Gears of War emerges

Epic Games' Xbox 360 shooter now shipping to retail, expected to be widely available by Sunday.

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The Gears of War may have turned slowly for Xbox 360 owners desperately craving a sci-fi shooter to fill the system's Halo-shaped hole, but their waiting may soon be at an end. Microsoft Game Studios has confirmed that Epic Games' Gears of War is shipping to retailers and will begin appearing on store shelves today, with the game expected to be widely available by Sunday, November 12.

According to GameStop, Gears of War is the second most preordered Xbox game of all-time, second only to Halo 2. Jeff Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president of global marketing for the interactive entertainment division, said in a statement that "Gears of War is a title we know will deliver on all of its promise, and we expect the game to reach 1 million copies faster than any new titles for Xbox."

To celebrate the launch, Microsoft is holding several Emergence Day festivities beginning on November 12. Xbox Live Gold members will be able to participate in a 24-hour leaderboard tournament, with the winner getting a Gears of War-branded guitar and a place in a worldwide Gears of War tournament in 2007.

In addition, winners will also be drawn each hour to receive prizes such as Samsung surround-sound systems; a free Gears gamer pic and theme will be on Marketplace; metal band Megadeth and the game's designer, Cliff Bleszinski, will play with fans online; and MTV will air a Gears of War: The Road to Launch featurette.

Gears of War is rated M for Mature and retails for $59.99, with a limited collector's edition fetching $69.99. For more on the game, which is receiving critical praise across the board, check out GameSpot's full review.

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