Thursday 3 August 2006
UPDATE [4PM]: Microsoft has just confirmed a 17 November UK launch date for Gears of War - the exact day that Sony is due to begin their next-gen campaign with the release of PlayStation 3. We're expecting to see special Gears of War Xbox 360 bundles crowd the shops as Microsoft attempts to scupper Sony's PS3 launch before it even gets started. Expect to hear more soon. [UPDATE ENDS]
Gears of War will touch down in the US on 12 November, according to an official statement by Microsoft today, ending a week of speculation, cryptic clues and online retailers attempting to guess the hotly anticipated shooter's launch date. A UK release date has yet to be confirmed, and Microsoft were unavailable for comment on when the date would be announced.
After developer Epic Games dropped hints about a "big announcement" this week, the official Gears of War forums were alight with forumites attempting to decipher a series of cryptic messages released over Xbox Live since Monday.
Above: Gears of War is easily the best looking game heading to Xbox 360 this year
Each message was painstakingly examined, with avid readers coming up with two main clues - BEN (leading from 'son of the right hand') and MOVER (the surname of a jazz musician who released an album called 'Things Unseen'). Put them together, and you get an anagram of NOVEMBER. Simple, no?
As for a UK launch date, there's little chance of a similar, enigmatic viral scheme. Amazon.co.uk is currently advertising a 24 November release for Gears of War - we doubt that this will be too far off the mark, with Microsoft no doubt wanting to have the game - one of the best looking for Xbox 360 - out well in time for the Christmas drive. Expect an update soon.