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December 09, 2003 - January 08, 2004 - See More Archived News

Thursday, January 08, 2004
[Xbox] New Course, Contest, for Links 2004 Available - posted by Erich Becker at 12:53 pm CDT

Breathtaking Kapalua Golf Course Now Available to Download for Links 2004 on Xbox

Download the Course and Win a New Set of Clubs

Microsoft Game Studios announced today the arrival of new downloadable content for the popular Xbox golf series, "Links 2004." "Links 2004"
now offers gamers a chance to improve their golf game on their Xbox and in real life. At the same time Mike Weir is teeing off to begin the official golf season, gamers will also be able to grip it and rip it on the same course, the breathtaking Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii after downloading it via Xbox Live. If a new course wasn't enough, after downloading the course, one lucky gamer will win a new set of clubs and three others will win Suunto Golf Watches with built in GPS functions. Start the new year off right with a new course and a set of new clubs. The sweepstakes is open to U.S residents only.

Beginning January 8, golfers will be able to download the Plantation Course at Kapalua via Xbox Live and four randomly chosen gamers will receive some very special golf prizes. The course download will be available to Xbox Live subscribers for $4.99. Gamers will need a valid Xbox Live account and "Links 2004." Upon purchasing the download, each gamer will be entered into a random drawing to win a full set of golf clubs including irons, fairway woods, a driver, a putter, a wedge and a tour bag. Three runners up will win Suunto Golf watches with GPS functions.

The par 73, 7,263-yard Plantation Course at Kapalua, the opening event on the professional tour, is the course of the champions. Each January, the course hosts an elite field of the previous year's winners. The grand scale of the course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore unfurls across natural geographic formations and pineapple plantation fields that take your breath away. The addition of Kapalua brings the total number of courses in "Links 2004" to ten. "Links 2004" also features real international courses like St Andrews, Loch Lomond, Grey Wolf, Four Seasons Resort Aviara and New South Wales just to name a few.

[PC] Savage Eden Goes Live! - posted by Erich Becker at 12:52 pm CDT

Savage Eden Goes Live!
Launch Kicks Off With Exciting Events

iEntertainment Network, US host of 3D role playing game Savage Eden has just launched the live version available to all players for a subscription price of 8.95 per month. Every new subscriber receives 2 weeks of free play when they register.

Savage Eden will kick off with several massive events to mark the opening of the game. This series of events is going to be packed with huge rewards, new surprises, and many opportunities for players to get involved with the Savage Eden community.

The following events are scheduled for the month of January and beyond:

. Castle Siege: Saturday January 10, 2003. Join in the furious battle to conquer Bolden Castle - reign supreme as the Castle Lord..

. Bloody New Years: Let the Carnage Begin: Mid January, double money drop for monster kills, takes place in all zones of SE.

. X2 Exp: End of January, all monsters in all zones will be worth double experience points.

. Bloom Booster: Early February, Item drop event, Collect powerful petals that increase attacking power.

. Dragon Raid: Date Undisclosed, slay GM conjured dragons roaming the land of Laglamia.

Related Links: iEntertainment

[Industry] SPOT Watches Debut at Retail - posted by Erich Becker at 12:50 pm CDT

Smart Watches for MSN Direct Ship to Retail

Microsoft Announces Key Business Relationships With Retailers, Content Providers

LAS VEGAS - Jan. 7, 2004 - Smart Watches for MSN Direct are now shipping for broad retail availability, as announced by Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates during his keynote address at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Smart Watches and MSN Direct service, part of Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) initiative, allow people to conveniently and discreetly receive the information that matters most to them, with just the flick of a wrist. Smart Watches, manufactured by Fossil Inc. and Suunto, utilize MSN Direct to receive personalized content including news, weather, personal messages, calendar appointment reminders and stock quotes. The watches also feature multiple watch faces and automatic time-zone adjustment based on location. People can personalize their watch through an interactive Web site (http://www.msndirect.com/) where they choose the specific information and services they want to receive. The MSN Direct service is now available in more than 100 of the largest population centers in the United States and Canada.

