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Gamers Catch Their Breath as Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Reinvent Next-Generation Gaming

Gamers can expect more than 160 Xbox 360 high-definition games this year, new Xbox Live experiences and cross-platform wireless accessories.

10 May 2006

Xbox 360The Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system has created a global phenomenon with its record-breaking performance and fervent consumer response. Now, Microsoft Corp. hits the turbo button for gamers, announcing the next wave of games and accessories for Xbox 360 and new world-class Xbox Live® entertainment experiences.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, announced that gamers can expect more than 160 high-definition games by the end of 2006 for the Xbox 360 platform. In addition, Moore unveiled several new Microsoft Game Studios titles in development for Xbox 360 including “Alan Wake,” “Fable® 2,” “Forza Motorsport™ 2” and the next installment in the critically acclaimed “Halo®” franchise, “Halo 3.”

Xbox 360 continues to evolve and feed the imagination of gamers everywhere. This week at E3, the following Microsoft Game Studios exclusives will showcase the breath and depth of Microsoft’s next-generation lineup:

  • “Alan Wake” (Remedy Entertainment Inc.). “Alan Wake” is a psychological action thriller. Cited as one of the best titles of E3 2005, “Alan Wake” introduces a deeply engaging and suspenseful storyline in a free-roaming open world that invites players to unravel the riveting plot and experience intense combat that combines the use of light with more conventional weapons. “Alan Wake” will be released on Windows Vista™ and Xbox 360. Timing is not yet announced.
  • “Blue Dragon” (Mistwalker/Artoon Co. Ltd.). From famed game producer Hironobu Sakaguchi comes “Blue Dragon,” a unique, epic role-playing game (RPG) that centers on a young boy named Shu and several of his friends who must harness the power of their phantom shadows in their fight against an eminent evil. “Blue Dragon” will launch later this year in Japan.
  • “Crackdown” (Real Time Worlds).Dave Jones, creator of “Grand Theft Auto,” brings his brand of unprecedented, open-ended gameplay to the next-generation with “Crackdown™.” “Crackdown” sets players loose in a free-form, persistent playground where a citywide fight against crime requires a new kind of hero who evolves into a bigger, stronger,faster, more efficient weapon of justice through continued gameplay. “Crackdown” will launch in 2006. Timing is not yet announced.
  • “Fable 2” (Lionhead Studios).“Fable 2” is the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling “Fable.” Set 500 years after the original game, “Fable 2” will offer even more choices and features, while building on the core gameplay theme of “Fable” where every choice continually defines who you become, allowing you to truly live the life you choose. Timing is not yet announced.
  • “Forza Motorsport 2” (Turn 10). “Forza Motorsport 2” roars into the next generation with more than 300 customizable cars and 60 frames per second of head-turning, high-definition gameplay that creates the most stunningly realistic racing simulation ever experienced. Timing is holiday 2006.
  • “Gears of War” (Epic Games Inc.). “Gears of War” thrusts gamers into humankind’s epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet. Blending the best of tactical action games with the best of survival horror titles, “Gears of War” features cinematic, beautifully rendered interactive environments with high-definition visuals. “Gears of War” will launch on Emergence Day 2006.
  • “Halo 3” (Bungie Studios). The epic saga continues with “Halo 3,” the hugely anticipated sequel to the highly successful and critically acclaimed “Halo 2.” In this third chapter of the “Halo” trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax. Timing is 2007.
  • “Mass Effect” (BioWare Corp.). “Mass Effect” is an RPG trilogy developed by BioWare, set in a massive, living universe waiting for exploration and discovery. Gamers travel to distant, uncharted worlds — and uncover the past to save the future — in a richly detailed story where players’ actions, sometimes morally challenging, will determine the fate of civilization. Timing is not yet announced.
  • “Shadowrun” (FASA Studio). Bringing the Microsoft vision of “Live Anywhere” to life, “Shadowrun™” is the first cross-platform game for Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. “Shadowrun” is a multiplayer, first-person shooter that propels team-based combat into a new dimension with a revolutionary blend of modern weaponry and ancient magic. “Shadowrun” will be available at the launch of Windows Vista.
  • “Too Human” (Silicon Knights). “Too Human” is the first installment in a fast-paced action trilogy, where players assume the role of Baldur, a cybernetic god charged with defending mankind from an onslaught of monstrous war machines. In “Too Human,” players are treated to a nonstop barrage of action powered by the seamless integration of melee and ranged firearms combat and fueled by breathtaking visuals. “Too Human” will launch in holiday 2006.
  • Viva Piñata” (Rare Ltd.). “Viva Piñata” is a window to a fantastical world full of wild-roaming Piñata animals. Players customize their world to attract Piñatas, handle relationships among the more than 60 species, and protect their Piñatas from the dangers that threaten to break them open. “Viva Piñata” will launch in holiday 2006.

