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King of Dragon Pass

Review - epic turn-based strategy of the beard-scratching kind

- A SharpSystem Requirements -

American Conquest

Hands On - Cossacks' developers conquer the New World in their real-time strategy follow-up

It's no great secret that Cossacks is one of my favourite real-time

Disciples II: Dark Prophecy

Quick Take - a role-playing strategy game with a difference

Disciples II has been available in America for several months now,

Everglide launches gaming mats

Get your mouse on!

Everglide have made something of a name for themselves over the last few years producing hefty black plastic mouse mats for hardcore gamers with more money than sense, not to mention the bizarre looking Mousebungee and other rodent-related gadgets. The latest such products to reach the UK are a range of imaginatively named Gaming Mats. At first sight these look much the same as your common or garden mouse mat, thin and flexible, but closer inspection reveals them to have a textured surface that provides the same kind of feel and precision that we've come to expect from Everglide's harder pads in the past. They also have a grippy textured underside that virtually glues itself to your desk, almost completely stopping the pad from sliding around, although you can still lift it up easily enough if you need to reposition it. What makes them really attractive though is your choice of five full colour print designs - Asian Swords (three crossed blades on a red oriental-looking flag), Celtic (broadsword and axe on a wooden shield), Cyborg (a marbled looking mix of man and machine), Special Ops (sure to be a hit with gun nuts and Counter-Strike fans) and Works (retro looking clockwork machinery). We've been using one of the Cyborg mats for the last couple of weeks, and it's already replaced our previous Everglide pad in pride of place on my desk. If you want a mat that looks pretty and offers better than normal precision and stability, then this could be just what you're looking for. All five designs are now available from Everglide UK for the princely sum of £10.99 plus postage. Source - Everglide

Project Nomads

Hands On - we take CDV's action-strategy game for a spin


Shadowbane held back

Massively multiplayer game slips to 2003

Wolfpack's entry in the ever expanding massively multiplayer role-playing genre has been held back until some time next year. According to a post on the game's official website, Shadowbane will no longer be released in November as previously planned, with the company deciding "to extend the beta test through the holiday season" in an effort to make sure that the final product offers "the best possible game and service experience" for players. In the meantime, beta testers can look forward to a new version in the near future which will feature "a number of long-awaited enhancements". Although Shadowbane is rather primitive looking in terms of its visuals at this stage, the underlying gameplay does bring something new to the genre. There's a greater focus on strategic elements than in most games of its ilk, with player guilds able to control sections of the game world and construct temples, fortifications and other buildings. Of course, the bad news is that this side of the game only really comes into play once you've spent many hours building up your character with more traditional adventuring and hack and slash levelling in true MMRPG fashion, but at least there's the potential of a more interesting experience for high level gamers than simply bashing ever more powerful monsters. Related Feature - Shadowbane screenshots Source - Shadowbane website

GTA Vice City tunes

Seven soundtrack albums on the way

Audio has always been a strong point of the Grand Theft Auto games, with a range of in-car radio stations on offer featuring all kinds of music, surreal chatter, outrageous jingles and bizarre adverts. Fans will be glad to hear then that GTA Vice City is promising more of the same, with over eighty bands set to be included in the game. Big names that have been revealed so far include Blondie, Judas Priest, Kool And The Gang, Grandmaster Flash and .. er .. Flock Of Seagulls. All of which should help players get into that authentic 1980s vibe. And for those of you who just can't let go, Rockstar are teaming up with Sony Music to release no less than seven Vice City soundtrack albums, featuring all the songs you were tired of twenty years ago. Probably. Each album is based on a different radio station from the game, covering everything from hip-hop and heavy metal to soul and pop ballads. "The Grand Theft Auto franchise has always broken the boundaries of what videogame soundtracks can be, and Rockstar Games, along with Sony Music and Epic Records, have set a new standard with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City", Rockstar's COO Terry Donovan is quoted as saying. "The Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack albums will arguably represent the most diverse, extraordinary and innovative collection of music ever assembled for any piece of entertainment - whether it be video games, television or feature films. Every track was lovingly and laboriously chosen to reflect the vast array of 80's musical styles and create the perfect audio landscape for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." Here in Europe we should get to hear the benefits of that loving at the tail end of October. Related Feature - GTA Vice City screenshots Source - press release

