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June 28, 2005 - July 20, 2005 - See More Archived News

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
[Xbox] Xbox Live Hits 2,000,000 - posted by Erich Becker at 3:06 pm CDT

Microsoft's online network for the Xbox, Xbox Live, has hit two million subscribers, which the Big M boasts is a new user every 30 seconds in the past year, doubling from the one million mark in 2004.

Now there are at least one million more junior high kids waiting around to grief you playing Halo 2 or spout of racial profanities during Forza races, I'm certainly looking forward to that.

[PC] Station Exchange Goes Live for 'EverQuest II' - posted by Erich Becker at 3:03 pm CDT

Sony Online Entertainment's Station Exchange service has gone live for two new EverQuest II servers. After a short testing period the service is now available. Here's some details:

Station Exchange is going live for EverQuest II on two all-new servers (The Bazaar and Shadowhaven). EQII players will be given the option to have their characters moved for free over to the new servers or they can start up brand-new characters there. Players who do not wish to participate in Station Exchange can continue playing on their current servers.

If you'd like more info, check out the official site for Station Exchange.

[Industry] 'San Andreas' Rating Changed to AO - posted by Erich Becker at 2:59 pm CDT

This news post contains opinions of the author which does not reflect the opinions of ESCMAG as a whole.

Proving the point that whining gets you everything, the ESRB changed the rating of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to 'Adults Only' (AO) today from 'Mature' (M). The change comes after conservative "family" groups (read: Religious Zealots furthering the Republican agenda) and fame-grabbing politicians spoke out against Rockstar Games and Take-Two's latest entry in the GTA franchise.

Take-Two finally admitted that the code does exist in all copies of the game and that it is legacy code never intended to be used. The company also noted that the scenes in question can still only be reached by installing a mod on the PC version of the game. The PS2 and Xbox versions are on non-rewritable discs making their modification almost impossible without help from a cheating device like Action Replay.

The rating change will be short lived though as Rockstar has already announced it will be producing a new version of the game, presumably without the offending code, to re-secure the game's "M" rating.

This editor recommends any 13-year olds currently reading this site purchase the game and give a collective middle-finger-salute to the government and their attempts to regulate the game industry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
[PC] 'Land of Legends' Shoots for August 15th - posted by Erich Becker at 9:24 am CDT

Seattle based developer Tiny Hero Game Studios and independent publisher of superlative strategy gaming, Shrapnel Games, are pleased to announce that the expected gold date of Land of Legends is August 15th. Once the gold candidate is accepted full production can commence, with a ship date therefore occurring either around the end of August, or the beginning of September.

Land of Legends will be available for the Windows operating environment and will retail for the modest sum of $34.95. Gamers who wish to be amongst the first on their block to own this fast-paced and challenging fantasy strategy title will want to pre-order through
Shrapnel Games' very own consumer friendly e-store, the Gamers Front (www.gamersfront.com).

[PC] 'Dungeon Siege II' Goes Gold - posted by Erich Becker at 9:21 am CDT

Microsoft and Gas Powered Games announced this morning that the GPG developed Dungeon Siege II has gone gold in anticipation for the game's August 16 release date. The game will carry an expected retail price of $49.99 and be available exclusively for Windows XP powered PCs.

The game has been rated "M" for Mature by the ESRB.

Thursday, July 14, 2005
[PC] EA Announces 'Battlefield 2: Special Forces' Expansion - posted by Erich Becker at 12:41 pm CDT

Electronic Arts and DICE announced Battlefield 2: Special Forces today for the PC. The expansion pack for Battlefield 2 will be available this fall on the PC. For details on the expansion pack, here's a clip from the official press release:

"In Battlefield 2 Special Forces, players will choose to fight as one of 6 different Special Forces soldiers – Navy SEALs, British SAS, Russian Spetznas, MEC Special Forces, Rebel groups and insurgents. Armed with the latest Special Forces weaponry, players can take control of any of the game’s 10 new vehicles to engage in major conflicts with up to 64 players. Additionally, persistent character growth allows players to continue to rise through the ranks."

Get those night vision goggles ready, things are about to get interesting on the battlefield.

[Industry] Chat with 'Flashpoint Germany' Creator - posted by Erich Becker at 10:19 am CDT

Matrix Games (www.matrixgames.com) is happy to announce a live chat session with Robert Crandall to discuss the modern strategy game Flashpoint Germany. The chat will be open to the general public with topics covering what will be coming in their latest patch, future patches, and what ideas the chat attendees have for improving the game. The chat will begin on July 14th, 2005 at 10:00 PM Eastern (7:00 PM MST) US time and is accessible from the Matrix Games website.

[PC] Solve a Puzzle, A 'Crime Puzzle' - posted by Erich Becker at 10:16 am CDT

Below is a snippet from the press release annoucing Crime Puzzle's availability. For more information, or to download the demo, visit www.paprikari.com.

