NEWS - Monday, May 20, 2002

Microsoft Announces E3 XBox Lineup

Microsoft Announces Stellar Lineup of Hottest Games at E3 The Xbox Games Pipeline Is Jamming With More Than 300 Games in Development, And More Than 200 Games Slated for Holiday Season LOS ANGELES, May 20 -- Microsoft Corp. highlighted its next wave of highly anticipated titles for the Xbox(TM) video game system today to a packed house of journalists and retailers from around the world, as well as cheering game fans, who rattled the rafters in the historic Orpheum Theater. With blockbuster games such as "Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic(TM)" (LucasArts Entertainment Company), "Brute Force" (Microsoft Game Studios), "NFL Fever 2003" (Microsoft Game Studios), "Unreal Championship" (Infogrames) and "Panzer Dragoon(TM) ORTA" (SEGA® of America, Inc.), Microsoft previewed its top Xbox games that will be shown at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and available to game fans this holiday season. Microsoft also provided a glimpse of its future blockbuster games, including "Project Ego" (Microsoft Game Studios), a groundbreaking role-playing adventure game from Peter Molyneux, in which the player's every action determines the skills, appearance and morality of the main character. Microsoft also showcased "Ninja Gaiden®" (Tecmo®, Inc.), created by the celebrated developer, Tomonobu Itagaki. The game features the return of character Ryu Hayabusa, a deadly Ninja assassin, in a neoclassic adventure featuring extraordinary new worlds, deadly new weapons, Hollywood-style movies and interactive 3-D environments. "The pipeline of Xbox games is jammed with new titles in every category," said Ed Fries, vice president of Xbox game content at Microsoft. "With 300 Xbox games in development and 200 games slated for the holiday season, gamers will have a mountain of high-quality titles to choose from this year. No other console has ever accomplished these types of numbers in its first year." Blockbuster Games Microsoft announced that more than 150 Xbox games will be previewed at this year's E3. Featured games include the following: "Star Wars(R): Knights of the Old Republic(TM)" (LucasArts Entertainment Company) presents a deep, engaging story- and character-driven role-playing game (RPG) set 4,000 years prior to the time frame revealed in the "Star Wars" films. The era, unexplored in any previous "Star Wars" game, is dominated by an enduring conflict between the Jedi and the Sith. Developed in conjunction with BioWare Corp., the game will feature customizable male and female heroes, evolving playable characters and dynamic lightsaber combat. It will be available during the holiday season of 2002. "Brute Force" (Microsoft Game Studios) is an action-packed sci-fi squad-based shooter game that lets players experience the intensity of a shooter game with the cunning strategies of team-based tactical combat. "Brute Force" can be played solo through six worlds in the extensive single-player campaign, or gamers can have as many as three friends jump in on the fly in Dynamic Co-op mode or battle it out in a multitude of competitive death-match modes. It will be available fall 2002. "NFL Fever 2003" (Microsoft Game Studios) is the award-winning football game for Xbox that takes full advantage of Xbox Live online technology. Easy to pick up and start playing, "NFL Fever 2003" delivers all the action and excitement of the National Football League, allowing gamers to create, play and control their ultimate NFL team. With the opportunity to earn all the accolades and honors of the National Football League, "NFL Fever 2003" challenges hardcore football fans and gamers to be the best in the world. It will be available August 2002. "Unreal Championship" (Infogrames) provides console gamers with an adrenaline-packed, first-person action experience designed specifically for Xbox and the Xbox controller. Console-specific features such as jump and speed pads, double jump, a high-performance frame rate (60 frames per second), power-ups, unlockable features and more will keep players' appetites at their peak. It will be available fall 2002. "Panzer Dragoon(TM) ORTA" (SEGA(R) of America, Inc.) takes place in a distant age when a legacy was born that ruled the skies. Dramatic chase battles pit gamers against powerful enemies in high-speed aerial combat. Players will enjoy 10 stages of frantic action featuring Berserk Mode, special attacks to rain destruction upon enemies, and real-time dragon morphing to customize fighting styles. It will