"Gears of War 2," the sequel to Epic Games’ megahit for the Microsoft Xbox 360 platform, will hit store shelves just in time for Christmas.

Epic and Microsoft’s game division announced the game at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

"Gears 2" will be “bigger, better” than the original, said Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski. Known in the game industry as CliffyB, he is major creative talent behind the "Gears" games and is Epic’s lead designer.

The two companies demonstrated an early version of "Gears 2" for the media. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

"To our team, the original game was just a tease, the appetizer to the ‘Gears of War’ characters and new style of gameplay. We were so amped to get to the next chapter, and dig deeper into the universe of this franchise," Bleszinski said in a statement. "’Gears of War 2′ is an even bigger, better, and more bad-ass experience than the first game, and we can’t wait to get it in the hands of eager gamers this November."

The original "Gears of War" was the first big hit for the Microsoft Xbox 360 platform, selling more than 4.5 million copies. It also has sold some 1 million copies in a version for personal computers.

Epic has turned the game, which pits mankind against a locust horde in a sci-fi, no-holds-barred shooter into an entertainment franchise. In addition to movie rights sold to Peter Jackson (the brains behind the Lord of Rings movie trilogy), Epic also has sold rights for toy action figures. Books and a graphic novel/comic book also are in the works, but have yet to be formally announced.

Reports that a sequel was in production had been denied repeatedly by Epic in recent weeks. However, WRAL Local Tech Wire reported Wednesday morning that an official announcement was likely to be made at the GDC.

The game will focus on events after those in the original "Gears." There had been some reports that "Gears 2" might be a prequel.