Three Locust Hordes, Two Race Cars and a Piñata in a Pear Tree
REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 16, 2006 — It’s mid-December. Your fridge is barren — no milk, no bread, not even condiments, never mind the figgy pudding. You’ve got a holiday shopping list that rivals the most popular high-schooler’s buddy list, but have yet to set foot in a single store. You can’t put on your shoes without breaking into a cold sweat thinking of stocking stuffers. How did it get to this point? The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. With 160 games, including the highly anticipated “Gears of War” and kid favorite “Viva Piñata™,” a smorgasbord of cool accessories, and the ultimate gift that keeps on giving — the Xbox Live® online entertainment network — the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft Corp. comes to your rescue with the perfect gift designed to meet the needs of every person’s interest, budget or age on your holiday shopping list.

For the Nice …

Who knows how they do it, but these folks make you want to be a better person. Reward them for their good behavior with these family-friendly offerings on Xbox 360, many of which can’t be played anywhere else:

· “Viva Piñata” (Rare Ltd.) Following the hit animated TV series “Viva Piñata” on Fox Saturday mornings, the game “Viva Piñata” makes its exclusive debut on Xbox 360. The Viva Piñata world is an evolving paradise where players of all ages create an immersive environment to attract and care for the more than 60 species of wild-roaming piñata animals for hours of challenge and fun for the whole family. MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price): $49.99 (all prices are U.S.)

· “BIONICLE Heroes” (Eidos Interactive Ltd.) takes you to the amazing island of Voya Nui, a world filled with BIONICLE heroes and villains, past and present. Take control of the heroic Toa Inika and battle the villainous Piraka in a fight for the future of the island. Explore jungles, volcanoes and mountains on the mysterious island in this epic quest. To survive you must master the unique weapons and abilities of the Toa to battle through the ultimate BIONICLE adventure and emerge victorious. MSRP: $29.99

· “LEGO® Star Wars® II: The Original Trilogy” (LucasArts) combines the fun and endless customization of LEGO play with a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek take on the epic story, characters and action from the classic “Star Wars” episodes IV, V and VI films. Available for Xbox 360, MSRP: $49; Xbox, MSRP: $39; and Games for Windows, MSRP: $29

· “Sonic The Hedgehog” (Sega Corp.) redefines his trademark speed for the most intense, high-velocity adventure yet! Blaze through enormous and exotic worlds with all-new custom moves and take on Dr. Eggman and his horde of robotic minions to rescue a princess in peril. MSRP: $59.95

· Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” (THQ Inc.). Based on the Disney-Pixar film, “Cars” is a high-performance interactive experience in the open world created in the film, challenging you to relive the excitement created by Lightning McQueen and his friends. Discover unique characters and environments inspired by the film with more than 10 playable characters and 30 races and minigames to choose from. MSRP: $39.99

· “Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged Volume 1” (Microsoft) provides a taste of the Xbox Live Arcade experience for gamers everywhere, with a great collection of new and original casual games, including “Geometry Wars®: Retro Evolved” (Bizarre Creations Ltd.), “Bejeweled® 2” (PopCap Games Inc.), “Wik: Fable of Souls” (Reflexive Entertainment Inc.), “Texas Hold ’Em” (TikGames LLC), “Hardwood Backgammon®” (Silver Creek Entertainment) and “Outpost Kaloki X” (NinjaBee/Wahoo Studios Inc.). Not only are these games fun, engaging, and easy to learn and pick up and play, but each purchase of this compilation includes a free one-month Xbox Live Gold subscription and several downloadable Xbox Live Arcade title demos including “UNO®,” “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Feeding Frenzy™.” MSRP: $39.99

… The Naughty

They’re bad and they know it. And yet they do nothing but make you laugh or challenge you to save them, so you can’t help wanting to lavish them with gifts this holiday season. These gritty games should be right up their alley:

· “Gears of War” (Epic Games Inc.) thrusts gamers into humankind’s epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surfaces from the bowels of the planet. Blending the best of tactical action games with the best of survival horror titles, “Gears of War” features beautifully rendered interactive environments with high-definition visuals. Sign into Xbox Live Gold and enjoy the ultimate in multiplayer “Gears of War” action with friends. MSRP: $59.99