Kid Ninja escapes the Asylum

British developer unveils oddball cartoon action game

London-based developer Asylum Entertainment has built up a reputation over the last four years for its TV tie-ins, covering everything from Galidor and Cubix to Walking With Dinosaurs and Dr Who. Recently they've moved into developing original games as well though, with the Victorian horror adventure game Curse: The Eye Of Isis due out through Wanadoo towards the end of this year. And today the lid comes off their biggest project to date - Kid Ninja. By day Jet is just another boy, but by night he becomes Kid Ninja, using his Ninjitsu skills to save the world from the evil Raging Dragon spirits, aided only by his magical stuffed toy Kuma. Set for release on all three console systems, Kid Ninja features a mixture of colourful cartoon graphics and fast moving martial arts mayhem as you guide the eponymous masked hero in his battle against evil. The whole thing has a very angular, stylised look to it which is quite eye-catching, and if the gameplay is half as fun as the trailer Asylum could be on to a winner. The game is just part of the package though - Asylum are promising a "gripping storyline" which will cross over into TV, film and comic books, with music, action figures and toys all in the works as well. It's certainly an ambitious concept, reversing Asylum's normal habit of building games around existing TV series by creating an entire new franchise from scratch, stretching from game to cartoon to comic book. It's perhaps no surprise then that Kid Ninja isn't due to arrive until the spring of 2004, giving Asylum plenty of time to polish all the various components. While you're waiting though, we have the first in-game screenshots, renders and concept art from the Kid Ninja game for you, as well as a great two minute trailer in bandwidth-saving DivX format, which should give you some idea of what to expect. To view the trailer, simply right click on the link and download the file to your hard drive. Related Feature - Kid Ninja screenshots and art Thanks to blueyonder for hosting the trailer

2003: Conquest Of America

Cossacks follow-up coming early next year

CDV have confirmed that American Conquest will be available in the UK some time early in 2003. Developed in Ukraine by GSC Game World, it's a follow-up to their real-time strategy epic Cossacks, but with the action (fairly obviously) transplanted to the New World. Players will get the chance to take control of the destinies of twelve nations, ranging from English, French and Spanish colonists to Mayan, Sioux and Aztec natives, with over a hundred units and buildings between them. As Cossacks fans would expect, the game features warfare on a truly mind-boggling scale, with up to 16,000 individual units in a single map and battlefields that can stretch across six hundred screens at 1024x768 (that's almost 472 million pixels, fact spotters). All of the advanced multiplayer features introduced in the Cossacks expansion packs should find their way into the new game as well, with support for eight player online and LAN battles, complete with in-game alliances, as well as a global ranking system to keep track of your progress. Needless to say, this is one we're looking forward to. Related Feature - American Conquest screenshots Source - press release

Riding Spirits on the way

Motorcycle sim haunts release charts

PlayStation 2 motorbike racing game Riding Spirits should be arriving in Europe later this month, courtesy of BAM! With two hundred bikes to ride, including as-yet unreleased models from the likes of Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki, it should prove a hit with motorbike nuts if nothing else. Even your riding suits and bike parts are fully licensed, with the credits you earn in tournament races used to customise your vehicle with new engines, mufflers, tyres, mirrors, headlights and other bits and bobs. Reviews from the US (where the game is already available) have been somewhat mixed, but hopefully we'll have a clearer idea of how it shapes up soon. In the meantime, we have four brand new (if rather low resolution) screenshots of the game for you to squint at. Related Feature - Riding Spirits screenshots

Blizzard gets tough with cheats

20,000 players kicked off Battle.net ladder - ouch

Blizzard have always said that they were going to be tough on people using cheats and hacks to gain an unfair advantage in Warcraft III multiplayer matches. Exactly how tough was revealed on Friday night, when the company announced that it has closed down some 20,000 user accounts to date. All of the offenders (who were caught using map hacks) had their ladder records wiped and were banned from playing any more ladder games with that CD key for two weeks. Although the cheaters could still play non-ladder matches through the service, Blizzard are promising that repeat offenders' CD keys will be permanently banned from Battle.net if they continue using hacks. So don't do it - cheating ruins everyone else's enjoyment of the game, and you could end up black listed if you're caught doing it persistently. Related Feature - Warcraft III review Source - Battle.net

