Midway Unveils Games for Fall Season

Midway wants to hook gamers this fall with three action shooters tailor-made for battle-hardened joystick warriors, and a little humorous mischief for electronic slackers, courtesy of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The longtime video-game publisher previewed "Unreal Tournament 3," "John Woo Presents Stranglehold," "BlackSite: Area 51" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am" at a preview party in New York last month.

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Shooter aficionados looking for fresh blood will find it in spades in the return of one of the genre's premier franchises in "Unreal Tournament 3."

This latest addition in the military/alien universe action series allows up to four players to compete against each other, collecting and protecting a series of tentacle orbs on a far-off world stocked with celestial palaces and rugged outdoor terrain.

Combatants can blast away at online opponents or large tentacle creatures with a wide variety of cannons. Some of their vehicles are familiar — tanks and hovercrafts — while others are more organic and resemble mechanized insects, such as a land rover shaped like a giant mantis and an attack aircraft that resembles a large beetle.

The 360-degree rotating action can be a little disorienting for the first-time user, but once you start getting in shots on your competition, it's hard to put the controller down.

Battle scenes inside the palaces are thrillingly claustrophobic as players are forced to find cover and react quickly to gunfire from opposing combatants and alien soldiers.

Players can spit cannon fire while zipping through low and high aerial assault sequences. There's even a hovering surfboard. The outdoor landscapes vary from urban centers to desert regions to heavily armed base camps.

The amazing graphics, visceral sound effects, exploding alien body parts and rapid pacing of the vehicle modes take the gameplay experience to new heights.

"Unreal Tournament 3" will be out for the PS3 and PC in November. An Xbox 360 version will follow early next year.

"John Woo Presents Stranglehold" is an exhilarating 3-D action shooter fashioned as a sequel to the legendary Hong Kong director's classic film "Hard Boiled."

Players control a 3-D figure of actor Chow Yun-Fat, as Woo's favorite gun-toting protagonist Inspector Tequila, through seven levels and a variety of settings including an open-air alleyway, a Chinese temple and a restaurant kitchen.

Woo contributed to the game's script and its overall look, which is one of the game's major strengths.

"Stranglehold" showcases colorful, cinematic scenes and a rotating 360-degree point of view, putting gamers in the middle of one of Woo's bullet-riddled, blood-soaked action ballets, complete with the director's trademark white doves.

Producers have styled "Stranglehold" with several fighting modes to bring Chow's trademark leaping volleys and rotating gun sequences to the game.

There's a sniper mode in which gamers zoom in on enemies and a barrage attack where the game action slows as the player fires in rapid motion while invulnerable to enemy shots. Each stylish kill earns the player stars that boost health.

Players will find only fleeting shelter from the hail of bullets behind chairs or tables, as the game features greater destructibility of the environment — random objects in the background sustain damage or fall over.

Fighters can use this to their advantage by leveling balconies and shelves onto the heads of opposing gunmen.

"John Woo Presents Stranglehold" is now available for the PC and Xbox 360; the PlayStation 3 edition goes on sale Oct. 29.

"BlackSite: Area 51" is the wildly fun addition to the "Area 51" franchise of military-monster shoot-em-up simulators. This round boasts exciting graphics, not-too-difficult gameplay and larger monsters of the Godzilla variety.

With a vast arsenal of weapons, gamers charge through seven chapters and 30 sections in single player or two-player co-op play. Up to 16 players can go online for competitive co-op.

As a military squad leader, the player's command of a varying number of self-operating soldiers is one of the game's highlights.

With a flick of a switch, fellow soldiers can be called upon to eliminate enemy targets the player has marked, or they can be sent ahead to scout for trouble.

Players, however, will want to savor as much of the fun for themselves while aiming their targeting scopes from the bay of an attack chopper or the turret of a military cruiser through battle zones in the Middle East and suburban, landscaped backyard patios in Nevada.

There's even a sniper hunt through a drive-in movie theater.

The backstory has been bolstered to pepper in bits of real-world scenarios. Our military unit discovers the new Area 51 facility in Baghdad.

Mike Jones, who worked on the production team, said that gamers will get little slices of political debate from all sides in the form of chatter among the squad and arguments from bystanders.

"BlackSite: Area 51" will be available for the 360, PS3 and PC on Nov. 5.

Those looking for more light-hearted fare will want to set their sights and thumbs on "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am," which takes television's favorite happy-meal heroes through a full course of combat, golf and cart racing infused with the absurdist humor that fans of the Cartoon Network series have come to love.

The show's creators helped create the game and insisted it feature amazing graphics and the latest technology, all of which are on display.

The usual side characters and villains — Carl, the Mooninites, the Brownie Monsters — make appearances, as do the trademark grunts, squeals and banter that make the series such a riot.

The game, only for the PlayStation 2, goes on sale Nov. 5.