"Smart Watches with MSN Direct are a fun new way to receive the information you care about delivered conveniently to your wrist," said Bill Mitchell, founder and vice president of the SPOT initiative at Microsoft. "Our relationship with world-class watch manufacturers such as Fossil and Suunto, as well as a broad spectrum of retailers and content providers, has made this tremendous achievement possible."

"Smart Watches with MSN Direct are an amazing product," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director for Jupiter Research in his analyst Web log. "They exemplify the power technology has to transform already useful objects into objects that are smarter and more valuable to people. There was clearly a lot of thought put into the design and functionality of these watches."

MSN Direct will provide personalized information from leading content partners, including CBC/Radio-Canada, CinemaSource, Citysearch.com, Comstock Inc, Encarta, ESPN, MSNBC, MSN Astrology, TeleAtlas North America, weather.comR, and The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com. In addition, subscribers to MSN Direct service can receive personal messages via MSN Messenger and calendar appointment reminders from MicrosoftR OutlookR.

Customers can choose from two MSN Direct pricing options: a monthly subscription rate of $9.95 (U.S.) per month with the first month free or an annual payment of $59 (U.S.) for a full year of service.* Information about retail availability and service options for Smart Watches with MSN Direct can be found at http://www.msndirect.com/.

"Fossil is proud to work with Microsoft to give people the latest information in a stylish and glanceable format," said Michael Barnes, president, International and Special Markets Division of Fossil. "We are excited to be shipping four different watch styles to stores around the nation and look forward to bringing even more products to market leveraging the MSN Direct service."

"Suunto, the brand sports enthusiasts have long trusted to deliver key performance data during exercise and sport, now offers the Suunto n3, a unit that delivers an easy way for active people to keep informed and up to date with customizable information for their whole life," said Dan Colliander, president of Suunto. "We are proud to partner with Microsoft to offer a new line of sports wristops that will be indispensable not only to active sports players but also to a wider market of people who want timely information delivered on a fashionable and functional device."

Smart Watches are available for purchase at Amazon.com and at manufacturers' Web sites. They will soon be in major retail channels, including Circuit City, CompUSA, Fry's, RadioShack.com, Federated Department Stores including Macy's and Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Galyan's and MicroCenter.

"I believe the launch of Smart Watches for MSN Direct is a significant step in the merging of fashion and technology in an exciting new way,"
said Terry Lundgren, CEO of Federated Department Stores Inc. "Federated Department Stores is pleased to be part of the launch with Microsoft and its watch partners."

[Multi] NFL Street Goes Gold - posted by Erich Becker at 12:43 pm CDT

NFL STREET, the new arcade action football game from EA under the EA SPORTS BIG brand, has gone gold on all three console platforms - PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube and the game is on track to ship nationwide to retailers on January 13th, 2004.

NFL STREET features fast-paced, 7-on-7 gameplay where players use Stylin' moves, pitches, and brute force to power their way down the field. Players include over 300 of the NFL's biggest stars from all 32 teams including legends like William "The Refrigerator" Perry, Larry Csonka, Kenny Stabler, and Lawrence Taylor. Eight urban locales are more than just a place to play; they change how the game is played. Each field has unique dimensions and field surfaces like loose sand, dirt, mud, and turf can force a change in your lineup and game plan. All of the NFL players featured in the game were made available from a license with PLAYERS INC, the marketing and licensing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

NFL STREET carries an ESRB rating of "E" for Everyone. NFL STREET was developed by EA Tiburon, the makers of John Madden Football.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004
[PlayStation2] Grand Theft Auto: Sin City Confirmed? - posted by Erich Becker at 9:19 am CDT

IGN is reporting this morning that Amazon's UK site has put up a page showing a November 5, 2004 release date for "Grand Theft Auto IV: Sin City." For the interested you can see the page right here.

While Rockstar returned IGN's inquiries with the usual "No Comment" stance, we do know, from Take 2's financial reports released last year, that a new game in the Grand Theft Auto series would make a debut in 2004, and keeping in with Rockstar's previous release dates for GTAIII and GTA: Vice City, a late October, early November release is most likely.

As we get more info, we will pass it along.

