NEWS - Sunday, November 14, 2004

Master Chief Finally Lands In England

For the people across the UK who have been waiting for Halo 2 with baited breath ever since they escaped Halo and finally put down the controller back in 2002, the wait has been pretty torturous. Not so much in that it’s been more than two years since X02 when Halo 2 was announced -- everyone had to suffer that -- but because for the past two days we could only watch as our friends lists told us that most of the world is already playing it online. I’m sure there’s some logic behind delaying it two days, bringing out a game on a Thursday, and releasing a war game on Armistice Day, but I’m damned if I can find it. Still, it’s here now and the wait is over. So far it doesn’t seem to have suffered the shortages that plagued the launch of GTA: San Andreas (one retailer that I spoke to was still taking pre-orders on his third shipment for that one), but the pre-orders have been piling up for months and most places had sold their allotment of the limited edition tins long before release. They’re not showing up on eBay at hugely inflated prices yet but it’s probably just a matter of time. For many people who couldn’t wait until morning the wait started late on Wednesday night as high street games stores across the country opened at midnight, and even relatively small branches like Game (the UK equivalent of EB) in Bournemouth had around 30 people in line by midnight, with more arriving afterward. Other stores in the town didn’t have the same queue, but were nonetheless open and enjoying some multiplayer action as the customers drifted in. Game’s flagship store on Oxford Street, London, also opened its doors at midnight where Master Chief himself greeted gamers who braved the cold and a TV news crew was there to cover the event, but that probably wasn’t any consolation to those who got to the front of the queue only to find out that the tins were sold out. According to the sales rep 60 people turned up, but it looked like a lot more than that. Microsoft has decided to celebrate the launch by holding their Big Screen Battle tournament at Vue Cinemas around the country, where players can compete for prizes in Halo 2 tournaments played out on the giant cinema screens. It’s too early for any numbers on how the launch went, but retailers told me that there has been a similar level of interest as there was for GTA: San Andreas, and that smashed sales records here only two weeks ago. Halo 2 sells in the UK for £39.99 ($73.69 US) for the standard edition, and £44.99 ($82.90 US) for the Collector’s Edition. Never let me hear you complain about paying $50 for a game again.


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