote online at http://www.MidwaySports.net to select the next two MLB SlugFest cheerleaders. MLB SlugFest 20-04 shipped on March 17, 2003, for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft, the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance.

Narrowed down from an initial group of submissions to 25 semifinalists, the Midway Sports nationwide search to find the next MLB SlugFest cheerleaders took place on March 19 during 2003 Spring Training. Two of the five selected women will receive $5,000, a modeling contract and the opportunity to travel and participate in exclusive Midway Sports promotional events such as a photo shoot for the baseball videogame MLB SlugFest 20-05.

“We want fans to have the opportunity to select the next two MLB SlugFest cheerleaders,” said Helene Sheeler, vice president of marketing, Midway. “With the overwhelming interest we received from consumers during the honorary judge sweepstakes, we are eagerly anticipating the results from the online vote.”

The five finalists are: Heather Brandt of Layton, Utah; Colleen Long of Clarksville, Ind.; Brandi Williams of Los Angeles, Calif.; Amanda Gilbert of Tomball, Texas and Sia Darmos of Arlington Heights, Ill.

Cheerleader Tryouts
From January 14 through March 11, Midway accepted tryout videos from women across the country, ages 18 to 25, interested in becoming one of the next Midway Sports MLB SlugFest Cheerleaders. The final two selected cheerleaders will each receive $5,000 and the opportunity to travel to and participate in exclusive Midway Sports promotional events and activities such as a photo shoot for MLB SlugFest in-game exposure and the Midway Sports Cheerleader Calendar.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

UFC: Tapout 2 Ships Exclusively for Xbox
Steve @ 1:42 PM EST
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 20, 2003--With bone crunching intensity, "UFC: Tapout 2(TM)" makes its way to store shelves! TDK Mediactive, Inc. announced today the shipping of the newest title based upon the license of the "Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) (UFC(TM))," the world's leading Mixed Martial Arts sports association. "UFC: Tapout 2" is now shipping to major retail outlets nationwide exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

"With unparalleled graphics and fighting capabilities, `UFC: Tapout 2' captures the true spirit of the `Ultimate Fighting Championship'," said Michael Devine, TDK Mediactive executive vice president, sales and marketing. "Its enhanced game model and animation system make `UFC: Tapout 2' the most realistic fighting game to date and the only real fighting game for Xbox."

"`UFC: Tapout 2' takes fighting to the next level," said Dana White, president of "Ultimate Fighting Championship." "If you've ever wanted to square off against the likes of Tito Ortiz or Chuck Liddell without suffering the real-life consequences, now's your chance. I've been to every `UFC' event in the last few years and nothing feels as close to the real thing as this."

About "UFC: Tapout 2"

Developed by Dream Factory, "UFC: Tapout 2" is the follow up to Official Xbox Magazine's 2002 Editors Choice Award winner, "UFC: Tapout." A major engine overhaul has resulted in a multitude of improvements, including improved artificial intelligence, expanded Career Mode, revamped interfaces and amped-up sound, plus many other enhancements, such as:

-- Redesigned model and animation system, producing fighter models with more points of articulation and fluid, life-like movements.

-- Real-time mesh deformation, meaning when players move and flex their muscles, gamers will see their skin move and ripple.

-- Over 35 real "Ultimate Fighters(TM)," the most Mixed Martial Arts brawlers in any "UFC" game to date, including Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, and B.J. Penn.

TDK Mediactive Ships World Racing
Steve @ 1:40 PM EST
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 20, 2003--TDK Mediactive, Inc. announced today that "World Racing(R)," with its 117 unique race tracks, has shipped to all major retail outlets throughout North America exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. "World Racing" is the first and only video game ever to showcase nearly the complete current production line of Mercedes-Benz automobiles, including prototype, racing and vintage models.

"`World Racing' features 100% accurate Mercedes-Benz car models and physics individually true to their original specifications," commented Stefan Serwe, vice president, marketing, TDK Mediactive. "`World Racing' utilizes the full potential of the advanced graphics capabilities of the Xbox, showcasing seven gorgeous and gigantic drive-anywhere landscapes, plus some of today's hottest bass-thumping tracks by the Ministry of Sound. `World Racing' is a must-have for Mercedes-Benz and racing enthusiasts, alike."

Developed by Synetic, gamers can now drive the best cars in the world...all over the world. It's the first course racing game that allows players to go anywhere in a choice of current Mercedes-Benz road cars and the best of storied racing and prototypes -- over 100 cars in all. Players take on seven of the largest environments ever put in a racing game, from an Autobahn romp to an off-road jungle jaunt. Not confined to a track like most racing games, gamers go where they want, when they want, driving fast and smooth in the pursuit of the World Championship.

World Racing Features

-- 117 different tracks in 7 huge, total-access 3D environments (ranging from Nevada to Japan, scenic Mexico countryside to dense urban landscapes, the Alps to Mercedes-Benz's own legendary Test Centre) courtesy of a new state-of-the-art landscape engine.

-- Over 100 original cars...A- to S-Class, AMG to racing, vintage to prototype. And the cars drive realistically, as each car's characteristics are based on 150 original data parameters supplied by Mercedes-Benz.

-- State-of-the-art physics allow for powerslides, burnouts, and race-style driving with real-world feel. Collisions also affect performance and appearance...cars show body damage.

-- Adjust the handling of each car for maximum flexibility. Customize each car with a choice of over 15 colors.

-- Choose the race: Training, Single Race, Mission mode...or combine them all for the ultimate challenge.

