Originally this commentary was going to be entitled "What the hell is up with EA lately?" However, some shocking events taking place the Tokyo Game Show have caused me to do a minor change. I will still go into the sudden change (for the better) of what Electronic Arts has been up to lately, but I must begin with some bad news.
As I predicted back at E3 this year, and as Ken noted in his last week’s corner column, Sega was full of hot air when they claimed that they would still support the Dreamcast until first quarter 2002. I did not believe them, and I was so enraged with their selling out, thus betraying Dreamcast owners, that I even made a Sega PR rep cry at E3. I did apologize to that person when I returned to my home in Virginia, although I was still pissed.
I never thought that I would be more pissed at Sega, but was I wrong. Why? Simple"
THEY CANCELLED THE US RELEASE OF SHENMUE 2 FOR THE DREAMCAST.
That’s right, the last great game that was supposed to be the Dreamcast’s swan song has now been taken away from us. But, are you ready? It actually gets worse"
IT’S NOW AN X-BOX EXCLUSIVE!
As if selling out their fans wasn’t enough, it seems that those two geniuses, Peter "Whore" and Charles "Blowhard" have sold their souls to Evil Bill Gates and Microsoft. Apparently fanbase loyalty means less to them than the almighty dollar, and they are forcing US gamers to buy a system from a company that forces you to buy extra junk you don’t want so you can play it.
I knew that Whore and Blowhard were going to back out of their promise sooner or later, but I never expected it to be done this way.
We’ve seen potentially great titles cancelled just prior to their release, most notably the Dreamcast version of Half-Life, which was reportedly finished, but thanks to the new "Unleashed" strategy (forever known as "sold out") titles like this will never see the light of day. Other recent titles such as Propeller Arena are also being scrapped, and I am seeing some evidence that Tennis 2K2 and NHL 2K2 will end up on the cutting floor as well. Thank God that EA has fixed my NHL Smith for this year, but I will get to that in a bit.
What gets me the most is what Charles Blowhard had the gall to say in a recent interview found in IGN, Planet Dreamcast, and many other DC-related sites. He claims that he feels "accountable to Dreamcast owners," and "how responsible we feel towards the Dreamcast owners." What a joke! Demand for Shenmue 2 in the US was extremely high, and it was the reason that DC owners such as myself held on to our system, but now you snagged it from under us. Thanks a lot Blowhard!
Nonetheless, any credit I had towards Sega since February 2001 is now gone. I have made a personal vow that I will never buy another Sega-related title again, and at the end of the month, my Dreamcast is going straight to eBay, unless one of GiN’s loyal readers want to make me an offer. I’m not even going to pick up NBA 2K2 when it comes out on the PlayStation 2 because of this matter. I’ll just have to wait for NBA Live to come out.
Which brings me into the sudden turnaround that Electronic Arts has performed in the past four months. As if the excellent NCAA Football 2002 wasn’t enough, the newest Madden looks better, plays better, and is far more involving than any other football game on the market. Must I go any further with what they did with NHL 2002? All the problems I had with previous version are now gone, and I have been playing the game non-stop.
EA Sports is on a roll lately, and I’d like to see it continue. I’m sure that FIFA 2002 will be great, based on last year’s excellent model, but I’m curious to how NBA Live 2002 will be like. Since I’ve now turned my back on Segagreed, I will need something to replace the NBA 2K series, and unfortunately last year, NBA Live 2001 wasn’t an acceptable substitute. The new version is said to be improved, but I haven’t seen it yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Maybe the strangest element of this new and improved EA might have to do with Sega themselves. Or more specifically, Visual Concepts. Considering they raised the bar in sports presentation, EA was pushed their development teams in order to compete, and compete strongly they are. I guess we can thank Sega for this, but they really don’t deserve it.
I’m also looking forward to some of their non-sports related titles. The game 007 Agent Under Fire is definitely on the top of my list. Hopefully we will finally have a Goldeneye killer on the PS2, and if the racing stages are anything like the excellent SpyHunter (or better for that matter), I will be in for a treat. In addition, Aliens: Colonial Marines shows great potential from what I saw at E3. Everything is just looking up.
It’s quite ironic though. Last year and the year before I had my back turned on EA because of their treatment of the Dreamcast (or lack thereof), but this last year it has all turned around. As I said in my review of NHL 2002, I have forgiven EA of all past wrongdoing, and to Peter Whore and Charles Blowhard, I can thank them for showing me just how greedy they are to ignore their hard-to-find-fans and join up with true silicon evil, Bill Gates.
I know that signing online petitions and writing to Sega isn’t going to do anything to solve this problem, but I do have a recommendation. For those who own Dreamcasts, sell them on eBay and devote yourself to never buy another Sega title. Buy a Gamecube. Do not be pulled in by the new evil: the Sega/Microsoft merger! If we do not get tempted by this evil, I’m sure Sega will repent for their recent crimes against fanboy humanity!