Curse living in the UK! As if not having peanut butter M&Ms, GAP Sweatshirts and more TV channels than you can poke a stick at isn't enough, the US also got their hands on Halo 3 a full day ahead of us. And it's not just the Yanks we're sending virtual envious glares at, it's also the suntanned Kiwis and Aussies who are crossed off our Christmas card lists too. Bah humbug.
Not that us folk living in the UK and Europe have that much longer to wait, as the hugely-anticipated Game Of The Year is dropping into town tonight, with 1,000 stores across the UK extending their opening hours for the hordes of sweaty gamers expected. Of course, some of you may already have finished the last chapter in the trilogy by Bungie, as both Tesco and Argos somehow 'accidentally' managed to sell copies before the launch date. "Oh, sorry, mister, a unicorn ran into the store, grabbed several copies from the box, and placed them on the shelf, I didn't know what to do!"
Let's take a look at some of the carnage Halo 3 fanboys have wreaked across stores in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the last few days...
The Kiwis were the first people in the world to legally obtain a copy of Halo 3, with two 19-year olds from Tauranga, Nicole Sinclair and Ryan Marsden being publicised until the cows came home all across the world as the first in the country to do so. At the official launch in Auckland, Microsoft's NZ HQ celebrated by freezing 50 prize discs in a block of ice, and gave gamers until 6am to melt the ice with water guns in order to get their grubby little hands on the freebies. Celebrities included well-they-must-be-famous-over-there types such as Dave Fane, Dai Henwood, PNC, Frontline, Savage and Ben Boyce (Pulp Sport's Bill & Ben).
Anyone arguing that the game is too expensive here should listen to what our friends down south are being charged - the Legendary Edtion costs NZ$199.95 (£72.95), and the Collector's Edition NZ$119.95 (£43.77). Opening day sales statistics have not been confirmed yet, but with 8,000 copies pre-sold before the launch, that's NZ$500,000 in Microsoft and Bungie's pockets right there. (Images from Marlborough Express and Kotaku)
More than 10,000 stores across the States kept their doors open for excited fans, and it looks like the overtime wages paid off, as critics are saying it should bring in $140million in sales on day one. If Halo 3 achieves this, it will have earnt more in 24 hours than the opening box office takings of any film in history ever.
Best Buy on 5th Avenue NYC was the official venue for the Halo 3 launch in the North-East, and the first queuer arrived at 6PM Sunday night, according to Kotaku. CNET reported that thousands of people queuing outside the store were encouraged by Best Buy and Microsoft to wave their homemade banners and signs in the air, with the best proclaiming 'MASTER CHIEF IS MY FATHER!'
Celebrities included the usual NFL players, plus rappers Ludacris, Chingy and R&B singer Bobby Valentino. (Image from Wired's Game Life)
Microsoft Australia chose not to host any official launches in the country for the game, instead individual retailers were left to their own devices in what has been proclaimed 'the game that may save Microsoft's dodgy gaming reputation' in Australia.
A huge retailer in the country, EB Games held events at many of their stores, where 'hundreds' of gamers lining up. 100 reportedly gathered at the Bondi Junction store, a decidely small amount when compared to events held elsewhere in the world. It appears the whole country isn't very enthused for the game, with the site of the official Halo 2 launch, Myer's Pitt Street Mall store, not even opening for the night.
42,000 pre-orders for the game were placed in Australia, where the standard edition is retailing for AU$99.95 (£42.85), and the Legendary Edition is AU$199.95 (£85.70).
As you know, the game is launching across the UK and Europe tomorrow, with stores across the country selling it at the stroke of midnight. The official premiere launch is being held at the BFI IMAX cinema, with Pharell Williams being flown in by Microsoft to kick the party off. I'll be there, with a handycam in one hand and digital camera in the other, snapping videos and photos faster than a PS3 fanboy can spit out criticisms about Master Chief.
Check in tomorrow for exclusive photos and video, and for the evidence of my inevitable raging hang-over. Oh boy...
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