At midnight last night, New Zealand gamers were the first in the world to experience the much-anticipated Halo 4.
More than 650 Kiwi Halo fans descended on EB Games in Botany Town Centre for the largest gaming launch ever held in New Zealand.
The event - a partnership between EB Games, Gameplanet.co.nz and Xbox NZ - was the first Halo 4 launch celebration in the world, and was supported by midnight openings of EB Games stores in Wellington and Christchurch.
The first copy worldwide was picked up by long-time Halo fan Jerina Grewar after she queued for 12 hours.
EB Games merchandising manager Grant Henry says the Auckland launch event was the largest ever held in New Zealand.
"EB Games pulled out all the stops to celebrate Halo 4 and it's great to see such a fantastic turnout."
"Halo is a gaming legend. The sheer numbers and unmistakable passion of the fans here at the midnight madness is the proof," said Xbox NZ lead Steven Blackburn.
MICROSOFT PULLS OUT ALL STOPS
Microsoft has high hopes for the latest Halo.
Halo: Reach, the fourth game in the series sans Master Chief, was launched in September 2010 and raked in US$200 million in global sales on launch-day.
The company is hosting marquee events in cities from Seattle and Berlin to London - where the company will stage an as-yet-undisclosed stunt on the Thames river.
Microsoft also held a massive launch event last week in the small country of Liechtenstein in Europe. Some historic landmarks and the countryside of the 62-square mile nation was transformed into a futuristic Halo-like universe and reporters were allowed to test the game.
GameStop Corp, the largest US chain, is also planning midnight events.
With less than 12 hours before the title's launch, GameStop spokeswoman Wendy Dominguez said fans had begun lining up outside a handful of stores, including at their Flower Mound, Texas outlet. Some dressed in Halo costumes.
"They've either pre-ordered Halo or they're waiting to get their hands on a copy and they're pretty excited about it," Dominguez said.
-Gameplanet, with Reuters