Midway rolls next-gen dice in Vegas

At its 2007 Gamers' Day, the publisher holds up Stranglehold, Unreal Tournament III, and Blacksite: Area 51 as the fruits of its massive investment in new technology.

LAS VEGAS--Walking through the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, one must navigate a series of Plexiglas cases holding various music-celebrities' outfits. Some are iconic, such as the light-blue tracksuit and polka-dotted outfit worn by Eminem and Elton John, respectively, during their infamous embrace at the 2001 Grammy Awards. Others, like Lita Ford's fishnet-and-leather thong and Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine's studded jacket, are more amusing than awe-inspiring.

The latter two numbers sit outside the entrance of The Joint, the Hard Rock's main auditorium--and the site of the 2007 Midway Gamers' Day. On Thursday evening, more than 100 journalists and analysts gathered in the front of the venue, whose front was hidden by a massive red curtain. After the crowd had quaffed the appropriate number of cocktails, the curtain dropped, and the crowd was gently herded onto several rows of narrow chairs below the logo-bedecked stage.

Harvey Smith, the creative director of Midway's Austin studio, kicked off the night's proceedings by officially announcing BlackSite: Area 51, the existence of which had been known of unofficially for some time. The latest installment in the console series inspired by the arcade light-gun classic, BlackSite is a pseudo-sequel to the 2004 shooter Area 51 (PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2). Perhaps as a result of that game's lackluster reception, Smith focused on the care that Midway-Austin is taking in crafting BlackSite. The game is using the same "Massive D" technology as Stranglehold to create destructible environments. Also, Gears of War writer Susan O'Connor is penning the game's storyline, which focuses on a squad of soldiers stopping an alien invasion.

After a very Gears of War-esque trailer for BlackSite, Reilly Brennan, Midway's vice president of media relations, introduced Jeff Anderson, president and CEO of Turbine, Inc. He announced the release date of Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Agmar, which Midway will publish for the PC on April 24. An open beta for the game will also take place during that month.

Paraphrasing Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien, Anderson said the massively multiplayer online role-playing game would be the "one game to rule them all." To help Shadows of Angmar challenge the current ruler of the MMORPG space, World of Warcraft, Turbine will offer those who preorder the game two "founder" subscription options not available to anyone else. "Founders" can either pay $9.99 a month (versus $14.99 for regular subscribers) or pay a one-time $199 fee for a lifetime subscription.

Anderson also emphasized Lord of the Rings Online's community-building features. The game will feature an in-game blog, where players can write about their experiences, and a wikipedia that will let players write their own encyclopedic instruction manual. He also revealed that, in addition to the many in-game minigames being included, Google Maps will feature a map of Middle-earth, allowing players to zoom in on locations when planning their treks to Mordor.

Following a trailer for LOTR online--which highlighted the fact that players can choose either the side of good or the side of evil--executive producer Mark Caldwell took the stage to introduce an all-new title. That would be Hour of Victory, a new entry in the Xbox 360 World War II shooter market, which has so far been dominated by Call of Duty 2 and 3. But while those games focused on multi-men skirmishes, Hour of Victory will be more about individual adventure. "It's an Indiana Jones approach, versus a Saving Private Ryan approach," he told the crowd.

Following a trailer for Hour of Victory, Midway CEO and president David Zucker took the stage to give an assessment of Midway's fortunes. He said 2006 was a good year for the publisher, which enjoyed the highest revenue growth in the fourth quarter since 1994. He said this was largely due to the popularity of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, which hit PlayStation 2s and Xboxes last October.

However, the gist of Zucker's speech was Midway's plan for gaming's newest platforms, the formerly next-generation consoles. He announced that Midway has spent upward of $100 million in building an in-house development team of 700 employees, almost all of which are focused on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii development--as well as the PC. "Our plan has been to revitalize Midway by succeeding on new consoles," he told the crowd.

To demonstrate his point, Zucker made reference to Hour of Victory and BlackSite: Area 51. He also trotted out some spruced-up old footage to promote two new Xbox 360 and PS3 games. First up was a reworked version of a December promo clip for TNA Impact! Previously slated for a 2007 release, the forthcoming game based on the extreme--and apparently dyslexic--wrestling federation is now due in 2008 and is in development at Midway's Los Angeles studio. A short demo of the Xbox 360 version was on the show floor.

