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Thursday, August 30, 2001

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 Demo Available
10:42 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Mac gamers who have groaned and complained for months about a dearth of Mac game demos are now swimming in downloadable goodness. Right on the heels of the Alice and Pillars of Garendell demos, we have another treat for you today -- a demo of Aspyr Media's Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, appearing at 5 PM Central time today.

The long-awaited demo for this port from PC (which was in turn a port from the console version) will be available for all of you that were tempted by this game, but delayed your purchase until you found out how well it would run and what the controls were like. A slim 22 MB download, the demo itself has identical system requirements to the full game:

The Tony Hawk Demo allows you to play an
unlimited number of 2-minute skate sessions. Other features, such
as multiplayer network games, the park editor, customized skaters,
and career mode (including saved games) are not available in the

  • Any iMac, G3 or G4.

  • Hardware 3D acceleration (ATI Rage Pro or better)

  • MacOS 8.6

  • CarbonLib (if running the OSX version of the game)

  • DrawSprocket

  • 233 MHz processor

  • 32 MB memory

  • OpenGL 1.1
As Apple touted during MWNY, this game is Carbonized for Mac OS X and performs quite well under Apple's next-generation OS. Watch for the demo at 5 PM Central Time today -- you will find it at MacGameFiles of course.

Oh, and by the way -- we've heard it on good authority that the string of big-name commercial demos is going to contine. Keep your eye on IMG tomorrow and early next week for even more highly-anticipated demos, including one that may make you rub your eyes in disbelief.

Aspyr Media
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 Demo (22 MB)
Review: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

IMG Reviews Sims: House Party
11:41 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Just when you thought it was safe to put your copy of The Sims back on the shelf, Aspyr Media publishes yet another expansion pack to feed your Sims addiction with tasty new goodies and behaviors. House Party is an expansion pack with a literal twist -- instead of merely being a collection of more objects and house elements, the game instead shifts focus towards social interaction between neighbors.

In a review sprinkled with Simpsons references (and a secret contest) our own Michael Phillips found a lot to love about this expansion pack. Here's a sample about one of the new aspects of the game that assist your party-throwing skillz:

Click to enlarge
Hey Goober, Where’s the Beef?
Often times, a party’s host or hostess doesn’t wish to prepare food & drink themselves, thus they hire a caterer. Well, House Party allows players to do the same. Simply direct your Sim to dial up a caterer on the old telephone and he’ll be right over. Of course, you have to supply either a punch bowl or buffet table for the caterer to do his job. Throughout the party, the caterer goes about his work, keeping the punch bowl filled and buffet table stocked with goodies; all while picking up discarded food plates and even chatting it up with guests in a delightful French accent. Hiring a caterer definitely takes the tedium out of throwing a swanky dinner party.
Read on for more details and a screen shot gallery. If you are already a House Party owner, be sure to add your own score to our User Reviews.

Review: The Sims: House Party

ATI Radeon 8500 Pre-order for Under $300
11:16 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

When we first brought you news of ATI's next entry into the high-end gaming card arena, known as the Radeon 8500, the projected cost of the card was expected to be similar to the competing NVIDIA GeForce 3: $399 retail, $350 on the street. However retailer EBworld has blown the doors off of that expectation by offering the low pre-order price (for the PC version of the card) at a mere $299.99!

The site also offers a projected retail release date. Often retailers are a very unreliable source of information on release dates, for various reasons; however we certainly hope they are wrong in this situation as they expect to ship the cards on October 10th -- the 8500 was previously expected to ship in late September.

We must emphasize again that this is the PC version of the card, and the pricing and availability of the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition is unknown at this time. However in our talks with ATI they promised a much more aggressive release schedule for Mac users, and we don't expect pricing to vary much from the PC version either.

The EBworld pre-order price seems to indicate that ATI plans to challenge NVIDIA not only in features, but in cost as well. Hopefully the ensuing price war will trickle down to Mac gamers, and put workstation-class graphics in the hands of everyday gamers and not just the hardcore crowd. Keep your eyes on IMG for more Radeon 8500 details.

Preview: ATI Radeon 8500
Radeon 8500 Pre-order at EBWorld

Take-Two's Current Status, Future Plans
10:56 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Take-Two Interactive may be doing well on the surface, but their marketing success this quarter, particularly with their successful title Max Payne, has served mainly to fill in the $1.5 million hole of debt that they had in their backyard. Why should Mac gamers care about Take Two Interactive? Their absorption of Gathering of Developers and close partnership with MacSoft has so far brought us games such as Tropico and will bring us future titles including Fly! II, Myth III, Max Payne, Stronghold and eventually Duke Nukem Forever.

