UK Shippin' Out May 23: Rock Band

Blighty finally gets Harmonix' multiperipheral rhythm game--but only on the 360; PS3s get Haze'd, and Age of Conan storms onto PCs.

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This week sees one of the biggest launch days in the year so far for UK gamers. Firstly, Brits will be at last able to get their hands on Rock Band, the musical game from EA that promises to make them and their mates feel like a proper rock band.

For its European customers, Harmonix has made the decision to split the game and the instruments at retail, and its pricing hasn't proved popular on this side of the pond. The Instrument Edition, which contains the three peripherals--a guitar, microphone, and drum kit--will sell for a recommended retail price of £129.99. The game itself will go for £49.99. Wireless guitars will be £59.99, and drum kits £69.99.

From now on, Rock Band downloadable content will be released simultaneously in the US and Europe, and the back catalogue of songs that have been available in the US is already online for Europe as well.

Trying to steal Harmonix's thunder, THQ's Battle of the Bands is going head-to-head against Rock Band by also being released this week. The Wii game combines music and warfare, as two gamers choose a music genre each and then battle to keep control of a song. There are five musical styles to choose from: rock, funk/hip-hop, country, marching band, and Latin. An arsenal of weaponry is not only permitted but encouraged, including sniper violins and flame-throwing guitars. There is also a single-player mode against an AI opponent. Battle of the Bands--which was previously called Band Mashups--will be £29.99.

Next up, the famous barbarian roars into the UK with Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. This massively multiplayer online role-playing game for the PC has been long awaited by fans. Developed by Funcom--the creator of Anarchy Online--it was revealed at the start of the week that a total of 700,000 copies of the fantasy game were due to rampage amongst the general public on release day. Preorders of the Collector's Edition have now completely sold out--despite a second print run to cope with demand, bringing the total to 110,000. However, those who fancy their chances can try getting to stores early--there are still some retail copies of the Collector's Edition available, said Funcom.

PlayStation 3 exclusive first-person shooter Haze will be gunning onto consoles today. From Free Radical--the developer of TimeSplitters--the game sees privatized soldiers use a drug called Nectar to enhance their combat abilities, unaware that it's also controlling their minds. Haze is priced at £49.99.

Adventure fans who haven't played The Secret Files: Tunguska on the PC when it was released back in 2006 can now give it a go on the Nintendo DS or Wii. The point-and-click adventure puts gamers in the shoes of feisty redheaded heroine Nina, as she investigates the disappearance of her father. This leads her to a further mystery--that of an event that occurred in 1908 in the Siberian region of Tunguska where an unexplained inferno turned everything to ashes. The Secret Files: Tunguska will be £29.99 on both the Wii and DS.

Earlier in the week, Nintendo's downloadable game service WiiWare launched in Europe with an initial offering of six games. These were: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (1,500 Wii points, £10.50), LostWinds (1,000 Wii points, £7), Dr. Mario & Germ Buster (1,000 Wii points, £7), Star Soldier R (800 Wii points, £5.60), Toki Tori (900 Wii points, £6.30), and TV Show King (1,000 Wii points, £7).

On Thursday, the PlayStation Network also got its weekly update, although it didn't add any new games. A batch of packs for Go!Explore on the PlayStation Portable became available, including ones for the UK and Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy, France, and Benelux. Bourne Conspiracy and Iron Man demos are also now up for grabs for free, along with a Korn video clip from Haze.

Not to be left out, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness stormed onto Xbox Live Marketplace this week. The two comic-strip characters Tycho Brahe and Jonathan "Gabe" Gabriel are running a detective agency called Startling Developments, and players join by customising a character. The duo's first episodic outing is more expensive than most Xbox Live Marketplace offerings at 1,600 Microsoft points (£13.60).

Another new addition is Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory to the Xbox Originals section. Like other Original titles, the game costs 1,200 Microsoft points (£10.20) to download. First released in 2005, the Ubisoft stealth action game takes players into the world of high-tech espionage.

MAY 23, 2008
Haze (PS3)
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (PC)
Rock Band (360)
Final Fantasy XI: Vana'diel Collection 2008 (360, PC)
Battle of the Bands (Wii)
The Secret Files: Tunguska (Wii, DS)
Mary King's Riding School (DS)
Fizz (DS)
Pirates: Duels on the High Seas (DS)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Game of the Year Edition (PS3)
Let's Ride: Silver Buckle Stables (PS2)
TrackMania United Forever (PC)

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