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Gears of War 3 to hit shelves Sept. 20

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Gears of War 3 - Microsoft

September is shaping up to be a bullet-ridden month for the video game industry -- with three of the year's most anticipated shooter games scheduled to land at retail.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that Gears of War 3 will release on Sept. 20. That's just one week after id Software's long-in-the-works shooter Rage is expected to hit the streets and a little over two weeks after Sony will release Resistance 3.

All three have traveled an odd road to their September destination. Gears of War 3, in fact, was originally scheduled to come out this April, with Microsoft touting the date on the Xbox Live dashboard last April and Epic's Cliff Bleszinski making the announcement on The Jimmy Fallon Show. By October, though, the company had changed its mind and announced it would be pushed back to the fall.

Set 18 months after Gears of War 2, the game once again focuses on Marcus, Baird, Dom and company, who continue to battle the Locust for the fate of the human civilization. A multiplayer beta of the game is set to kick off in the coming months, with purchasers of the "Epic Edition" of the recently released BulletStorm receiving an invitation to that beta.

Rage, meanwhile, has been waiting a little longer to see the light of day. First announced in 2007, the game is the first new intellectual property from id Software since 1996, when it debuted Quake. (The company, of course, has made plenty of games since then, but all revolving around its Doom and Quake franchises.)

Players have been given a small taste of the title already, though. id released an iPad spin-off late last year called Rage HD, which was a hit with owners of the tablet.

Resistance 3 may not have been formally announced until last August, but an eagle-eyed fan of the game noticed the game displayed on a faux billboard on the set of "Battle: Los Angeles" back in 2009, blowing any chance of surprise.

For Xbox users, the timing of the Gears of War 3 launch raises a few questions. Microsoft typically has two big releases during the holiday season: one in September and one in November. Now that Gears is set to take the stage first, what does the company have in store for November? The long-rumored Halo remake? A big Kinnect title? Or perhaps something even bigger as the console hits its 10th anniversary that month?

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