Microsoft Game Studios Unveils Gears of War 2 Gameplay

LONDON - 13th May 2008 - Today Microsoft Game Studios (MGS) and industry luminaries from the world’s top development studios will be on hand to show off the latest features of the year’s most in-demand titles; present will be Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski, Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux, TECMO/Team NINJA’s Tomonobu Itagaki and Silicon Knights’ Denis Dyack. This year, the visage of Marcus Fenix joins the likes of Ryu Hayabusa, Banjo, vivacious piñatas, cybernetic gods and a hero with a loyal dog sidekick in the all-star 2008 MGS line-up that promises to make Xbox 360 the console of choice for players everywhere.

Attendees of the MGS San Francisco showcase event will witness the first extended taste of“Gears of War 2,” the sequel to the blockbuster third-person tactical action game that sold nearly 5 million units. Epic Games Design Director, Cliff Bleszinski, will demonstrate dramatic new gameplay elements and stunning visual effects in a campaign sequence from early in the game– where Marcus Fenix and COG forces engage in pulse-pounding firefights between two Derrick transports, fend off vicious Reaver fly-by attacks and rabid Brumaks– all in the same rollercoaster ride of a level. As the most anticipated Xbox 360 exclusive title of the 2008 holiday season,“Gears of War 2” offers an unforgettable gameplay experience that blends a gripping story with visceral combat on a grand scale.

MGS will also crack open“Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise,” set to appear on store shelves this September. Developed by the creative masterminds at Rare, this sequel to the colourful, sleeper hit builds upon the gameplay of the original and adds innovative twists to the mix. In an effort to help Piñata Central rebuild their computer database of piñatas, players will send piñatas at full candiosity to parties all around the world while using their creativity and imagination to attract, capture, protect, train and manage more than 100 newly discovered and existing piñata species. An exciting, new“Just for Fun” setting makes getting into the game fast and easy. For the first time, players will be able to collaborate together on a garden through a rich co-op experience, connect and play with others online via Xbox LIVE as well as instantly introduce new piñata species to their garden through an innovative new feature utilizing the Xbox LIVE Vision Camera.

MGS will also pull back the curtain on another beloved franchise with the triumphant return of Banjo, one of Rare’s most successful characters, in“Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts&Bolts.” Defying the laws of nature, a bear, a bird and a backpack team up to embark on another incredible adventure this November. MGS is breaking the rules of traditional platformer games by putting the power to invent new abilities for Banjo directly into the players’ hands. By using their ingenuity to build imaginative vehicles that can be combined with infinite variations, gamers help Banjo successfully complete missions through multiple terrains. Through exploration, discovering hidden secrets and solving puzzles to win rewards, players will continually find increasing ways to customize and improve their contraptions, creating an unprecedented level of user-generated content and emergent play for a 3-D adventure game.

These instantly recognizable franchises join the enviable company of“Fable 2,”“Too Human” and“Ninja Gaiden II” from Team NINJA/TECMO, making Xbox 360 the home of the best blockbuster game experiences this year.

Other news and features of 2008 Xbox 360 blockbusters:

•“Fable 2”: The wait is almost over for the sequel to THE biggest action role-playing game in Xbox history. Swords, guns and now the newly unveiled magical power round out the combat in this action RPG from acclaimed developer Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios. Players will have even more choices to continuously shape who their characters become in a world 10 times the size of the iconic Xbox game.“Fable 2” introduces a host of exciting new features for gamers, including a first-of-its-kind Xbox LIVE Arcade experience, and a genre-stretching multiplayer experience, allowing gamers easily play“Fable 2” with friends and family side-by-side from the comfort of a living room couch. Players can immerse themselves in this vibrant world that only Lionhead and Molyneux could create, beginning this holiday.

•“Too Human”: Today, MGS and Silicon Knights will confirm that the wait is almost over -“Too Human” will be available on August 19 in North America and August 29 in Europe.“Too Human” is an epic, highly anticipated action game with integrated RPG elements and features a rich storyline with deep character development, both hallmarks of Silicon Knights’ legendary tradition of video game development. Additionally, Silicon Knights is showcasing for the first time, the title’s online cooperative play via Xbox LIVE; allowing gamers to experience“Too Human” with friends in a multiplayer setting.

•“Ninja Gaiden II”: Team NINJA/TEMCO will reveal today that gamers can get a head start on expanding and customizing their“Ninja Gaiden II” experience with the release of Gamerpics and Themes, available as PDLC on Xbox LIVE beginning today. The Gamerpics packs include five new images each, at 100 points per pack; and the Themes, which focus on heroes and bosses, are 150 points per pack. Soon gamers everywhere will follow Ryu Hayabusa’s entire blood-drenched mission– through cities like Venice, New York and Tokyo– to avenge his clan and prevent the destruction of the human race.“Ninja Gaiden II” slashes its way onto store shelves on June 3 in North America and June 6 in Europe. Additional“Ninja Gaiden II” PDLC will be available for download on May 20, with subsequent releases throughout the summer.

•“Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One” on Xbox LIVE Arcade provides a first-of-its-kind RPG-Adventure experience based on the popular Web comic. The creative collaboration between Penny Arcade creators Mike 'Gabe' Krahulik and Jerry 'Tycho' Holkins, legendary game designer Ron Gilbert and producers at Hothead Games results in a 100-percent authentic Penny Arcade experience that pushes bizarre characters, outrageous combat and adult humor to the precipice of darkness.“Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One” will be available on Xbox LIVE Arcade May 21, 2008.

Microsoft Game Studios is the home to many of the industry’s biggest franchises and continues to set the bar for top-quality entertainment experiences for players of all types. Characters from the game universes of“Gears of War,”“Fable,”“Banjo-Kazooie,” and“Viva Piñata” have enthralled gamers young and old all over the world. In 2007, MGS made history with some of the biggest video game launches ever, including Halo 3,”“PGR4” and“Mass Effect.”

With games often among the highest rated in their class by critics, Microsoft Game Studios delivers the best and most complete game experiences exclusively on Xbox 360, fuelled by the passion of 10 million gamers worldwide playing on Xbox LIVE.

This is just the beginning of what promises to be another landmark year for games on Xbox 360. Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming months.

-Ends-

For press information please contact:

Kate Szlendak / 0118 909 5334 / i-kaszle@microsoft.com

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a superior video game and entertainment system delivering the best games, unique entertainment features and a unified online gaming network that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a portfolio of more than 300 games in nearly 40 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

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 LIVE

Xbox LIVE is the first and most comprehensive unified online entertainment network seamlessly integrated throughout the entire console experience, making it easy for people to find the friends, games and entertainment they want from the moment they power on their Xbox 360 system. Xbox LIVE connects millions of members across 26 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox LIVE Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos, TV shows and movies in the United States as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favourite retail games. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.

About Xbox LIVE Arcade

Xbox LIVE Arcade on Xbox 360 is the premier destination for digitally distributed high-definition games. Xbox LIVE Arcade is a fast-growing phenomenon with a diverse library of originaldevelopment and classic titles from the world’s best independent and established developers and publishers. With a dynamically updated library and free trials for every title, Xbox LIVE Arcade makes it easy for every type of gamer— from casual to hard-core— to get instantly immersed in the fun. Xbox LIVE Arcade also lets friends connect and play these incredible games either from the same room or from around the world via the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/livearcade.

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.

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