Gears of War 3 shifts to fall 2011

Finale to Epic Games' shooter series moved out of April berth to become Microsoft's tent-pole holiday release next year.

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The first two Gears of War games served as Microsoft's tent-pole holiday releases, both coming out in early November. However, that pattern was changed up this year when Microsoft announced that Gears of War 3 would be released on April 5, 2011.

"Well, everyone, it looks like we get another five months of R&R before the slaughter starts."

Now, things have been changed back.

In a statement this morning, Microsoft Game Studios announced that Gears of War 3 is being pushed back into fall 2011 to serve as one of the publishing label's Q4 anchor titles. Indeed, Microsoft is already predicting it will be the "biggest entertainment launch of 2011."

"The teams at Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games have done great work thus far readying the title for release in the spring of 2011," the company said in a statement. "However, we've elected to move the launch of Gears of War 3 until fall 2011 to make it the marquee title for the holiday season."

As shown in the trailer below, Gears of War 3 will offer an apocalyptic finale to the series, which has sold 12 million copies to date. According to Microsoft, the last human city has been obliterated, with Marcus Fenix trying to protect the remaining humans from the Locust horde and from newer, deadlier foes, the mutating Lambeth.

Like Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 will be Xbox 360 exclusive, with Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski having said in 2008 that there will be no more installments in the series on the PC. In a franchise first, it will also allow players to play through its campaign in four-person co-op mode.

For more on Gears of War 3, check out GameSpot's latest preview of the game.

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