Thursday, October 26, 2006

Microsoft Gears Up

While everyone in Colorado Springs was trying to stay warm (or in my case, playing in the snow), Microsoft was announcing its plans for Emergence Day - the day "Gears of War" is released for the Xbox 360. Here's what's on the docket, straight from my contact at Microsoft:

Xbox Live will celebrate Emergence Day with 24-hours of special events beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12. Xbox Live Gold members in North America will have a chance to participate in online tournaments, download videos, win prizes and participate in a variety of activities including:

- A 24-Hour Leader board Tournament. The tournament winner receives a one of a kind “Gears of War” branded guitar as well as an automatic bye to the finals of a Global “Gears of War” Tournament planned for 2007.
- Hourly sweepstakes drawings and prize giveaways including the chance to win one of several Samsung HT-P29 Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound Systems
- An exclusive free “Gears of War” Gamer pic and theme only available on Emergence Day
- Game with Fame sessions with legendary heavy metal band and “Gears of War” fans Megadeth, the game’s lead designer Cliff Bleszinski and other members of the Epic Games team
- Never before seen videos including a special Emergence Day transmission from Cliff Bleszinski
- An MTV “Gears of War: The Road to Launch” Sneak Preview

Our boy Billy Gates is putting a bunch of eggs in the "Gears" basket. The Xbox 360 needs its own killer app to keep gamers away from the PS3 (the guaranteed shortages are sure to help) and into the 360 until "Halo 3" comes out. While the 360 has had plenty of great titles (PGR3, Call of Duty 2, etc.) it still doesn't have that one game that makes the system a must own - unless you count Halo 2...which you shouldn't.

While console exclusives are becoming rarer than a Jake Plummer 300-yard game, the Big 2 will have their heavy hitters ready in November. Microsoft will have "Gears" and Sony will counter with "Resistance: Fall of Man". The better title may sway some indecisive gamers toward a particular console - although I think Sony's price point and availabilty is going to make a much bigger difference. Who will come out on top? I have no clue (sorry, I'm a gaming columnist, not Nostradamus), its way too early to tell. But from what I've seen of "Gears", it looks amazing and the game play is fantastic.

And as I always say, I never bet against Bill Gates...unless its in a fistfight.

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