Metallica has signed a deal with Vivendi Universal Games for a combat action video game. Due for release by early 2005, it will be designed with input from Jeff Darrow, the conceptual artist on the "M

Metallica has signed a deal with Vivendi Universal Games for a combat action video game. Due for release by early 2005, it will be designed with input from Jeff Darrow, the conceptual artist on the "Matrix" trilogy. According to Luc Vanhal, president and chief operating officer of Vivendi Universal Games, the as-yet-untitled game "has the ideas and the inspiration and the identity of the band behind it."

Vanhal adds the hard rock act's new Elektra album, "St. Anger," will include a teaser clip from the game and Metallica will show game trailer before each of its live performances this summer. "This is the first partnership of its kind, and I think it shows the way that a video game company and a musical artist can work together," he said. "It brings the best of both together, and the sum of both parts is going to be great."

"The band had been very impressed by games they'd seen in Japan, but they hadn't seen any ideas that met their standards of what they knew was right for the band," said Bob Pfeifer, of entertainment consultancy Segnana Inc. "[Metallica's manager] Cliff Burnstein got in touch with me, and we came up the idea of a game that could be 'Road Warrior' meets Metallica."

Pfeifer said the game will feature customizable vehicles and "limitless" terrain. Band members will not appear in the game, but their voices will be key elements, and Metallica will also record an exclusive single and video that will be included.

"There will be unique twists and consequences of your actions, taking you deeper into the experience than any previous game," Pfeifer said. "There also will be references that fans will appreciate, but it's not necessary to be a Metallica fan in order to love the game."

As previously reported, the release of "St. Anger" was moved to tomorrow (June 5) from June 10 to combat piracy. Fans who purchase the CD will receive an ID number unlocking the Web site MetallicaVault.com, which will feature 60 previously unreleased live tracks at launch.

All of the tracks will be downloadable MP3 files, burnable to disc and completely portable. Pfeifer said there is no reason for getting the music from illegal sources, where there is no guarantee of quality or even that the download is what it claims to be. "Why wouldn't fans go to the faster, better alternative?" he asked.

Metallica's Summer Sanitarium tour with Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Deftones, and Mudvayne begins July 4 in Detroit. A European headlining trek begins Friday at the Rock Im Park festival in Nuremberg, Germany.