Then Zucker rolled out an extended version of the E3 2006 trailer for The Wheelman, the film-game crossover project executive-produced by and starring The Fast and the Furious' Vin Diesel. Speaking to GameSpot after the presentation, Zucker said that the game was sill set to ship in 2007 but that the film hadn't begun active preproduction.

While Midway's emphasis was on the latest batch of consoles, it also revealed two new games for current-generation portables. First up was Touchmaster DS, a DS game based on Midway's popular line of touch-screen trivia and puzzle game machines that dot bars nationwide. The title will feature 23 minigames, including mahjong and puzzle titles.

Also unveiled was Hot Brain, a PlayStation Portable game that is Midway's attempt to cash in on the brain-training game craze. The game will feature logic, memory, math, language, and concentration challenges designed to perplex the feebleminded. Though it bears the unfortunate tag "Fire up your mind," the game does have a grade-A B-list celebrity host in the form of Best in Show and For Your Consideration star Fred Willard.

Next to take the stage was Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. Oozing the self-confidence that comes with selling 3 million copies of Gears of War in less than three months, the executive was on hand to announce that Unreal Tournament 2007 was being retitled. Its new name, Unreal Tournament III, is designed to underline the fact that it is "the next generation of the Unreal franchise, based on the Unreal 3 engine," according to Rein.

Then, the executive casually dropped the biggest bombshell of the night--that Unreal Tournament III was coming to the Xbox 360. "The 360 is a platform that we've had a little bit of success on," he joked. Though not totally unexpected, the announcement signaled the loss of another game Sony once touted as PS3 exclusive, although the title was always coming to the PC. The PC version of the game was playable on the show floor and appeared to impress almost everyone who played it.

Next up was Midway Studios-Chicago creative director Ed Boon to put the Wii edition of Mortal Kombat through its paces. Via a prerecorded video in which he starred, Boon showed off the various Wii Remote moves that can deliver in-game fatalities "more easily than ever before." Some swordlike motions looked particularly satisfying, and the demo drew the most applause of the night.

Last but definitely not least, Midway creative director Brian Eddy showed up to show off Stranglehold, the game sequel to John Woo's groundbreaking 1992 Hong Kong action movie Hard Boiled. Eddy showed off the first new demo of the game since E3 last year, guiding a virtual version of Inspector Tequila, played by Hard Boiled star Chow Yun-Fat, through a blistering gunfight in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Eddy then explained several of Tequila's signature moves, which the developers are calling "tequila bombs." Three moves were shown performed in Max Payne-esque slow-motion sessions: one-shot kills, barrages, and a 360-degree spin attack.

Following a pair of featurettes that showed the making of Stranglehold, which is due out later this year, the lights came up. The audience then descended on an open bar, on an ample buffet, and around two dozen demo stations like a pack of alcoholic, starving, game-crazed wolves. The consensus among the audience was that Midway gave a solid presentation. Cradling a tumbler filled with ice and an amber liquor of indeterminate origin, Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter gave a direct assessment of the evening. "I was pretty impressed," he told GameSpot.

Written By

Want the latest news about The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria?

The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria

The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria

Discussion

88 comments
MortalDedalus
MortalDedalus

PS3 Has titles but still too me is not worth the extra money because none of those games really interest me enough to spend a the money that it would cost me to play these titles....and come on sony lack of rumble support and the lack of internet enjoyment to me seems like the only reason playstation is a contender is because of loyalty rather than the best actual overall system

