A spin-doctor for the British government was once famously sacked for sending an email around on September 11th suggesting that it might be "a good day to bury bad news". Well, we doubt anybody at Eidos is going to get sacked for the orchestration - if indeed it was deliberate - but there's certainly something a little Jo Moore about Eidos this week, with the PS2 and Xbox versions of the widely panned Championship Manager 5 sneaking into stores today under cover of, a) the entire UK games industry, realistically the only bit of the world that cares, packing itself off to Los Angeles, b) review code only arriving on the day of release, c) the Xbox 360 unveiling having taken place the previous evening, and d) Malcolm Glazer distracting the entire footballing nation with his inevitable but, even writing from the perspective of a Liverpool fan, frankly rather worrying takeover of Manchester United. Granted, Eidos probably didn't know about the last bit, but it's a happy coincidence, no?
Meanwhile, over the pond, Core Design's Eidos-published PSP puzzler Smartbomb is apparently the lucky recipient of a 1.5/5 rating in one of the PlayStation mags.
Moving away from Eidos - seriously, if there's a desire to bury stuff, we might as well join in - there's a mercifully short list of games out this Friday trying to distract me from the terrifying spectre of E3 and all the billions of things I have to organise before heading off to Heathrow tomorrow morning.
The two highest profile titles would have to be Forza Motorsport and SingStar Popworld. Microsoft still hasn't unveiled either Rallisport Challenge 3 or Project Gotham Racing 3 for Xbox 360, so for the moment at least Forza's one of the best-looking racing games on any format. And it helps that it plays well too. Kristan feels it's come close to achieving what Gran Turismo has taken several generations to accomplish - a bit like the way I'm 11 years his younger and better than him at Zoo Keeper - and joined in the chorus of, well, "eulogism" that's been flooding forth from the digi-quills of overwhelmed hacks up and down our various gaming lands.
SingStar Popworld, meanwhile, saw me very nearly get my best friend ejected from university for calling together a seven-hour marathon karaoke party in his room which culminated in a feather-hatted tonally-deficient Polish friend of mine bellowing rubbish at 4am in the morning, complete with video projected onto the wall and a collection of screaming students for backup. Most fun I've had in ages - and unlike the last SingStar, Party, which left the PS2 disc tray faster than Andre 3000 can sing that bit about puttingonhermakeupinthemirrorandcraaaaaash-craaaaaash-CRAAAAAAASH[ing] into a ditch, this one stands up very favourably with a track listing that most people can get into in some way. There are even some technical improvements. There are some baffling choices (to stick with OutKast, the use of Roses instead of Hey Ya! is curious to say the least), but for the most part it's at least guiltily pleasurable.
For the oxymoronic-sounding closet exhibitionists among us who find SingStar brings them to life, this is essential, and it's priced very fairly.
All of which leaves me to wrap up in record time, paying only passing attention to Donkey Konga 2: Hit Song Parade, which is out in the US today and won't be as much fun as playing SingStar Popworld (sorry chaps), Kessen III, which is a game I've never been able to get into (KOEI has the best Sellotape), and the US release of Cold Winter. The latter is a curious prospect - a Brum [Birmingham -Ed]-made first-person shooter with voice acting from Tom Baker and a very European identity. That may be why it's only scraping decent scores in the States. (Or it may be because of the dull palette, poor frame rate and conventionality of the experience, some say.) We should have more on that ourselves soon ahead of its June 3rd release.
So then. Next week's What's New may be a little late, wrong or totally not happen due to E3 commitments, but rest assured if it's possible to write it then it will be written. I couldn't possibly be in any worse physical state to cobble it together than I am right nowzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz [nudge -Ed] AAAAAAAAYYYYY!
"Reloading like this. It's a revolution."
- PAL Releases
- Championship Manager 5 (PS2, Xbox)
- Forza Motorsport (Xbox)
- Kessen III (PS2)
- Neocron 2 - Beyond Dome of York (PC)
- Sacred Underworld (PC)
- SingStar Popworld (PS2)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: BattleNexus (Cube)
- Key US Releases
- Cold Winter (PS2)
- Donkey Konga 2: Hit Song Parade (Cube)
- Smartbomb (PSP)
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