Gamers can also expect to see amazing second- and third-party Xbox 360 titles at E3 this year:

  • “Ninety-Nine Nights” (Q Entertainment Ltd./Phantagram Co. Ltd.).“Ninety-Nine Nights” is a fantasy action game that invites gamers to experience an immersive and emotional story though the eyes of both good and evil, while fighting among hundreds of fellow soldiers through an epic adventure. “Ninety-Nine Nights,” exclusive to Xbox 360, will launch in summer 2006 in the U.S.
  • “Lost Planet” (Capcom Entertainment Inc.). Keiji Inafune, the creator of “Mega Man” and “Onimusha,” brings to life a riveting sci-fi action shooter with intense cinematic gameplay set within the merciless frozen tundra of a hostile planet. “Lost Planet,” an Xbox 360 exclusive, features online multiplayer gameplay via Xbox Live and will launch in the first quarter of 2007.
  • “Saints Row” (THQ).An Xbox 360 exclusive, “Saints Row” is an explosive, third-person action/driving hybrid developed by Volition Inc. and is the only game in its genre that offers players unrivalled character customization options and a multiplayer experience through Xbox Live.This title will launch in fall 2006.
  • “Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2” (Tecmo Inc.). Get wet with Team Ninja’s newest graphical masterpiece, the Xbox 360 exclusive “Dead or Alive®: Xtreme 2.” All the favorite DOA girls are back and ready to battle it out in the tropical waters of Zach’s Island on their high-performance personal watercraft, compete in assorted and alluring activities, sunbathe on white sand beaches, and go all-in at Zach’s Casino. This title will launch during the 2006 holiday season.
  • “Prey” (2K Games). An Xbox 360 console exclusive, “Prey” is a groundbreaking first-person shooter that raises the bar and turns the genre upside-down with awesome new gameplay features and next-generation graphics. This title will be available in July 2006.
  • “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent” (Ubisoft). Sam Fisher makes his next-generation debut on the Xbox 360 with “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent™.” The best-selling “Splinter Cell®” franchise takes an entirely new direction, allowing gamers to play as a double agent for the first time ever in the saga’s history. The game launches in September 2006.
  • “Madden NFL 07” (EA Sports). With the exclusive video game license of the NFL and PLAYERS INC., “Madden NFL 07” continues to be the No. 1 football franchise in history with more than 51 million copies sold. In its 17th installment, gamers can control the running game like never before. For the first time ever, they can step up as the lead blocker to create a hole, and then take control of the tailback and smash through, overpower or slash away from would-be tacklers as they fight for every yard. Innovative rushing controls give players a game-breaking ground attack featuring all-new jukes, cutbacks and the distinct running styles of their favorite backs. Developed by EA-Tiburon, Madden NFL 07 will launch in August on the Xbox 360 and Xbox® systems.
  • “Sonic The Hedgehog” (SEGA). Sonic is re-born for the next generation! Sonic blazes his way onto Xbox 360, melding top-tier animation production values with next-generation art, physics and game design to create the most intense, high-velocity Sonic adventure yet. Featuring real-time interactive 3-D environments, a large cast of new and returning characters, and a blistering sense of speed, get ready for the reinvention of Sonic The Hedgehog™. Timing is not yet announced.

Xbox Live Arcade

Xbox Live, surpassing 3 million connected members, continues its commanding leadership position in the online unified gaming and entertainment space. Since launch, nearly 60 percent of Xbox 360 owners have joined the Xbox Live community. In addition, over 90 percent of connected members are downloading content from Xbox Live Marketplace, driving more than 18 million downloads in the first six months.

Xbox Live Arcade provides quick fun experiences for gamers of all interests, skill levels and budgets. This mainstream favorite provides the most sought-after downloadable games in high definition supported by integrated friends list, achievements, leaderboards, and voice and video communication.

