2003 E3 SHOW

    INTRODUCTION
    Phew 2003 is here and the Playstation isn't only maintaining a strong lead but still pulling away from the other consoles, and it only looks to get even better. The big announcement from Sony this year is the PSP, although that's still over a year away, but Electronic Arts are goving Sony's online plans a massive boost with exclusivity for online gaming. This years E3 show looks great on the game front as well so stay tuned for all the news.

    SATURDAY 17TH MAY
    GAMES

      One of my all time favourite games was Defender of the Crown which was released around the days of the 286 computers. Unfortunately I can't get the game to run slowly enough on my Pentium system these days. The good news however is that Cinemaware are working on an upgraded version of the game called Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown (and I mean seriously upgraded) that is on show at E3. Such is the quality of the title that Capcom have confirmed they will be going the publshing duties in America. That gives a lot of hope to a PAL release somewhere down the line. The game is due out around August.

      Capcom have confirmed that their online Resident Evil game has been renamed to Resident Evil Outbreak. While the game has a single player element it's the 4-player online mode that will have most people droolniog at the mouth. The best part, if you get killed by zombies you turn into one and then get to hunt down your friends. Capcom are currently looking at a release late this year or early next.

      Konami have been showing off a new game called Firefighter F.D.18. In this game you play the role of a firefighter who.. well fights fires. At this stage the game is looking quite hot (get it?) with some nice visuals although you won't be seeing it on shelves until early 2004.

      Konami have also been showing off another eagerly anticipated update, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. The game now has 3D graphics but retains much of the gothic feel of past games in the series. Koji Igarashi is once again producing the title which will hopfully return the series to it's former glory. The devlopers are promising hundreds of rooms to explore as well as over 35 different enemies. The game is currently expected to hit shelves around October 2003.

      SNK have a few games announced and on display at the E3 show. The company has confirmed development of King of Fighters 3D exclusively for the Playstation 2, although the game isn't on show and no details given. SNK vs Capcom: Chaos is hitting American arcades this month, and the Playstation 2 mid-year. King of Fighters 2003 is also in development for arcades with a 2004 PS2 release likely. SNK are also promising to release King of Fighters 2001/2002 as a bundle at some stage this year. The big news is that Metal Slug 3 and Metal Slug 4 are coming to Playstation 2 and Metal Slug 5 is headed for arcades with a PS2 port under consideration.

      Sega have been showing off Sonic Heroes on all three formats at the E3 show. This will be the first time that Sega's mascot has hit the Playstation 2 and at this stage of development (it's expected to hit Japan late this year and US/UK in early 2004). The game boasts four teams for a total of 12 playable characters - Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, or Team Chaotix - each with their own unique signature moves and story line with stages providing multiple paths to completion improving replayability.

    FRIDAY 16TH MAY
    GAMES

      There have been a couple of notable abscences from the E3 show. The biggest if Rockstar North's upcoming Grand Theft Auto game which isn't even on display behind closed doors apparently. Rockstar's other game being worked on Manhunt is also a no-show. Another game that is MIA is Sony's recently announced Nico, the sequel to the phenomenal adventure game ICO.

      Acclaim has confirmed that their upcoming Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance game will no longer be heading to Playstation 2 (or Gamecube), but has become a XBox exclusive. No reason for the cancellation has benn given.

    THURSDAY 15TH MAY
    GAMES

      Although there are no details as yet Sony have confirmed that the next Grand Theft Auto will also be a Playstation 2 console exclusive. Not even a release date has been hinted at.

      Well, time to detail some of the game being shown at the E3 show. One of the biggest has been SOCOM 2: US Navy Seals the sequel to the online hit in America. Once again developed by Zipper Interactive the title boasts even more impressive graphics and gameplay. The game will still be online but the developers have placed more emphasis on the single player and story mode which is 12 missions long and set in countries such as Russia and Algeria. The sequel is expected to be released in America during October 2003 with a PAL release some time off. Meanwhile, Sony Australia has confirmed that the original title will be released here on June 27th 2003 - just in time for the online launch.

      Eidos has confirmed that Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness will be released worldwide on June 20th, just days before the new movie hits screens in America.

      Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is also on show at EA's stand this weekend and much like Medal of Honor: Frontline the game shows much potential of recreating the dangers of World War II. This time the game is set in the Pacific region and while the Normandy Beach landing can't be replicated for obvious reasons the opeing of this new game centers around the bombing of Pear Harbor and is also worth the price of admission.

