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Two more hyper-anticipated action games were finalized this week, reaching the "Gold" status and being sent off to mass-production. As announced by Activision, id Software and Splash Damage, the three companies have finally managed to complete the production of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for the PC, and the game is now set to hit retail on September 28 in Europe and Australia, and on October 2 in North America. For now, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Quake Wars are continuing to be developed by Nerve Software and Activision Foster City, though without any firm release date set.

The other multiplayer-focused action game to become Gold a couple of days ago is Halo 3, which already managed to gather 1 million pre-orders not long ago in the US. The last (supposedly) part in Bungie's trilogy will be released worldwide for the Xbox 360 on September 25, with the solemn promise made by Microsoft that the game will shatter day-one sales records.

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What could be more sado-masochistic, financially speaking, than a shooter in which every single bullet you take, and every single bullet you masterfully pump into your enemies instantly modifies the amount of money earned after a match? Whereas, up until now, we were used with these actions impacting only our health bar, the London-based company Kwari is raising the stakes and challenges us to an (upcoming) online first-person shooter - also called Kwari - in which everything will be "for money".

The game itself will be free to download and will not require any monthly subscription. Instead, however, players will have to buy the ammunition for their weapons, so wasting it or having poor accuracy will cost them, literally. To keep things as simple as possible, all weapons in the game will use the same type of ammo. The weapons exemplified on the Kwari website are: Uzu 10mm Machine Pistol, Assault Rifle TT-829, "Protagonist" Shotgun, CL1-V3 Rocket Launcher, and MKV Hand-held Ion Beam. In theory, the game system goes something like this:

"Gamers playing Kwari for cash set up an account, are matched on the basis of skill, and enter a game at a pre agreed stake level ranging from one cent to one dollar a hit. During the four-round matches (3x 16-player maps, 1x 64-player last man standing map called 'The Killing Floor') every time a player hits another, money is decremented from the target's stake and added to the shooter's. In a way, the player's money stake mirrors their in-game health, except it's exchanged from one player to another."

There will also be "Jackpot" prizes, which will be fed by self-inflicted damage sustained by the players in all games being played globally (so go easy on those rocket-jumps!). The Jackpots will be released hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly - with the latter expected to pay out millions of dollars. Or at least that's what the devs are hoping. If it sounds tempting, you can sign-up for the beta, or wait for the final version of Kwari, towards the end of 2007.

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GC 2007 - WET, A Sexy Acrobatic Shooter From Sierra

Sierra / Vivendi continue to announce new action games at the Games Convention in Leipzig, after having announced Prototype and Aliens/Predator earlier this month as well. The new title they use to stimulate our salivary glands is WET, an "acrobatic shooter" whose protagonist - Rubi - they hope will become "the most exciting heroine ever in video games". With a feeling clearly inspired by Tarantino's movies, WET is a third-person action game in which the sword and a pair of Colt Pythons guns will be the killing tools of choice employed by miss Rubi - an acrobatic and highly pissed-off gun-for-hire. Pissed-off, because of this:

"When she agrees to help a wealthy man find and bring back his wayward son, all hell breaks loose and the tables are turned, as the man who hired her isn't who he appeared to be. Now Rubi's on the run, needing to find the man who left her for dead and leaving a massive body count in her wake."

I could go on listing all kinds of agile movements that Rubi will be capable of, like sliding under obstacles, running on walls, or stylized swordplay combos, but these are best illustrated in the first cinematic trailer offered by Sierra. They also issued a few artworks, and at the same time opened an official website integrating even more goodies - including screenshots.

WET is being developed by the Canadian studio A2M, and will debut in 2008 on yet to be specified consoles.

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They aren't even done with the ArmA: Queen's Gambit add-on yet, and the Czechs from Bohemia Interactive have already deconspired their next game in the series, simply called ArmA 2. The title was annouced at the Leipzig GC, for the PC and for next generation consoles - among which we're betting on the Xbox 360 (or only the Xbox 360). Also on this occasion, the official ArmA 2 website was inaugurated, which is where we got the first images from as well, showing a visual quality comparable to that of the first Armed Assault.

The similarities are also covering the gameplay features, summarized by the devs below:

"Arma 2 is based on the latest generation technology, offering largeĀ–scale game world, authentic and extremely detailed modern units, weapons, vehicles and enviroments, challenging single-player and vast array of multiplayer options."

The only striking difference seems to be brought by the story, which will take place in Chernarus, a fictional country from the former soviet block, in the year 2009.