Crime Puzzle features three modes of play including the Mystery Mode where you must track down a stamp thief across the world. In addition to the story method, you can challenge yourself to a timed game where you must fill up the timer before it runs out by matching stamps. If you aren’t feeling up to a mental challenge take the game into relaxed mode where you have as much time as you’d like to make as many matches as possible. Crime Puzzle features upbeat jazz music and the chance to play detective in the time of smoking guns and fur-lined coats.

[Industry] Paradox Aquires 'Europa Universalis' Brand - posted by Erich Becker at 10:13 am CDT

Global publisher and developer Paradox Interactive AB announced today that is has acquired the Europa Universalis brand and all associated intellectual property rights.

[Multi] 'True Crime: New York' Recreates NYC - posted by Erich Becker at 10:12 am CDT

Activision has announced that True Crime: New York, the sequel to True Crime: Streets of LA, is set to create the most accurate representation of New York City ever seen in a video game.

Is anyone else tired of every game/movie taking place in New York City? I mean, Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the US and we get nothing?

A snippet from the press release follows:

"In the game, players take on the role of former gang member turned cop Marcus Reed as they fight crime on the GPS-accurate streets of Manhattan, complete with subways, hundreds of interiors, internationally recognized landmarks and real neighborhoods from Harlem to Chinatown to Times Square. Players will navigate the city the way New Yorkers do, by taking cabs, riding subways, walking and driving cars and motorcycles.

Players will experience all the sights and sounds of New York, complete with the energy and architecture authentic to the city’s diverse neighborhoods, the voices and likenesses of real New Yorkers, and the cacophony of ambient traffic and bustling noises unique to the city. The game also includes character concentrations specific to each neighborhood. For example, the player will find a plethora of tourists amidst the lights and large buildings of Times Square, but predominantly locals near the brownstones of Harlem."

True Crime: New York City is being developed by Luxoflux and is scheduled to release this fall for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft and the Nintendo GameCube™. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
[PC] Puzzle Lab Releases 'Fiber Twig 2' - posted by Erich Becker at 10:46 am CDT

Puzzle Lab has released Fiber Twig 2: A New Flawless Jewel of a Game, a sequel to the original Fiber Twig. Here's a snippet from their press release:

The trick of the game is to keep pace with the endless flow of twigs. They keep on coming on the band conveyer located at the bottom of the game screen. You should pick a twig from it, rotate it if necessary and attach it to another twig in the broken pattern. When all twigs are properly connected, you move up the playing field to a new tricky puzzle. However, if you don’t shake a leg, the conveyer gets cluttered with twigs and the game stops. To increase your chances for survival, you may throw away a useless twig to the drop section or use the magic sword to smash it. So, quick eye and good reaction play the big part in your success here.

For more information, or to download a trial of the game, check out Puzzle Labs official website.

[Industry] EA Signs Madden to Multi-Year Deal - posted by Erich Becker at 10:38 am CDT

Electronic Arts has signed football legend John Madden to a "multi-year" deal to continue to use his name and likeness in upcoming versions of the NFL-exclusive licenese holding Madden NFL Football series.

The latest version of which, Madden NFL 2006, will debut on August 9th except for the PSP version which debuts in September from EA Sports. The game is rated "E" for everyone by the ESRB.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
[ESCMAG] Opinion: 'Hot Coffee' Controversy - posted by Erich Becker at 9:23 am CDT

WARNING: The opinions below are those of the author and not of ESCMAG as a whole.

To those not familiar with the situation, a Dutch modder supposedly unlocked hidden code within Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' source which dealt with the game's protagonist, CJ, participating in sexual acts with his in-game girlfriends.

Conservative "watch-dog" groups (read: rich bastards with nothing better to do) are now calling the game's publisher Rockstar Games (a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive) out asking them to fess up to the "hidden pornographic material" imbedded in their game.

What I want to know is: what's the big freaking deal?

So a game company dropped a feature from a game that would have given them an AO rating. So they decided not to clean up their code before releasing the game to manufacturing in. So they made the feature inaccessible to only the savviest code-junkies.

So what?

I find that it incredibly ludicrous that so much attention is being given to this when IT ISN'T EVEN A PART OF THE FINAL GAME. Regardless of what people do after a game is released, Rockstar (and Take-Two) can't be held responsible for it. How many programmers out there with a 8th grade mentality do you think have hidden messages, dirty limericks, and such in source code over the years? Maybe the code in Piglet’s Big Adventure features a mini-game where Piglet must suckle from various forms of mammary glands until he finds a flavor to his liking. Maybe programmers at Sonic Team hid a humongous wang in the code for Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog. We’ll never know what kind of stuff is in those games, but because GTA: SA is open to modding by the community; the code was easily stumbled upon (even if it wasn’t found sifting through a hacked PS2 copy of the game).

