To butcher a famous quote, October 26 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America and Canada were suddenly and deliberately attacked by the massive black monolith of the Empire of Japan known only as the PlayStation 2. It was three years ago yesterday that Sony released the successor to the PSOne on North American soil and it will go down as a period of time where chaos reigned supreme over the entire industry, at least for the holiday season.
Parents were fighting with each other to grab one of the systems for their little kids. Those fortunate enough to actually get a system would simply turn around and sell it on eBay for ridiculous amounts of money. One auction even went up to $1200... for what turned out to be a PS2 box with a mint in it ("PS2 Mint in box" - get it?). Of course, you also had the kids typing up on various message boards and chat rooms about which system was going to dominate, Sega's Dreamcast or the newcomer. In the end, it was Sony who ultimately prevailed over Sega, although one has to wonder who did who in. Was it Sony who beat Sega with the sheer amount of hype surrounding the system, or was it Sega who beat themselves by not preparing enough for the onslaught? You could easily argue that it was a combination of both, but it certainly didn't help matters that Sega was going head on against the biggest system ever.
In any case, it's safe to say that those early adopters have finally gotten their money's worth with the PS2 over the past three years, even though some of them may not even have their original system. What we have here is a look into the future to see what Sony has to bring gamers in 2004, as well as a retrospective look on the PS2 launch from 2000. It's amazing to think back and realize it's been three long years since the PS2 was first launched, and more than likely it'll be another three years until the next incarnation of the PlayStation comes into existence. There's still plenty of life left in Sony's big, bad console, and with upcoming titles such as Gran Turismo 4 and SOCOM II on the horizon, it's safe to say that the grip that Sony has on the industry won't be loosened anytime soon.
· · · TNL Staff
Seven PS2 Games To Watch Out For In 2004
We know that when it comes to quality titles, the PS2 relies heavily on its third party relations to bring the goods that everyone wants. It's painfully obvious to point out that without franchises such as Madden, Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy, the lead that Sony currently enjoys wouldn't have been so large. Having said that, Sony's first party efforts are not laughable like they were early on in the PSOne's lifecycle. They've gotten better at making quality titles with each passing year. ICO and Ape Escape 2 are testaments to their willingness to learn how to make a good video game. The upcoming year looks to be no exception. Below you'll find seven Sony first-party titles to keep an eye out for in the new year. With the exception of one (possibly two) titles, the large majority of the games here aren't going to be selling 2 million copies worldwide. Hell, they'd be lucky to break a million copies. Despite this, they all bring something unique to their respective genres. It should be interesting to see how they are received by the gaming population next year.
Gran Turismo 4
Why should I care? It's the latest installment of Sony's most successful franchise ever. If there ever was a need for Sony to have a title to battle Nintendo and Microsoft with, Gran Turismo 4 would be that title. Headed by Kazunori Yamauchi, Gran Turismo 4 promises to be bigger and better than Gran Turismo 3. Amazingly, the game looks even more stunning than previous games as well, even with the aging hardware. We know that this is one of the biggest titles coming out next year, but anyone who passes this title up is absolutely nuts.
So what makes this game better than GT3? Other than improved graphics, Sony is promising even more cars than before (500+), reworked physics for all the cars, new circuits based on real world circuits and of course, better AI. On top of that, Sony has gone on record to say that online play will be available right out of the box, and will feature up to 6 players in one race.
But I don't like racing games! We've got two words for you. Tough shit.
Rise to Honor
Why should I care? Rise to Honor is one of the first titles to star international martial arts star Jet Li, who provides his likeness and abilities to the game. You may think this is going to turn out to be some sort of quick cash run for Sony, but it isn't. Featuring a unique and intuitive combat system, Rise to Honor will allow gamers to fight up to 6 enemies all at once, all the while executing flashy combos and that can literally hit everyone around Mr. Li. Not only will you be able to fight like Jet, you'll be able to move like him too. Flip and walk on walls, grab incoming enemy attacks, bob and weave through an onslaught of attacks, it's all possible in Rise to Honor. If you liked Mark of Kri, this is one title you need to play.
Sounds like a typical beat 'em up. It is, and that's the beauty of it. Rise to Honor is an incredibly fluid and fast beat 'em up that seeks to take the genre past the simple 'mash buttons, win!' mentality that's evident in today's games (see Konami's recent TMNT title as an example). Instead of simply hitting buttons for attacks, gamers will be able to use the right analog stick on their PS2 pad for attacks. Do you spot enemies to your right and left? Simply tap to one direction and then quickly tap the other to make Jet execute attacks to both directions all in one fluid motion. Add more taps of the analog stick to combo attacks together. You can even use the trigger buttons for reversals in mid attack. Combine this unique combat system with some classic gunplay and you have a title that should be one of the more enjoyable action games of 2004.
