Shippin' Out 11/27-12/1: Wii stealth, PC hobbits, portable pets

Gamers' wallets get a breather as the tide of AAA releases relaxes for a week; Sam Fisher sneaks onto the Wii, EA expands its Tolkien-inspired PC strategy game.

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The year isn't over yet. December will play host to big-name releases like Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the PSP and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the GameCube. But for now, gamers are going to get a tiny breather and a chance to catch up on whatever backlog of November releases they might have, because this week sees a sampling of interesting titles arriving in stores but few offerings that really stand out.

On the PC, real-time strategy gamers who enjoyed Electronic Arts' The Lord of the Rings, Battle for Middle-earth II can get a second helping of the game with the release of The Rise of the Witch-King expansion. The game takes place centuries before the events depicted in the recent Lord of the Rings films and puts players on the other side of the conflict, in command of the forces of evil.

The Wii gets a trio of postlaunch releases this week, led by Ubisoft's latest Sam Fisher adventure, Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Wii adaptations of the computer-animated films Barnyard and Open Season also arrive this week.

Over on the portable front, the theme of the week is all creatures great and small as a veritable menagerie of animal-themed titles hit shelves in the coming days. EA has The Sims 2: Pets for the PlayStation Portable, while the DS plays host to Hamsterz, Horsez, Catz, and even penguins with a rare game adaptation of an Academy Award-winning documentary, March of the Penguins.

This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).

NOVEMBER 28, 2006
Cartoon Network Racing (DS)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (Wii)
Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses (PS2)
Hard Rock Casino (PS2, PSP)
Mercury Meltdown Remix (PS2)
Online Chess Kingdoms (PSP)
The Sims 2: Pets (PSP)
Hamsterz Life (DS)
Horsez(DS)
Lionel Trains On Track (DS)
March of the Penguins (DS)
Totally Spies! 2: Undercover (DS)
Xiaolin Showdown (DS)
DMZ: North Korea (PC)
Model Train 3D (PC)
The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Rise of the Witch-King (PC)
Superman Returns: Fortress of Solitude (GBA)

NOVEMBER 30, 2006
Barnyard (Wii)
Open Season (Wii)
Catz (DS)

DECEMBER 1, 2006
Cartoon Network Racing (PS2)
Shrek Smash and Crash (PSP)
World Championship Poker: Featuring Howard Lederer - All In (Xbox 360)
Great Invasions (PC)
Harley-Davidson Motorcycles: Race to the Rally (PC)
Heroes of Annihilated Empires (PC)

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