E3 06: Age of Reckoning running on Xbox 360

MMOG publisher shows off Warhammer Online behind closed doors--on Microsoft's next-gen console; 360 version not announced...yet?

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LOS ANGELES--Tucked away behind Sony's gigantic West Hall stand at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo is a Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning booth belonging to Mythic Entertainment. Visitors to the booth are being invited to get hands-on with the upcoming massively multiplayer online game, where they can check out one of the game's areas on live servers and play alongside members of the development team who are playing from the company's Virginia headquarters.

What none of these players have realized, though, is that one of the "green-skins" questing alongside them is being controlled by a player not armed with a mouse and keyboard, but with a wireless Xbox 360 controller. That player is in a closely guarded room to the rear of Mythic's booth.

To be clear, Mythic is not announcing an Xbox 360 version of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, but in what was purportedly a period of only six weeks, the developer has managed to get its game up and running on Microsoft's new console simply to prove that it can be done. Given the content of Bill Gates' "Live Anywhere" speech at Microsoft's pre-E3 conference, it seems that Mythic's timing could hardly have been better. To quote one of Mythic's senior staffers, "What Microsoft is talking about, here is a company that's doing it."

We had an opportunity to see the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning running alongside each other, and although the console demo lacked any kind of user interface, its widescreen, high-definition visuals were practically indistinguishable from those on the PC. Furthermore, the character on the Xbox 360 was interacting with PC players, and if it wasn't for the fact that one of the games was running on a huge TV rather than a monitor, it would be difficult to tell them apart.

Mythic says the work done optimizing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning for the Xbox 360 made the development team realize that they could use similar techniques in the PC game. So what started out as an experiment to get an MMO game running on a console has actually resulted in some improvements for the PC version.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is currently scheduled for release on the PC in the fall of 2007. Whether or not the game will ever see a release on the Xbox 360 or any other console remains to be seen, but one thing is certain--it's definitely a possibility.

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