Source: IGN/Amazon UK

Monday, January 05, 2004
[PlayStation2] Ubi Soft Announces Rainbow Six 3 for PS2 - posted by Erich Becker at 12:52 pm CDT

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® 3 on the PlayStation®2 in 2004

San Francisco, CA - January 5, 2004 - Ubisoft today announced that Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® 3 will be released for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system this spring. Developed by Ubisoft's Shanghai studio, the game offers the most thrilling and realistic single- and multiplayer counter-terrorist experience available anywhere.

Completely redesigned for next-gen console players, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 for the PlayStation 2 gives players the opportunity to command an elite, four-man international anti-terrorist squad and features the trademark realism of the Clancy games, immediate, immersive close-quarters action, state-of-the-art in-game cinematics, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell®-quality graphics and a nail-biting plot ripped from today's headlines. A voice-activated command system and comprehensive offline and online multiplayer capabilities round out the most exciting experience PlayStation 2 gamers will have this year.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 is currently out on Xbox.

Monday, December 29, 2003
[ESCMAG] The Holidays Are Here! - posted by Erich Becker at 3:20 pm CDT

As if you hadn't noticed, last week was Christmas, and this week is New Year's. What does all this mean to you? Well a whole lot of nothing.

With all the big games being (rushed) to retail just before the holiday season, and most companies off for the next week to celebrate with their families, we have begun to enter the dry season of video game coverage.

While there may be little news to report over the next couple of weeks, we invite you to check out one of our 350+ reviews and maybe catch up on some games you want to purchase. There was over 180 releases in the last few months and it may take a while to catch up, but be aware that there are some really cool games out there.

As soon as the news starts pouring in again, we'll be reporting it.

Happy Holidays from the entire ESCMAG staff!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
[Multi] Got Game To Publish "Alida" - posted by Erich Becker at 1:02 pm CDT

Atmospheric adventure game for Mac scheduled for Q1 2004 release in North America

Weston, CT - December 17, 2003 - Got Game Entertainment today announced a North American publishing deal for "Alida", an atmospheric graphical adventure game for Mac. The enveloping story of a missing musician unfolds on a deserted island theme park. A PC version of the game is expected later in 2004.

Created by Australian developer Cos Russo, the game is set on Alida, a guitar-shaped island theme park created by a young and wildly successful band. But when money woes and paranoia set in, the band splits up, each claiming different areas of the park, and where each devise strange and elaborate systems to protect their respective remaining wealth. Each member grows increasingly isolated and all eventually abandon Alida. Several years later the band's manager suggests the band get together on the island. Soon thereafter band member Arin leaves for Alida and is not heard from again. Now, his wife, Julia, sends you to Alida to find Arin and bring him home.

Five years in the making, the world of Alida will captivate the player with wondrous graphics, unique locations, intriguing puzzles, bizarre transportation machines, ornate objects, electronic imagery, tactile contraptions, massive constructions, animated natural elements, and an entrancing original music score.

"Alida" for the Mac is scheduled to ship Q1 2004. For more information, visit www.GotGameEntertainment.com/alida

[Xbox] New "Counter-Strike" Maps Available via Xbox Live - posted by Erich Becker at 12:59 pm CDT

Counter-Strike Teams to Face New Crises: Two Free Downloadable Maps Now Available

Microsoft Game Studios and Valve today announced that two new multiplayer maps for Counter-Strike(tm) for Xbox® are now available for free download via Xbox Live. The red-hot "Inferno" and fan-favorite "Office" are the latest urban battlefields on which to stage Counter-Strike's world-famous, action-packed multiplayer gameplay.

In "Office", counter-terrorists storm an office building to safely extract hostages from the clutches of entrenched terrorists. In "Inferno", it's the counter-terrorists who are on the defensive: terrorists must destroy two critical gas pipelines running through the middle of a small village. But first, they must defeat the counter-terrorists who stand in their way.

[PC] "Massive Assault" Demo Now Available - posted by Erich Becker at 12:58 pm CDT

Matrix Games Releases Massive Assault Demo

Woodbridge, NJ, December 17th, 2003 – Matrix Games (http://www.matrixgames.com) is pleased to announce that a demo version of Massive Assault by Wargaming.Net (http://www.wargaming.net) has been completed and is now available for download.

