Coming Attractions

TAW

TAW's Revolution projector has now hit the market. The company promises picture performance via the projector's three HD2+ DLP chips, along with its 1,800 white ANSI lumens and 0.64 black ANSI lumens. Six interchangeable lenses allow you to easily adjust the throw distance, and, depending on which lens you use, the projector will produce a contrast ratio between 2700:1 and 3300:1. The OSD simplifies the fine-tuning, while built-in monitors help you anticipate maintenance issues such as bulb changes and ventilation-filter replacement. And, if that isn't enough, an Ethernet connection is available to help with upgrades. Contact your local dealer for pricing. TAW
(407) 996-3836
www.taw.biz

Escient

Why go through the hassle of constantly restoring your DVDs and CDs and struggling to keep your collections organized? Escient's FireBall DVDM-300 Media Management system works as your own personal librarian. It can arrange and access more than 1,200 DVDs stored in as many as three external Sony or Kenwood DVD changers, and, through its 10/100 Ethernet connector, you can use Escient's MovieDB database to view cover images and various specs on all of the DVDs in your collection. Furthermore, the built-in 300-gigabyte hard drive allows you to store more than 850 hours of CD-quality music. The company boasts easy installation, and the product retails for $4,999. Escient
(800) ESCIENT
www.escient.com

The PS2 You Thought You Knew
Two very different first-party titles for the PS2 demonstrate the true technical power of the slim black box, capable of better video quality than most people ever expected.

Even at a time when the great console videogame minds are looking ahead to the next "next-generation," Sony is putting out some of the most sophisticated games in the history the ubiquitous PlayStation 2. Cream-of-the-crop game hardware like the PS2 was designed to take the experience to a new level, and it does, via digital audio output and component video. (We've been extolling the virtues of these features for years, but not until this high-definition age did anybody seem to care. But we're not bitter.)

At launch I was told that the PS2 could not support progressive scan, when the truth is that it can, if a game has been designed with the necessary unlocking driver. But I certainly never expected 1080i widescreen picture quality, and that is precisely what Gran Tursimo 4 can deliver. GT4 is not just a sequel, not just about adding more cars (although there are now more than 650, from 80 different manufacturers), but a far more immersive racing "career." Virtually limitless customization is possible as we win more races and make more money on our vicarious quest to win even more races and make even more money.

On any TV, this world is stunningly realistic, with cars tested by professional drivers to help simulate the true feel of each. We can also shoot, save, and print lovely photos of our winning car in exotic locales (like Brooklyn), while the Dolby Pro-Logic II audio renders convincing engine noise, and wind that actually increases at higher speeds. But the 1080i video setting is a revelation, optimizing the new lighting effects and the exquisite textures, with previously unattainable levels of detail throughout. Probably the best racing game ever for the PS2, and undoubtedly one of the best-looking console games ever created.

If racing is not your speed, take a trip back to the days of Greek mythology with God of War, a boldly conceived single-player action/adventure that follows the ruthless Spartan general Kratos on a mission of revenge, with veritable "god-given" abilities, leading to a final showdown with Ares himself. The elaborate, wonderfully interactive level design is nothing short of amazing, with certain battles enhanced by extra-brutal mini-games, and the combination of extreme violence, fantasy, and brain-teaser problem-solving challenges is a hoot. The in-game physics are highly accurate, and the control system for the weapons and fighting techniques is reassuringly intuitive.

The M-rating was something of a surprise not for the ample blood and guts (literally) so much as for the gratuitous nudity, another innovative addition. A variety of realistic sounds has been recreated for every aspect of this universe, from the more impressive mystical elements right down to the subliminal minutiae, presented in an effectively enveloping Pro-Logic II mix. The graphics are also stupendous, particularly in GoW's available 480p mode, with faux-natural interactive lighting and a rich palette of colors. I would rank this among the most enjoyable PS2 titles of all time.

www.us.playstation.com

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