The Master Chief’s return now has an official date: Sept. 25, 2007.
Microsoft’s Bungie Game Studios confirmed Wednesday that “Halo 3,” the third installment in its lucrative and popular XBox “Halo” game series, will reach store shelves on Sept. 25 in the U.S. and most international markets, and launch Sept. 26 throughout Europe.
The announcement brings up the anticipated date of the game’s shipment by several weeks. Amazon.com’s site lists “Halo 3” for pre-order with a shipping date of Nov. 1. The date confirmation came alongside the release of the game’s multi-player beta version Wednesday. The beta trial will last until just before midnight on June 6.
Microsoft is treating the “Halo 3” debut more like a movie release than just shipping a new game, and perhaps correctly so. “Halo 2” recorded sales of US$125 million in first-day purchases upon its release in November 2004 — a premiere that would have made it the number one film opening of all-time at the time of its release. To date, only “Spider-Man 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” have made more money in their opening weekend.
Unlike cinema tickets, which cost about $10 each, “Halo” game sales are boosted by a price tag of between $50 and $60 per copy.
The company is planning a “Halo 3” themed edition of its Zune media player, which will come pre-loaded with trailers, music and graphics related to the game. The most recent trailer, “Starry Night,” can be viewed
Three versions of the game will be available to players and fans: no frills for $59.99, collectors edition for $69.99 and a special Legendary edition complete with a helmet like that of the game’s main character, the Master Chief, for $199.99. Only the first two are currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
The “Halo” series is a first-person shooter that follows the Master Chief, a cyborg, as he battles the enemies of humankind; namely, The Covenant, and a race of zombie-like creates known as The Flood. In “Halo 2,” gamers play not only the Master Chief, but also follow a Covenant commander called The Arbiter as he fights to put down a civil war within the Covenant.
“Halo” was designed by Microsoft’s Bungie Game Studios as a talismanic title for the original XBox game console. Both “Halo” and “Halo 2” were released before the debut of the XBox 360. Although “Halo” has appeared in other formats, including for PC and Mac, neither have been ported to rival consoles such as Sony Corp.’s Playstation 2 or Playstation 3. By contrast, iconic Playstation titles such as “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” have made it over to XBox about a year after their original release.