Shippin' Out March 24-28: Crisis Core, Kane's Wrath

Final Fantasy VII and Command & Conquer 3 revisited while Dark Sector and Viking lay foundations for potential franchises.

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March is often said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. In terms of new games, the month's early releases, such as God of War: Chains of Olympus and Army of Two, had the lion part covered. But looking at the expected arrivals for this final full week of March, it appears that the month will be going out pretty much the same way it came in.

The week kicks off with the latest installments in a pair of venerated franchises. First up is Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, the PlayStation Portable prequel to SquareSoft's landmark original PlayStation role-playing game. Players follow SOLDIER agent Zack Fair in a story that takes place seven years before Final Fantasy VII and sees the protagonist's path cross with those of many of the original game's familiar faces.

Meanwhile, PC gamers will get a chance to pick up the first expansion to Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, Kane's Wrath. The add-on includes 13 new missions and six new subfactions for the real-time strategy game, as well as a beta key for a trial of the upcoming Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

A handful of original intellectual properties are also debuting this week. Digital Extremes' Dark Sector, the very first game announced for the current generation of consoles, is finally coming out. The third-person action game puts players in control of a secret agent trying to unearth Cold War secrets in Eastern Europe with the help of a distinctive, bladed disc weapon.

Meanwhile, The Creative Assembly is branching out from its Total War franchise to try something new with Viking: Battle for Asgard. Published by Sega, the gory hack-and-slash game lets players rend opponents limb-from-limb while going toe-to-toe with all manner of nastiness culled from Norse mythology.

As for downloadable offerings, this week's Xbox Live Arcade new release is the puzzle game TiQal. Borrowing from the likes of Tetris and Lumines, Slapdash Games' TiQal challenges players to create colored squares by dropping a variety of differently shaped pieces onto an increasingly cramped playfield. TiQal will be available on Wednesday for 800 Microsoft points ($10). Original Xbox adventure game Dreamfall: The Longest Journey also finds its way to Xbox Live this week.

As for the Wii Virtual Console, it adds a pair of old-school offerings to its catalog with the Square shooter King's Knight for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Namco's futuristic sports game Powerball for the Genesis. In keeping with the standard prices for games from those systems, King's Knight costs 500 Wii points ($5), whereas Powerball is 800 Wii points ($8).

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

MARCH 24, 2008
Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (PC)
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
King's Knight (Wii VC)
Powerball (Wii VC)
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Xbox Originals)

MARCH 25, 2008
Dark Sector (Xbox 360, PS3)
Viking: Battle for Asgard (PS3, Xbox 360)
Universe at War: Earth Assault (Xbox 360)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 (PS2)
Octomania (Wii)
Opoona (Wii)
Obscure: The Aftermath (Wii, PS2, PC)
Australia Zoo Quest (PC)
Backyard Baseball 2009 (DS)
Harvest Moon DS Cute (DS)
Warriors Orochi (PSP)
Rebel Raiders: Operation Nighthawk (Wii)

MARCH 26, 2008
TiQal (Xbox Live Arcade)

MARCH 27, 2008
PlayStation Network release schedule not yet announced.

MARCH 28, 2008
No announced releases.

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