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What's New?

(This week's new releases.) Black Arrow spikes our thigh, Powerdrome, um, you know, races about a bit, and Chessmaster makes its move: Gamers to What's New.

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

Aha, proper terrorism. Since America's 10 Most Wanted enjoyed entirely disproportionate chart success (in that people bought it when they should not have), we're hoping that the latest product of Tom Clancy's Random Game Name Generator can storm the top 20 this week and knock Osama off his little porta-podium. Real terrorists don't need dialysis machines, see - real terrorists have to be taken down by squads called Black Arrow or Scorpion Thrust or Badger Oblivion or something.

Indeed, thank goodness for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Black Arrow on Xbox, really, because if it weren't for Ubisoft's latest little standalone expansion pack, we wouldn't have much to talk about. Plus, you know, by all accounts it's very good. We enjoyed pounding our way through the single-player campaign enough to justify the 20 notes (or less) it'll run to in any event, and lord knows we need more co-operative Xbox Live games. And with Ghost Recon, Island Thunder and Rainbow Six III already in the can, this one ought to be quite refined - bullets-not-connecting-at-point-blank-range-related issues notwithstanding.

One of the key additions to this particular flavour of Clancy, of course, is Xbox Live 3.0. Live 3.0 (what happened to 2.0?) adds all sorts of new features, most notably the addition of clan/squad support. (Although surely, given the subject matter, they ought to be called 'cells'.) We're not quite sure what to make of Live 3.0 really - but we do get the feeling that PC gamers must be chuckling with a touch of bewilderment whenever they see this online console gaming stuff gather a bit more momentum. Didn't we have clans back when we were struggling to play Quake on a 486 DX/100? How is it that this costs money and is still somehow better? Microsoft is the new Apple.

Elsewhere this week the release list is shorter than a quadriplegic gerbil (that's about four lines of 9pt text, right?), and the highlights are, we're not messing around here, Chessmaster 10th Edition on the PC, Powerdrome on PS2 and Xbox, and Thunderbirds on the Game Boy Advance. In fact, those aren't highlights; they are all the games. Excitement. Heck, Thunderbirds on the GBA could be the finest and most brilliant piece of portable entertainment ever conceived, but we still wouldn't fancy its chances. As it is, the fact that the most glowing compliment we've seen it paid is that some of the levels "aren't badly constructed" doesn't come as a huge surprise. Apparently it's a safe bet for children who liked the film, but we don't know anybody who liked the film (Jonathan Frakes continues to ignore our barbecue invites), so that doesn't really help.

Chessmaster 10th Edition, meanwhile, is, well, CHESS. We actually thought it said Cheesemaster when we woke up this morning, stumbled blindly towards the computer and started glaring at the release list, but it didn't. Another morning ruined. We can't really imagine that anybody needs to buy a chess computer game, really, and we haven't played this so we've no idea if it's any good anyway, but, you know, knock yourself out, kids. Or just play Solitaire or Minesweeper or something. It costs 20 quid. Surely you can find better ways to spend that? Yes you can.

Finally there's Powerdrome. Apparently this is a modern update to Argonaut's late-80s Atari ST/Amiga game of the same name - not that this youthful columnist would have much of a clue about that. What we have here in the present day though is a straightforward futuristic racing game with a boost system, half a dozen tracks that touch on the usual themes (Fire! Water! Vegas! Etc!) and a deliberate lack of weapons. Granted, it sounds a bit weak and uninventive, but apparently it does "just work" too, even if there's nobody playing it on Xbox Live. Let's fall back on the old "rental" recommendation, eh? That seems the safest bet.

Looking forward to next week, things are a little bit brighter. Sega's long overdue Headhunter sequel is due out, and we'll be taking a look at that soon, and Sudeki. Oh all right it's another fairly boring week. Hold on a little bit longer though, because it's September soon, and that means a veritable deluge of games - many of which believe it's Christmas already. Burnout 3, Final Fantasy XI, Mario Golf: Advance Tour, Psi-Ops, Animal Crossing, Full Spectrum Warrior PC and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 are out next month, for starters - and if there were ever a better reason to avoid spending that last pair of twenties in your pocket this weekend, then perhaps that's it. Us? We're still paying off the giant ant mafia.

  • PAL Releases
  • Chessmaster 10th Edition (PC)
  • Powerdrome (PS2, Xbox)
  • Thunderbirds (GBA)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Black Arrow (Xbox)

  • Key US Releases
  • Astro Boy (PS2, GBA)

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