Gears of War 2 hits 5 million, new add-on due July 28

Epic Games' shooter franchise sales now more than 11 million; new retail-only expansion will feature all previous DLC with seven new multiplayer maps, one deleted campaign chapter; new content also coming to XBL a la carte.

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It's no secret that Epic Games' Gears of War 2 is a major hit, but Microsoft took the opportunity to remind the world of it again this morning. The company announced that, since the game's release last November, the Xbox 360-exclusive shooter has sold more than 5 million units worldwide, bringing franchise unit sales--including Gears of War for the PC and 360--to more than 11 million units to date.

The Cole Train is moving to the next stop...
The Cole Train is moving to the next stop...

Ostensibly to commemorate the milestone, Microsoft has also announced a new expansion for Gears of War 2, the All Fronts Collection. Available only at retail on July 28 in North America and Europe for $19.99, £14.99, or €19.99, the collection will feature all three multiplayer map packs--Flashback, Snowblind, and Combustible--as well as the new Gears of War 2: Dark Corners add-on. The collection will also include an introduction from Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinksi, an Xbox Live theme, a collectible poster, and a strategy guide.

Gears of War 2: Dark Corners will sport seven new multiplayer maps--Allfathers Garden, Memorial, Sanctuary, War Machine, Highway, Way Station, and Nowhere--described in detail below. In addition, it will have a single-player chapter eliminated from the release version of Gears of War 2. Called Road to Ruin, it will see game heroes Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago return to the locust hollow "in a scene that can be played two ways, guns blazing or in all-new stealth mode." Dark Corners will be available a la carte directly from Xbox Live for MSP 1,600 ($19.99) for those who already own the map packs and don't want to deal with a trip to the store.

The Locust are still rather temperamental.
The Locust are still rather temperamental.

GameSpot will have more details on Gears of War 2: Dark Corners as they become available. Microsoft described its seven new map packs thusly:

--Allfathers Garden: Honor the sacred grounds of the Coalition founders in this explosive map, where powerful weapons catalyze fast and furious action at this COG landmark.

--Memorial: Set near the Eternal Flame, which pays tribute to the fallen soldiers on the battlefield, a hard-fought battle ensues at the Tomb of Unknowns. Putting their flank formation and evasive skills to the test, players will fight to control the Boomshot.

--Sanctuary: Once a peaceful ground for reflection and remembrance, all that remains of the Sanctuary is the chill of death. Feast your eyes on the arsenal of weapons available as you make your way through the tight paths and blind corners of the Locust-damaged temple corridors.

--War Machine: In the abandoned train station that once served as a hub for travel, players will need to master the Longshot, Mulcher, and Boomshot weapons to advance the fight while evading fire from the platforms above.

--Highway: Take the fight deep into the Locust Hollow in the complex passages of this underground highway system brimming with enemy vermin. Stick together, separate the enemy, and have an exit strategy ready or it'll be a one-way trip.

Oh my God! They killed Carmine! You bastards!
Oh my God! They killed Carmine! You bastards!

--Way Station: Sitting in limbo between death and "processing" are Locust way stations filled with fallen COG soldiers. Tread lightly and practice patience as it's better to sacrifice firepower for stealth while navigating this minefield of hidden grenades.

--Nowhere: Set in the middle of what was once a destination for weary desert travelers, the land is now barren and devoid of life. Pick off your enemies with the Longshot sniper rifle and make your way to the stairwell with a well-fortified team during this intense firefight.

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