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Shippin' Out December 11-14: Universe at War, NCAA March Madness 08

Headliners join PS3 shooter trifecta Orange Box, Unreal Tournament 3, and BlackSite: Area 51; Arkadian Heroes, GripShift hit 360, Pokemon Snap, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Baseball Stars 2 on Wii VC.


After the industry worked itself into a tizzy in November, the last few weeks' release schedules have been almost unbearably placid. This week, however, a number of high-profile games arrive for console and PC gamers, led for many by Sega and Petroglyph's Universe at War: Earth Assault for the PC. Created by the studio behind the critically acclaimed Star Wars: Empire at War, Universe at War features action-oriented real-time strategy as Earth makes its last stand against an alien invasion. An Xbox 360 version of the game is planned for next year and will support cross-platform play. Rated T for Teen, Universe at War will invade retail and Valve's digital-distribution network Steam for $49.99.

The PlayStation 3 catches up on its first-person shooter intake this week, with a trio of multiplatform games arriving for Sony's console. Valve's The Orange Box, which comprises the original Half-Life 2, its first two episodes, the multiplayer-centric Team Fortress 2, and the FPS puzzler Portal, has been met with glowing critical reception on the Xbox 360 and PC and has been lauded as one of the best deals of the year. Midway will be contributing the other two shooters. Though the publisher was skeptical of its arrival, Epic Games has delivered Unreal Tournament 3 just before its self-imposed 2007 deadline. BlackSite: Area 51, which sparked controversy soon after it was released for the PC and Xbox 360, also touches down this week.

While the real world won't be lacing up for its annual college-hoops tourney for another four months, EA is getting in the game early with NCAA March Madness 08. Available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360, March Madness 08 features more than 70 classic teams and incorporates the new dynamic post control, which EA hopes will add a real-life feel to dozens of new offensive post moves.

Wanako Studios, the studio behind last year's Assault Heroes, will be releasing its Diablo-inspired dungeon crawler Arkadian Warriors on Xbox Live Marketplace this Wednesday for 800 Microsoft points ($10). Joining the hack-and-slasher will be what developer Sidhe Interactive calls the "definitive" version of its hot-rod puzzler GripShift, which has previously seen release on the PS3 and PSP. The game features new single- and multiplayer content, a deathmatch mode, and leaderboards and can be downloaded for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

In addition to photo sharing and game-gifting functionality, the Wii's Virtual Console has been updated with a trifecta of downloadable titles this week. Pokemon Snap, which first saw release on the Nintendo 64 in 1999, is available for 1,000 Wii points ($10), while the Nintendo Entertainment System version of notoriously devilish Ghosts 'n Goblins arrives for 500 Wii points ($5). NeoGeo classic Baseball Stars 2 is also available this week for 900 Wii points ($9).

This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).

DECEMBER 10, 2007
Baseball Stars 2 (Wii VC)
BlackSite: Area 51 (PS3)
Ghosts 'n Goblins (Wii VC)
P-38 Lightning (PC)
Pokemon Snap (Wii VC)
Popcap Arcade Volume 1 (X360)
PopCap Hits Volume 1 (PS2)
The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure (PC)
Universe at War: Earth Assault (PC)
Warriors of the Lost Empire (PSP)

DECEMBER 11, 2007
Dai Senryaku VII: Exceed (PS2)
Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge (DS)
NCAA March Madness 08 (PS3, PS2, X360)
Showtime Championship Boxing (Wii)
Super Swing Golf Season 2 (Wii)
The Orange Box (PS3)
Unreal Tournament 3 (PS3)
Winter Sports: The Ultimate Challenge (Wii)

DECEMBER 12, 2007
Arkadian Warriors (X360)
GripShift (X360)

DECEMBER 13, 2007
No releases announced.

DECEMBER 14, 2007
Indianapolis 500 Legends (Wii)
Kawasaki 4X4 Quad Bikes (Wii)
The Golden Compass (PC)

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