-- Race with friends in multiplayer modes that offer split screen racing for up to 4 players.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Midway Ships MLB SlugFest 20-04
Steve @ 11:15 PM EST
CHICAGO – March 17, 2003 – Midway Sports, the sports brand of software industry publisher and developer Midway Games Inc., announced today that MLB SlugFest 20-04 has shipped for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance.

Officially licensed by Major League Baseball Properties and MLBPA, MLB SlugFest 20-04 is the exclusive aggressive-style baseball videogame, delivering a proprietary blend of hardcore, lightning-fast gameplay combined with key baseball features that please even the most diehard sports fan. MLB SlugFest 20-04 also features cover athlete Jim Edmonds, of the St. Louis Cardinals along with real MLB teams, players and stadiums.

“MLB SlugFest debuted as the best-selling PlayStation 2 baseball videogame its first year on the market,” said Helene Sheeler, vice president of marketing, Midway. “MLB SlugFest 20-04 will be another crowd-pleaser with its simultaneous launch across all gaming systems—including Game Boy Advance—and even more hardcore action combined with a robust list of all-new baseball features.”

MLB SlugFest 20-04 offers real Major League Baseball® athletes with over-the-top abilities, including turbo-powered running, play-of-the-week fielding and out-of-the-park hitting. In addition, all-new features add plenty of adrenaline, including new modes such as Create-A-Team, which allows gamers to form their own All-Star team; Customizable Instant Replay, allowing gamers control of the camera and the ability to view their towering home runs and diving catches; and Home Run DerbyÔ, which pits gamers’ favorite MLB players against the most feared long ball hitters in the league (PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube versions).

Graphically, MLB SlugFest 20-04 combines more than 1,500 animations with revolutionary player models, resulting in each player being mapped to his exact likeness. Stadiums are also rendered to perfection. Authentic batting stances and wind-ups also add to the realism of the game as players in the field look and throw, and batters and pitchers look and move, just like their MLB counterparts.

MLB SlugFest 20-04 also features music such as Hoobastank’s “Crawling In The Dark,” plus original DVD content that includes the behind-the-scenes making of the game and Jim Edmonds highlight footage: A Day in the Life with Jim Edmonds (PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube versions).

MLB SlugFest 20-04 PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube Key Features:

·NEW - Create-A-Team: Create your own All-Star team SlugFest style. Combine your favorite players from both leagues into one powerhouse ball club, then work your way to a World Series® championship.

·NEW - Customizable Instant Replay: Relive those towering home runs and diving catches. Take control of the camera and view highlight-quality plays from any angle you desire.

·NEW - Home Run DerbyÔ: Square off against the most feared long ball hitters in the league and decide once and for all who is the king of swing.

·NEW - Play-By-Play and Color Commentary: Same popular announcers. All-new dialogue! “Jimmy Shorts” and Tim Kitzrow return with all-new SlugFest-style humorous color commentary.

·NEW - Authentic Batting Stances and Pitching Motion: The batters look and swing, and the pitchers look and throw, like their real MLB counterparts.

·NEW - Fantasy Stadiums and Characters.

·NEW - Music featuring Hoobastank’s hit song, “Crawling In The Dark.”

·NEW - Expanded Rosters: Now 20 players per team including six pitchers.

·Challenging Adrenaline-Style Gameplay: Turbo running, fielding, batting, and throwing. Midway pumps the adrenaline up a notch with hard-hitting batters, gas-throwing pitchers, and plays-of-the-week-caliber fielding to provide the best possible baseball videogame experience.

·Unmatched Player Animations: More than 1,500 player animations and nine motion capture actors deliver the smoothest running, fielding, batting, and pitching animations of any baseball videogame.

·Revolutionary Player Models and Graphics: MLB SlugFest is recognized for having the most beautiful graphics of any baseball videogame. Players have faces mapped to their exact likeness and every stadium is rendered to perfection.

·MLB- and MLBPA-licensed product: All your favorite MLB teams, players and stadiums.

·Updated 2003 Season Schedules, Uniforms and Stadiums.
·Cover athlete Jim Edmonds of the St. Louis Cardinals.

·Original DVD content that includes the behind-the-scenes making of the game and Jim Edmond’s highlight footage: A Day in the Life with Jim Edmonds.

Midway Games Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment software. Midway videogames are available for play on all major videogame platforms including the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Xbox, Nintendo GameCubeTM and Game Boy® Advance.

For more information about Midway Games visit http://www.midway.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Batman: Dark Tomorrow Released
Steve @ 4:57 PM EST
Seattle – March 18, 2003 – Kemco U.S.A. INC. has shipped the highly anticipated Batman: Dark Tomorrow for the Xbox videogame system from Microsoft and Nintendo GameCube to retail outlets nationwide. Developed internally by Kemco, Batman: Dark Tomorrow is rated T (Teen) and has an SRP of $49.99.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow is the first modern Batman videogame to date that is based on the DC Comics comic book license, and not on the feature films or animated television series. Batman comic book writer, Scott Peterson, and writer Kenji Terada, known for his work on the Final Fantasy videogame franchise, created the original storyline for the game. Kemco has stayed loyal to the world famous comic book character’s roots by exploring a darker, grittier Batman.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow will feature an all-star cast including some of Batman’s most infamous foes: Black Mask; Killer Croc; Scarface and the Ventriloquist; Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze; as well as fellow super heroes such as Batgirl, Robin, Oracle and others. With music performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, over 25 hours of gameplay and 60 minutes of FMV and soundtrack music, Batman: Dark Tomorrow is the ultimate videogame for Batman fans.

