By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: Microsoft Corp. has announced that its much anticipated Xbox 360 game, Halo 3, is set to be released worldwide on Tuesday 25 September 2007, with the game’s release providing Australian retailers a golden opportunity to boost sales and drive traffic.

Its launch has already been labelled as “the biggest entertainment event of the year” by Microsoft group product marketing manager – Xbox, Nick Segger.

“‘Halo 3 is much more than a video game release — it’s potentially the biggest entertainment event of the year,” he said.

“For the fans though, it’s the chance to revisit the Halo legend and finish the fight in stunning high definition.”

Halo 3 will complete the Halo trilogy, which first appeared on the Xbox in 2001 with the original title, Halo: Combat Evolved, followed by Halo 2 in 2004 which generated a record-setting $US125 million in sales within the first 24 hours of release.

Upon its 25 September release, the game will be offered in three editions, the Standard Edition (RRP $99.95), the Limited Edition (RRP $119.95) and the Legendary Edition (RRP $199.95).

The Legendary Edition will be released in limited quantities and will be packaged in a highly-collectible Master Chief helmet-case which will include a high definition ‘Making of Halo 3’ documentary as well as a bonus disc with completely re-mastered cinematic material from “Halo: Combat Evolved” and “Halo 2”, complete with developer commentaries.

The Legendary Edition will also include a video game first – an AV calibration tool custom designed to allow fans to make the most of their high definition home theatre’s audio and video performance.

The Limited Edition of Halo 3 will feature a sleek metal collector’s casing, the first bonus disc found in the Legendary Edition, as well as a special Halo fiction/art book, while the Standard Edition will feature the Halo 3 Xbox 360 game only.

Also in the works is a Halo movie blockbuster to be directed Neill Blomkamp and executively produced by Peter Jackson of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘King Kong’ fame. The Halo movie is currently in pre-production with a tentative release date of 2009 announced.

The Halo franchise has now expanded way beyond video games to include New York Times’ best-selling books, graphic novels, action figures, collectible merchandise and even a special edition Zune digital media player.