Morrowind expands

Tribunal add-on confirmed

Bethesda have confirmed that work is underway on an expansion pack for their epic role-playing game Morrowind. Subtitled Tribunal, the add-on slots into the original game, allowing you to take part in its quests at any point in the main adventure. New features include the city of Mournhold, where you can meet the god-kings Almalexia and Sotha Sil, two members of the eponymous Tribunal, as well as new monsters, weapons, armour and dungeons. Best of all, the expansion will make some much needed improvements to the journal, which was one of the major weakpoints of the original game. Players will henceforth be able to sort journal entries by quest and filter out active or completed quests, which should make keeping track of the dozens of jobs available to you that much easier. Tribunal will be released in November, with Ubi Soft once again handling European distribution for the title. We're already stroking our beards in anticipation. Related Feature - Morrowind review Source - press release

The Face Escape

Your chance to be the cooler king

Forget dog tags, forget identity marketing, SCi are giving gamers the chance to appear in digital form in The Great Escape. Based on the classic war movie of the same name, the game will see you breaking out of Stalag Luft III and making for the border in trains, buses and (of course) motorbikes. And you could be a part of the action, as developers Pivotal Games are looking for ten males aged between 25 and 55 to have their faces mapped onto in-game characters. You could end up as a German officer, an allied POW or .. a train conductor. Ooooh. Regardless of their role in the game though, the ten lucky winners will also receive a free copy of the game when it's released. All you have to do for your shot at gaming immortality is to take a photograph of your face, save it as a jpeg no bigger than 250Kb, and then mail it to faces@sci.co.uk before Friday 13th September. Good luck!

What's New

Summer's over - games galore

Summer is officially over today, with the recent lull in new releases ended by a veritable flood of big name games - good, bad and just plain ugly. Nintendo fans deprived of extreme sports titles in the last couple of months can rejoice, as the excellent Aggressive Inline has now arrived on both GameCube and GameBoy Advance. A fresh arrival on the Xbox today is Turok Evolution, bringing the dinosaur fixated first person shooter series to a new generation of consoles having been mired down on the N64 for the last few years. With tasty graphics, over-the-top weapons and the chance to fly a chaingun-toting pterodactyl, it should be a lot of fun. Our review copy just arrived, so we'll let you know next week whether or not it lives up to expectations. The PlayStation 2 version of the game is also now available, although Cube owners will have to wait until later in the month before going all Jurassic. The PlayStation 2 is (as usual) the busiest of the console platforms, with a flood of budget re-releases and a few brand new games as well. Stuntman finally makes it to Europe today, although early impressions aren't entirely positive. Again, we should have a full review soon. Meanwhile Eidos' popular tactical action game Commandos 2 has made its long awaited console debut on the PS2, with a new direct control system to replace the point and click tomfoolery of the PC original. Even PC owners aren't left out this week, with two big titles emerging on to store shelves. Mafia is a kind of Grand Theft Auto 3 meets The Untouchables affair, although sadly it's let down by numerous graphical and gameplay flaws. If you can look past these there is a good game under there somewhere, but it all proved too frustrating for me to stomach. On a lighter note, Beach Life is now available, giving you the chance to relive your summer holidays by building your own island resort, complete with leering builders, smelly toilets, half-built hotels and food poisoning. Lovely. New Releases - CubeAggressive InlineGBA Aggressive Inline PCBeach LifeLargo WinchMafia Budget - Age Of Empires Gold Budget - Combat Flight Simulator Budget - Dark Reign 2 Budget - Desperados Budget - Mat Hoffman Pro BMX Budget - Midtown Madness Budget - Supercar Street Challenge PSXLargo Winch Budget - Atlantis: The Lost Empire Budget - Formula 1 2001 Budget - Monsters Inc Budget - Syphon Filter 3 PS2Commandos 2Largo WinchStuntmanTurok Evolution UFC Throwdown Budget - Army Men: Sarge's Heroes Budget - Heroes Of Might & Magic Budget - International Cue Club Budget - Warriors Of Might & Magic XboxBruce Lee: Quest Of The DragonTurok EvolutionRelated Feature - UK Release Date List