· “Call of Duty® 3” (Activision), the follow-up to one of the best-selling next-generation titles, delivers the intensity of being closer than ever to the fury of combat during the historic campaign that made the liberation of Paris possible. Combined arms and team-based combat provide unprecedented depth and variety by allowing up to 24 players to battle it out online. “Call of Duty 3” also offers soldier classes, each with specific abilities and a ranking system, for truly diversified squad combat. MSRP: $59.95

· “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six®: Vegas” (Ubisoft Entertainment) sees Rainbow operatives take to the chaotic streets of Las Vegas as an escalating terrorist siege in “Sin City” threatens to take world terrorism to new, uncontrollable heights. The future of global security hangs in the balance as you battle to defend classic Vegas locations and environments such as Fremont Street, the Strip and casinos. Pair this game with the Xbox Live Vision Camera to put your face on your character as you play competitively or cooperatively on Xbox Live Gold. MSRP: $59.99

· “F.E.A.R.™” (First Encounter Assault Recon) (Sierra Entertainment Inc.) is the award-winning first-person shooter that melds an intense combat experience with an engaging and richly atmospheric story. “F.E.A.R.” immerses you in an blend of stylized first-person combat and paranormal horror in which you are an elite soldier trained to deal with situations that are unexplainable. “F.E.A.R.” contains single-player and multiplayer campaigns as well as a unique Instant Action mode that will keep your senses on edge and your trigger finger itching. MSRP: $59.99

· “Saints Row” (THQ) gets started in Stilwater — an open-world city with attitude, a city controlled by rival gangs, a city YOU are about to take over. As a low-level thug in the 3rd St. Saints, you’ll do what it takes to get the money and build the respect to power your way past rival gangs standing in your way. And when you’re ready to Protect Tha Pimp, collect Big A$$ Chains, cruise your Blinged Out Ride and have an old fashioned Gansta Brawl, visit Xbox Live Gold for expansive online play. MSRP: $59.99

· “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent®” (Ubisoft) brings Sam Fisher back, but he’s never faced an enemy like this before. This time he must infiltrate and destroy a terrorist cell from within. For the first time ever, experience the relentless tension and gut-wrenching dilemmas of life as a double agent. Lie, sabotage, kill, betray. How far will you go to complete your mission? Available for Xbox 360, MSRP: $59.99; and Games for Windows, MSRP: $49.99

… And Everyone in Between

Maybe they forgot to take out the trash a few times because they were obsessed with the “big game” on TV, or didn’t return a couple of phone calls. No big deal. Show them you love them anyway with these stellar titles:

· “Madden NFL 07” (EA Sports) is the exclusive video game license of the NFL and PLAYERS INC. “Madden NFL 07” continues to be the No. 1 football franchise in history. Now you can step up as the lead blocker to create a hole, and then take control of the tailback and smash through, overpower or slash away from would-be tacklers as you fight for every yard. With the game’s increased focus this year on running backs, you’ll experience a game-breaking ground attack featuring all-new jukes, cutbacks and the skills to emulate distinct running styles of your favorite backs. New Xbox 360 exclusive features include Mini-Camp to get players in shape, the Replay Challenge to throw the red flag and Madden Gamer Level to track your standings while playing in Franchise mode. MSRP: $59.99

· “Need for Speed™ Carbon” (Electronic Arts Inc.) delivers the next generation of adrenaline-filled street racing. “Need for Speed Carbon” will challenge you to face the ultimate driving test on treacherous canyon roads. “Need for Speed Carbon” also delivers the next generation of customization, giving you the power to design and tweak your crew’s cars in every way, using the groundbreaking new Autosculpt™ technology. Represent your car class, your crew and your turf in “Need for Speed Carbon,” a revolution in racing games. As the police turn up the heat, the battle ultimately shifts to Carbon Canyon, where territories and reputations can be lost on every perilous curve, so you’ll want to pair this title with the Xbox 360 Wireless Wheel to gain every edge you can get. MSRP: $59.95

· “NBA 2K7” (2K Sports) is the latest installment of the No. 1-rated NBA 2K series and features breathtaking graphics, tight controls and a revolutionary shooting game. “NBA 2K7” delivers a new benchmark in high-level player detail with Signature Style player animations that add a new level of gameplay strategies as gamers adjust to the different shooting styles of each NBA player. ESPN The Magazine called “NBA 2K7” “Arguably, the best basketball game ever made.” MSRP: $59.99