Kemco and DC Comics have also created a limited edition, two-part comic book that will serve as a prequel to the storyline in the game. The first of two collectible comic books will be included as a pack-in within top-tier platform-specific gaming enthusiast publications, distributing over 1.4 million comic books nationwide. The second, digest-size comic book will be included in the retail game package and limited to the first production run of the game.

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc Ships
Steve @ 1:54 PM EST
San Francisco, CA - March 18, 2003 - Rayman®, the only gaming hero with no arms, no legs, helicopter hair, and brand new powers, is storming more next-gen consoles with the latest installment of the 11-million-plus-best-selling franchise! Ubi Soft® Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, today announced that Rayman® 3: Hoodlum Havoc for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(tm) video game system from Microsoft have both shipped for retail.

"Like his audience, Rayman is growing up - he's edgier, he's darker, and he's funnier. From pulse-pounding gameplay and insane combat to A-list voices and music, Rayman 3 delivers the fun that made Rayman famous, and takes him in a new direction," said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing for Ubi Soft Entertainment. "We've pushed the graphic capabilities of these systems to the limit, so Rayman has never looked better. Gamers, prepare to be blown away."

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, carries an 'E' (everyone) rating from the ESRB and has an MSRP of $39.99.

Genetically Developed Racing Drivers in IndyCar Series
Steve @ 1:53 PM EST
Computer created racing drivers with the necessary skills and intelligence to compete in the US's IndyCarTM Series, the fastest and most intense motor racing championship on Earth, have been "genetically" developed for Codemasters' video game simulation IndyCar Series, coming to PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.

This genetic development of computer drivers is being used to form a complex Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that will control the player's racing opponents in the IndyCar Series game.

For the creation of the drivers' Artificial Intelligence, the game's developers began by placing basic AI drivers on an in-game circuit and started a race. Some drivers went forward and stopped, some crashed, some went in circles, some didn't even move.

The AI drivers that performed the best were kept and their parameters – their AI genes – were automatically integrated into a fresh batch of AI drivers, who then attempted another race. This gene-development process continued until the AI drivers could handle an IndyCar Series event as proficiently as the real-life professionals. Further modelling enabled the AI drivers to exhibit the same racing tactics as the real Indy racing drivers who feature in the game.

Under this AI system each race is unique as the drivers make dynamic strategic racing decisions in real-time, rather than following a scripted racing path.

Thankfully, the game's AI system also watches the skills of the player and dynamically adjusts the level of the opponent drivers' skills accordingly.

With its incredible high speeds, dangerous close pack racing, skilful on-track manoeuvres and challenging drivers, the sport of IndyCar Series racing makes for the perfect open-wheel racing game. Capturing the championship's overt sense of spectacle IndyCar Series will debut in spring 2003 for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. For updates on the game's continuing development, see the dedicated microsite at
www.codemasters.com/indycarseries

Monday, March 17, 2003

We Decide New Xbox Controller Colors
Steve @ 4:09 PM EST
REDMOND, Wash. — March 17, 2003 — Recognizing that color allows people to express their individuality, Microsoft Corp. is listening to gamers who wanted color options for their Xbox™ controller. The company is even taking it one step further by putting the choice of colors squarely in the gamers’ hands. In an exciting new twist to the Xbox experience, gamers can log onto http://www.xbox.com/ beginning today to help decide the colors of a special line of Xbox controllers.

Xbox is offering gamers a vivid palette of choices, including red, orange, green, blue and clear. The new color controllers will retain the physical characteristics of the highly popular and ergonomic Xbox Controller S.

The votes will be tallied on March 31, and the winning colors will be unveiled at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) May 14 in Los Angeles. The new color controllers will appear on retail shelves this October in North America.

“Gamers told us they love the Controller S, but thought it would be fun to have it in different colors,” said Bill Nielsen, director of Xbox brand marketing at Microsoft Corp. “We’re taking their advice, and are going one step further by asking them to help us make the decision about what colors to offer. Black and green will continue to be the primary colors of Xbox, but we’re looking to have a little fun by adding a few bold new shades into the mix.”

The controllers will be sold separately for an estimated retail price of $29.99 and will join the black Xbox Controller S on retail shelves.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Run Like Hell Goes Gold
Steve @ 2:30 AM EST
March 13, 2003 - Vivendi Universal Games and Interplay Entertainment Corp. today announced that Run Like Hell for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft has gone gold. This expanded Xbox version of the survival horror game includes an additional "hydroponics" level, five additional rooms and several new bloodthirsty creatures. Dolby(r) Digital 5.1 and High-definition (HDTV) will be supported in game, and additional mini games and skins will be available at launch via Xbox Live. Run Like Hell is scheduled to ship to retail in early April.

"The enhanced Xbox version of the game has allowed the development team to create a more intense Sci-fi experience for fans of the genre; we're sure gamers will be excited with the added features and content," said Gary Dawson, COO of Interplay Entertainment Corp.

Run Like Hell puts you in the role of Nick Connor, an exiled military hero sent to work on a mining station in deep space. Returning from a mission, you find your crew members wiped out by a vicious and intelligent alien race. Your mission is to stay alive long enough to discover the aliens' plans for your ship and find any survivors in the process.

For more information on Run Like Hell visit the website at http://www.interplay.com/rlh

TOCA Race Driver Enhanced Edition
Steve @ 2:23 AM EST
Enhanced editions of Codemasters' TOCA Race Driver, the number one PlayStation 2 smash hit, will launch for PC and XboxTM, the video game system from Microsoft, on March 28 2003.