Champions of Norrath: Realms of Everquest
Why should I care? If you are a fan of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, you have every reason to care. Sure, the sequel to that game will be a solid title, but it's not made by the same developers. If you want the spiritual successor to Dark Alliance, look no further than Champions of Norrath. Even though it bears the Everquest name, it bears no resemblance to the series, much like Dark Alliance was nothing like previous Baldur's Gate games. Developed by Snowblind Studios, anyone who's looking for a serious RPG in 2004 will have to look no further than Norrath.
What about online play? You're in luck! While Champions of Norrath won't be a persistent online world like past Everquest games, it will have online play that will allow four players to team up and fight through multitudes of dungeons. Think of it as Diablo meets Everquest and you have an idea of what the game will be like once you get online. Best of all, online play will be free and will support broadband and narrowband users alike.
Why should I care? It's one of the most unique concepts ever in a video game. Much like past rhythm games like PaRappa The Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy, Mojib Ribbon is a unique take on the genre for those who are absolutely sick of playing DDR. The game is simple enough. You control a character that's writing a story. Tap down whenever you come to a special marker and your character will write a phrase leading up to the section. If you get your timing right for every marker, you'll write out the entire phrase and go on to the next area. Tap up whenever you need to fill up on ink. Run out of ink before you can finish your story, and the game will end. Although it's only schedule for release in Japan, you never know if Sony or one of its third parties will decide to pick up the game for release in North America.
That's it? It sounds pretty simple to me Sure, it doesn't seem like much, but many of the best games have always been about simple concepts, like Tetris. Mojib Ribbon is just that, a simple concept, but impressions floating around have said that it's strangely addicting, much in the way that Amplitude and Vib Ribbon (Mojib's predecessor) were. Besides, if rumours of downloading new stages and content are true, this game might have more longevity than we think.
Why should I care? It's yet another attempt by Sony to branch out into a different genre. Much like War of the Monsters got them into the fighting genre and Gran Turismo got them into racing, Siren is their first foray into the Survival Horror genre. You take on the role of several characters that are situated in the same town. In one scenario you'll star as a teenage boy who has to guide a blind girl through town, while another situation will have you assume the role of a teacher who has to guide her students to safety. Of course, this won't be an easy task, with all of the townspeople turning into zombies in one fell swoop. How did that happen? You'll just have to play the game.
Gee, I think I played this when it was called Resident Evil It might not sound so scary on paper, but then again, you were armed with several weapons in Capcom's survival horror titles. In this game, you can't fight off the zombies. In fact, even one of them will make a snack out of you if you can't use your wits to escape. Not only that, but the game features an impressive "jacking" ability, where you can literally see the action through the eyes of any character in the game. You might be able to mind-jack into the head of a zombie who's waiting outside the room you're hiding in. You can even jack into the mind of your companion so that you can see yourself concentrating on the task at hand. This game is definitely about using your mind more than your brawn, as you'll have to use tricks to lure zombies away so you can get by safely, such as pulling a fire alarm to get their attention.
Why should I care? It mixes a dark, brutal setting... with a Frisbee. We can't make this up. Assuming the role of cop Lazarus Jones, you have to do the right thing and capture all of the ghosts that you accidentally set loose by screwing around with a large machine called the Array. On top of that you have to rescue your partner who's been kidnapped by said ghosts with the help of a friendly ghost... who has possessed you. Unfortunately, all of the ghosts that you have to capture aren't very friendly. Most are downright frightening. Lucky for you that you have a Frisbee.
Wait, a Frisbee? Yup. A Frisbee. Think of it as a portable capturing device. Throw the Frisbee at a ghost, zap it with your gun, the ghost gets sucked into the Frisbee. That's not the only thing you can do in the game though. By using the ghost that has possessed your body, you can actually go around and possess other ghosts so that you can use their abilities to solve various puzzles, or you can have them fight on your side for a brief period.
Why should I care? It's being given the nickname "Halo-killer". Shouldn't that be enough to get you hyped? Killzone is being developed by Guerilla Games over in Europe, and from early screenshots, it looks stunning. So stunning that gamers are already salivating over owning this game when it's set for release sometime in Fall 2004. True to its name, Killzone will literally drop players into the fire as one of four soldiers that are stuck deep within enemy territory. You are literally in a killzone, and you have to fight your way out. Along with your three CPU-controller partners, you won't have to face adversity alone.
It looks great, but it can't be real-time, can it? It can, apparently. Using an extremely robust NURB-based engine, Killzone might take the Eye Candy award away from Gran Turismo 4 if early screenshots are any indication of it.
What about online play? Online and multiplayer modes are confirmed to be in the game, but to what extent is not known at this moment. One can only imagine the amount of trash talk that will be flying from both Microsoft and Sony loyalists when Killzone and Halo 2 go head-to-head next year.
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