Did lawmakers go knocking at Eidos' door when the fan-made Nude Raider patch came out years ago? By the same logic, Eidos provided the voluptuous Lara Croft model and code; all someone did was re-texture it. Have we seen senators at the door steps of id software because someone created a mod for Quake II that featured loads of naked chicks running around waiting to get the "nail gun?" No, none of that happened, and it shouldn't matter because those weren’t the features shipped with retail copies of the game. Legacy code from an earlier development cycle shouldn’t be scrutinized because it was never meant to be found. Who doesn’t think the texture artists at Eidos asked that “What if” question when creating Miss Croft?

And when it comes down to it, GTA: SA already carries a Mature (M) rating which signifies the game is appropriate for ages 17+. Is an Adult’s Only (AO) rating of 18+ really going to change things that much? As a whole, in this country, we seem to think that 12 months more equals the maturity needed to take a huge step in life (like seeing boobies), and it is misguided.

I'm interested to see where this is going, but the last thing I want to see is some huge inquiry into the industry as a whole. The self-regulating ESRB has done a great job over the years and if parents would learn to watch what their children do, rather than just bitch about it after the fact, there wouldn't be any ammunition for these fat-cats to argue.

Agree, or don’t agree with me? Drop me a line and let your voice be heard

Thursday, July 07, 2005
[PC] Dreamcatcher Ships 'ECHO' - posted by Erich Becker at 9:17 am CDT

This news is a few days late in being posted but Dreamcatcher's The Adventure Company has shipped ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern. The "E" rated game should be available at your favorite retailer today.

For a peek at the game, check out the official trailer.

No MSRP was given in the press release.

[PC] SapientStone Releases 'Norloth' - posted by Erich Becker at 9:13 am CDT

SapientStone Games (www.sapientstone.com) has officially released their first title, Norloth. Take control of a powerful demon as you obey your master and attempt to conquer Hell.

Norloth’s struggle is in your claws as you battle other demons and overlords in this unique action/strategy/RPG hybrid.

Travel through 18 levels of the planes of chaos with your demon as you receive orders from your overlord on what your next objective is. Battle a variety of underling monsters as well as Demons nearly identical to yourself. Along the way you will gain new armors and spells, as well as experience. Use your experience to upgrade your demon’s stats or your weapon’s power. In the end use your abilities to conquer enemy bosses and complete puzzles to do your master’s bidding.

In each level you will be given a task. This requires the construction of a dark altar, which stores your magic abilities and revives you when killed. Objectives will vary from killing other demons to solving puzzles. Slaying a demon of your class or higher requires you to out think them, protecting your shrine while trying to destroy theirs.

Norloth comes with a free demo available from www.sapientstone.com.

[N-Gage] 'Glimmerati' Released for N-Gage - posted by Erich Becker at 9:12 am CDT

Nokia and Bugbear Entertainment Ltd today announced that the world's most exclusive driving club opens it doors online at www.glimmerati.com simultaneously with the release of Glimmerati on the N-Gage platform.

Apparently they still make N-Gage games and we still post news.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
[Multi] 'Fantastic Four' Hits Retails...Hard - posted by Erich Becker at 11:24 am CDT

The video game based on the upcoming Fantastic Four movie from 20th Century Fox has been shipped by Activision to retail today, and should be readily available. The game allows you to walk in the shoes of all four of the movie's heroes including Sue & Johnny Storm, Reed Richards, and The Thing.

Fantastic Four opens July 8th in North America.

Fantastic 4 for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, Xbox video game system from Microsoft, and the Nintendo® GameCube was developed by Seven Studios, the PC version was developed by Beenox and Fantastic 4 for the Game Boy® Advance was developed by Torus Games. The console SKUs and PC game have been rated “T” (Teen – with mild language and violence) by the ESRB, and the Game Boy® Advance version has been rated “E-10+” (Everyone 10 and older – with animated violence).

[Industry] 'Max Payne' Goes to the Movies - posted by Erich Becker at 11:20 am CDT

20th Century Fox has revealed that a movie based on Max Payne has been greenlit, but no further details have been given. Here's a clip from the Reuters story:

"I think this is a real actor's part because although the story will have action and intrigue, at its core it's a story about a man who loses everything in life that's dear to him," said Scott Faye, who will produce with Julie Yorn.

Faye said the "Max Payne" movie will focus on the origin of the vigilante character. He said he has wanted to make his own "Dirty Harry"-like movie since he first saw Remedy's game at E3 in 1998. Remedy began creating the game back in 1996.

Here's a link to the full story over at Yahoo! There's no word yet on if the film will be released in conjunction with the rumored-to-be-in-development Max Payne 3.


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