Set to be the most dynamic and dramatic circuit racer for PC and Xbox, the new editions are even fiercer than the best-selling PlayStation2 game and will make any driver's adrenaline race with up to 20 cars tearing up the track simultaneously, six more cars than in the original.

TOCA Race Driver lets players race as a touring car professional in a gaming experience packed with 42 real touring and sports cars, 13 championships and an incredible 38 real-life, internationally renowned, race circuits. The new editions also add a qualifying round to championship races; in Australia's championship players will experience the 'Shoot out' qualification system.

When you've got up to 20 cars on track at once, motor sport's most aggressive exhibition of close-contact racing results in spectacular damage and it can all be seen in stunning graphical detail using the Xbox hardware and on PC supporting Direct X 8 compatible graphics cards. Online and network play is also included for TOCA Race Driver's PC players.

The roar of the cars' engines and the dramatic story sequences sound better too with support any for surround sound mode up to and including 5.1, the audio features high quality samples, reverberation and environmental audio effects.

TOCA Race Driver is the evolution of racing games, uniquely blending a cast of game characters with the sport's real-life drivers, locations and championship events.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Goes Platinum
Steve @ 2:20 AM EST
(Rockville, MD) March 11, 2003 -- Bethesda Softworks® today announced that it will release its award-winning RPG, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind®, later this month as part of the Xbox(tm) Platinum Hits series. Platinum Hits games are generally available for an estimated retail price of $19.99* (U.S.) at most retailers. Only a select few games for the Xbox(tm) video game system from Microsoft that have enjoyed the greatest popularity and highest sales volumes are being selected for the Platinum Hits program.

Morrowind was the best-selling and most highly acclaimed RPG for Xbox in 2002, earning Game of the Year and Best RPG awards from numerous publications and sites, including Official Xbox Magazine, Gamespot, Team Xbox, and Xbox Evolved. An epic, open-ended single-player RPG, Morrowind allows you to create and play any kind of character imaginable.

Choose to follow the main storyline and find the source of the evil blight that plagues the land, or set off on your own to explore strange locations and develop your character based on their actions throughout the game. Featuring stunning 3D graphics, open-ended gameplay, and an incredible level of detail and interactivity, Morrowind offers a gameplay experience like no other.

For more information on Morrowind, visit the official web site at http://www.elderscrolls.com

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Xicat Releases Japanese RPG BlackStone
Steve @ 3:06 PM EST
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – March 13, 2002 – Xicat Interactive Inc., announced today that BlackStone: Magic and Steel, has shipped and is on store shelves. BlackStone is Xicat’s second Japanese RPG release in three months for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

“BlackStone: Magic and Steel is a unique fusion of RPG elements and multiplayer hack & slash game play. We’re confident it will be a big title for us this quarter,” says Brad Flack, director of sales at Xicat.

BlackStone: Magic and Steel will be available for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and can be found throughout North America. BlackStone is rated T for blood and violence.

Splinter Cell Downloadable Mission Coming Tomorrow
Steve @ 1:44 PM EST
For those of you who have finished Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and are craving a fix of your favorite Xbox game: WAIT NO MORE!

Beginning March 14th, you can revisit the tense stealth-action of Splinter Cell by simply downloading the Kola Cell mission for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell from Xbox Live--at no additional charge.

But be forewarned! This mission is tough. Real tough. Ubi Soft's Montreal team put a lot of thought into how to best test the skills of the most creative Splinter Cell players. We invite you to guide Sam Fisher through a Georgian warehouse, find cyber-terrorist Philip Masse's computer terminal and steal a sample code. Just don't get caught. If you do, the United States government will disavow any knowledge of your existence.

This is no time to get cocky. Sam must rely heavily on stealth strategy throughout Kola Cell, because there are enemies everywhere. Players will be challenged to find alternate routes throughout the level avoiding the numerous security measures which include retinal scanners, infrared alarms and alert guards.

So if you haven't played through all of Splinter Cell, don't assume that Kola Cell will be a short walk through the park. We're serious with this one. After all, Sam Fisher does not screw around!

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Italian Job Announced from Eidos
Steve @ 11:21 PM EST
Eidos Interactive, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, announces it has signed a deal with Viacom Consumer Products to produce a video game based on the forthcoming Paramount Pictures feature film, The Italian Job. The game is being developed by Climax and will be released for the video game consoles in summer 2003.

The Italian Job is about mastermind thief Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), who pulls off an amazing gold bullion heist from a heavily guarded palazzo in Venice, Italy, only to be double-crossed by one of his crew, Steve (Edward Norton). Seeking revenge, Charlie recruits Stella (Charlize Theron), a beautiful nerves-of-steel safe cracker. Together with his former gang, Charlie and Stella follow the backstabber to California where they plan to re-steal the gold by manipulating traffic signals and creating havoc on the streets of Los Angeles.

A contemporary remake of Paramount's 1969 classic by the same name, The Italian Job, due for release this summer, features state-of-the-art chase scenes on sidewalks and through subways in the new Mini Cooper. Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator), the film stars Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland.

Mike McGarvey, ceo of Eidos says:

"The Italian Job is a very strong property and has all the elements that will enable us to produce a great game. The film is widely anticipated to be one of this year's biggest movies. Eidos aims to benefit from the film's marketing and success by releasing the game around the theatrical window."

