Metal Gear Online beta sneaking to Europe April 17

SCEE confirms major content update after two lean weeks; confirms revamped PS Store coming April 15.

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Yesterday, Sony Japan issued a release saying that the new and improved PlayStation Store would be coming April 15. It was assumed by many--but not officially confirmed at the time--that this was going to be a global launch, due to the nature and history of the store.

To remove any doubt, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has now reconfirmed that the "enhanced" PlayStation Store will indeed be coming on April 15.

It also had more good news for Europeans: On April 17, the first content update for two weeks will include the launch of Metal Gear Online Premiere Beta. The beta had already been confirmed for Japan, but those outside of the country had been left hanging.

The online beta will be running from April 21 to May 6 as an online multiplayer companion to Konami's highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which is due for release on June 12. Two maps will be available for testers to explore: Blood Bath and Groznyi Grad, each of which "requires unique strategies" for success. Up to 16 gamers are able to play together in each.

The full Metal Gear Online will be launched in the UK in June "as a starter pack" and will have five unique stages--three of which are not included in the beta--Ambush Alley, Urban Ultimatum, and Midtown Maelstrom.

In Ambush Alley, trenches and sandbags have been placed in an arena built for short- to medium-range combat, whereas Blood Bath will be a two-tier battle. Groznyi Grad will take place in the expansive Shagohod development complex that was in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where players can employ catapults to propel themselves to different parts of the environment. Midtown Maelstrom is set in some Middle Eastern alleyways that will feature in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, while Urban Ultimatum will take place on the rooftops.

The Metal Gear Online beta will also sport five different game modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture, Base, and Sneaking missions.

Also included in the April 17 PlayStation Network update will be Warhawk: Operation Broken Mirror and two sets of downloadable content for Lair: the Diabolical Dragons pack and Skyguard Upgrade pack. The latest Grand Theft Auto IV trailer will also be available, along with "a collection" of other trailers and a Sega Superstars Tennis demo.

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