Shippin' Out May 29-June 2: Half-Life 2: Episode One, Hitman: Blood Money

Valve brings its famous franchise into episodic territory, and Agent 47 looks to add to his greatest hits in a holiday-shortened week of releases.

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The summer movie season kicked off in a big way with the Memorial Day weekend opening of X-Men III: The Last Stand (which racked up almost $123 million over the four-day stretch). While the holiday may have shortened this week's release calendar a bit, there's still a small slate of new titles scheduled to hit shelves and hold gamers' collective attention span heading into the summer season of blockbuster movies.

The biggest release of the week has to be the long-anticipated Half-Life 2: Episode One, one of the first experiments in episodic content using a top-tier franchise. As the title suggests, Episode One is the first in a series of add-on packs for Valve's first-person shooter. It expands the series' focus beyond Gordon Freeman and features a more prominent role for the character of Alyx. The game will be available both in a boxed retail version and in a digitally distributed form over Valve Software's Steam service.

The next noteworthy title on offer this week is Eidos' Hitman: Blood Money. Developed by Io Interactive (Hitman, Freedom Fighters), Blood Money puts a new series of contract killings in front of the merciless Agent 47. For those interested but unsure about dropping the money to secure Agent 47's services, demos of the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game are readily available. Xbox 360 owners take note: Blood Money is the last 360 game set for retail release before it enters a GameCube-like state of hibernation for the month, with THQ's MotoGP 2006 being the only new release planned for June.

It's also a big week for Orbital Media, developer of the critically acclaimed Game Boy Advance title Racing Gears Advance. The company is continuing its support of the GBA with Juka and the Monophonic Menace, but it's also supporting the DS, with versions of Scurge: Hive releasing this week for both of Nintendo's portable formats.

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

May 30, 2006
Hitman: Blood Money (PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2)
Stacked (PC)
Soldier Elite (PC)
Miss Spider Harvest Time Flop and Fly (DS)

May 31, 2006
Puzzle Challenge: Crosswords & More (PS2, PSP)
Stacked (PS2, Xbox)
Backyard Baseball 2007 (GBA)

June 1, 2006
Half-Life 2: Episode One (PC)
Surrender? Nuts! (PC)
IHRA Sportsmen Edition (PC)
Scurge: Hive (DS, GBA)
Juka and the Monophonic Menace (GBA)

June 2, 2006
City Life (PC)

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