Halo: Reach launches in Australia today. Photo: Supplied
The first title, “Halo: Combat Evolved” was released in 2001 and the franchise has attracted a cult following and inspired novels, action figures, comic books, and clothing. The latest installment is set before the main “Halo” trilogy, which focuses on a super-soldier called “Master Chief” and his artificial-intelligence companion battling to save humanity from an alien alliance called the Covenant. The prequel tells “the tragic and heroic story” of a group of soldiers making a stand against Covenant forces on a planet called Reach. Special “marquee” launch events were planned for London, Oslo, Stockholm, Seattle, and New York. “Halo: Reach” is a much anticipated prequel to a hot video game franchise billed as a pop culture phenomenon by Microsoft Game Studios, the publisher behind the title made for play exclusively on the company’s Xbox 360 consoles. “We’re delivering on our promise to redefine blockbuster entertainment experiences and ultimately help make this year the biggest ever in Xbox history.”

The video game goes on sale a minute into Tuesday local time in more than 25 countries. “When it comes to the size and scope of a franchise and especially the dedication of the fans, no game is bigger than ‘Halo’,” said Game Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer. More than 2.7 million players participated in a “Halo: Reach” multi-player online test of the videogame beta in May, according to Microsoft. The “Halo” franchise is the creation of US video game studio Bungie. Tens of thousands of shops signed on for a “midnight launch” expected to attract millions of the franchise’s devoted fans. More than 34 million copies of “Halo” video games have been sold according to Microsoft. The trigger fingers of “Halo” lovers worldwide are twitching ahead of the release today of the latest installment of the acclaimed science fiction shooter video game. AFP