With a recent 91% Editor’s Choice rating in Game Chronicles to add to a host of positive reviews, Massive Assault should be on every strategy gamer’s list of games to consider. The new demo incorporates an update to the game engine, which is now available separately to existing owners of Massive Assault.

Units include a variety of ground forces, ranging from reconnaissance to heavy mechs; air forces, including fighters and bombers; and naval forces, including carriers and battleships. When liberating new continents, you will learn to coordinate huge naval landing operations, involving carrier battle groups, naval bombardments and air power. These and other challenges await you in Massive Assault!

Massive Assault features include:

- Original political system based on "Secret Allies" provides endless replayability
- Smooth and Dynamic Gameplay
- Full 3D Graphic Engine
- Huge 3D Landscapes
- 26 Detailed 3D Units
- Realistic Lighting, Explosions and Effects
- 3D Sound
- 6 Different Worlds (planets)
- AI, Hot Seat and Internet Play Mode

The Massive Assault Demo includes:

- 5 Training Missions
- 3 Scenarios
- World War on one planet

More information can be found at http://www.massiveassault.com.

[Industry] Microsoft to Sell "Asheron's Call" Franchise to Turbine - posted by Erich Becker at 12:54 pm CDT

Microsoft Game Studios today announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell the massively multiplayer online gaming franchise "Asheron's Call" back to the games' creator, Turbine Entertainment Software Corporation. The franchise transfer includes all "Asheron's Call" intellectual properties, including "Asheron's Call," "Asheron's Call: Dark Majesty" and "Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings."

Microsoft and Turbine began their partnership in 1996, resulting in the successful launch and run of "Asheron's Call." During the change of ownership, Microsoft will provide transition services for a limited time, including testing and billing services. Specific details regarding on-going operations of the "Asheron's Call" franchise will be announced in the near future.

[PC] SOE Announces "EverQuest: The Gates of Discord" Expansion - posted by Erich Becker at 12:52 pm CDT


- New Continent, Class and Alternate Advancement Abilities Mark a New Age of Discovery for Popular Online Game -

SAN DIEGO, CA - December 17, 2003 - Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE), a worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online gaming, today announced Gates of Discord(tm), a new expansion for the incredibly popular PC Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), EverQuest®. This expansion will offer exploration of a newly discovered continent; a new class (the Berserker) and Alternate Advancement Abilities that will offer new and unique skills to master. Gates of Discord will be available February 2004 at retail outlets such as Electronics Boutique, Best Buy and Gamestop, and as a secure digital download from SOE. The retail version of Gates of Discord will also come with a unique in-box gift and special in-game magic item. By purchasing the retail version of Gates of Discord, players will be able to claim the in-game item.

The Gates of Discord directs players to the west side of Antonica where Nedaria's Landing is abuzz with activity in preparation for one of the greatest and most dangerous expeditions in the history of Norrath. Stories and events will lead players across an uncharted land twisted and scarred by an unknown force. New alternate advancements will challenge the most veteran of players while the new Berserker class brings inordinate amounts of strength and bravery.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
[PC] "Chrome" Patch Ready for Download - posted by Erich Becker at 12:41 pm CDT

We've added more mechs, more speeders, more maps, but most importantly, we've added more FUN!

Strategy First and Techland are pleased to announce they have released update for their sci-fi FPS, Chrome and have added North American servers to enhance the multiplayer experience.

Players will need to download the update in order to play on the new official North American servers. Optimizations in update include:
faster game performance, new multiplayer maps and vehicles, anti-cheating protections, and various other improvements and bug fixes. To find out more, please see the Readme.txt.

Update is available at www.strategyfirst.com in the downloads section. While you're there, be sure to check out the never before released single player level available in the scenarios section!

Please note that previous single-player saved games will not be compatible with the new version.

[PC] "Armed and Dangerous" PC Demo Available - posted by Erich Becker at 12:39 pm CDT

The PC demo of LucasArts' outrageous new action-action game, Armed and Dangerous, is now available on FilePlanet.com, which you can download right here.