In addition, Microsoft today announced a power-packed lineup that will be added to the already significant library of Xbox Live Arcade titles. Gamers can expect the following nostalgic favorites and original, innovative gaming experiences by end of year:

  • NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. is bringing legendary coin-opfavorites “Pac-Man,” “Galaga,” “Dig Dug” and “Rally-X,” all complete with Xbox Live features such as leaderboards and achievements.
  • Konami. Konami revives classic franchises including “Frogger,” “Contra” and “Super Contra,” “Track & Field,” “Time Pilot,” and “Scramble,” each offering updated graphics and Xbox Live support.
  • Midway. Midway Games Inc. brings a new suite of classic arcade titles to Xbox Live Arcade, including “Defender®,” “Paperboy®,” “Root Beer Tapper™” and “Ultimate Mortal Kombat® 3,” complete with graphical upgrades and multiplayer play over Xbox Live.
  • “Sonic The Hedgehog High Speed” (SEGA). Microsoft and SEGA® join forces to bring some of the best console classics to Xbox Live Arcade including “Sonic The Hedgehog High Speed.” Everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog makes his high-speed debut in high definition with full leaderboard and achievement support.
  • “Lumines Live!” (Q Entertainment). A fresh new installment to the original puzzle action hit titles series, “Lumines Live!” will debut exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade. It features frenetic puzzle action married with video, music and themes from today’s hottest pop culture icons. What’s more, “Lumines Live!” features full multiplayer play over Xbox Live, an exclusive Duel mode and an all-new Puzzle mode, downloadable puzzles, and music and skins from Xbox Live Marketplace, including the hit Madonna single, “Sorry.”
  • Indie Game Lineup. For the first time in history, Microsoft has opened the world of video game consoles to independent game developers. Some of the world’s most creative independent game talents are developing games for Xbox Live Arcade, including PopCap Games (the creators of award-winning games such as “Zuma”), which brings its first action shooter title, “Heavy Weapon,” to the platform. Additional Xbox Live Arcade titles featured at E3 include “Cloning Clyde” (Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee), “RoboBlitz,” (Naked Sky Entertainment Inc.) and “Mutant Storm Empire” (PomPom).

Xbox 360 Accessories: More Ways to Play

The suite of Xbox 360 accessories continues to expand to give gamers more ways to experience their favorite games and movies and to stay connected with friends. Microsoft announced new, cross-platform accessories that will enable gamers to take the thrill of wireless gaming one step further on the Xbox 360 console and Windows®-based PC, while providing additional details on other new accessories coming to the Xbox 360 system this holiday:

  • The Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel uses the latest wireless and force feedback technology to bring new realism to racing games such as “Project Gotham Racing® 3” and “Forza Motorsport 2.” From drifting to power sliding, feel the intensity of every turn.
  • The Xbox 360 Wireless Headset integrates seamlessly with the Xbox 360 console to provide wireless voice chat, stylish ergonomic design and superior voice quality to chat over the Xbox Live network.
  • The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player, available this holiday, delivers a superior digital audio and visual experience to consumers, enabling them to enjoy blockbuster movies in stunning high definition through their Xbox 360 system. It includes the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.
  • The Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows connects existing and future Xbox 360 wireless accessories to the PC, allowing gamers to enjoy the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Wireless Headset and Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel on a second platform.
  • The Xbox Live Vision video camera will allow gamers with Xbox Live Gold to customize their gamer picture, send photo messages, and video chat with friends and family over Xbox Live. Featured titles include “Pinball FX” (Zen), “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six® Vegas” (Ubisoft), “TotemBall” (Freeverse) and “World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions” (Activision).Xbox Live Vision launches in North America and Europe on Sept. 19 and the rest of the world on Feb. 10, 2007.
  • Xbox 360 Memory Unit (256MB). With four times more capacity than the original, gamers can easily store and transfer even more Xbox 360 saved games, Xbox Live profiles, full Xbox Live Arcade titles and other entertainment content downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace.

Xbox Continues to Deliver

Xbox gamers have even more to celebrate. With more than 825 Xbox games available and more than 24 million Xbox consoles sold worldwide, the community of Xbox gamers continue to have superb videogame experiences.

This year at E3 top-tier Xbox games such as “Mortal Kombat® 3” (Midway Games), “Justice League Heroes” (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment), “Disney/Pixar’sCars” (THQ Inc.), “Destroy all Humans!™2” (THQ) and “LEGO® Star Wars™ II: The Original Trilogy” (LucasArts) will all be highlighted at this year’s E3.

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