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Release dates for some of the most anticipated games have begun to roll in and the pre-Christmas lineup has started to solidify. One thing’s for certain: this Christmas season is going to be fairly heavy on first-person shooters all vying for your cash.
The overwhelmingly popular Halo: Reach beta wrapped up on May 18th. It’s not as if you needed to hear Bungie’s announcement that 1,170,112 played the beta in its first 24 hours to realise that this title is going to be very hot property come release. A final release date has not yet been set in stone, with only the loose ’US Fall’ timeslot to go by at this stage (roughly Septermber 1st to November 30th in New Zealand), but the safe money is on the tail end of fall, conveniently in time for Christmas. Perhaps we’ll get something more concrete at E3.
In keeping with Activision’s new strategy of “annualising” its Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare: Black Ops has been pegged with a November 9th release date – just under a year after last year’s blockbuster Modern Warfare 2. However, it won’t be made by the same development team behind the Modern Warfare titles; instead it’s Treyarch Studios taking the reins this time around for the seventh title in the franchise. Treyarch is responsible for some of the slightly less popular, WWII titles in the Call of Duty back catalogue (Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War). Although little is currently known about the setting of Black
Ops, it’s believed Treyarch will finally get to take its first foray outside of a WWII setting. In particular, Cold War and  Vietnam settings have been rumoured.
The rivalry between Call of Duty and EA’s Medal of Honor series is no secret, especially with EA’s declaration earlier in the year that it wishes to reclaim the FPS crown from the game that’s currently ruling the roost. “I'm not saying it's going to happen tomorrow, but in the way that Activision sort of alternates sequels of Modern Warfare and Call of Duty and owns the leadership position in FPS, between Medal of Honor and Battlefield, I want it back,” said EA’s CEO John Riccitiello. The company is completely rebranding the Medal of Honor franchise, which has always played second fiddle to Call of Duty. For a start, the new-look Medal of Honor will also ditch the WWII setting, taking players instead to modern-day Afghanistan. Interestingly, EA followed up on Activision’s November 9th release date announcement for Black Ops by announcing that Medal of Honor will pre-empt its rival and release on October 15th.
Wii shooter fans won’t be left out, with SEGA’s Conduit 2 also slated for release within the vague US Fall period. Conduit 2 is a sequel to last year’s popular sci-fi shooter that brought a comprehensive online multiplayer component to the Wii. The title’s developer, High Voltage, contends it will focus more on the game’s story and art style this time around – elements criticised in the previous instalment. Conduit 2’s multiplayer component will feature a co-operative mode (Including a Gears of War Horde mode clone, ‘invasion‘) and it will support four-player split-screen play, both online and offline.

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