Review - the mob's answer to Grand Theft Auto falls flat on its face

As Far Back As I Can Remember, I've Always Wanted To Be A

Zelenhgorm: The Great Shipping

Weird Swedish adventure game soon to be available

Zelenhgorm, described in our recent preview as "the weirdest game I have ever played", is nearing release. The good news is that it will be available to purchase online from Monday September 9th. If you were hoping to see the game on shop shelves though, the bad news is that it may be some time before that happens. Developers Moloto broke off their publishing deal with Software Abroad a few weeks ago, and it's not certain now when the game will be released to retail. Anybody who pre-ordered the game through Software Abroad will still get their copy of the game, but Moloto are now talking to other publishers and distributors about getting Zelenhgorm on to store shelves in the US, Europe and Australia. Hopefully we'll have more information on its status in the near future. Related Feature - Zelenhgorm preview Source - press release

Phantom Crash goodies

New trailer and music clips from mecha combat game

The Xbox isn't exactly short on mecha games, from Microsoft's own Mech Assault and the frankly ridiculous Japanese effort Tekki (complete with spine-crushing custom controller) to fast-paced action games like Rage's Gunmetal and Phantagram's Phantom Crash. With the focus firmly on fast-paced deathmatch style shooting and eye candy overload rather than hardcore simulation, Phantom Crash is all about big guns, fancy visual effects and gorgeous smoke trails. The basic concept behind the game is simple - a variety of big stompy robots (known as Scoobees) go head-to-head in derelict Tokyo as part of some kind of futuristic spectator sport, and it's up to you to make sure that your robot emerges from the arena victorious. Prize money from these battles can be used to upgrade your Scoobee with better weapons and equipment, and you can even buy more music to listen to on your robot's CD changer, with a wide range of superb tracks from various Japanese bands on offer, including everything from slick drum 'n' bass to dirty industrial music. Phantom Crash is due out in the UK on Xbox this November, with a PC version (including 16 player LAN support) to follow soon afterwards. In the meantime we have a number of goodies to keep you occupied, in the form of a brand new trailer for the game and clips from several songs taken from the game's soundtrack. Phantom Crash trailer (5Mb low quality WMV) Phantom Crash trailer (15Mb high quality WMV) Awake To (1.8Mb MP3) Karate IM (0.9Mb MP3) Masimofo (0.9Mb MP3) Neurosis (0.8Mb MP3) Neurosis 2 (1.1Mb MP3) Take II CA (0.8Mb MP3) Thanks to blueyonder for hosting the files. And as if all that wasn't enough for you, we also have ten new screenshots showing the game in action. Related Feature - Phantom Crash screenshots

Nomads demo

Fly the friendly skies ahead of action-strategy release

Project Nomads is the latest promising title to emerge from German publisher CDV, mixing action and strategy in an eye-catching aerial setting made up of the rocky remains of a shattered planet. It certainly looks great, but how does it play? Well, here's your chance to find out for yourself, as an English language demo version is now available, weighing in at just shy of 120Mb. Thanks to those lovely folks at the blueyonder gaming service the file is now available for download right here on EuroGamer. If you don't have the bandwidth to download the demo, the good news is that the full version of the game should be out in the UK in October. Related Feature - Project Nomads interview