Armed and Dangerous is currently available in retail stores for both Xbox and PC. To learn more about Armed & Dangerous, please visit the official product website at: http://armed.lucasarts.com.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
[Industry] Interplay Closes Black Isle Studios - posted by Erich Becker at 3:18 pm CDT

The Inquirer is reporting that Interplay has laid off all employees of Black Isle Studios, those thoughtful people behind BG, BG2, and the Fallout series, minus Tactics.

If this information is true there is nothing left to say beyond what Charlie Demerjian of The Inq has relayed in his news post: "Moronic, myopic, management driven by an insatiable urge to dumb down everything to barely interactive cutscenes. Profiteering monkeys with no sense of art, style or class. Stupid stupid stupid. Really stupid. The few games involving thinking that I was looking forward to next year just went away, looks like more twitch games for me. Oh yeah, football games too, yay?"

This is a sad day for gaming...

Thanks to The Inquirer for the story.

[PC] Ubisoft's "Far Cry" Multiplayer Beta Test - posted by Erich Becker at 2:19 pm CDT

Ubisoft has announced the FAR CRY PC Multiplayer Beta test. Commencing on Monday, December 8th at 20:00 GMT, 5,000 gamers worldwide will have the exclusive opportunity to take part in a multiplayer beta test for Ubisoft's cutting-edge First Person Shooter (FPS) Far Cry(tm).

Far Cry is a first-person shooter set in a lush tropical paradise that sets out to bring the first-person shooter to an entirely new level of entertainment and technical excellence. Far Cry's final multiplayer mode will utilize some of the key features of the Single Player game such as Long range gameplay, Vehicular gameplay and Beautiful tropical environments.

It will also include unique innovative features

-The "sniper flare" that allows other players in the game to pinpoint the position of other snipers by light reflecting from the sniper scope.

-The support class which can build or even repair destructible structures such as bunkers, towers, roadblocks, mounted weapons and walls.

The beta test registration will run for several days from Monday, December 8th 2003. These individuals will be the first people outside of Ubisoft to experience this highly anticipated FPS, and they will also work with the team in order to help balance the game.

The initial beta signup will take place on December 8th 2003. Registration will be via links on the www.farcry-thegame.com.

Once registration is closed, Ubisoft will select 5,000 testers that will best reflect the widest variety of geographical locations.

[PC] Join the "Savage Eden" Closed Beta - posted by Erich Becker at 2:16 pm CDT

The ships of the armada leaving Earth slowly slipped past the great space station orbiting the planet, blood already shed within them. The United Nations had authorized the exodus from the planet in light of the catastrophic environmental changes. Peoples from all over the planet were gathered and placed in the massive ships as the first wave to depart left Earth orbit. The "Gateway to Paradise" held 500,000 people and they were going to a planet dubbed "Eden"....

Savage Eden, the Battle for Laghaim, a new role playing game hosted by iEntertainment Network, has launched for Closed Beta play.

- Closed Beta began December 3rd and will run through December 16, 2003. During this period we will be inviting more players every couple of days to come in and help us explore the worlds of Savage Eden.

- During the closed beta period we will be implementing changes to the game based on customer feedback.

We are still accepting registrations for closed beta testers. Currently over 4000 people have signed up. If you are interested in joining the closed beta team please go to www.savageeden.com today.

[PC] Ubisoft Announces "Counter-Terrorism Classics Pack" - posted by Erich Becker at 2:14 pm CDT

Ubisoft has announced Tom Clancy's Counter-Terrorism Classics Pack. The pack includes critically acclaimed best-sellers: Rainbow Six®, Rainbow Six®: Rogue Spear (tm), and The Sum of All Fears(tm). Each game puts you in command of elite teams of operatives against dangerous terrorist foes. Use authentic weapons and tactics in missions across the globe, and become freedom's answer to fear.

Tom Clancy's Counter-Terrorism Classics Pack is available now in retail stores and has an MSRP of $19.99.

The original Rainbow Six is worth the price alone so the added games are welcome extras. The game's haven't aged well in a graphical sense, but the gameplay is still there.


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