poliveto
poliveto

PS3 has no games? PS3 has no exclusives? Playstation 3 Exclusive Titles: -Afrika (Confirmed) -Angel Rings (Published by Sony) -Coded Arms Assault (Confirmation) -Devil May Cry 4 (Confirmation) -Eight days (SCE) -EyeDentify (Published by Sony) -Fifth Phantom Saga (Confirmation) -Final Fantasy XIII (Confirmed) -Final Fantasy Versus XIII (Confirmed) -Formula One (Published by Sony) -Full Auto 2: Battlelines (Confirmation) -Genji: Days of the Blade (Confirmation) -Gradius (Confirmation) -Grand Turismo 5 (Published by Sony) -Grand Turismo HD (Published by Sony) -Gretzky NHL (Published by Sony) -Heavenly Sword (Published by Sony) -Hot Shots Golf 5 (Published by Sony) -Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (Published by Sony) -Killzone 3 (SCE) -Lair (Confirmation) -Metal Gear Solid 4 (Confirmation) -Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam World (Confirmed) -Monster Hunter 3 (Confirmation) -Monster Kingdom (Published by Sony) -Motor Storm (Published by Sony) -Naughty Dog (Working Title)(SCE) -Ni-Oh (Information) -Ratchet and Clank 5 (Published by Sony) -Redwood Falls (Information) -Resistance: Fall of Man (Confirmation) -Ridge Racer 7 (Confirmation) -Shin Megami Tensei (Confirmation) -Tekken 6 (Confirmed) -The Eye of Judgment (Working title)(SCE) -The Getaway (SCE) -Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (SCE) -WarDevil Enigma (Confirmation) -Warhawk (Published by Sony) -White Knight Story -Wizardry (Information) Did I forget one? Oh yea, SOCOM. Check out this list of games on their way to the PS3: http://ps3.ign.com/index/release.html?RSSwhen2007-01-29_000100&RSSid=743035

henry_the_horse
henry_the_horse

You'll never find smart articles like this on gamespot... http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15090 You'll never find smart articles like this on gamespot... http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15090 You'll never find smart articles like this on gamespot... http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15090 You'll never find smart articles like this on gamespot... http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15090 You'll never find smart articles like this on gamespot... http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=15090

funhabbit
funhabbit

Steve_FOX86 "I just wonder is the Wii capable of running the U3 engine cause we don`t really know what`s under the hood of the Wii" Yeah we do.A 729MHz CPU + 243MHz GPU. Wii is a Gamecube overclocked with more memory (still only around 90mb memory all together) in terms of processing. So there is no way in hell it could run the UT3 engine. Only 360 + PS3 have the necessary power to run the UT3 engine console wise

Warfust
Warfust

And another reason to pick up a 360! I'm going to have to pass on a few Wii games as I save up...

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

Looks like 2007 will be a great year for Midway and Gamers....

lvlUNE3B
lvlUNE3B

No cars ... No racing... :(

snarple_basic
snarple_basic

wiistation360 It means that sony wont be getting exclusive's. Its very very bad for sony.

ching01
ching01

Wow, this is looking to be a excellent year for a gamer.

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

hopefully UT3 is better than the UT 2003

Steve_FOX86
Steve_FOX86

I just wonder is the Wii capable of running the U3 engine cause we don`t really know what`s under the hood of the Wii.And with it`s 480p max res i think with some texture decrease the Wii would be capable of running the U3 engine that depends entirely on the Wii`s GPU wich is known only as Hollywood.

Chaos_crying
Chaos_crying

you know, I bet PC gaming would be doing better if video cards and **** didn't run me $400 to be able to play games like this.

damned_beast
damned_beast

with xbox live im surprised they didn't decide to go straight to the 360. but yes after gears, im pretty sure that convinced them

miiiguel
miiiguel

PS3 isn't an exclusives' console..., you got that allready...!

anarchicgoth
anarchicgoth

Stranglehold should be good- i loved the movie Hard Boiled - and UT 3 is finally confirmed for the 360! Plus Area 51- totally awesome!

just_an_opinion
just_an_opinion

it was just a matter of time! Unreal T. III on xbox 360, its just too good not too

ultrahle
ultrahle

Midway is on the verge of chapter 11 and this is their last hope to survive. Once again, this is the kind of game studio that we are gald to see it going.

Supreme_Fantasy
Supreme_Fantasy

Wow....I love this kind of game! Stranglehold rulez!

AwesomeIRL
AwesomeIRL

jakob_187, there's a fine line between internet journalism and 'paper' journalism

CapoX
CapoX

bring it on! :)

termadoyle
termadoyle

XBOX360>>>>>>>>PS3 was there EVER any doubt? the PS3 is the doom of SONY in gaming.

mc2k4
mc2k4

Show us next-gen MK, already!

