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Company stands firm as a key player in games world; Role in launch of hand-held Playstation.

Byline: CHRIS BROWN

FOR 10 years, the Sony Playstation has dominated the computer games console 0 market.

Now the Liverpool firm which helped it become the market leader is gearing up for the future.

For its 10th anniversary, Sony will release its latest incarnation - the Playstation Portable (PSP).

Studio Liverpool, based in Wavertree Technology Park, released Wipeout as one of the launch games for the original Playstation when it was released in the UK.

Now the company will release the latest instalment in the popular series to go with the launch of what will be Sony's first hand-held console.

It will have a similar power to the Playstation 2, but will also be able to play full-length feature films The Liverpool firm's game, Wipeout Pure, will see players race around a futuristic track in fast moving hovercraft.

The racing game involves floating carts speeding around tracks. The name Pure refers to the fact that the game will focus on racing and not on the weapons, which have featured in earlier games.

Wipeout Pure started development in December 2003 with a team of five people, which grew to the present 26 in the space of a year. There are two producers, eight programmers, 12 artists and three designers on the team.

A spokesman for Studio Liverpool said: ``Wipeout was an important game for when the original Playstation was released. Now we are being an integral part of the launch of the PSP as well with Wipeout Pure.

``Being part of the Sony family has its advantages and allows us to be more creative with what we are doing, pushing the boundaries of the PS2 and being introduced to new generations of hardware as it is released.

``It also allows us to be a lot more innovative when producing our titles ensuring that what we make takes full advantage of the platform it comes out on.

Although there is no release date set for the Playstation 3, it is expected to be out in Japan in spring 2006. Details are very scarce about the machine, but some information about the powerful chip inside have been revealed.

Sony, IBM and Toshiba have released limited data about the so called Cell chip that will be able to carry out trillions of calculations per second.

Studio Liverpool, formally Psygnosis, has been a flagship part of Sony since the firm launched the Playstation.

The company played a key role in the launch of the Sony Playstation in 1995, an event which provided it with the ideal platform to demonstrate how far its game development technology had come. Psygnosis games such as Wipeout and Destruction Derby broke new ground and dominated Playstation's first year sales.

Last year saw the firm sign an exclusive deal with Formula 1 to produce the only officially-licensed games for the console.

The deal, worth pounds 80m, meant that computer games that carry the F1 brand, which are exclusively made by Studio Liverpool, can only be played on the Playstation 2 console.

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Studio Liverpool is closely involved in Sony's new Playstation Portable; Picture: GEOFF ROBERTS
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 3, 2005
Words:514
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