Here's a clip from a posting at Gamasutra:

Take-Two Interactive announced financial results for its third fiscal quarter, showing higher revenue but lower profits than last year due to the company's debt reduction effort. Net sales for the quarter were up 18% over last year to $84.5 million, aided by the popularity of Remedy's Max Payne title. Net income was $409,000 (1 cent a share), after taking into account a debt payoff of $1.5 million and taking in $651,000 gain on sale of its Jack Of All Games subsidiary. This compares with net income of $3.4 million ($0.12 per share) for the same period a year ago. Analysts had expected net revenues in the 4-5 cents per share range.
Their plans for improving their bottom line include the release of future titles such as Myth III and Stronghold. Gamespot has also received news that they plan on releasing Railroad Tycoon III sometime near the end of 2002. A developer has yet to be named, but strong hints point to PopTop Software.

Nothing has been said as of yet regarding a Mac version of RT3, but given that plans for the game were just announced, there's plenty of time to ask PopTop and Take Two to create one.

PopTop Software
Gamasutra - Take-Two Reveals Lackluster Q3 As Debt Payoff Consumes Profits
Gamespot - Railroad Tycoon III coming

Duke Nukem Forever Lives Up to Name
10:05 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

One of the longest-running sagas in game development history that we are aware of has been the endless wait for Duke Nukem Forever, the Unreal-engine-powered "sequel" to the smash hit shooter Duke Nukem 3D. While the original was written before hardware 3D cards even existed, this second title is supposed to have every single whiz-bang feature you can imagine, including all the little "interactive" elements that made the first Duke so unique. Far beyond driveable RC cars and playable pool tables, this Duke is supposed to be an action movie come to life -- but unfortunately it remains a few vague hints and screen shots rather than an actual product.

Mac users' interest in this title was piqued when MacSoft announced they will port this game to the Mac OS, as part of their package deal with Take Two Interactive (DNF is a former Gathering of Developers title). There were even rumors that the game might be finished in October and released this Winter. However in a conference call covered by many of the major PC news outlets yesterday, Take Two inadvertently released the information that the PC version of the game will be delayed until 2002 -- and not "first Quarter 2002" but some undefined future date.

If it is any consolation (forgive us the pun) there are Duke games planned for X-Box, PS2 and GameCube, all being developed simultaneously. Take Two certainly knows how to spread a franchise around, but for those of us who have been covering DNF since E3 1998, this is getting a little old.

Obviously MacSoft cannot begin work on the port for this title until it is very close to shipping, so the delay also applies to Mac users anticipating this sequel. Perhaps more will be revealed at the ECTS expo next week.

Past IMG Articles on Duke Nukem Forever
Report on Take Two Conference Call at GameSpot
Duke Nukem Forever
Buy Duke Nukem Forever

Click to enlarge
Unreal II Interview with Mike and Mark
10:01 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

In yet another of what will undoubtedly be a long string of Unreal II-inspired features, Unreal Center has posted the results of a short interview with Mike Verdu and Mark Poesch of Legend Entertainment. The questions posed by fans are fairly technical in nature, and address various issues that many fans of the original Unreal may have been wondering about.

The first question asked and addressed concerns voice over IP and whether or not it will be integrated into the multiplayer aspect of Unreal II. Both Verdu and Poesch acknowledge that, while this is not currently planned, it's not totally unfeasible either. They further add that VOIP does add a whole new dimension to online gaming, but that it's the single-player aspect of Unreal II that is receiving the most attention.

Legend also intends to take advantage of some of the capabilities of the GeForce 3, specifically the vertex and pixel shaders, which will be used with the skeletal rendering pipeline. Poesch adds that by Christmas, gamers may get a taste of what they've accomplished with the GF3 shaders.

The game is expected to once again push the very limits of gaming hardware, much as the original Unreal challenged the systems available at that time; in this vein one of the questions asked deals with whether having a fast CPU or a fast video card is better, in regards to this sequel. Poesch points to the power of the new engine:

Both are important still. Much of the setup for the rendering system is CPU based -- so a fast (1GHz+) CPU is still worth having. But, the big difference is that the new engine will be much better able to take advantage of the GPU. Instead of being able to render a maximum of 800 world polys and 4000 mesh polys, we're able to push 10s of thousands of polys, and the distinction between "world" and "mesh" has been radically reduced.
Other questions involve the usage of the original UT netcode for multiplayer, differences between the old and new engines, and the ever-present spectre of cheating. Be sure to check out the full interview at Unreal Center for all the latest information.

Unreal II Official Site
Unreal Center - Interview with Mike and Mark

Deimos Rising Reaches Beta 3
9:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Ambrosia progress logs have been updated with good news regarding the arcade-inspired scrolling shooter Deimos Rising, noting that it has moved to a third beta stage. This means the highly anticipated sequel to Mars Rising should be approaching completion in the near future. All of the major features are implemented now, and the team is mainly focused on making the gameplay fun and challenging. Here's the full update:

Deimos has reached beta 3!

This release is mostly concerned with gameplay - tuning the difficulty, adjusting scoring and bonus opportunities, seeing if all the gameplay elements work well or not. Almost all interface, audio and technical work has been completed and most of the effort remaining will be concerned with making the game as fun as possible before release.