· “Tiger Woods PGA® Tour 07” (EA Sports) features the thrills of championship Sunday on 12 championship courses and the most realistic looking golfers in a video game. By using revolutionary Universal Facial Capture or UCAP technology, world-class golfers such as Tiger Woods, Chris DiMarco, Mike Weir, Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald have the same reactions, emotions and characteristics in the game as they do out on the PGA Tour MSRP: $59.99

· “WWE® Smackdown vs. Raw® 2007” (THQ) cranks up the intensity of being a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Superstar with new, unparalleled levels of choice and control. The No. 1 wrestling franchise in the world delivers the next generation of WWE video games with key new features, incredible graphics and engaging, highly realistic WWE action in and out of the ring. MSRP: $59.95

· “Tony Hawk’s Project 8” (Activision). Re-engineered from the ground up for Xbox 360, “Tony Hawk’s Project 8” immerses you in the definitive skateboarding experience, using ultra-realistic graphics, enhanced physics and extremely responsive controls that simulate the feeling of skating with every trick and bail. The game challenges you to experience the intensity and pressure of skating against some of the world’s top amateurs in true-to-life competitions as you aim to become the No. 1 skater. MSRP: $59.95

Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of global marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, understands your holiday gift-giving plight: “This year, give friends and family the freedom to personalize their entertainment experiences on Xbox 360. With award-winning titles like ‘Gears of War’ and ‘Viva Piñata’ and a console that lets them play games in high definition, connect to friends on Xbox Live, and enjoy downloadable games, movies, music and photos, you will find the very best in interactive entertainment to satisfy every wish list.”

Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Accessories: More Ways to Play

The roster of cross-platform accessories continues to give gamers more ways to experience their favorite games and movies and stay connected with friends. Gamers will be able to take the thrill of wireless gaming one step further on the Xbox 360 console and Windows®-based PC, with the following accessories this holiday:

· Xbox 360 Live Vision Camera will change the face of your gaming experience — literally. Face-in-game technology lets you try your best poker face on opponents, and get a read on theirs, while you play “World Series of Poker”; classic “UNO” gets a “facelift” with video chat, putting even the best bluffers to the test. It’s the first next-generation video camera that integrates with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live to bring interactive gaming to life and true video chat to the Xbox Live community. And that’s a great way to connect with relatives who couldn’t be home for the holidays. Vision, MSRP: $39.99; Vision Gold, MSRP: $79.99

· Xbox 360 Wireless Headset heightens the Xbox Live experience by letting gamers strategize with teammates or trash-talk opponents while playing games. Its stylish design and premium voice quality provide for a great interactive gaming experience — no strings attached. MSRP: $59.99

· Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel places you in the professional driver’s seat. With the latest technology in wireless and force feedback, form and function are placed into high-speed, gaming motion. MSRP: $149.99

If the gamers in your household also received a high-definition TV, they’ll want the gear that helps them get the most out of it. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player lets gamers get the ultimate HD experience a DVD can offer:



· Xbox 360 HD DVD Player gives Xbox 360 fans the ultimate choice in creating their own high-definition entertainment experiences. Want to outfit your system with the power to play back the latest in high-definition DVD movies? Just connect the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player to your Xbox 360 and be blown away by HD DVD movies at six times the resolution of DVD. With the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, Microsoft makes it easy by offering the most affordable way for Xbox users to jump into the next generation of DVD technology. MSRP: $199.99

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as “Age of Empires®,” “Flight Simulator” and “Zoo Tycoon®”; Xbox® and Xbox 360 (http://www.xbox.com), including such games as “Gears of War” and franchises such as “Halo®,” “Fable®,” “Project Gotham Racing®” and “Forza Motorsport™”; and MSN® Games (http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as “Bejeweled” and “Hexic®.”

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox Live online gaming network, and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 is expected to have a catalog of 160 high-definition games and to be available in 37 countries by the end of 2006. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Xbox Live

Xbox Live is the first and only unified online entertainment network seamlessly integrated throughout the entire console experience, making it easy for people to find the friends, games and entertainment they want from the moment they power on their Xbox 360 system. Xbox Live connects millions of members across 24 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox Live Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos, and movie trailers, as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favorite retail games. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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Microsoft, Viva Piñata, Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Windows, Age of Empires, Zoo Tycoon, Xbox, Halo, Fable, Project Gotham Racing, Forza Motorsport, MSN and Hexic are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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