Midway Games Commits to Next Gen Gaming

LAS VEGAS–At what point does next generation become current generation? For Midway Games, they’re one and the same. The third-party publisher is now making all of its games for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the two “official” next gen machines, and they’ll continue to support Nintendo’s popular Wii.

Midway President and CEO David Zucker said the company has invested $100 million in internal development studios, which have over 700 employees, and their key focus is PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii games. The price tag for new next gen games is in the $10 million to $20 million and up range.

Midway showcased its 2007 line-up at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Playable on large plasma HD screens were Blacksite: Area 51, a pseudo-sequel to the Area 51 franchise; Hour of Victor, a first-person WWII shooter with an arcade feel; John Woo’s Stranglehold, a videogame sequel to Woo’s Hard Boiled film with Chow Yun Fat reprising his role as Inspector Tequila; and Unreal Tournament III, the latest shooter from Gears of War developer Epic Games.

A new Wii version of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon was shown, and it makes fatalities and other special moves a snap (of the wrist) to perform. Video was shown from the new Vin Diesel videogame, The Wheelman, which ships this Christmas. A movie will follow from Paramount Pictures featuring the same characters. Midway also showed video of its new TNA Impact wrestling videogame, which won’t bow until 2008.

Midway, which has its arcade roots in action games, is clearly focusing on shooters for PS3 and Xbox 360. The visuals, as expected, are impressive on these new games. What I found most intriguing, and this was especially the case with Stranglehold, is how next gen games are blending Hollywood camera angles to bring gamers into the starring role of a big budget blockbuster. Watching a movie is one thing, starring in an original actioner is quite another. With all of the bells and whistles in the weapons department, it was the cinematic special moves that really separates Stranglehold from the crowd. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this game.

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