Pam Newton, vice president marketing and licensing, Viacom Consumer Products says:

"Players will have a chance to relive the high-octane movie experience while playing The Italian Job game by Eidos Interactive. We are excited to be working with Eidos. Their commitment to quality and authenticity will generate a great product for fans of the film and gamers alike."

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis Xbox Edition
Steve @ 5:47 PM EST
New York - March 11, 2003 - A dedicated edition of the million-selling military simulator Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis is coming to the Xbox video game system from Microsoft. Codemasters will publish a customized Xbox version of the multi-award winning game in summer 2003. The Xbox edition is being developed by Bohemia Interactive Studio, creators of the original PC title, and will contain the entire original game along with the additional prequel campaign called Resistance.

A groundbreaking title, Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis is the ultimate realistic war experience. Gameplay enables players to participate in a Cold War conflict just the way they want to and draws the player into a deeply believable military environment. For the first time in such a military game, the player controls and commands not just soldiers and squads of all levels, but also land, sea and air vehicles – both military and civilian – from cars, to APCs, to tanks and even military helicopters.

The scenario is modern warfare: It is 1985, in the midst of the Cold War, and Gorbachev has been elected to power bringing with him policies of glasnost and perestroika. However, resistance Soviet groups are opposed to the new wave and are refusing to serve the new regime in Moscow. One group has taken control of an island community, and is using it as an armed stronghold for the old order. Operation Flashpoint opens with the player joining the neighboring US force against the Soviets.

It is a game of complete freedom and once past the mission briefing stage, it’s the player’s decision how the overall mission or campaign is tackled. This variety also allows players to dip in and out of all kinds of action gameplay, from commanding a squad, to driving tanks, troop carriers, piloting a helicopter to taking on the role of a sniper.

The open environment of the game is massive and players can go anywhere at anytime without being limited to playing in mission-specific ‘walled’ areas. On Xbox, the game comes complete with an additional campaign titled Operation Flashpoint: Resistance, set years before Operation Flashpoint’s Cold War hit crisis point.

Resistance creates an additional 100km2 island and casts the player as Victor Troska, an experienced ex-Special Forces soldier. Having turned his back on his military past, Troska has settled into a respectable civilian life on the island of Nogova, a short distance from the main game’s three islands. However, his situation changes when the Soviet force invades the island group and destroys Troska's idyllic dreams.

Reluctant at first to return to a conflict situation, he is forced to participate in, and then lead, the ramshackle Resistance effort, which grows up in response to the Soviet occupation of the island. As Operation Flashpoint: Resistance begins before the US Army and its resources came to the islands, players have to scavenge equipment from whatever sources they can manage, which provides for a different play experience.

Throughout the closely linked missions, the overriding objectives include growing a resistance force by gaining new recruits and gathering equipment, preserving as many of your comrades as possible to build an army strong enough to repel the Soviets. Combined, the main game and the prequel campaign, makes Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis the best military simulator for any platform and a true must-have title for the Xbox gamer.

Having set new standards of immersive realism on the PC, the dedicated Xbox edition is primed to repeat the PC’s Game of the Year success. Codemasters is set to release Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis on Xbox in summer 2003. The game’s web site, with information, images and a forum is now live at http://www.codemasters.com/flashpoint

Sega Ships World Series Baseball 2K3
Steve @ 2:11 PM EST
SEGA SPORTS(TM) WORLD SERIES(R) BASEBALL 2K3 SHIPS FOR XBOX

The King of the Virtual Baseball Diamond Delivers ESPN Telecast-Style Presentation, Historic Ballparks, New Gameplay and Enhanced Visuals

SAN FRANCISCO - (March 11, 2003) - SEGA(R) of America, Inc. officially announced today the release of "SEGA Sports(TM) World Series(R) Baseball 2K3" for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft(R). "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" launches with a host of gameplay and visual enhancements, including an ESPN telecast-style presentation, Hall of Fame(TM) legends, retro uniforms and ballparks, and new player moves and animations. Produced by Visual Concepts Entertainment, a SEGA development studio, and developed by Blue Shift Inc., "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" will once again be in a league of its own.

"'World Series Baseball' is one of the longest running SEGA franchises and this year 'World Series Baseball 2K3' is at the pinnacle of its career," said Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts Entertainment, a SEGA development studio. "Building on last year's acclaimed Xbox release, 'SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3' delivers loads of new compelling features, including classic ballparks, an all-new jump button, authentic awards and improved animations that give this game the look and feel of real baseball."

"SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" will include a variety of gameplay enhancements such as home run robbing jumps at the wall, dramatic running grabs in the outfield, user-controlled leadoffs and power swings, silky smooth double play and relay animations, offline throws, and a behind-the-pitcher cam that brings an exciting new perspective to the game. The unrivaled gameplay will be complemented by the deepest Franchise Mode in any baseball video game. Playing through an unlimited number of seasons, users will be able to assemble a full coaching staff by selecting from a pool of managers, batting and pitching coaches, Minor League(TM) directors and scouts. In addition to the Franchise Mode, "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" will also include modes such as Exhibition, Big League Challenge(TM), Season, Playoffs and the SEGA Sports Challenge. Appearing in all SEGA Sports 2K3 games, the SEGA Sports Challenge allows fans to compare their offline stats against other players nationwide on Segasports.com.

On the visual front, "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" will remain the most graphically stunning baseball game on the market. Built to take full advantage of the capabilities of Xbox, "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" will feature intricately detailed ballparks and improved player models. From classic ballparks such as the Polo Grounds to the ballparks of today including Great American Ballpark, the new home of the Cincinnati Reds(R) -- no detail is too small in "SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3."

