Universal City (CA) - The launch of Halo 3 was a lot like a movie premier but with Master Chief as the main celebrity, no red carpet, and tons of media. A fairly impressive Master Chief stepped out in costume an hour before the midnight launch to greet hundreds of gamers and press waiting outside the Game Stop store in Universal City.
Gamers and fans alike reached over metal barriers to get a picture with the Chief while another celebrity was also on hand to add some excitement to the event: Zac Efron from Disney's recent hit "High School Musical", who later handed out copies of the game to the first buyers.
Throughout the night, there was definitely an air of excitement and anticipation as gamers would spontaneously cheer "Finish the fight!" (an ode to Halo 2's cliffhanger ending) – all of which was caught by the media frenzy outside the store which included reporters from many of the major networks including ABC7, Fox 11 News, Entertainment Tonight and Univision.
22-year-old Chris Brubaker was the first person to line up at 12 noon on Sunday. Brubaker, a gamer with a laid-back demeanor, has been playing since "Nintendo days" and came with a crew of 5 friends who took up the first spots in line. "I really like the Halo game style and I'm definitely looking forward to the multi-player feature of Halo 3", said Brubaker.
Another patiently waiting gamer also raved about the multi-player feature. "I've played Halo 2 for the last three years and I can't wait to get Halo 3. I really like the multi-player style…I want to play it online!" said Phil Scaletta, who had been waiting in line since 4 a.m. on Monday.
Customers waited in line and were escorted in small groups into the Game Stop store in order to pre-pay for their game (Standard, Collector's, or Legendary retail version) and receive a wristband. Afterwards, they waited in line again and re-entered the store to pick up the actual merchandise after midnight.
The first 20-30 in line waited in a partitioned area that was separate from the rest of the main line and everyone got their hands on some free stuff ranging from t-shirts to gaming posters.
Everyone did an enthusiastic countdown to midnight and after that, the first customers slowly trickled out of the store with the prized game in hand. Many of them cheered, telling us it felt great, and that they couldn't wait to go home to start playing. There was even a father who waited hours to purchase the game for his son's 12 th birthday.
At one point, Brubaker finally exited the store only to be escorted right back inside when he realized it might be a good idea to have security walk him to his car, especially with his new prized possession.