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About Judy

As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.

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'Ultima Online: Samurai Empire' Announced

by Judy on July 15, 2004 @ 7:31 p.m. PDT

Electronic Arts today announced that the next expansion pack for Ultima Online will be called Ultima Online: Samurai Empire. Ninjas and samurais and killing, oh my! Read on for more information ...

The highly-anticipated expansion pack marks a new era in the celebrated massively multiplayer online game by setting the adventure in an exotic Japanese-inspired land, and by featuring two deadly new professions for players to master – the Samurai and the Ninja. Ultima Online: Samurai Empire will be distributed by EA under the EA GAMES brand and is scheduled to ship November 2004.

"Ultima Online players, who have strong emotional ties to the franchise and who have hundreds – if not thousands – of hours invested in the game have been clear about what they want from an Ultima Online expansion pack," said Anthony Castoro, producer of Ultima Online at EA. "In addition to delivering what the fans have asked for, namely new professions, lands and skills, Ultima Online: Samurai Empire combines the European high fantasy of Ultima Online with the exotic Japanese culture of the Samurai and the Ninja."

Traveling around a mysterious Asian environment filled with exotic beasts, expansive dungeons and scenic housing areas, players can strive to become a fierce Samurai, dedicated to the art of Bushido and focused on learning new physical combat abilities. These skills include Lightening Strike, a ferocious and fast single attack with a 50 percent hit bonus; Whirlwind, where a Samurai's powers increase as the number of enemies he's fighting multiply; and Honorable Execution, which is an attempt to eliminate an enemy with a single attack.

Players also have the choice of joining the elite ranks of the Ninja, where they will concentrate on magical combat and stealth. The Ninja player will master many deadly arts that include Smoke Bomb, which they use to make themselves disappear. By using Animal Form, Ninjas can turn into seemingly harmless creatures like wolves and serpents, allowing them to move freely among their enemies. With the Mirror Image skill, Ninjas can confuse their enemies by creating up to four mirror images of themselves.

In addition to becoming either a Samurai or Ninja, players will have new house customization themes and decorations to use as they build new homes or modify existing homes. For instance, players can start by constructing a simple dojo and then build it into a massive Japanese-themed castle. The adventurous will be rewarded with a vast array of new Japanese-inspired items such as weapons, armor, clothing and house tiles.

Launched in 1997, Ultima Online was a pioneer in the world of online gaming and defined the category of massively multiplayer Internet-based entertainment and is still recognized as the most immersive of any online world. Ultima Online is offered in six languages and is played in more than 100 countries located in every time zone. The game stands as the longest-running online subscription-based game in history. More information on Ultima Online can be found at http://www.uo.com.

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