"SEGA Sports World Series Baseball 2K3" is endorsed by the New York Yankees(R) all-star first baseman Jason Giambi and is available at retailers nationwide for $49.95. The game will soon be released on the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system.

Monday, March 10, 2003

New Update on Xbox Live Enabled Top Spin
Steve @ 1:42 PM EST
Australian Tennis Superstar Lleyton Hewitt Serves an Ace on the Cover of “Top Spin” For Xbox™

Microsoft Game Studios announced today that two-time grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt, along with two tennis superstars yet to be disclosed, will be featured on the cover of “Top Spin,” the new Xbox tennis title set to launch in the fall of 2003. Created exclusively for Xbox by PAM, “Top Spin,” which will be Xbox Live-enabled, provides tennis fans with the ultimate on court and online tennis experience.

The announcement was made today as Lleyton Hewitt battled in the ceremonial first “Top Spin” game against tennis legend and fellow Top Spin-featured athlete Michael Chang at the prestigious Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California.

A total of 16 of the world’s best tennis players will be featured in “Top Spin.” Other players announced today include:

Tommy Robredo
Jan-Michael Gambill
Michael Chang
Gustavo Kuerten
Sebastian Grosjean
James Blake
Daniela Hantuchova
Martina Hingis
Barbara Schett
Ashley Harkleroad
Elena Dementieva
Meghann Shaughnessy
Amanda Coetzer

“Top Spin” challenges each player to master all the shots including slices, lobs, drops and spins while playing on various surfaces including clay, hard court and grass. In addition to the 16 licensed pros, gamers can also create their own tennis players to achieve superstardom complete with their own unique personalities.

“It is truly an honor to be selected by Microsoft Game Studios as a ‘Top Spin’ cover athlete,” said Hewitt. “The key to a great tennis game is allowing fans to feel what it’s like to be on the court and play against the world’s best. Microsoft has done it with ‘Top Spin.”

With Xbox Live, “Top Spin” is truly a global tennis experience. Players compete to climb worldwide ladders to achieve the much-coveted No. 1 online ranking. Along the way, “Top Spin” encourages players to take risks, try new shots and argue bad calls to beat their opponents. Just like on the real courts, players are searching for “the Zone,” where every forehand, backhand and overhead slam overpowers the individual on the other side of the net. Struggling players or those looking to perfect a part of their game can train with coaches to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

“This high-intensity tennis game has selected the world’s best tennis player as its cover athlete,” said Andrew Royal, product manager for “Top Spin.” “I think gamers and tennis fans all over the world will be treated to a tennis experience never before seen on any video game console.”

Friday, March 7, 2003

Amped 2 Announced for Holiday 2003
Steve @ 3:19 PM EST
This weekend, Xbox once again rides the rails at the Vans North American Championships, the third stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding, to announce “Amped 2”, the ultimate experience in freestyle snowboarding for the Xbox™ video game system. Snowboarders from around the globe have been waiting in anticipation for the follow-up to the acclaimed first version, “Amped.” The game, which will be Xbox Live™ enabled, is currently in development and will be out Holiday 2003.

To highlight the game, new “Amped 2” radio spots, giveaways and on-mountain signage will debut this weekend as part of the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding sponsorship. Microsoft Game Studios will celebrate the announcement of “Amped 2” with a special, invitation-only launch party at Chad’s Place on Friday March 7th in Big Bear City at the base of Bear Mountain, the host city of the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding. The party will feature snowboarding fun, game demos, and live music from alternative rockers Eleventeen.

Gamers and snowboarding fans will not be disappointed with the new features in “Amped 2” proving that the “Amped” franchise will once again make major advancements in the extreme sports gaming genre. New features include:

The Tricks: “Amped 2” unleashes new aerial tricks, a full set of styled-out rail slides, and introduces “butter”, the center of a new combo system. A tutorial will teach first timers the basics of freestyling riding.

The Web: Xbox Live will help determine who the ultimate snowboarder is by allowing gamers to challenge riders around the globe. Gamers can track stats, trade replays with friends, and download new content including mountains, gear, challenges and music.

The Graphics: Gorgeous, fully-rendered 3D environments bring the mountains alive. Clouds move over the hills. Snow-cats groom the runs. People ride the chairs. Riders see their breath in the cold air, and snow builds up on clothing after crashes.

The Career: “Amped 2” features a deeper career mode with more opportunities to impress the locals and the press with 3 levels of media challenges: photos, photo sequences, and video demo reels. As fame builds, sponsors award new gear and boards.

The Mountains: “Amped 2” features top mountains from around the globe, including Laax in Switzerland and Mt. Buller in Australia. World-renowned terrain park designer, Chris “Gunny” Gunnerson, lends his expertise exclusively to the game’s park design.

The Pros: Gamers can create a snowboarder or play as any of the top 14 pros including: Jeremy Jones, Mikey LeBlanc, Travis Parker and Janna Meyen.

The Music: “Amped 2” provides a library of over 300 original cuts from up-and-coming indie artists. Gamers can also create their own play list and “rip” it to the Xbox hard drive.

The first game in the series, “Amped,” is part of the Xbox Platinum Hits collection and is now available for only $19.99 to provide endless hours of freestyle snowboarding entertainment.

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit Ships
Steve @ 5:03 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - March 6, 2003 - Ubi Soft , one of the world's largest video game publishers, today announced it is shipping the popular Japanese mech-based shooter, Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit, exclusively for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft. Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit is a "pursue and destroy" action game that puts you in control of an elite Mech Hunter unit that must suppress a rampage of renegade mechs programmed for terror and destruction, bent on eliminating everything in their path.

