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Autumn TGS: PlayStation 2

Highlights include ICO, Virtua Fighter 4 and a happier Space Channel

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

The Autumn Tokyo Game Show wasn't quite as grand an affair for PlayStation 2 as it was for the Xbox. Although a few first party games did strike a chord with onlookers, a lot of the games seen on SCEI's booth in particular have little or no chance of ever appearing in the West. There were some neat conceptual titles, including one where you had to control your units with voice commands via microphone, and another where you had to conduct an orchestra using the pressure sensitive buttons on the Dual Shock 2. But obscure turn-based strategy and role-playing games created a jungle of lingo, too text-heavy for Western journalists to penetrate. Elsewhere SCEA's amazing ICO was receiving plenty of attention. Although the game has already been released in North America, it was a sensible move for Sony to present it on the TGS floor, not just because it was new to Japanese punters, but also because it did a good job of suppressing interest in Xbox and GameCube titles. ICO's popularity stems from the experience it puts you through, rather than any single mark of design. Action, adventure, story; all of these things are nigh on incomprehensible, even in the American version. The attraction is the world and the way the various elements of the game's design come together to create a seamless… existence, for you the player. You won't see us for weeks when the PAL version comes around. Sega had a large presence at the show, and their PS2 demos included AM2-developed Virtua Fighter 4, which one journalist described as "more than arcade-perfect". The new version will feature training modes with slow motion replays, character editing options and an as-yet unexplained AI mode, which we know little about. Sega also had Space Channel 5 Part Two on show, which bears more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor. More varied enemies and hipper moves look to be the order of the day here, and the sequel is described as "happier" by its producer. Quaint. With the news that Sony has secured 19% of developer Squaresoft less than a week old, it would seem naïve to expect something big from the venerable Japanese giant, and in a sense there was no surprise when the company's display lacked a focal point. Final Fantasy XI Online looked rather infantile and under-developed to be on display at this point. The much-vaunted Disney and Squaresoft collaboration Kingdom Hearts did little to encourage interest either. We fancy both of these will be PlayStation 2 exclusives now, but either way there is one heck of a long way to go in both cases. Beyond Sony and Square, Konami was demonstrating later sections of Metal Gear Solid 2, with yet another trailer on display nearby. You can now play the demo beyond the Olga sniping battle, and new sections including an oilrig were shown off. Hopefully Konami will actually release MGS2 one of these days. To wrap up, Capcom had Onimusha 2, which looked more like an extension than a sequel (but at 10 hours play time for the original that's hardly a bad thing; there's plenty more to be done), and Namco had Xenogears networked on a handful of PS2s. Overall though, Sony's display was less exciting than we had been led to believe. Related Feature - Sony to acquire 19% of Square

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