All better now, thanks. Well, apart from a cough, but I'm not that much of a girl that I'm going to complain about grating my windpipe with a rusty nail every few minutes. However, I do feel I owe you all an apology. Obviously anticipating my absence, a number of publishers have put their games back in order to get the authentic "What's New" treatment at a later date, lest they wind up prodded and poked at by some squirming impostor like Reed or that Fahey bastard. Yeah. So. Sorry about that. I wish I was still dying too - then I could sit and play Mario RPG all day.
Day of Reckoning
Fortunately though, Eidos doesn't really like me, so it went ahead and stuck to schedule this week, meaning that Deus Ex: Invisible War is out on store shelves as I type, and unusually for a game not published by EA it's getting quite a healthy run of ads on prominent TV channels like Challenge. The ads are pretty typical Western fare, featuring a booming voice over pointing out which single format Xbox mags gave it whopping scores in the run-up, rather than going to any lengths to explain how this one works or even what it's about other than some sort of Science Fiction Man with a Bomb blowing up a CITY. Because of YOU. But, you know, at least it's getting some exposure. And we'd imagine people watching Takeshi's Castle on Challenge are geeky and niche enough to appreciate the reminder. I did. (The ads are probably on other channels too, I might rather charitably add.)
Less fortunate however is the fact that despite repeated requests we've still yet to receive review copies of the game we're not allowed to call Deus Ex 2 from Eidos, which means you won't be hearing what we think about it until early next week when Rob finishes getting to grips with my own personal 40 quid's worth. Opinion seems to be a bit divided on it, actually, with some of the folks playing it warning me not to expect the same sort of game again. That said, the world's foremost authority on all things Looking Glass/Warren Spector/etc, veeery occasional EG contributor Kieron Gillen, apparently gave it a fairly big score in a recent issue of PC Gamer UK, which bodes well. We're sure you'll want to check out a larger list of reviews, though, so it's a good thing we don't have some absurd No External Links policy in operation, isn't it? Go. On the inside, look to Mr. Gillen's own interview with Warren Spector from last November for a few more details.
Shinobi Vs. Dragon Punch
Other than Invisible War, this week's schedule is pretty bloody light on high-class entertainment. I mean, you know it's a pretty light week when the second thing I fixate upon is a Mega Man game, right? Mega Man X7, in this case, is out on PS2 this week, and much as I love Capcom I'm not exactly falling over myself to get hold of the thing - which conjured up a hatful of indifference following its release in the US last year, despite trying for a new 3D approach. Mega Man completists won't mind of course, but if any of the rest of you fancy something Mega Man related we'd suggest waiting for some of the more interesting sounding titles due out in the franchise later in the year - Mega Man X Command Mission, for one.
SOCOM II is also out this week, which you're lucky I spotted just now when I went to check on the progress of Forbidden Siren! Judging by comments from SCEA's Seth Luisi when we spoke to him recently, it's much the same as the first one only better. Well, we've heard that one before. We'll chase it as soon as, promise.
I ought to appease the Sega loving contingent too by mentioning Nightshade, which has been variously described to me as "a decent Shinobi game with a girl ninja", "a crap Shinobi rip-off with a bird in it" and "I don't know". We've sent Rob a copy, since he enjoyed Shinobi so much, which he'll play with after he finishes Deus Ex: Invisible War.
Sadly though that just about uses up all the items of interest on today's release list, unless I've missed anything glaringly obvious that is. Midway has a SpyHunter sequel out, which by all accounts is depressingly awful, Midas has released another clutch of cheap-as-chips titles like League Series Baseball 2 and The Sniper 2 which oddly remind me of "Wal-Mart favourites" the Deer Hunter series, Acclaim is once again a-claiming that XGRA is out on the Cube, and then there's Dragon's Lair 3D on Xbox - with "special edition" versions due out on PS2/Cube later this month; the "special" aspect being that they actually get released instead of just lingering on release schedules for seven hundred million years. Oh, and World Championship Pool 2004. Clack clack shrug. Anybody know if it's any cop?
The revolution's here!
Finally though I'm in a position to unveil a new aspect of What's New focusing on key US releases. Having decided recently that we're fed up beyond all possible description of the way Europe gets treated when it comes to certain big titles, we're aiming to start reviewing more big US titles as they appear, and then informing you closer to their European debut what if any changes the developer and publisher have put into place, and re-reviewing the game afresh based on PAL code where necessary. This may annoy THE MAN, but we've never shied away from doing that before so why start now?
Anyway, as part of this new import review revolution (well, it's hardly a revolution, but, well, you know), What's New is growing to incorporate the biggest US releases of recent days. By that we mean big titles that aren't out over here for yonks - we'll leave the rank and file 50-per-centers until they land on our shores for real.
And there's been nary a better week to start - given that Monday, March 2nd brought us the US launch of the massively hyped Ninja Gaiden from Tecmo, which has been picking up stellar review scores across the pond, and should be landing in our arms for a little playtest within the coming days. Watch out for that, and we also feel compelled to point out that this past week also brought the Yanks the launch of Sega's Phantasy Star Online III: CARD Revolution on GameCube, which has enjoyed a fairly warm reception so far, and the US release of Square Enix's Drakengard, which hasn't proved quite so popular - getting quite a pounding from 1UP in fact, where it was called lacklustre to play and in need of some serious polish. Ouch. Anybody out there want to stand up for it?
Looking ahe-- Oi! Looking ahead, next week ought to herald the arrival on these shores of Forbidden Siren, oh, and a little game by the name of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on GameCube. Assuming we can beat a few review copies out of Nintendo we'll be storming through it as a foursome sometime in the coming days, and delivering you a variety of opinions from our resident RPG fanatics and folks who just fancy seeing what all the fuss is about. Hopefully it'll prove an interesting mix. Wait and see.
- PAL Releases
- Carmen San Diego (PS2, Cube, Xbox)
- Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC, Xbox)
- Dragon's Lair 3D (Xbox)
- League Series Baseball 2 (PS2)
- Mega Man X7 (PS2)
- Nightshade (PS2)
- SOCOM II: US Navy SEALs (PS2)
- SpyHunter 2 (PS2, Xbox)
- The Sniper 2 (PS2)
- World Championship Pool 2004 (PS2, Cube, Xbox, PC)
- XGRA (Cube)
- Key US Releases
- Drakengard (PS2)
- Ninja Gaiden (Xbox)
- Phantasy Star Online III: CARD Revolution (Cube)