“Gears of War 2” Poised to Be Top Entertainment Premiere This Holiday Season

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 5, 2008 — Rivaling the media spectacle and fan anticipation of a blockbuster movie’s opening weekend, the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system is set to launch its exclusive title, “Gears of War 2,” worldwide at 12:01 a.m. local time this Friday, Nov. 7. A total of 20,000 retail locations in 20 countries will open their doors to the crowds waiting to get their hands on this must-have entertainment experience. Fans and critics around the world are predicting that “Gears of War 2,” available only on Xbox 360, will be the biggest blockbuster of holiday 2008.

“Each holiday season in this current console generation, Xbox 360 has led the industry with the best lineup of blockbuster video games, and we are poised to lead the charge again in 2008 with ‘Gears of War 2,’” said Phil Spencer, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios. “Holding the title of fastest-selling video game of 2006, ‘Gears of War’ has sold more than 5 million units to date, and this next chapter in the franchise will raise the bar yet again.”

Under the creative leadership of Cliff Bleszinski, the team at Epic Games Inc. has pushed the franchise into bold new territory, greatly expanding upon the game’s themes of hope, survival and loss. In “Gears of War 2,” the last cities on Sera are sinking, swallowed by a new Locust threat from below. As Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad pursue the Locust, the mission turns deeply personal for Dominic Santiago as he uncovers clues in the search for his missing wife, Maria.

“Epic’s goal was to create an emotionally engaging experience that will not only satisfy core gamers, but also attract new players who want to experience something akin to watching a heart-pounding movie that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the very end,” said Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games. “With ‘Gears of War 2,’ we’re taking storytelling in the Gears universe to places it’s never been before, and we hope it’ll deeply connect with everyone playing the game alone or with friends.”

To usher in the much-anticipated launch of “Gears of War 2” in the United States, more than 10,000 retail stores will open their doors at 12:01 a.m. local time on Nov. 7. At Midnight Mayhem flagship events in Los Angeles, New York City and Bellevue, Wash., attendees will have the opportunity to win limited edition “Gears of War 2” Xbox 360 consoles and other prizes, receive autographed copies of the game, and meet the creators from Epic Games. In addition, fans who purchase “Gears of War 2” at any participating retailer during Midnight Mayhem will receive an exclusive Xbox LIVE token to download an in-game, gold-plated Hammerburst for use during multiplayer gameplay. A full list of scheduled events, retail locations and exclusives can be found at http://www.gearsofwar.com.

“Gears of War 2” is available as a Standard Edition with an estimated retail price (ERP) of $59.99 (U.S.), as well a Limited Edition with an ERP of $69.99 (U.S.). The Limited Edition is packaged in a collectible SteelBook DVD case and includes a 48-page hardbound book titled “Beneath the Surface: An Inside Look at ‘Gears of War 2,’” which is filled with character profiles and exclusive concept art. The Limited Edition also includes a bonus DVD containing the making-of documentary, a keepsake photo of Dominic and Maria Santiago, and a coveted Xbox LIVE token to unlock a gold-plated Lancer for online play.

In addition, all copies of the game come with an Xbox LIVE token to download the Flashback Map Pack for free. The Flashback Map Pack will be available immediately at launch and consists of five popular maps from the original “Gears of War,” including Canals, Gridlock, Mansion, Subway and Tyro Station. Each map has been specially updated with new graphics for “Gears of War 2.”

To celebrate the launch, Xbox LIVE is hosting the “Gears of War 2” Xbox LIVE Weekend Assault, sponsored by the movie “Transporter 3” and delivering 48 hours of special events beginning at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 7. Xbox LIVE Gold members will have the chance to download videos, participate in a Game with Fame with Epic Games, and play in online tournaments to win exclusive “Gears of War 2” prizes. More information about the Xbox LIVE Weekend Assault activities can be found at http://www.gearsofwar.com.

“Gears of War 2” is leading a blockbuster lineup of the best and broadest games that the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system has to offer this holiday season. Whether you are a fan of music, movies, sports, action-adventure, role-playing or games that the entire family can enjoy, Xbox 360 has the most anticipated games and exclusive content including highly anticipated music games such as “Lips,” “Rock Band 2,” “Guitar Hero World Tour” and “DanceDanceRevolution UNIVERSE3”; movie-themed titles “You’re in the Movies” and “Scene It? Box Office Smash”; sports titles such as “Madden NFL 09”; games for the family such as “Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts”; and role-playing games such as “Fable II” and “Fallout 3.” The Xbox 360 Arcade console is available for $199.99 ERP (U.S.), the most affordable next-generation console on the market today.

Additional press materials as well as art and video assets are available at http://gearsofwar.xbox.com/presskit.htm.

About Epic Games

Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in its Unreal series, most recently shipping “Unreal Tournament 3” for PC, PLAYSTATION®3 and Xbox 360. Epic’s breakthrough game, “Gears of War,” sold five million copies and won over 30 Game of the Year awards. The highly anticipated sequel, “Gears of War 2,” releases November 7, 2008. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the current holder and three-time consecutive winner of Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at www.epicgames.com.

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as “Age of Empires,” “Flight Simulator” and “Zoo Tycoon”; Xbox and Xbox 360 (http://www.xbox.com), including such games as “Gears of War” and franchises such as “Halo,” “Fable,” “Project Gotham Racing” and “Forza Motorsport”; and MSN Games (http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as “Bejeweled” and “Hexic.”

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a premier video game and entertainment system. It is home to the best and broadest games plus more standard and high-definition movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV. The digital center of the living room, Xbox 360 blends unbeatable content, including personal pictures and music, with a unified online social network to create a limitless entertainment experience that can be shared at home or across the globe. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Prices herein are estimated retail prices. Actual retail prices may vary.

Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, Gears of War 2 and Marcus Fenix are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.

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