      When it comes to strange games one that looks set to be the winner is from developers Cyberlore Studios. Playboy: The Mansion will see you building Hugh Heffner's house and the building an empire that has something to do with fluffy bunnies... and hooters. How can you resist. The game is expected to be released in late 2004. Unfortunately given the prehistoric laws in Australia it remains to be seen if the game will be released here intact, if at all.

      Blizzard have been showing off a version of Starcraft: Ghost. The first person stealth game is apparently looking very nice indeed and shaping up as one of the game to keep an eye on towards release later this year.

    WEDNESDAY 14TH MAY
    GAMES

      Konami had a surprise announcement that not only will Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater be coming to Playstation 2, but the game will be an exclusive to the system. The company is showing an 11 minute trailer at the E3 show with much emphasis on jungle combat.

      Konami have confirmed that Hudson / Eighting are currently developing Bloody Roar 4 for Playstation 2. The game is expected to be released late this year in Japan.

    HARDWARE

      PSP. Take that into memory as the "PlayStation Portable" looks set to be come the handheld of choice from next year. Here is the official press release from Sony which includes all details. Is Nintendo's reign finally coming to an end?

        SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT READIES FOR MARKET EXPANSION WITH CREATION OF A NEW HANDHELD ENTERTAINMENT PLATFORM

        Company Unveils Plans to Extend PlayStation® Family of Products with “PSP™”

        LOS ANGELES, May 13, 2003 – Enhancing its strong platform strategies, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today plans to expand its in-home entertainment to outside the home with a new, all-in-one portable entertainment platform, “PSP™”

        The introduction of “PSP” highlights the company’s long-awaited foray into the portable entertainment market. With unmatched advantages of the Sony Group, such as global brand awareness, superior technologies in the most advanced semiconductor processes, “PSP” further broadens entertainment experiences into the portable arena.

        The foundation of this new platform is Universal Media Disc (UMD), which comprises of a 60mm optical disc (1.8 GB) in a cartridge, developed by the Sony Group, utilizing its latest disc technologies. Compared to the out-dated mask ROM cartridge, optical disc has huge advantages such as shorter turn around time for manufacturing, larger data capacity and lower media costs. The latest copy-protection technology will be applied to offer content developers and publishers a safe and copy-protected environment.

        “PSP” will be equipped with a wide screen 480 x 272 pixel (16 by 9) TFT LCD monitor with a backlight, and powered by super chipsets utilizing the latest 90 nm semiconductor technology. For graphics, 3D rendering will be enhanced by the employment of curved surfaces (NURBS) along with conventional polygons. Video quality will also be enhanced with MPEG4, which delivers quality equivalent to DVD video at a low data rate.

        “PSP” will have an USB 2.0 port for further expandability and connectivity to other devices, such as “PSP,” PlayStation 2 and many other systems, along with a Memory StickTM slot for network applications and data transportability in a wireless environment.

        SCEI will offer PC-based development tools starting from fall 2003 for the preparation of a new range of computer entertainment content. A new license scheme for “PSP” software development will be announced in summer 2003. Pursuing the founding principles of the PlayStation business, Sony Computer Entertainment will expand its efforts to support content developers to create new forms of computer entertainment.

        Together with its business partners, SCEI aims to aggressively promote this new platform to further broaden the arena of entertainment.

        “Just as PlayStation and PlayStation 2 revolutionized in-home computer entertainment, we aim to become a new driving force in the portable entertainment platform arena,” said Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “The world of PlayStation encompasses hundreds of millions of users worldwide, most of whom view computer entertainment as part of their everyday lives. We look forward to extending the experience through a portable entertainment platform, and are excited about the possibilities and impact ‘PSP’ will have on the market. Along with game applications, ‘PSP’ will have a huge potential for delivering other forms of entertainment as well as live entertainment through the network, anywhere, anytime. This is the ‘Walkman’ of the 21st century.”

        “PSP” Specifications
        Platform name: PSP™
        Display: Wide screen (16:9) TFT LCD with backlight (480 x 272 dots)
        Disc medium: “UMD” 60mm optical secured ROM disc with cartridge
        (1.8GB)
        Video CODEC: MPEG4
        Graphics: 3D Polygon/NURBS
        Sound: PCM (built-in stereo speakers, stereo headphone output)
        I/O: USB 2.0, Memory StickTM slot
        Battery: Rechargeable (lithium-ion)

      Sony America have dropped the price of the Playstation 2 from $US199 to $US179 to clear out old stock prior to the launch of a new model with will include the DVD+/- support mentioned a couple of weeks ago in Japan.