Exclusive Tomb Raider episodes for 360

Plus exclusive Underworld demo this month.

Microsoft has secured the exclusive rights to distribute two downloadable add-on episodes for Tomb Raider: Underworld on Xbox Live following the release of the game.

Tomb Raider: Underworld - Beneath the Ashes and Tomb Raider: Underworld - Lara's Shadow will offer "up to six hours of new gameplay and content" between them.

We asked how much the two episodes would cost, but Eidos was unable to give us an answer at the time of publication. Eidos has also said a demo of Tomb Raider: Underworld will be released on Xbox Live Marketplace this month, and Eurogamer has been told this is also exclusive to Xbox 360.

The first of the two new episodes, Beneath the Ashes, will be released this Christmas, and Eidos has said it follows events taking place after Underworld's story concludes. The publisher promises "an incredible new environment to explore, additional secrets to unlock and different enemies to fight".

Lara's Shadow, meanwhile, will be released in early 2009, and "will introduce players to a new kind of playable character and create a unique Tomb Raider experience". However, both episodes are described as "single-player gameplay experiences", so don't read too much into that just yet.

"We're thrilled that Xbox owners will be able to extend their Lara Croft adventures with exclusive Tomb Raider: Underworld episodes," said George Peckham, general manager of Microsoft's global third party publishing branch, no doubt a few quid lighter.

"We look forward to continue working closely with our great publishing partners to deliver the most robust gaming experiences, only on Xbox 360."

There's already plenty of evidence of that, of course, especially with the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV exclusive episodes, which are due for release before the end of the year.

Elsewhere, Microsoft announced at E3 that it has sewn up a deal with Bethesda Softworks to publish exclusive downloadable content for the developer's upcoming RPG-shooter hybrid Fallout 3.

It's all part of the platform holder's push to position Xbox Live as the first choice for internet-connected console gamers. At the moment, the service has more than 12 million users (some paying, some not).

Tomb Raider: Underworld is due out on PS3, 360, Wii, PS2, DS and PC on 21st November.

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