Halo 2 trailer

Xbox sequel uncovered

Xbox launch title Halo remains the best-selling game on the console to date, shifting well over a million copies worldwide. Almost everyone who has an Xbox has a copy of the game, and the few that didn't already own it have kept it permanently glued to the top of the Xbox top ten here in the UK since March. So to say that the sequel is eagerly anticipated would be a masterpiece of understatement. Our first glimpse of the sequel came in the form of a handful of "screenshots" last month, but now we've got a better idea of what to expect thanks to a two minute trailer showing what appears to be excerpts from the opening cinematic. Picking up where the original game left off, Halo 2 sees your battleship returning to Earth to find the planet under full scale assault by a Covenant battle fleet. Naturally it's up to you to save the world. It's all very rousing stuff, with gorgeous (but presumably pre-rendered) visuals and a lovely orchestral score, ending with a spectacular shot of the Master Chief doing the ultimate HALO jump while vast explosions dot the surface of the planet far below. It might not tell us much about the actual in-game action we can look forward to second time round, but it's still well worth a look. Grab it from one of the following sites - download from Barrysworld (UK, QuickTime MOV version) download from File Planet download from Gaming Horizon download from Xbox.com Note that while Xbox.com says that you need the newly released Windows Media Player 9 to watch the high quality WMV version of the trailer, it actually works in Media Player 8 as well - just let the program download the new codecs it needs and it will play back fine. Related Feature - Halo 2 screenshots


We take a look at Arxel Tribe's baffling action RPG

Of all the games that we saw at ECTS last week, the one which

GameBoy Fighter Alpha

Latest Street Fighter coming to GBA in November

Capcom's Street Fighter franchise is about to strike again, with the (slightly later than anticipated) arrival of Street Fighter Alpha 3 on GameBoy Advance this November. As you would expect, the game features a wide range of characters (over thirty, including three new ones), a variety of gameplay modes (versus, training, "dramatic battle" and others), three fighting styles to master and all manner of special moves, combos, blocks and counter-attacks to indulge in. Having sold humpteen million units across virtually every console format since the year dot, European publisher Ubi Soft will be hoping that this latest installment in the series translates smoothly to the world of handheld gaming. While we wait to find out how the conversion process went, why not have a squint at these fresh new screenshots of the game in action... Related Feature - Street Fighter Alpha 3 screenshots

Golden Divinity

Divine role-playing game on the way

Publisher CDV has announced that the UK version of Divine Divinity has now gone gold and is on schedule to arrive in stores on Friday 13th September (unlucky for some). Designed by Belgium's Larian Studios, Divine Divinity is an epic role-playing game and a strong contender for the Daftest Title Of The Year award. Featuring a vast fantasy world to explore, hundreds of skills, spells and items to amass, and over a hundred NPCs to interact with, it's pitched somewhere between the fast paced hack and slash of Diablo and the more involved storylines and dialogue of Baldur's Gate. Our first couple of hours with Divine Divinity have proven quite entertaining so far, but given the sheer scale of the game it could be some time before we have a full review for you... Related Feature - Divine Divinity preview

ECTS - Rage round-up

Rocky gets Rolling

Liverpool-based Rage has had its fair share of problems in the last couple of years, with boss Paul Finnegan admitting earlier this year that the company needs "a big winner" to turn things around. Luckily then their line-up for the next few months includes a few potential hits, most notably Rocky, which is coming to all next-generation consoles as well as the GameBoy Advance. The idea of basing a game on Sylvester Stallone's series of boxing movies might seem a bit odd considering that many younger gamers don't have a clue who Rocky and Apollo Creed are, but we're happy to report that the resulting game is a lot of fun in two player mode. There's a wide range of nicely animated characters from the films to control, some evil looking facial deformation technology to bruise and bloody your opponent's ugly mug, and plenty of scope for ducking and diving once you get to grips with the controls. Inline skating game Rolling is also looking promising, although it now has to scale up to the lofty heights achieved by the genre-defining Aggressive Inline if it's to truly win our hearts. Elsewhere things were a bit more patchy. Lamborghini (on PS2 and Xbox) certainly looks suitably pretty in motion, but the handling and physics felt a bit odd and we never quite connected with it. Presumably it's still being tweaked though, and if Rage can make the gameplay match the graphics we should be in for a treat. The big disappointment though was Twin Caliber, an on-rails shooter whose major innovation is that you control two guns separately using the two analogue pads and a pair of shoulder buttons. It's a nice idea, but actually mastering the system takes some time, and the whole gory atmosphere of the game is let down by your character, who looks like an extra from The Village People and frantically jerks his arms around as you aim his guns. While this was quite amusing, we can only hope that the animations in the final game will look somewhat better.

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