Shippin' Out 8/14-18: Dirge of Cerberus, Ninety-Nine Nights

Final Fantasy spin-off and Ninety-Nine Nights cut through the fog of a front-loaded games week; DS gets triple dose of new releases.

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Though Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays are taking a hiatus this week, retail publishers still have a few key titles they hope will ameliorate the summer doldrums.

Square Enix's action-heavy spin-off to the 1997 role-playing classic Final Fantasy VII--a recent inductee into GameSpot's Greatest Games of All Time--will hit US stores tomorrow. Starring the elusive Vincent Valentine--a pistol-wielding character whom players may never have even seen in FFVII--combines first-person shooting with other action adventure elements for a title not focused on traditional Final Fantasy role-playing. For more on Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, check out GameSpot's impressions from the Japanese version of the game, which was released in January.

Though some of the early hype around the game has died down, Microsoft, Q Entertainment, and Phantagram still hope gamers are drawn to their Xbox 360 action game, which literally pits players against hundreds of onscreen enemies at once. The point-of-view-switching Ninety-Nine Nights plays similarly to games in the Dynasty Warriors and Kingdom Under Fire franchises, the latter also by Phantagram. For more on Ninety-Nine Nights, read GameSpot's review.

Nintendo's DS handheld is receiving a trio of games in distinctly separate genres. The first is Freedom Wings, a flight sim from Natsume and Taito, in which gamers don the role of a government pilot in the Air Patrol Association to rid the skies of pirates. Players can use the Nintendo DS stylus to maneuver their aircraft. Another, Konductra from O3 Entertainment and oeFun, is a puzzler in which players match colored tiles and can challenge other Konductra players either via a local or Internet wireless connection.

The last, Deep Labyrinth from Atlus and Interactive Brains, is a first-person role-playing game featuring both hack-and-slash dungeon-crawling and a memory-tangled backstory. Deep Labyrinth also has developmental ties to a few Square Enix RPGs--Chrono Trigger's and Final Fantasy XI's Masato Katou is working on Deep Labyrinth's scenarios, while acclaimed virtuoso Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross, Xenosaga) is composing its musical score. For more on Deep Labyrinth, check out GameSpot's most recent preview.

AUGUST 14
Civil Air Patrol Pilot Search and Rescue (PC)
DarkStar One (PC)
World Racing 2 (PC)

AUGUST 15
Backyard Baseball 2007 (PC)
D1 Grand Prix (PS2)
Deep Labyrinth (DS)
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2)
Freedom Wings (DS)
Games Explosion! (GBA)
Konductra (DS)
Ninety-Nine Nights (Xbox 360)
Payout Poker and Casino (PSP)
Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer (PS2)
Super Monkey Ball Adventure (PSP)
World Racing 2 (Xbox)
Xyanide (Xbox)

AUGUST 14 Civil Air Patrol Pilot Search and Rescue (PC) DarkStar One (PC) World Racing 2 (PC)

AUGUST 15 Backyard Baseball 2007 (PC) D1 Grand Prix (PS2) Deep Labyrinth (DS) Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2) Freedom Wings (DS) Games Explosion! (GBA) Konductra (DS) Ninety-Nine Nights (Xbox 360) Payout Poker & Casino (PSP) Pirates: The Legend of Black Buccaneer (PS2) Super Monkey Ball Adventure (PSP) World Racing 2 (Xbox) Xyanide (Xbox)

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