be available fall 2002. Xbox Live Microsoft also unveiled its online game service, Xbox Live, and announced that more than half of the games published by Microsoft Game Studios will have an online component. "We're committed not only to the future of the Xbox, but to the future of online gaming," Fries said. "Yesterday's blockbusters will become the online triumphs of the future. Popular franchises such as "Project Gotham Racing(TM)," "Amped(TM)," "RalliSport Challenge" and "NFL Fever" will continue to blow gamers away, and drive console sales -- and also will be available online. As for "Halo(TM)" and the work the Bungie Studios team is doing, gamers can rest assured: The fate of humanity is in good hands ... and online." Games announced that will support Xbox Live include "NFL Fever 2003," "Counterstrike," "Midtown Madness® 3," "MechAssault(TM)" and "Whacked!(TM)" from Microsoft Game Studios; "Unreal Championship" from Infogrames; and "Star Wars® Galaxies(TM)" from LucasArts Entertainment Company. Microsoft also showcased several of the 300 games in development and announced a bevy of new games announcements, including the following: "Blinx: The Time Sweeper" (Microsoft Game Studios). Blinx is one cool, clever cat on a mission to fix glitches in the space-time continuum. This game lets players actually control the flow of time, a feature only possible on Xbox. Gamers can record their actions, play them back and have dual characters cooperate to complete challenges. The game will be available fall 2002. "Shenmue II" (Microsoft Game Studios). This epic adventure has all the elements of a great movie -- drama, mystery, suspense and action -- and offers a unique gameplaying experience that seamlessly blends elements of action, adventure, fighting and RPG games. Led by renowned developer Yu Suzuki, the group that developed the smash-hit fighting game "Virtua Fighter" is developing "Shenmue II." The game includes an advanced fighting system with more than 50 punches, kicks, holds and combos: the most developed fighting system for a nonfighting game. It will be available during the holiday season of 2002 in the United States. "Psychonauts" (Microsoft Game Studios). "Psychonauts" is a wildly surreal action adventure game from Double Fine Productions developer Tim Schaffer. It's a game in which characters' personal paranormal powers are unlocked to plunge players into the minds of bizarre characters. Gamers journey deep into crazy worlds of infinite possibility to thwart the secret plan of an evil madman and realize the ultimate dream of joining an elite force of psychic superheroes, the Psychonauts. The game will be available spring 2003. "Tork" (Microsoft Game Studios). A young, fearless caveboy, Tork is on a mission through time to rescue his father and track down the evil warriors who have upset the balance of order in his village. With his favorite weapon at his side, a bolas that packs a punch, Tork travels through a variety of worlds in hopes of completing his journey before the course of history is changed forever. "Tork" will be available spring 2003. Industry Support Microsoft today also acknowledged the widespread support of the games industry for Xbox by filling the Orpheum Theater's front row with many of the world's marquee game creators. The "who's who" list of game designers included Jason Jones (Bungie), lead designer of "Halo;" Gabe Newell (Valve Software), who is bringing his great "Counterstrike" franchise to Xbox; Itagaki (Tecmo), creator of "Dead or Alive 3" and the upcoming "Ninja Gaiden"; Suzuki (SEGA® of America Inc.), the creative force behind "Shenmue II"; Molyneux (Lionhead Studios), creator of the upcoming Xbox epic, "Project Ego"; Schaffer (Double Fine), developer for the upcoming Xbox platform game, "Psychonauts"; and Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk (BioWare), developers of "Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic(TM)" (in conjunction with LucasArts Entertainment Company). "The games industry is working every day to create a new form of entertainment that is fundamentally more involving, more powerful and more compelling than anything that has come before," Fries said. "That's really why we're joined by these creative geniuses: because Xbox is the most powerful weapon yet conceived to fight that battle. We are not just making games; we are changing entertainment itself." Maneatingcow-XBA's Thoughts: Oh man.... With this lineup, I wish I was going!!! Oh well :-) Maybe next year...

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