Previously released in Japan, Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit features 20 intense missions - 10 exclusive to the US version - challenging players to chase down and destroy renegade mechs through bustling city streets and towering skylines. Players choose from five different elite Murakumo Mechs, each with their own devastating arsenal and abilities and several different modes of play, including Scenario Mode, Free Mission and Expert Mission. Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit also features an all-new Trial Mode, which allows players to challenge 10 Giant, mechanized bosses to beat and record personal best Rank and Clear Time.

Intensifying Murakumo's thrilling game play is the game's incredible speed. It is easily the fastest moving Mech game ever created for any gaming platform, exploding the myth that Mechs are slow, plodding machines. "The plodding brutes of Steel Battalion and MechAssault can't even fire missiles that travel as fast as you will in Murakumo," commented Xbox.Ign.com. Official Xbox Magazine was similarly excited about Murakumo's incredible pace, "Did we mention that this game is FAST? Depending on your mech, you can literally race through levels at breakneck speeds chasing down targets for a real rush..."

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Activision and Peter Molyneux Sign for The Movies
Steve @ 6:01 PM EST
London, UK - March 4, 2003 - Activision, Inc. announced today that the company has signed an agreement with legendary U.K.-based game designer Peter Molyneux. Under the terms of the agreement, the company has secured the exclusive worldwide rights to Molyneux's new project tentatively titled The Movies for the PC and all video game console platforms. The agreement also grants Activision the option to publish sequels and add-on products to the title.

The Movies currently is being developed by Molyneux's Lionhead Studios, whose last title, Black and White, sold almost 2 million units worldwide. Black and White topped PC sell-through charts around the globe and was a #1 best-selling game in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Slated for release in 2004, The Movies gives gamers the opportunity to run their own Hollywood movie studio from the silent days of the 1920s, through the advent of new technologies into the present and beyond. The game puts players in charge of a Hollywood dream factory where they decide which movies to make and the stars to make them. The player selects the scripts, directors, sets and movie stars before shooting the action and watching their finished movie on opening night. Players can manage the money, egos, tears & tantrums on their way to living the Hollywood dream.

"Peter is undoubtedly one of the most talented video game designers in the world, and Lionhead is one of the very few development studios with the knowledge and resources to develop a game that will allow players to fulfil the fantasy of building a movie empire," states Larry Goldberg, executive vice president of Activision Worldwide Studios. "We are incredibly excited to have entered into this long-term partnership and are confident that this alliance will result in one of the most innovative and anticipated games of the next few years."

"Activision has always been synonymous with quality and innovation. The Movies offers a perfect opportunity for both of our companies to collaborate in the creation of a multi-million unit selling franchise," responded Peter Molyneux, managing director of Lionhead Studios. "A major factor in our choice of Activision as publisher for The Movies was its impressive attitude toward development and developers."

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Xbox Exhibition Volume 2 Now Available
Steve @ 2:47 PM EST
What do Indiana Jones, giant mechanized war machines, professional basketball players and a game based on cheesy kung fu movies have in common? They can all be found on Microsoft's new Xbox Exhibition Vol. 2 demo disc, now available on store shelves across North America for the estimated retail price of $7.99 (U.S.). The disc contains nine playable demos, downloadable game extensions, incredible music, and new videos created by G4, the TV network all about video games and the gamer lifestyle.

Playable demos on the disc will be "MechAssault," "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon," "Kung Fu Chaos," "Indiana Jones and The Emperor's Tomb," "All-Star Baseball 2004," "MX Superfly featuring Ricky Carmichael," "NBA Inside Drive 2003," the Japanese edition of "Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO" and "Vexx." Gamers can also add new content to games they already own: Xbox Exhibition Vol. 2 includes a roster update for "NFL Fever 2003" and new characters and environments for "Toe Jam & Earl III" and "MX Superfly."

Also on the disc are video segments of game news and reviews produced by G4, the only television network dedicated to the world of interactive entertainment. Gamers can also check out music videos and songs from some of the hottest indie label artists around; including Nada Surf, Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Spoon and Hot Hot Heat. Songs can be downloaded from the game disc to the Xbox hard disk to be played back in-game.

For more information on the Xbox Exhibition Volume 2 demo disk, go to http://www.xbox.com/exhibition02

More than 350,000 Xbox Live Subscribers
Steve @ 2:46 PM EST
REDMOND, Wash. — March 4, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today revealed that more than 350,000 subscribers worldwide have joined the Xbox Live™ online game service. In addition to easily finding friends and using voice communication across all Xbox Live games, players now can enjoy downloadable content, an exclusive feature that delivers new maps, missions, statistics and characters to the built-in Xbox™ hard drive, keeping games fresh even after a player has completed all the levels.

New downloadable content for “MechAssault™,” the popular Xbox Live-enabled game from Microsoft Game Studios, drove more than 172,000 downloads during the first week of availability. Xbox Live players from around the world had access to two new Mechs and two new levels. When Xbox Live launches in Europe on March 14, players of the best-selling Xbox game last holiday season, “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell™,” from Ubi Soft Entertainment, will have access to a new level, Kola Cell, which requires players to utilize the game’s unique gadgets and the characters’ stealth capabilities to achieve the level’s four objectives.

In a recent Microsoft survey, 82 percent of Xbox Live users identified downloadable content as the most desired feature for Xbox Live. Game developers are keen to deliver downloadable content because it allows them to instantly deepen relationships with enthusiastic fans by extending the life of their titles.

