Driver 2 is widely tipped to be the biggest selling PlayStation title this Christmas in the 15 to 25 demographic. Driving games in general are among the best-selling PlayStation titles, but the Driver series adds a role-playing element. Players take the role of an undercover cop who has to work his way into the underworld as a getaway driver. Once they have joined the gang they must provide the wheels for the gang's criminal activities. The scenario makes for some spectacular chases through city streets as the player has to complete a series of missions against the clock.
The original title was one of the big sellers of last year for GT Interactive, however the franchise has been taken over by OziSoft, which now controls many of GTI's old properties. Driver 2 will account for almost two thirds of OziSoft's $750,000 October to December marketing budget and will be promoted through television, print media and in-store displays. It is scheduled for launch on November 9.
OziSoft: (02) 8303 6800
Microsoft SideWinder Game Voice is the first of the SideWinder range designed specifically for online or network play. It uses a combination of voice recognition and chat facilities to allow the player to totally control a game using verbal commands, while keeping in voice contact with the other players.
The device comprises a headset with adjustable microphone and a control pad that allows the user to switch between chat and voice commands. Any keyboard shortcut can be converted to a voice command and the multi-channel chat facility allows the player to broadcast to up to 64 players or group team-mates and individual players into five separate private channels. Game Voice can be used for straight chat sessions when not being used for game play and uses MSN Messenger as its default chat program. However, it is compatible with other chat programs as well. Microsoft provides free Game Voice Share software for anybody who wants to join the games or chat session.
Microsoft is hoping to cash in on the rapidly growing online game market and retailers are expecting the device to sell well and often in pairs to hardcore gamers. Its RRP is $99.
Tech Pacific: (02) 9381 6000
The new PS1 is a redesigned, shrinked version of the original PlayStation that was first launched in Australia in November 1995. While containing the same functions as the PlayStation game console, PS1 has been condensed to approximately 1/3rd its size, making it easy to carry anywhere. Sony Computer Entertainment plans to provide a variety of peripherals in the future, including a small LCD screen that will allow it to be played wherever there's a suitable power adaptor; and mobile phone connectivity.
The original PlayStation has sold more than 75 million units worldwide (1.5 million in Australia). It was originally targeted (successfully) at the 20 to 25 demographic; however, SCE is now aiming at a much younger market and will back the move with several titles aimed at children aged between five and eight. For the first time, educational titles are being developed for the platform and there are expected to be a steady supply of budget ($29.95) titles flowing to market in the coming months. Market forces are expected to push the price down to around $159 to $165 by Christmas, but the machine is expected to breath new life into the market.
This much-hyped, new-generation entertainment system is a games console and DVD player all in one. Eventually people will be able to buy a hard drive peripheral and modem that will allow them to access the Internet and download games, however that will not be available until next year and the price has yet to be determined.
PlayStation 2 is the most powerful games console ever released and operates one 128-bit "emotion engine" processor, developed jointly by Sony and Toshiba, which runs at 300MHz.
The machine will be sold with a single dual shock analog controller and SCE expects there to be up to 25 games - mainly third-party titles - available by Christmas, with up to 65 available by March.
The PAL version of PS2 that will be sold in Australia has several improvements over the Japanese version, including on-board DVD playback, which does not require use of the memory card and provision for a combined hard drive and network pack that will provide access to the Internet. However, the only peripherals available on launch will be an 8MB memory card, Multi Tap four-way connector and additional controllers. PS2 will retail locally for $749.
Entertainment Australia: (02) 9324 9500