Latinbro1
Latinbro1

PS3 gets hit with a jab, a hook, and spins full 360 as it crashes. it's unreal!

jakob_187
jakob_187

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

wiistation360
wiistation360

it looks like the ps3 will be getting 360 ports this gen

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

The only game that interests me is Stranglehold, but since I'm not a big multiplayer fan, I guess that was to be expected. But boy o boy, does Stranglehold look good or what. Considering how Xbox LIve has owned any online system Sony has tried to come up with, both for the PS 2 and the PS 3 so far, Midway would've been insane not to have some version of the UT to be available for the X360.

CyphenX
CyphenX

While I'm still sensing a lack of originality (every game there is based off of an existing IP, with the maybe-not-quite exception of Stranglehold) I was very impressed by Midway's presentation. Most of the games shown look to be shaping up very well, so kudos to Midway. oh, and W0OT!!! UT on 360! Take that Sony!

The_Tay-Man
The_Tay-Man

Consoles = Money, Dam Producers are brushing PC to the side :|

nenoneno
nenoneno

soooooooo i got the XBOX360 and the PS3, .....a............aaaaaaaa. ..... is there a reason to keep my PS3? . . . Final Fantasy and Metal Gear are the only ones left on it?!?!!??!?! . . . or are they? ;) lol

KillaHalo2o9
KillaHalo2o9

Wow another PS3 game gone at these rate XBOX360 will be the winner of the Console war:)

aznbenjiman
aznbenjiman

IN THE YEAR 2010 midway will be bought by ACTIVISION... cats will no longer ne afriad dogs... japan will have suffered from another godzilla attack... and the US will finally let North Korea eat their rice peacefully....

BounceDK
BounceDK

Midway sucks, Starforce loving !¤%&

G-Legend
G-Legend

Can't wait for UT3 on PS3 :D

dukerav
dukerav

Hmm Stranglehold and UT3 I'm definitely looking forward to, I'm not sure about the new Area-51 game. I mean it's about an alien invasion and follows a squad of soldiers as they try to stop it... sound like anything you guys have played ?

Dante2710
Dante2710

ohh goody, unreal for the 360, cant wait to get my hands on that game :D

xtremeg4m3r
xtremeg4m3r

unreal is also comin for ps3 and btw you guys are late.

AL13NK1LL3R
AL13NK1LL3R

uh oh watch out sony.. unreal is comin to 360.. :) looks like midway is goin have a good year!!!!

Euanp
Euanp

Wow, midway nice, i thought this company was dead! Not so...

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

VegetaMaelstrom "It could also blow Quake Wars: Enemy Territory to shreds. Time will tell." Yes, that's why Activision & Gray Matter needs to be very cautious of this, as they've delayed Quake Wars by about 6 months (my guess). UT3 might not be released in the 3rd quarter of this year or a lil bit later, so that should give the Quake Wars game some headway into getting fame upon release, but still... Some of you are saying that Midway is getting 2 be more prominient, but still it's not in the list of my fav publishers for now. They're still only releasing games based on old IPs, along with the common WWII shooter that could turn out bad. My fav publishers are: Microsoft, Ubisoft, Take-Two, THQ, Majesco (dunno about them now), Lucasarts, and Vivendi. I don't know about Eidos, but I like them a lot due to their games, and especially now that they're brushing off the mistakes of their past (annual Tomb Raider games, anyone?).

grayfox90
grayfox90

oh my god now even unreal on the xbox 360. what will sony do!!

aRE-you-AFraid
aRE-you-AFraid

Midway is really making it know that they will be a major publisher in the upcoming years.

zintarr
zintarr

Another Area 51 game...it could be good.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

the games listed are great..but i don't think any of them have enough to be awsome...except unreal

zsoujiro
zsoujiro

good for Midway, but I want the follow up to shaoling monks too.

Digital-Devil
Digital-Devil

ensignro Im a huge UT fan, im not some little noob, what i ment was "come out now" or "please hurry up", i've been playing UT since it came out and im working towards getting a job a Epic

mall69
mall69

Sony might have just forced midway's decision to also include the 360. Live is a huge success and with a game that's core mechanic is MP, how could you not include the 360. Sony' still hasn't developed, or even released any news about their online platform. Good news for 360 fans. Besides, with Unreal Championship and the Liandri Conflict being on the old xbox, Unreal III being a sony exclusive was simply wrong.