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Half-Life 2 to headline EA's Christmas console line-up

Latest Half-Life 2 title confirmed for PC, PS3 and 360 this year, plus news of a brand new Lord of the Rings RPG for autumn 2007, and intimate details of the publisher's Christmas offensive.

Electronic Arts will bring the next blockbuster instalment in the Half-Life series to next-generation consoles and PC simultaneously, and also has a new role-playing game based on The Lord of the Rings in development.

During a press-packed summer showcase in San Francisco last week, Valve Software - for which EA distributes product - revealed that Half-Life 2: Episode 2 would launch on PS2, Xbox 360 and PC simultaneously.

The publisher has since made it clear that it has not announced a release date, although Valve has asserted that the game will be released before the end of the year if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, the game previously known as Project Gray Company was confirmed as The Lord of the Rings: The White Council - an action RPG due out on next-gen formats in autumn 2007.

The news drove the absence of Medal of Honor: Airborne from EA's 2006 schedule - a recent sore spot - completely off the agenda, while the summer showcase also gave the publisher the opportunity to show off its latest sports games, film licences and next-generation visions of the Battlefield and Need For Speed franchises.

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is the second episode in Valve's trilogy of Half-Life 2 expansions - once dubbed "Half-Life 3" by the developer - and EA had been expected to distribute it.

However, the decision to release to console consumers in addition to its PC base has the potential to add significantly to EA's side of the deal.

The publisher had traditionally lost out on sales of the PC versions of Half-Life 2 games due to their availability through Valve's Steam digital distribution system. Valve compiles stats based on the service's use that have currently logged more than 1.6 million game sessions for Episode 1 alone.

Whether or not the title is released through next-gen console digital distribution models - and there's no indication either way - it will certainly be greeted as good news for EA by analysts.

This is not least because the console packages will be more complete than their PC counterparts - as well as Episode 2, consumers will receive Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 1 in the same bundle, along with much-delayed multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 and a new spin-off title, Portal.

Elsewhere, EA's interest in The Lord of the Rings shows no signs of abating - if The White Council ships on time, 2007 will be the sixth consecutive year that EA has produced at least one game based on the film franchise.

EA also confirmed that many of the usual suspects would make up its autumn/Christmas line-up, including Madden, NASCAR, NBA Live, NCAA Football, NFL Street, NHL, Tiger Woods and FIFA.

Xbox 360 and PSP SKUs of The Godfather are due out in September, while Need For Speed Carbon - an easy tip for the Christmas number one, going on previous years, will arrive in autumn along with Battlefield 2142 and Superman Returns.

EA also has an online MMORPG based on Warhammer in development, courtesy of recently acquired Mythic, along with co-op shooter Army of Two, Medal of Honor: Airborne, and titles based on The Sims.

Other highlights of the schedule, though they played less of a part in EA's summer showcase, include Crysis - from the developers of PC shooter Far Cry - and Will Wright's highly anticipated Spore.

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Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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