Microsoft Releases E3 Lineup

Titles include Flight Simulator, the sequel to Close Combat, and Baseball 3D.

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Computing monolith Microsoft just released its game lineup for E3: Six CD-ROM games are expected, including Flight Simulator 98, Age of Empires, and CART Precision Racing. All are due in stores this fall and winter. At the show, Microsoft also plans to preview new games due next spring: the first-person shooter/real-time strategy title Anarchy; third-person action game OutWars; and run-and-gun action game Riot.

Flight Simulator 98 is the latest version of Microsoft's best-selling civilian flight simulation and flagship title. This is the fifteenth year edition, which takes advantage of MMX and 3-D acceleration, force feedback technologies, and multiplayer options. Enhancements to the game include accurate flight models that were approved by Cessna and Learjet, new aircraft such as the Learjet 45, Cessna 182 Skylane, and the Bell 206 helicopter - and about 3000 airports and 45 cities (including a new photo-realistic version of Hong Kong).

Microsoft CART Precision Racing is an Indy car racing title that has been officially licensed by Championship Auto Racing Teams. It was tested by engineers and modeled for precise elevation and widths of CART tracks, and it's being made available for Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone. It also supports force feedback technology.

Microsoft's Age of Empires is one of two strategy titles being shown - it's an epic spanning 10,000 years and allows players to guide the evolution of a Stone Age tribe. They can choose from 12 different tribes, including the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, and turn them into great civilizations. The game was developed by Ensemble Studios, with the participation of Bruce Shelley, who codesigned Civilization.

The other strategy title is Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far, the sequel to 1996's wargame from Atomic Games. The follow-up puts gamers into a dynamic battlefield, making them choose between commanding either the Axis or Allied powers in a struggle to control five bridges during World War II. Players must race against time while maintaining their battlefield resources.

Microsoft Baseball 3D offers Major League Baseball realism, including moves like Greg Maddux's change-up and Ken Griffey Jr.'s home run strut. It also boasts gameplay affected by ball velocity, spin, gravity, weather, and wind. All the Major League players are included, plus teams and ballparks.

The Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection features ten brain teasers from the creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov; all were produced by Mir Dialogue.

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