Halo 2 Invasion Causes Midnight Madness Frenzy
REDMOND, Wash. - Nov. 8, 2004 - Long lines of clamoring fans? Check. Thousands of stores open at midnight? Check. Genetically enhanced super soldiers? Check. The entertainment industry is bracing for a big night tonight as thousands of fans around the globe finally get their hands on one of the most highly anticipated games of the year: "Halo® 2," available exclusively on Microsoft® Xbox®. Gamers, celebrities, adrenaline junkies and industry paparazzi worldwide will converge at hundreds of lively launch soirees and thousands of retail outlets when the game officially goes on sale just after midnight.

In New York, Toys "R" Us Times Square will be the epicenter of "Halo 2" activities in the United States. Legions of dedicated fans are expected to line the streets waiting for the chance to be among the first to own the coveted game. Across every time zone, more than 7,000 retailers are also planning "midnight madness" events. A complete list of retail outlets opening at 12:01 a.m. can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/halo2/storelocator.htm.

The Nov. 9 launch will extend beyond U.S. borders with retail events and parties in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan as well as throughout Latin America and Down Under in Australia and New Zealand. On Nov. 10, the launch will roll out in movie-premiere-style red carpet celebrations in Belgium, France and Switzerland, followed by a Nov. 11 release in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. "Halo 2" will be available in eight languages (traditional Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish) and will be distributed in 27 countries.

"With more than 1.5 million copies already preordered, day-one sales of 'Halo 2' look to herald the biggest 24 hours in entertainment retail history," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of worldwide publishing and marketing for Xbox at Microsoft Corp. "By the end of this week the world will be playing 'Halo 2' - and with our Xbox Live TM online service, fans will literally be banding together across the globe to fend off Covenant invaders."

Made exclusively for Xbox, "Halo 2" will be sold for $49.99.* While supplies last, a limited edition two-DVD set that includes the game and bonus content such as "making of" footage, deleted scenes and commentary from the development team will be sold for $54.99.* Copies of the game can be purchased at retailers Toys "R" Us, GameStop, Electronic Boutique, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Circuit City, to name a few.

The highly anticipated sequel to the award-winning "Halo: Combat Evolved," "Halo 2" picks up where the action in the first game ended. Heavily-armored super-soldier Master Chief, with the help of a small group of Marines, has destroyed the religious artifact and artificial world known as Halo, and is making his way back to Earth. There, he and the last surviving Earth forces will mount a titanic final struggle against the marauding Covenant armada.

Exploiting the superior graphics capabilities of the Xbox console, "Halo 2" will expand on everything that made the original game great, plus add a wealth of technological and game-play advances. For example, playing on Xbox Live, gamers can engage with or against friends from around the world in an effort to save humankind.

Developed exclusively for Xbox by Bungie Studios, part of Microsoft Game Studios, the original "Halo: Combat Evolved" has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide and spawned a legion of devotees who frequently participate in competitions, tournaments and game nights.

About Xbox

Xbox (http://www.xbox.com ) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The tag line, "It's good to play together," captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

About Xbox Live

A new frontier in imagination and extraordinary interaction, no one else offers the richness of online gameplay found on Xbox Live . The world's only unified global online console games service, Xbox Live is continuously innovating to provide members with unparalleled experiences. This unique service unites gamers together in a dynamic community where they can experience the best online games, exclusive programming and continuous downloadable content. Xbox Live launched in the United States in November 2002 and is available in 24 countries. Please visit http://www.xbox.com/live for more information.

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox video game system, the Windows® operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as "Age of Empires®," "Flight Simulator" and "Zoo Tycoon®"; Xbox (http://www.xbox.com). including such games as "Fable" and franchises as "Halo," "Project Gotham Racing®" and "MechAssault®"; and MSN® Games (http://www.games.msn.com ), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as "Bejeweled" and "Hexic TM ".

About Bungie

Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the "Marathon Trilogy" and the first two "Myth" games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world. Released in 2001, "Halo: Combat Evolved" has achieved phenomenal success on the Microsoft Xbox video game system and is also available for the PC. More information on Bungie can be found at http://www.bungie.net.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft's corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp.
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