NewsSpots: Civ IV, Lost Planet, Halo novel, XBL Solitaire

Firaxis dates its next expansion, Capcom readies PC demo of sci-fi shooter, Bungie writer pens Contact Harvest, Soltrio Solitaire headed to Live Arcade...with multiplayer.

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Civilization IV narrows Beyond the Sword release window
2K Games today announced a release date for the second expansion to its popular PC turn-based strategy game, Civilization IV. Beyond the Sword is expected in US retailers the week of July 23, with other countries receiving their copies at the end of July. The expansion focuses on adding content to the in-game time periods following the invention of gunpowder and will add 12 scenarios, 10 factions, and 16 leaders to the game.

Lost Planet PC demo arrives Tuesday
Capcom released its first Xbox 360 demo of Lost Planet some eight months before the game arrived in stores. PC players sold on the trial version of the sci-fi shooter for their systems won't have to exercise quite so much patience. Capcom has said it will release a downloadable demo of the PC Lost Planet worldwide this coming Tuesday, with the full version hitting stores in June.

New Halo novel focuses on first contact with Covenant
Science fiction publisher Tor Books (no relation to GameSpot editor Tor Thorsen) today announced the latest installment in its lucrative line of Halo tie-in novels, Halo: Contact Harvest. Penned by Bungie lead writer Joseph Staten, Contact Harvest tells the story of humankind's first encounter with the Covenant through the eyes of Master Chief's own personal Yoda, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson. Staten's work should be considered canon, since he wrote and directed the cinematics for Halo and Halo 2. Contact Harvest will be released October 2 and will retail for $14.95. An audio version will also be available on CD for $29.95.

Soltrio Solitaire headed for Live Arcade
It's a commonly held belief that one is in fact the loneliest number, but Microsoft might help change that with the release of Silver Creek Entertainment's Soltrio Solitaire on the Xbox Live Arcade this Wednesday. While the game's roster of 18 different solitaire games includes support for solo players, it also includes two-player cooperative and competitive play modes, as well as support for the Live Vision Camera. Soltrio Solitaire will be available in all regions except for Korea for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

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