“From day one, our mission has been to give players what they want next,” said J Allard, vice president of Xbox at Microsoft. “With the availability of downloadable content now on Xbox Live, we’re making a big step toward keeping gaming current and adding an additional element to the industry.”

Globally, Xbox Live is playing host to more than 3 million game sessions per week, with the growing Xbox Live community — which includes players from the United States, Canada and Japan — logging more than 15.7 million hours of online play, or just shy of 1,800 cumulative years, in the first three months of availability. And with peak gaming times coming during television prime time, it’s apparent that consumers are fulfilling their desire for reality-based entertainment on Xbox Live, today’s true reality program. On March 14, the global Xbox Live community will span 11 countries, when players from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom will become Xbox Live-enabled.

In the first three months of availability, Xbox Live Starter Kits have outsold the number of Sony PlayStation 2 Network Adapters by nearly 44 percent. In addition, players are choosing to experience multiplatform online-enabled games on Xbox Live. To date, the Xbox version of "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon™" from Ubi Soft has sold 35 percent more copies than the PlayStation 2 version.*

"Xbox's online service and voice capabilities really enhance the experience gamers get when playing 'Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon,'" said Tony Kee, vice president of Marketing for Ubi Soft Entertainment. "It's the social interaction with other fans of the game that makes 'Ghost Recon' on Xbox Live so appealing."

New exclusive game content for Xbox Live also will be available through retail channels, such as "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon™: Island Thunder™," an upcoming campaign disk based on the original "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon," scheduled to hit store shelves this summer. The campaign disk will feature a new mission scenario, additional game types and 12 multiplayer maps for Xbox Live play, as well as four maps from the original "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon," at a lower estimated retail price than that of a full retail game. Players who purchase the stand-alone product also will have access to future downloadable content, including new missions and maps.

Fourteen Xbox Live-enabled games are currently available, with 10 more scheduled to come online in the next two months.

Monday, March 3, 2003

Medal of Honor Rising Sun Announced
Steve @ 7:48 PM EST
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - March 3, 2003 -Step into the boots of a Marine Corporal, survive the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, and drive the Japanese Army from the Pacific in Medal of Honor Rising Sun from Electronic Arts. Developed by EALA, Medal of Honor Rising Sun creates an immersive and authentic WWII experience in either single-player or multi-player modes. Medal of Honor Rising Sun will be available for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox video game system from Microsoft in the fall of 2003.

Set for the first time in the Pacific Theatre of Operations from 1941-1944, Medal of Honor Rising Sun gives players a sense of the courage it took to fight the Japanese from Pearl Harbor to the shores of the Philippine Islands. Players will assume the role of Marine Corporal Joseph Griffin, as he survives the attack on Pearl Harbor, leads the assault of Guadalcanal, and finally rescues his brother from a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines. Armed with his wits and a variety of authentic weapons, it's up to players to stop the Japanese war machine in its tracks. Players can even team up with a friend in the all-new co-op multiplayer mode to battle the Japanese forces. Along the way, players will earn awards and medals for their meritorious service in defeating the enemy.

As with the original Medal of Honor™, the producers sought council from numerous outside sources to make certain the game is as historically authentic and realistic as possible. EALA continues to work closely with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to ensure Medal of Honor Rising Sun reflects the ideals and integrity of the prestigious Medal of Honor. In addition, Capt. Dale Dye, who served as military technical advisor on the previous titles in the Medal of Honor franchise, continues his efforts with the Medal of Honor Rising Sun team to ensure the authenticity of the game.

New Prince of Persia Game for Holiday 2003
Steve @ 7:47 PM EST
Ubi Soft let us know today that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will be coming out on all platforms in Q4 2003.

San Francisco, CA - March 3, 2003 - Ubi Soft Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, today announced it is developing a brand new Prince of Persia game: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Jordan Mechner, creator of Prince of Persia, is working hand in hand on the latest title in the series with Ubi Soft's Montreal production studio, most recently renowned for creating Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Scheduled to ship for all platforms starting in Q4 2003, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is poised to become the latest success story in a series of hit games from Ubi Soft.

First recognized for groundbreaking cinematic techniques in games like Karateka, The Last Express and, of course, Prince of Persia, Mechner is now widely heralded as one of the world's premier computer game designers. Ubi Soft's partnership with Mechner is a reflection of its ongoing strategy to work directly with the industry's best and brightest.

"With Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Ubi Soft and Jordan Mechner are channeling their combined talents to breathe new life into the action/adventure genre. They're creating rich characters, white-knuckle action and a plot with more twists than the exotic, elaborate castle featured in the game," said Serge Hascoët, Editor in Chief, Ubi Soft Entertainment. "We're thrilled to move forward with the legendary Prince of Persia brand and eagerly await the launch of the next masterpiece from our world-famous Montreal studio."

A new Ubi Soft brand, Prince of Persia is credited with changing the face of computer gaming in the 1990s by introducing lifelike animation and story-driven action. The franchise was one of the first to gain success based on an appealing human lead character and a dramatic storyline. The first three games in the series boast combined sales of more than 3 million units.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time takes place within an exotic, mysterious world representing Persian architecture, animals and attire. After his father invades the palace of the Maharajah, the Prince, tricked by a treacherous vizier, uses a magic dagger to release the dangerous Sands of Time from an ornate hourglass. With the aid of a beautiful, mysterious, and potentially untrustworthy ally, players embody the Prince to recapture the Sands of Time and restore peace to the land.