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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Halo 3 launch date is announced
Screen shot from Halo 3

Hugely popular video game Halo 3 is due for a September debut, Microsoft has announced.

The September release date is earlier than expected and will help Microsoft in its drive to make the Xbox 360 console the gaming machine of choice this Christmas.

Halo 3 is the final instalment of the video game that has been crucial to sales of Microsoft's Xbox.

The game debuts in the US on 25 September and one day later in Europe.

No word has been given on when it will be available in Japan.

Entertainment event

A trial version of the online portion of the game was released on 16 May.

Microsoft has only released information about US pricing. The basic game will cost $59.99 (30), a limited edition for $69.99 and a legendary edition for $129.99. It is likely that European prices will be higher than direct exchange rate conversions suggest.

The Halo series of games are first-person shooters which detail the ongoing conflict between humans and the Covenant - an alliance of alien races.

Halo 3 has been likened to a blockbuster movie and continues the conflict on Earth which has been conquered and is now controlled by the Covenant.

Like many console games it has a multi-player section that allows players to take each other on in a variety of settings. In mid-May the first three multi-player maps were released to players in a beta test of the Halo 3 game.

In the multi-player games, players use weapons and vehicles to win battles or achieve strategic objectives, such as capturing flags or defending territories.

The first Halo was launched with Microsoft's Xbox in November 2001.

More than 2.5m copies of the Halo 2 were sold on its day of release - with sales of more than $125m.

Microsoft has said that this year's Christmas season will be "critical" in its ongoing console war with rival Sony.

"They don't really have an answer to Halo 3," Shane Kim, head of Microsoft Game Studios told Reuters.

Microsoft has pitched the release of the game as one of the biggest entertainment launches of the year, comparing it to the new Harry Potter book and the movie Spider-Man 3.

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