"ArmA 2 is set in the near future, year 2009, in a fictional post soviet country called Chernarus. Players will be sent as members of a United States Marine Corps Force Recon squad to this country to prevent further civilian casualties and ensure ongoing stability there."

While they didn't announce a publisher for ArmA 2 yet, Bohemia Interactive are hoping to release it during 2008. Until then, the ArmA: Queen's Gambit add-on should come out next month.

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Since Germany is the Gothic series' land of birth, it was natural for this year's GC to once again bring some sort of news about it. If you remember from back in spring, the relationship between JoWooD and the series' original creators from Piranha Bytes fell apart, with the latter losing the right to develop the next chapter, Gothic 4 (story). Even though, as they claim, "Gothic" remains a registered trademark of Pluto 13 / Piranha Bytes (story).

Well, now JoWooD announces that the studio who will take over the grim task of making the Gothic 4 sequel is Spellbound Entertainment. Their most recent project was Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge, and currently they are also working on an enhanced, expanded and delayed version, called Helldorado (previously Desperados 2: Conspiracy).

JoWooD's communique contains nothing specific about Gothic 4, unfortunately, simply listing some completely irrelevant marketing blah-blah, which supposedly led them to choosing Spellbound. We don't expect to see any images from the game, either, for quite a while, and the first estimate release date will only be announced in a few weeks from now. Along with the traditional PC, Gothic 4 is also set to launch on "current gen consoles", yet to be specified.

Meanwhile, the folks from Piranha Bytes are hard at work on a new game (role-playing, I assume), together with their new main partner, Deep Silver (story).

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For all you Wii Tennis addicts (myself included), this week's Games Convention brought the best announcement imaginable: another Wii tennis game is in the making! Not that there's anything wrong with Nintendo's gameling from the Wii Sports package, but a bit more complexity surely wouldn't hurt. And seeing how this new game is called Top Spin Tennis, it will of course be published under Take-Two's 2K Sports brand, in the spring of 2008 they say. Top Spin Tennis is jointly developed by 2K's Paris studio PAM Development and 2K Shanghai. Here's how it will play like:

"Top Spin Tennis features fun, flawless tennis action and the most real life tennis experience to date for the Wii. The intuitive pick-up-and-play action in Top Spin Tennis allows gamers to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers in a way that matches the movements players would make on a real court. The Nunchuk controls the player and aim, while the vibration-enabled Wii Remote hits the ball like a tennis racquet and determines the style of shot ranging from a top spin move to a slice. The Wii Remote also allows players to control the power and the quality of the shot and to serve in many different ways."

With a more complex control scheme, also come more complex game modes, ranging from singles, doubles, mixed and non-mixed matches, to exhibition, tournament and a collection of "party games", with four levels of difficulty and ten international venues. Adding to that, will be over a dozen licensed tennis stars, as well as ten original characters. And, naturally, the maximum number of players will be set to four - each with his own set of controllers. Just waiting for the first media to show up now...

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GC 2007 - 10tacle Announces Totems For PC, Xbox 360

Another interesting project announced by 10tacle at the Leipzig GC is Totems, set to launch in 2008 on PC and Xbox 360. "Interesting" not not only because of its game concept, vaguely inspired by the urban sport "Parkour", but also because of the developing team: 10tacle Studios Belgium. This is in fact the former Elsewhere Entertainment, founded by some of the Outcast creators, who once upon a time was working on an even more interesting game, Symbiosis. Sadly, Symbiosis still seems to be missing in action, however the technology developed by Elsewhere / 10tacle Belgium - called NeoReality Engine - is the one powering the newly announced Totems.

This is described as a super-heroic action-adventure game, with tactical elements that let the player magically transform the world and story to their own style and skill. Played from a third-person perspective, Totems will offer non-linear gameplay in a highly interactive environment, thanks to the SESS system (Semantic Environment Sensing System). The first images can now be found in the local gallery.

And since I doubt we'll be talking about any of the other games shown by 10tacle Studios in Leipzig, I'll settle with just listing them below:

- Codename Panzers: Cold War (PC)

- Black Prophecy (PC) - see our previous story

- Ready2Rumble: Revolution (Wii)

- Boulder Dash: Rocks (PSP, DS)

- Happy Hippos World Tour (PC, DS)

- Panzer Tactics DS (DS)

- Jack Keane (PC)

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One of the new titles included on 10tacle Studios' games line-up for the Leipzig GC 2007 is Black Prophecy, a space Action-MMO they insisted to keep shrouded in secrecy, until this week. And no wonder, since this seems to be the most important addition to the Germans' catalogue, which previously also included titles such as Codename Panzers: Cold War or Elveon (a project introduced at GC 2005, but which seems to be coming along very slowly).

