Gears of War 3 preorders top 1 million

Beta for Epic's Xbox 360-exclusive shooter attracts 1.29 million players from 145 countries, who played 249 years of matches.

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Gears of War 3's success was pretty much preordained from the time it was announced last year. Now, though, publisher Microsoft has hard evidence the game will be a solid hit. This morning, the software giant announced that the third-person shooter from Epic Games has already accrued 1 million preorders worldwide. It did so in the fastest time of any Xbox 360 exclusive title to date, beating out such high-profile titles as Halo: Reach and Halo 3.

1 million people are already Gear-ing up for Epic's upcoming shooter.
1 million people are already Gear-ing up for Epic's upcoming shooter.

Gears of War 3 had originally been set to go on sale last month but saw its release date pushed to fall 2011 last autumn and then dated for September 20 in February. The delay gave Epic time to stage a lengthy beta for the game, which ran from April 18 to May 15. The developer revealed today that 1.29 million people from 145 countries participated in the beta, racking up 11 million matches that would have lasted 249 years if played consecutively.

Gears of War 3 will offer an apocalyptic finale to the series, which has sold 12 million copies to date. The game begins with the last human city having been obliterated and series hero Marcus Fenix trying to protect the remaining humans from the Locust horde and from newer, deadlier foes, the mutating Lambeth. In a franchise first, it will allow players to play through its campaign in four-person co-op mode.

When it does go on sale, Gears of War 3 will be available in three versions: standard ($60), Limited ($80), and Epic ($150). The centerpiece of this year's $150 Gears of War 3 Epic Edition will be a limited-run Marcus Fenix statue. Designed by Epic Games art director Chris Perna and fabricated by Triforce, the statue weighs 3.7 lbs. and measures 11.2 inches by 8.9 inches.

The Epic Edition also includes a behind-the-scenes book by Tom Bissell, which offers 96 pages of interviews, photos, and concept art. Gamers will also find some in-game content by way of the Infected Omen Weapon Pack, which includes multiplayer skins for the lancer, retro lancer, hammerburst, sawed-off shotgun, and gnasher shotgun.

The Epic Edition will also include all of the contents of the $80 Limited Edition. The headline pack-in for this package is the Octus Award Box with Octus Service Medal, which is a life-sized replica of the honor given to scientist Adam Fenix for his work on the Hammer of Dawn. The bundle also includes a code redeemable for the Adam Fenix skin in multiplayer, personal records of Marcus' father, and a fabric COG flag.

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