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‘Gears of War 3’ gets release date

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Xbox 360 owners, mark Sept. 20 on your calendar. Go ahead and take the day off work, clear your schedules or whatever you have to do. Marcus Fenix and the boys are coming over to play.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that Epic’s “Gears of War 3” will be released September 20. The final chapter in the trilogy was originally slated to be released this spring, but was delayed late last year. “Gears 3” is one of the most hotly anticipated titles arriving in 2011 and a beta will be held later this year. Those who purchase the Epic Edition of “Bulletstorm” will receive an invitation into the beta.

NFL, EA extend deal through 2013

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The reprecussions of a possible work stoppage in the NFL are already being felt in the video game industry.

According to online reports, the league and “Madden NFL” publisher Electronic Arts have reached agreement on a new deal that not only extends EA’s exclusive rights to the NFL by one season, but reduces the fees EA pays to the league if the 2011 season is disrupted by a strike or lockout.

So what does this mean for gamers?

You can still count on “Madden NFL 12” to arrive later this year, with or without an NFL season to accompany it, and any would-be competitors to EA’s football crown will now have to wait three years to get a crack at the NFL license.

‘Marvel vs. Capcom 3’ review live

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OK, so who would win in a fight between Deadpool and Viewtiful Joe? What about Thor vs. Chris Redfield? Now we can settle the issue once and for all thanks to “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds,” which hits stores Tuesday, Feb. 15. In the meantime, click here to read my review or visit the Video Games section of wvgazette.com.

‘First Strike’ landing on PS3 in March

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Activision announced Wednesday that the “First Strike” map pack for “Call of Duty: Black Ops” will arrive on PlayStation 3 March 3, less than a month after the DLC debuted exclusively on the Xbox 360.

Featuring four new multiplayer maps as well as a new Zombie Mode map, the “First Strike” pack will retail for $15.

No release date has been revealed for “First Strike” on PC.

In a press release Wednesday, mega-publisher Activision announced plans to “disband” the company’s “Guitar Hero” business unit and has halted development on the next entry in the series, which was likely to be released later this year.

The announcement coincided with the publisher’s annual revenue report which revealed a $233 million loss in the latest quarter. For 2009, Activision reported a $286 million loss during the same period. Net yearly revenues dropped from $1.56 billion in 2009 to $1.43 billion in 2010, despite the release of the commercial smash “Call of Duty: Black Ops.”

The company also announced plans to shelve its “True Crime” franchise, and rumors of layoffs at “DJ Hero” developer Freestyle Games were swirling Wednesday afternoon.

Looking for a way to pass the time this weekend while watching the snow fall? Why not prestige a time or three in “Call of Duty: Black Ops”?

Developer Treyarch is celebrating the release of the First Strike map pack with a Double XP multiplayer weekend. From now until noon Monday, gamers can earn double the experience points in “Black Ops” multiplayer matches, making the climb up the ranks just a little easier.

So if going outside isn’t an option, curl up with your controller this weekend and watch the XP pile up.