The developer behind Black Prophecy is the German studio Reakktor Media, a name synonymous with Neocron, another futuristic MMO universe. Unlike that one, Black Prophecy will move the action to outer space, promising to deliver cinema-quality space battles. In order to back up their claims, the devs are offering the first images from the game, indeed pleasant to look at, and the following starting scenario:

"By the mid 26th century humanity has conquered the universe and colonized countless planets. Yet life in space requires a great deal of adaptation. Bred for just these conditions, the cybernetically adapted Tyi and the biogenetically optimized Geniden have outgrown their creators to become the new ruling races. Their uncompromising battle for total mastery of space leads humanity into the sphere of influence of an ancient alien life form - a life form which tolerates no other cosmic civilizations but its own. In this battle against an overpowering enemy, players must first choose which of the two rival factions they wish to join as they try to save humanity."

Aside from the space battles fought either for the sake of PvP, or to complete solitary missions, Black Prophecy will also feature role-playing elements, a resource-management system, and of course various ways to "socialize" online, by joining clans (who can have their own space station) or fleets dedicated to political battles.

The game is planned for release in late 2008, and those who want to learn more about it are invited to drop by the Black Prophecy website.

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Warhammer: Battle March Expansion On PC, And Also Xbox 360

The expansion of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos was predicted by the Hungarians at Black Hole Entertainment ever since February, and this month another rumour was hinting at a migration towards the Xbox 360 console, after the same title briefly appeared on the USK website (Germany's games rating system), listed not only for PC, but also for Xbox 360. Eventually, both things came true, after Namco Bandai recently announced the Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March expansion for PC (screenshots), and the Warhammer: Battle March game for Xbox 360 (other screenshots).

Basically, it's one and the same thing, since the Xbox 360 version includes the Battle March expansion, as well as the original content from Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. The number of playable armies will therefore rise to six: Empire, Chaos, Skaven and High Elves from W:MoC, along with the new factions Dark Elves and Orcs & Goblins. At the same time, the original armies will be reinforced with new units, and the single-player campaign will be continued with a new chapter:

"Players will be able to experience the mysterious sorcery of the Dark Elves and the savage brutality of the Orcs and Goblins in an all-new chapter of the game's single-player campaign as they battle to overcome an invasion by the armies of Chaos."

So, a pretty classic recipe for the PC expansion. As for the Xbox 360 debut of the Warhammer universe, it will of course come with the usual interface adaptations for control via a gamepad, and multiplayer modes for up to four players on Xbox Live:

"Placing the focus of gameplay on combat and tactics rather than tedious resource management, Warhammer: Battle March on the Xbox 360 features two control schemes for both master battlefield tacticians and novice warriors that offer full control over all aspects of the player's army. On Xbox LIVE, up to four players can engage in massive multi-army clashes in head-to-head and team-based modes of play."

Warhammer: Battle March should be out, in both versions, at some point in 2008.

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GC 2007 - Epic Acquires People Can Fly, Readies New Game

A new game, born from Epic Games' collaboration with People Can Fly, is about to be revealed these days at the Leipzig GC. A collaboration that began last year and evolved so well, that Epic announced today they acquired a majority stake in the Polish studio, creator of the Painkiller franchise. The reaction shown by Adrian Chmielarz, creative director and co-owner of People Can Fly, was pretty much ecstatic:

"We are very excited to be working with Epic Games. To be able to work with the best technology company in the business and collaborate on making amazing fantastic games is an offer you just can't refuse. Making games is hard work but it is also great fun. Working with Epic reduces the stress of being an independent developer and lets us focus even more on fun side of the business."

It all began last year, when the Polish were evaluating the Unreal Engine 3 technology for a new multi-platform game project. The demos they put together within only a few weeks totally blew away the folks at Epic, so they decided to tighten their relationship with People Can Fly, hiring them to work on... ta-daaa... the PC version of Gears of War! (a version that was still a rumour back then)

We don't know precisely how deep they are involved in this porting, but from what Michael Capps (president of Epic Games) had to say, it seems that People Can Fly are working on new multiplayer maps for Gears of War on PC. And, as I was saying earlier, the two companies are collaborating on a completely new intellectual property, which will be previewed privately by Epic this week, at the Leipzig Games Convention.

Unreal Tournament + Gears of War + Painkiller? That's one hell of an explosive recipe!

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