The progress log contains one new screen shot as well. If you're looking for more media from the game, head over now to the Deimos Rising beta site. We'll keep you posted as this title moves towards release later this year.

Deimo Rising Betashots Page
Deimos Rising Progress Logs

Jesse Spears on Westlake, Future
9:36 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Italian site Games4Mac has posted an in-depth interview with Jesse Spears, a longtime Mac game author and (for a time) Westlake Interactive employee. During his time at Westlate he ported Escape from Monkey Island; however he has recently left that company to work on his own projects.

The Games4Mac interview (available both in English and Italian) covers a wide breadth of topics and is an entertaining read. Here's an excerpt about Spears' future plans:

G4M: Why you decided to leave Westlake? Will continue you the programmator job?

JS: I left Westlake to pursue a long term goal.

I've been trying to reach a point in my career that I can work on my own games: design them _and_ program them. An opportunity came up that gives me a good chance at realizing this goal, but in order to do so, I had to leave Westlake, and I had to do it _now_.

So....right now, I'm working full-time on Harpoon3 for DOS (it should work work just fine on Win95/98/ME...I'm not sure about NT/2K/XP yet).

If all goes as planned, this project will enable me to start working on my own new and original game designs in the next 6 months. Initially for MacOS/MacOSX and the various Win32 platforms (but also leaving open the possibility of ports to various consoles and handhelds).

As always you can find the latest information at Jesse's frequently-updated web site. Read the rest of the interview for more details, and thanks to Games4Mac for the update.

Harpoon III
Jesse Spears Interview at Games4Mac (Italian)
Jesse Spears Interview at Games4Mac (English)

Apple Goes to the Game Shows
9:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Apple has posted a new article in their gaming section which takes a look at two upcoming MacSoft gameshow-themed titles: Jeopardy! 2 and Wheel of Fortune 2. Both are really just 2nd editions of the popular 'value priced' originals, though more has changed than just adding new content. The games have also been tweaked to improve the opponent AI, and include video interviews of contestants and pre-show screening questions. Here's a clip with a quote from MacSoft's Al Shilling:

“New video content has been added in the form of interviews with many people behind the scenes at both shows,” adds MacSoft product manager Al Schilling. “Plus — and I think this is just the coolest feature — both games include the entrance exams that potential contestants take to try and qualify for the shows.”

Schilling, who is a self-described game show aficionado, says that he “aced the exam for Wheel of Fortune, but I still haven’t passed the Jeopardy! exam. I’m going to keep trying until I get it right, though.”

We're assuming "getting it right" doesn't mean memorizing the answers, since there are more than enough to keep the replayability of the games high. Head over now to check out the scoop on both games, and look for them to be released by MacSoft in the not-too-distant future.

Apple Game Show Madness

Blizzard Posts Teaser for Next Title
9:16 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

For quite some time now, Blizzard Entertainment has been dropping egregious hints that they will be announcing a new title in September; they've even gone as far to schedule two press conferences for ECTS next week, including one on Sunday morning and one Monday. Among the various hints they have dropped so far (for those not following the trail of crumbs) are clues that the game will be very different than anything they have done before and that it will have nothing to do with the current Blizzard "franchises" of WarCraft, StarCraft or Diablo.

Blizzard's recent hiring frenzy is also adding fuel to the fire; they have been looking for 3D level designers with Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament experience, and have also hired away a former id Software member in the recent past. No one has ever doubted that Blizzard is the master of hype in the video game world, but this time they very well may top themselves.

Today if you go the Blizzard web site, you will get a small "teaser" -- not much to go on, but we won't spoil your fun by telling you about it here. Just click.

Remember that IMG will have a staff member at ECTS to bring you live reports of all the action and announcements, so stay tuned -- we will even do weekend updates, so check back Saturday and Sunday as well. Of course you can always share your pre-announcement speculations in our Forums.

Blizzard Entertainment
Speculation on Next Blizzard Title

Mac Games News for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Red Faction Interview, Call for Questions3:10 PM
Baldur's Gate Fan Fiction Contest12:03 PM
Doom Legacy 1.32 Beta 3 Coming Soon11:33 AM
IMG Previews Q*Bert11:17 AM
'FlareStorm' PSX Emu Details, New Release11:02 AM
"Doubletime" With Master of Orion III10:33 AM
Updated Unreal II Weapons Info10:16 AM
Giants: Citizen Kabuto Pre-Order Available10:05 AM
MGCD Subscribers: 10 percent off at Compuexpert!10:04 AM
Blizzard to Add "Buddy Lists" to Diablo II9:52 AM
Alice Demo Patched for OS X9:42 AM
New Dragon's Lair 3D Shots, ECTS Info8:58 AM
Spears Talks Future Plans8:55 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, August 29, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Monday, August 27, 2001
Friday, August 24, 2001
Thursday, August 23, 2001
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