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EA unveils new LOTR game

Project Gray revealed at last.

Back in April, you may recall, EA launched a website to promote a new next-gen title known only as Project Gray Company - until now.

During a presentation at the Studio Showcase event in San Francisco, EA confirmed that the game's real name is Lord of the Rings: The White Council, and that it's an action RPG.

The storyline takes place some 80 years before the events of the LOTR series, when Aragorn is just ten years old and Bilbo has yet to find his precious ring. As Tolkien fans will know, the White Council of the title is a group of elves and wizards which includes the likes of Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and other magical old hippies.

You get to create your own character and then build yourself up until you've become so tough and hard that the White Council invites you to become one of its agents. Which means you'll have to go and do loads of stuff for them, obviously, and help them fight off the great and terrible evil that threatens Middle-Earth. Yes, another one.

Along with familiar characters, you can expect to see lots of locations from the books and the films, such as Rivendell and Grey Havens. The game will also feature some newly invented characters and environments - but since the development team are huge LOTR fans, they're determined to stay true to the spirit of the source material.

It's the same team which developed button-mashers The Two Towers and Return of the King, in fact, plus turn-based RPGs The Third Age and LOTR: Tactics. According to executive producer Steve Gray, they're taking elements from both sets of games; the aim is to make The White Council deep and complex enough to please RPG fans, whilst ensuring that it features plenty of fast and furious combat too.

Gray concluded the presentation by showing off a rather spanky trailer, complete with obligatory voiceover by Gandalf about how dark times are on the way and it's all going to kick off in Middle-Earth quite soon. There are plenty of sweeping landscapes and quaint forest glades that look like they've been taken straight out of the films, with an excellent level of detail. Major characters look just like their movie counterparts, too, and the animations are very realistic; in short, The White Council trailer is really rather impressive.

But will the game look just as good? Well, once the trailer was over, Gray was quick to declare: "Okay, fine, nice pre-rendered graphics - but that's what we're shooting for... Full HD, 720p, 5.1 surround sound, with that graphic quality; that's our target."

The White Council is slated for an autumn 2007 release, but there's still some confusion as to which platforms it'll arrive on. According to a statement issued by EA, the game is in development for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC - but Gray said that only the console versions have been confirmed as yet, and that they're "in talks" regarding a PC one. Hmm.

Since the game's official title was announced, EA has updated the Project Gray Company website; there's not much new to see yet, to be honest, but you can at least sign up for the newsletter.

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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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