Halo 2 due November 9

Microsoft and Bungie have finally set the date for the Master Chief 's return to the Xbox, and they'll mark the occasion with a limited edition of the game.

Double-click the video window for a full-screen view. After years of nebulous announcements, tentative releases dates, and the oft-repeated phrase "It will be ready when it's done," Microsoft and Bungie have finally nailed down the release date for Halo 2.

On November 9, 2004--almost exactly three years since Halo: Combat Evolved shipped--the most eagerly awaited sequel in Xbox history will arrive in stores, according to Aaron Greenberg, Xbox business and marketing manager. The news was officially unveiled at Microsoft's official E3 press briefing at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. As an added bonus, attendees were treated to the first-ever multiplayer footage from Halo 2, which will be fully Xbox Live-enabled when it is released this fall.

"We're very excited," Greenberg told GameSpot, expressing a fraction of the enthusiasm many gamers are feeling at the announcement. "We are not looking at it so much as a game launch as a cultural phenomenon," he said, promising massive marketing support for Halo 2.

It didn't take long to find out what Greenberg meant. Moments after revealing the game's official release date, Microsoft announced it will soon make available a limited edition of Halo 2. The two-disc Halo LE will come in a metal box and will sport a bevy of extras, including the documentary "The Making of Halo 2: Behind the Scenes of Bungie Studios." Also included in the set will be a series of featurettes on Halo 2's game design, animation, and music, as well as a collection of cinematics and characters that were cut from the game. The Halo LE will also feature an art gallery and commentaries from the development team at Bungie.

To date, Halo remains the best-selling title on the Xbox platform. Since its release in November 2001, it has sold more than 4.5 million units, and often re-enters the best-selling game charts. Besides being endorsed by the gaming public, Halo was also a critical favorite and was included in GameSpot's own Top 10 First-Person Shooters of All Time.

For more details on Halo 2 and all other things E3, check back with GameSpot's continuing coverage of this year's expo.

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