Heading up the list of games that gamers are drooling for are two new Xbox-only games from Rare Ltd., the legendary video game developer that has been acquired by Microsoft:
- Perfect Dark 2: Joanna Dark's back and she's only on Xbox. The sequel to the landmark Perfect Dark, Perfect Dark 2 will take full advantage of the power of Xbox to deliver an incredible gaming experience.
- Kameo: Elements of Power: Rare's original role-playing adventure starring an all-new cast of characters in a lush new world, is coming exclusively to Xbox.
Over the next 12-24 months, gamers can expect five Rare titles in all the key genres - racing, shooters, platformers and more.
An exclusive new game from Microsoft Game Studios was announced at X02:
Sudeki: A sultry wizardress… a soaring gunslinger… a powerful swordsman… a dark huntress. Four heroes, about to be hurtled over the edge into a flight into darkness. Sudeki will push the limits of what gamers think an RPG can be with bigger worlds, more powerful heroes and sexier heroines all wrapped around Hong Kong-style cinematic combat. And it is all only possible on Xbox.
As well as 1st-party titles, new 3rd-party games were announced or shown in Europe for the first time, such as:
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (Konami): Playable for the first time in Europe, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is the definitive edition with enhanced graphics and extra missions and modes, taking advantage of the power of Xbox.
- FIFA Football 2003 (Electronic Arts): An all-new game engine brings the latest in EA's successful series of football games to life on Xbox, with more intelligent AI and no less than 10,000 players, brought to life by fantastic graphics and sound.
- Steel Battalion (Capcom): This classic mech-warfare game will be playable for the first time in Europe. Utilising the most advanced game controller ever made for a console, it illustrates superbly the power and graphical quality that Xbox exclusive titles can offer.
- Championship Manager 02/03 (Eidos): Announced as completely exclusive to Xbox this Christmas, Championship Manager 02/03 updates the successful football manager simulation with current team and player data as well as the all new transfer system.
- MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology Online Demo (THQ): Following on from the success of MotoGP on Xbox, THQ announced the next instalment in this exciting, graphically stunning motorcycle racing game, which utilises the new Xbox Live functionality to reach new heights of playability.
Other highly-anticipated Microsoft Games Studios and 3rd-party games slated to arrive before the end of the year, only on Xbox, and playable at X02 included:
- Splinter Cell (Ubi Soft): Putting the gamer into the shoes of an anti-terrorist commando, Splinter Cell (recently named Game of the Show at ECTS 2002) features incredibly realistic environments and deep gameplay that pushes the Xbox hardware into new gaming directions.
- Blinx (Microsoft Game Studios): Blinx is a cool, clever cat on a quest to recover time crystals and fix glitches in the space-time continuum. Blinx uniquely features time travel and gamers can actually alter the flow of time in the game, possible only with the Xbox built-in hard disc.
- Toejam and Earl III: All Funked Up (Sega): Bringing a much-loved 16-bit franchise exclusively to Xbox, Toejam & Earl offers massive worlds to explore as the funky pair use "funk-fu" to battle their way on a quest for 12 sacred funk records - and all in glorious Dolby 5.1 sound.
- Unreal Championship (Infogrames): Only on Xbox, Unreal Championship offers explosive gameplay and amazing graphics, and offers it online via Xbox Live - it's an experience action addicts have been craving.
- SEGA GT 2002 (Sega): One of the most anticipated games on any console, Sega GT 2002 is only on Xbox and offers the definitive car racing simulation with more than 100 current and classic high-performance vehicles.
In total, more than 80 games were playable at X02, including previously announced Microsoft Game Studios titles Blinx, Brute Force, Quantum Redshift, MechAssault, Midtown Madness 3, Kakuto Chojin, Tork, Kung Fu Chaos, and Whacked! Future titles were shown, including Fable (formerly Project Ego) and BC from Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios.
"Groundbreaking titles are heading to Europe in massive numbers, and it's going to be an incredible Christmas if you're a gamer," said Ed Fries, vice president of Xbox game content. "With 175 games slated for Europe this Christmas, every gamer will be catered to. No other console has ever accomplished these types of numbers in their first year. And the unbelievable games are just going to keep coming - 300 games are in development.
"What makes these games special is that they all harness the unique features of the Xbox," said Fries. "They use the hard disc to enhance and extend playability; they use the Xbox graphics horsepower to create vivid worlds that are true to the developer's imagination; they use Dolby 5.1 surround sound to put gamers in the game; and now some games are enabled for Xbox Live, which amplifies the Xbox difference. 2003 will be a landmark year for gamers and the industry, thanks in part to the quality and quantity of games coming to Xbox."
Microsoft also unveiled its online games service, Xbox™ Live, at X02. Xbox Live will support five Xbox Live-exclusive games in Europe this year: "Unreal Championship" (Infogrames); "MechAssault™" and "Whacked!" (Microsoft Game Studios); "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon" (Ubi Soft); and MotoGP Live (THQ). In 2003, more than 50 Xbox Live-enabled games will launch, including Halo 2, CounterStrike, Star Wars: Galaxies and Project Gotham Racing 2. More than 60 game publishers are currently working on Xbox Live-enabled games, extending the unique capabilities of Xbox and contributing to the online gaming revolution.
Microsoft acknowledged the widespread support of the games industry for Xbox by highlighting game designer "rock stars" in attendance. The "who's who" list of game designers included: Chris Stamper and Tim Stamper, founders of Rare Ltd.; Peter Molyneux of Lionhead, creator of the upcoming Xbox epic, "Fable"; Yves Guillemot, the founder of Ubi Soft, Richard Darling, creative director of Codemasters; Jay Wilbur of Epic Games; Atsushi Inaba from Capcom, the producer of Steel Battalion; and Bruno Bonnell, founder and CEO of Infogrames.
"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 the Xbox is the most powerful platform yet conceived to pursue that goal. We are not just making games, we are changing entertainment itself."