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Microsoft Rolls Out Red Carpet For PC Gaming's Brightest Stars

Windows gaming takes center stage, as today Microsoft Corp. hosts the Games for Windows Presents: The Big Picture showcase event in San Francisco, highlighting some of the most eagerly anticipated Microsoft Games for Windows titles of 2008, while also announcing exciting new additions to the portfolio.

Attendees will get hands-on experience with new games in a variety of genres, including debut gameplay of CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR, while some of the biggest names in the business will display new hardware that truly pushes the boundaries of gaming technology.

"The big picture of the PC gaming market is unparalleled growth," said Kevin Unangst, senior global director of Windows gaming in the Entertainment and Devices division at Microsoft. "By all accounts, Windows continues to lead the gaming industry worldwide in both users and total revenue, and DFC Intelligence expects the PC gaming market to grow by a staggering 73 percent from 2007 to 2013. Compelling online experiences, industry-leading graphics, high-quality games and innovative hardware are driving that growth, and we're proud to partner with other leaders and showcase the best of Windows gaming at this event."

Microsoft raised the curtain on its Games for Windows lineup, displaying eight games from some of the top publishers in the industry, including 2K Games, Activision, Capcom Ent., Codemasters Software, SEGA, Sierra Ent. and THQ. From action-packed shooters to fun and family-friendly games based on this summer's hottest films, the Games for Windows brand has all the best titles for young and old, hard-core and casual gamers:

-- BIONIC COMMANDO (Capcom). The first true sequel to the classic 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System original, BIONIC COMMANDO sees the return of the bionically enhanced Nathan "Rad" Spencer, voiced by Mike Patton, the former lead singer of Faith No More. BIONIC COMMANDO transposes the swing-and-shoot gameplay of the 8-bit original to a stunning 3-D environment of towering buildings, suspended roadways and monorails, deep canyons, and sheer rock faces, where every environment is scalable using swinging, scaling, climbing and wall-walking techniques.

-- CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR (Activision). CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR re-defines the World War II experience, pitting players against enemies in the Pacific and European theaters who know no surrender and will unleash surprising new tactics in a fight to the death. Gamers can harness four-player co-op gameplay to coordinate assault strategies with their teammates like never before.

-- SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION IV: COLONIZATION" (2K Games). In SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION IV: COLONIZATION, players lead one of four European nations on a quest to conquer and rule the New World. Players will be challenged to guide their people from the oppressive motherland, discover the New World, and negotiate, trade and fight with both the natives and other nations as they acquire power and fight for freedom and independence. As a complete reimagining of the 1994 classic, COLONIZATION is a total conversion of CIVILIZATION IV that combines the latter's addictive "just one more turn" gameplay with all-new graphics and features that add more depth to the franchise. (SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION IV: COLONIZATION does not require the original CIVILIZATION IV product in order to be played.)

-- DEVIL MAY CRY 4 (Capcom). DEVIL MAY CRY 4 is the next installment in the hugely successful stylized action series, immersing gamers in a gothic supernatural world, where a new protagonist clashes with a familiar hero. As the new leading man, Nero, players will unleash incredible attacks and nonstop combos using a unique new gameplay mechanic, his powerful "Devil Bringer" arm.

-- GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME (Sierra Ent.). Who you gonna call? The Ghostbusters are back in GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME. With Manhattan newly overrun by ghosts and other supernatural creatures, gamers take on the role of a new recruit joining the famous Ghostbusters team. Equipped with a variety of unique weapons and gadgets, players will hunt, fight and capture a wide range of uncanny phantasms in an all-new funny and frightening battle to save New York City from its latest paranormal plague.

-- KUNG FU PANDA (Activision). Players embark on an epic, action-packed adventure as they master the specialized kung fu fighting styles of Po the Panda. They must work their way to become the Dragon Warrior and defeat the ultimate enemy, Tai Lung, as they battle a variety of foes, overcome dangerous obstacles, navigate multi-tiered environments and solve challenging puzzles.

-- SPACE SIEGE (SEGA). After a massive alien attack on Earth, the last survivors flee aboard a massive colony ship. As Seth Walker, players will fight the alien scourge by augmenting their bodies with cybernetic upgrades, enabling them to perform superhuman feats. But with each cybernetic improvement they can never return to being fully human.

-- WALL-E (THQ). Players will take control of WALL-E and EVE through a fast-paced adventure based on the upcoming Disney-Pixar film. The game will allow fans to relive some of the movie's most thrilling moments as they explore 10 worlds filled with nonstop action and adventure, along with head-to-head multiplayer challenges. Players will recognize the storyline, characters and key locations from the WALL-E film as they carry out intense missions, dodge dangerous enemies and navigate their way through a futuristic world. In addition, the game will contain new storylines and environments that moviegoers will not see in theaters.

Microsoft also announced 16 all-new additions to the Games for Windows portfolio, including CRYSIS WARHEAD, the highly anticipated follow-up to Crytek's runaway hit, CRYSIS. Games for Windows now heralds more than 85 branded titles from nearly every major publisher, which together with Microsoft continue to raise the bar for quality and entertainment in PC gaming:

-- BATTLESTATIONS: MIDWAY (Eidos)-- BATTLESTATIONS: PACIFIC (Eidos)-- BORDERLANDS (2K Games)-- CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR (Activision)-- CRYSIS WARHEAD (Crytek/EA Partners)-- DAWN OF WAR 2 (THQ)-- DEVIL MAY CRY 4 (Capcom)-- GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME (Sierra Entertainment)-- QUANTUM OF SOLACE (Activision)-- LEGO BATMAN: THE VIDEOGAME (Warner Bros. Interactive Ent.)-- MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA (Activision)-- MAFIA II (2K Games)-- PROJECT ORIGIN (Warner Bros. Interactive Ent.)-- RED FACTION: GUERILLA (THQ)-- SAINTS ROW 2 (THQ)-- ZOO TYCOON 2: ULTIMATE COLLECTION (Microsoft Game Studios)

Not to be outdone by the exciting portfolio announcements, some of the industry's biggest hardware players will be on hand with cutting-edge new products.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will demonstrate its latest gaming innovations for Windows. AMD will show off its new ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series graphics card accompanied by the AMD Phenom X4 processor and AMD 7- Series Chipset, optimized to provide PC users with an exceptional gaming experience as part of the AMD GAME! platform.

Meanwhile, NVIDIA will show a variety of physics demos and games running on the latest graphics hardware, including the GeForce GTX 280 desktop graphics processing unit (GPU) and new GeForce 9M notebook GPU, reinforcing the PC's position at the center of innovation in gaming.

The new Games for Windows portfolio announcements come hot on the heels of the most successful PC gaming launch of 2008, as the Games for Windows-branded title AGE OF CONAN: HYBORIAN ADVENTURES shipped an astounding one million units worldwide in its first three weeks on the market, according to Funcom. This achievement marks one of the biggest debuts in Games for Windows history, and the most successful massively multiplayer online (MMO) game launch since WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

Yankee Group Research reports expected online PC gaming revenue in North America to reach $3.89 billion by 2012.

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