Late Night Consoling

While I've been playing a ton of other games lately (even more than usual, if you can imagine) I've still been finding time to squeeze in a bit of Soul Calibur II here and there. I've made pretty good headway on the Weapon Master mode, having played all the way to the "end" once, and am now in the process of going back and doing the extra missions. Like the similar mode in the first game, I think this is really fun, but at the same time I skip pretty much all of the silly attempts there are at storytelling here, and this is the one regard that I think Soul Calibur II is really something of a disappointment. Other fighting games have given us excellent CGI cut-scenes as rewards for completing at least the Arcade mode, and as anyone who's finished that once will tell you, you get the same static art with overlaid text as your ending. And the text isn't even that good, and in some cases it's downright baffling. Case in point (spoiler warning: select text to read): are you telling me that Cassandra accidentally destroyed the super-freaky-powerful soul edge sword?? Give me a break. For the Weapon Master mode, in-game cut-scenes would have been a nice addition. Even if the story was just as goofy it would have at least added an extra bit of polish to the game. Don't get me wrong, I love this game, but I can't help but wonder why Namco didn't give this that extra bit of Tekken care.

PSOne New PSP Details At their Gamers Day 2003 event, Sony (among other things -- see below) released some new details about their upcoming PSP handheld system. Specifically we now know that the system has the same four face buttons as the PSOne/PS2 controller, plus a digital pad, one analog stick, two shoulder buttons, and start and select buttons. Also revealed is that the system will have battery life "comparable to other high-end devices" (around 3 - 6 hours), and developers should be getting emulators soon, with the actual hardware on the way later this winter. Also, it was said that the PSP has 3D capabilities closer to the PS2 than the PSOne, although I'll believe that when I see it running on actual hardware.
PS2 Final Fantasy XI, HDD Ship Date Also announced today, at long last, is the ship date for Final Fantasy XI. The game will ship in March for $99, and will include the PS2 HDD unit, with the game pre-installed on it (installation was quite an ordeal for the Japanese version, so this is a good thing). Other games that will take advantage of the HDD are SOCOM II and Syphon Filter: Omega Strain, and the US version of the drive includes software for building an MP3 jukebox (which unspecified games will take advantage of in the future), as well as various other multimedia features, including a photo organizer/editor.
Xbox Epic Signs with Microsoft Epic Games, best known around these parts for their various Unreal titles, has announced that they have signed a multi-game deal with Microsoft to produce exclusive games for both PC and Xbox. This deal extends to Epic spinoff Scion Studios, and no specific number of games is named beyond "several".
Xbox New Splinter Cell Missions Not Pre-Order Exclusive Those worried that the only way to get the new missions for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is to pre-order Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 will be pleased to hear that they will still be posted to Xbox Live like the ones before. However if you're not an Xbox Live subscriber, this is still probably good for you if you want more Splinter Cell and don't have a broadband connection.
Xbox Rallisport Challenge 2 on XSN At their X03 event in Nice, France, Microsoft formally unveiled Rallisport Challenge 2 as the first racing game to fall under their XSN banner. The game will take advantage of the web-features of other XSN games, including full tracking and tournament stats that are viewable from any web browser. Also of note are these screenshots from the game that were released at the show. On a related note, Carnivac sends word of some mirrors for the new RC2 trailer.
Xbox Xbox Wireless Adapter Announced It was inadvertently revealed a couple of weeks ago, but regardless, Microsoft officially announced their 802.11g Xbox Wireless Adapter today. Like any other 802.11g adapter (or any good one anyway), this wireless bridge connects to 802.11b and 802.11g networks for a maximum speed of 55Mbps (which is 40Mbps faster than virtually all broadband connections are capable of and ever more than that for any realistic broadband speed).
GameCube PS2 Xbox Rogue Ops Interview Computer and Video Games has conducted an interview with Dylan Beale, the director on the upcoming stealth action title Rogue Ops.
GameCube PS2 Xbox GameBoy Advance PSOne New Releases This Week This week is a big one for GBA, as shipping today are Boktai: The World is in Your Hands, Shining Soul, Blizzard's Blackthorne and Road Rash Jailbreak. For GameCube there's Drome Racers, PS2 has EA Sports' Rugby 2004, while the Xbox gets a nice list of its own: WWE Raw 2, Dino Crisis 3, XGRA and Dungeons & Dragons Heroes. Also available are The Simpsons: Hit & Run and NASCAR Thunder 2004, both of which are available for all three home systems (four in the case of NASCAR Thunder, as it's also out for PSOne).
GameCube PS2 Xbox GameBoy Advance Misc. Media/Previews GameSpot has a report from Sony's Gamer's Day event, with hands-on impressions of titles like Gran Turismo 4 and other big-name PS2 games as well as new shots from True Live Fantasy Online, Men of Valor: Vietnam, Armed & Dangerous, True Crime: Streets of L.A., BC and Halo 2 (all Xbox) and Monster 4x4: Masters of Metal (GC). McIGN has hands-on impressions of the North American version of Final Fantasy X-2 and Gran Turismo 4 (both PS2) and new media from Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (GC, PS2, Xbox), Suikoden IV, Jak II, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, NCAA Final Four 2004 and Rise to Honor (all PS2) and Grabbed by the Ghoulies (Xbox). Elsewhere online, Games Are Fun has new shots from the sequel to Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox), GameSpy has new shots from Dead Man's Hand (Xbox), Computer and Video Games has posted their report from Microsoft's X03 event and GameInformer.com has a hands-on look at Beyond Good & Evil (GC, PS2, Xbox). Also, UbiSoft has launched their new site for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GC, PS2, Xbox).
Console Game of the Evening: PO'ed for the 3DO. "An absolute unsung classic featuring a huge arsenal of over-the-top weaponry, tons of disgusting enemies, a jetpack, and a gaming first - the Missile Cam! Plus, this game actually had a sense of humor; a rarity in 1996." (submitted by Colin Higgins).