Dragon Age, new LOTR game due by April '09

EA reveals BioWare's long-in-development fantasy RPG, mystery Tolkien/Jackson-inspired title will arrive before the company's next fiscal year ends.


Buried in the passel of information in yesterday's Electronic Arts earnings announcement were two major news items for gamers with a penchant for fantasy. The first concerned Dragon Age, the all-new PC fantasy role-playing game announced in 2004 by BioWare, developer of Baldur's Gate, Jade Empire, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The following year, the famed Canadian studio announced Mass Effect, its Xbox 360-exclusive sci-fi RPG that was released last year to rave reviews.

But while the platinum-selling Mass Effect has been at the center of BioWare's PR efforts, Dragon Age has been largely invisible since a series of showings in 2004. Then, late last year, BioWare cofounders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk said it was already playable, albeit in limited form. Luckily, yesterday's EA post-earnings call by BioWare's new owner confirmed the game remains on track, and will arrive sometime during its next fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2008.

The EA call also brought welcome news for gamers who prefer more established pantheons of wizards, trolls, and orcs. As negotiations for the film version of The Hobbit drag on, the filmed version of the Lord of the Rings may be getting yet another game spin-off. Ten months after EA renewed its game license for the Rings films and 11 months after it put the open-world RPG The White Council on indefinite ice, CEO John Riccitello told analysts another game based on Peter Jackson's interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world is en route. The unidentified title is set for release sometime in EA's 2009 fiscal year, although it is unclear if it is an all-new title or The White Council.

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