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Video Game Releases: Week of May 31

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Get even closer to your virtual self this week, as the second expansion pack for the Sims 3 is released, The Sims 3 Ambitions. The expansion should be available on June 1 and makes the days of watching your Sim disappear to work, only to return hungry and tired eight hours later, simply a memory.

The Sims 3 Ambitions will let you follow your Sim through their usual, but unique, workday. In an interview with Gamespot, assistant producer Grant Rodiek describes how gameplay is tied to the new professions of Ambitions.

The Sims 3 Ambitions adds new professions, including firefighter and ghost hunter, adding gameplay to the otherwise fast-forwarded workday. Photos courtesy of thesims3.com

“Firefighters need to develop relationships and maintain their equipment while at the firehouse,” Rodiek said. “But as soon as that alarm rings, they need to get to the fire, clear rubble piles, carry out children, stop gas leaks, put out the flames, and be the hero. Your town may fall victim to small fires, huge infernos, and even earthquakes.”

Along with the ability to control your Sim during work hours, Sims 3 players will also notice changes to the base version of the game, including new traits and skills, and a tattoo system, a host of new career paths and the swampy neighborhood of Twinbrook.

Both the Sims 3 and its first expansion, The Sims 3: World Adventures, have received positive scores from both Gamerankings and Metacritic, with both games scoring in the mid-80s.

For the 2009 calendar year, both games also appeared on the top ten list of top-selling retail PC games in the United States, with the Sims 3 snatching first place and World Adventures taking seventh, as reported by the NPD Group.

While PC owners might be busy hunting ghosts or putting out fires in The Sims 3 Ambitions, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 owners see a few new releases heading their way. Most notably are a new RPG and shooter hybrid by Obsidian Entertainment and an in-your-face arcade-style football game that tries to steal the football throne.

Alpha Protocol is the next title coming from Obsidian Entertainment – the creative minds behind Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Neverwinter Nights 2. The next project for Obsidian Entertainment is Fallout: New Vegas, a spin-off to the multiple Game of the Year award winner, Fallout 3.

Players can become more proficient in the use of hand-to-hand combat, firearms or spy gadgets. Photo courtesy of Gamepro.com

Looking to mesh RPG-style interaction and multiple storyline paths with third-person shooter gameplay, Alpha Protocol throws gamers into a world of deep customization and interaction, and one that gamers can experience come June 1.

Whether players want to hone their spy skills using stealth and gadgets, or choose to complete their missions with guns blazing, Alpha Protocol lets players choose their own path, improving and tweaking their character as they see fit.

First-person shooter fans will be happy to see the release of the Call of Duty: The War Collection this week. The package includes Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War, all for the price of $60. The bundle is expected to hit shelves on June 1 and is only available for the Xbox 360.

Gamers that happened to miss any of these blockbuster titles should be sure to check out The War Collection. The bundle features historical background and battles from World War II and the Normandy Breakout – and overall, gamers get to see what the Call of Duty franchise was all about before today’s modern hit, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Backbreaker is this week’s sleeper hit of the week. Long-time fans of Madden might not feel at home , as Backbreaker puts players in the helmet of their squad, making gameplay as close to the real thing as possible. The bone-crushing, 11-on-11 action starts on June 1.

There's no bird's eye view here; Backbreaker puts the player right into the action with an over the shoulder perspective. Photo courtesy of backbreakergame.com

Backbreaker features more than 60 original teams that are fully customizable, along with an in-depth logo creator.

The real highlight of Backbreaker isn’t what’s on the field; it is what’s behind the scenes. The game uses the Euphoria animation engine, created by NaturalMotion, also the developer of the game.

Using Dynamic Motion Synthesis, physical interactions such as tackles are determined on the fly, instead of relying on canned and static animations:  “DMS is instead based on a full simulation of the 3D character, including body, muscles and motor nervous system,” the NaturalMotion website states. “This creates fully interactive animations that act and react differently every time.”

Notable games that have also used the Euphoria engine include Grand Theft Auto IV, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Red Dead Redemption.

If you’re scanning this article before the release date of the games below, make sure to check out Amazon’s and Gamestop’s websites. The sites frequently offer competing bonuses, goodies and free gift cards or coupons for pre-ordering games.

The full list of releases is listed below for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo Wii, PSP, Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS; although releases are still subject to change at any time. Check back next week for more promotional offers and game releases.

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Week of May 31, 2010

The Sims 3 Ambitions – PC

Alpha Protocol – Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC

  • $10 credit at Amazon.com
  • A coupon code for $10 off a future order at Gamestop, as well as an Gamestop Exclusive Assault Pack

Call of Duty: The War Collection – Xbox 360

Backbreaker Football – Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Line Attack Heroes – Nintendo Wii

Pure Futbol – Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

Tetris Party Deluxe – Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS

Record of Agarest War – Xbox 360

Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow – Playstation 2

Deadtime Stories – PC

Jumpstart Get Moving Family Fitness Wii – Nintendo Wii

Bicycle Solitaire (Jewel Case) – PC

Bicycle Blackjack (Jewel Case) – PC

Bicycle Totally Cool Card Games (Jewel Case) – PC

Bicycle Family Card Games – PC

Prince of Persia (Jewel Case) – PC

America’s Next Top Model – Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS

Farm Frenzy: Animal Country – Nintendo DS

Bass Pro Shops: The Hunt with Precision Pointer – Nintendo Wii

Bass Pro Shops: The Hunt – Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii

Wizardology – Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PC

Dragonology – Nintendo DS and PC

PSP Tilt FX – PSP