Hail to the Master Chief!Hail to the Master Chief! 'Halo 2' is Coming to an Xbox Near You Microsoft Game Studios Announces 'Halo 2' and 'Project Gotham Racing 2,' Highly Anticipated Sequels to Top-Selling Xbox Games NEW YORK, Aug. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- It's time again for gamers to assume the role of Master Chief, protecting humanity with a powerful armory of guns and grenades as they battle the relentless Covenant scourge. It's also time for gamers to be among the first to grab the steering wheel of a shiny new Enzo Ferrari and race through the streets of some of the world's most exotic cities. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) today announced at the X02 North America event that "Halo(TM) 2" and "Project Gotham Racing(TM) 2," sequels to best-selling Xbox(TM) games from Microsoft Game Studios, are in development for the Xbox video game system. "Halo 2," developed by Bungie Studios, is expected to arrive on store shelves for the 2003 holiday season, and "Project Gotham Racing 2," developed by Bizarre Creations, is due in early 2004. "Halo 2," a sci-fi action/first-person shooter game, is a full sequel to the best-selling original and will continue the story of the Master Chief, a genetically enhanced supersoldier who is the only man that has successfully defied the Covenant, a coalition of alien races on a murderous march toward Earth. "Halo 2" surpasses its predecessor both in graphical beauty and combat intensity. The Master Chief and his marine allies return to battle the full complement of Covenant forces, as well as new enemies who have not yet revealed themselves. "Halo 2" also expands the Master Chief's already substantial arsenal with powerful new weapons, many pried from the twitching claws of defeated enemies, as well as more than twice as many drivable vehicles for exploring vast landscapes or speeding into battle. In addition to its epic single-player campaign, "Halo 2" will be playable online through Xbox Live. "Project Gotham Racing 2" returns to city streets with new fully licensed vehicles from major car manufacturers including Ferrari and Porsche. This engaging racing game sequel includes more than 50 vehicles as well as new cities, including Edinburgh, Scotland, and Hong Kong. More ways to earn Kudos will be available, as well as a new rating system, a more accurate way to rank players rather than just by the number of Kudos they have earned. "Project Gotham Racing 2" also enables gamers to play online through the Xbox Live service. "There's only one thing better than announcing a sequel to a million-seller," said Ed Fries, vice president of Xbox Game Content at Microsoft Game Studios. "And that's announcing sequels to two 1-million-unit-selling games. Our 'Halo' and 'Project Gotham Racing' franchises have redefined the shooter and racing categories around the world with innovation, great gameplay and pure fun. 'Halo 2' and 'Project Gotham Racing 2' will build on these legacies with awesome new features and the thrill of playing anyone anywhere using Xbox Live." "Halo: Combat Evolved" reached the 1-million-units-sold mark faster than any other Xbox game in North America and was named Game of the Year by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, Electronic Gaming Monthly and IGN.com. "Project Gotham Racing" was nominated for Console Racing Game of the Year by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. It joined the select million-seller club during the past month. At the X02 North America event, third-party publishers such as Electronic Arts(TM), Sega® of America Inc. and Capcom® showed off their holiday titles, and Bose Corp. is helping Xbox showcase the power of the console's unique Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound capabilities through the use of the new Bose Freestyle audio system. Gamers don't have to wait until 2003; they can get their fix of great Xbox games this holiday season with "Blinx(TM): The Time Sweeper," "Brute Force(TM)," "Kakuto Chojin(TM)," "MechAssault(TM)," "NBA Inside Drive 2003," "NFL Fever 2003" (available now), "Quantum Redshift(TM)," "Sega Sports(TM) NFL 2K3" (Sega® of America), "Panzer Dragoon(TM) Orta" (Sega® of America), "Shenmue II," "Sneakers(TM)," "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell(TM)" (Ubi Soft® Entertainment), "Unreal Championship" (Infogrames), and "Whacked!(TM)."