Nov. 5, 2012 at 5:02 PM ET
It's been five years since the launch of "Halo 3" and the last time we saw the famed alien-fighting duo Master Chief and Cortana in action. And now that "Halo 4" is arriving, it's safe to say that their legions of fans are very excited to see them once again.
With that in mind, Microsoft has announced that, when "Halo 4" officially launches Tuesday, more than 10,000 stores in more than 40 countries will open their doors at 12:01 a.m. ... you know, for those who just can't wait for a more reasonable hour to pick up their copy of the game.
Microsoft said in a press release Monday that it aims to make the "Halo 4" launch the biggest entertainment premier of the year — rivaling that of not only any other game (ahem, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2"), but of any Hollywood movie.
It certainly seem possible. The Halo franchise is among the best known names in gaming out there and, as Microsoft points out, the franchise has sold more than 46 million copies worldwide, generating more than $3 billion in sales since its start back in 2001.
When "Halo: Reach" launched in 2010, it pulled in more than $200 million in sales in the U.S. and Europe in just 24 hours, which was more than all previous entertainment launches that year — including the opening weekends for films such as "Iron Man 2," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Toy Story 3."
In addition to the 10,000 stores opening in the wee hours of the morning to usher in "Halo 4," Microsoft has big launch events planned in cities such as Seattle, Paris, Berlin and Hong Kong. In London, the launch will be celebrated with some kind of yet-to-be-revealed Halo-themed stunt on the Thames. And this follows a launch event last week in which Microsoft transformed portions of the tiny European country of Liechtenstein into a Halo set and then brought in "super fans" to experience it.
"Halo 4" picks up where "Halo" 3 left off — with Master Chief and Cortana adrift on the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn. In this start to a brand new trilogy, things are looking bleak for the super soldier, and for the wise and wise-cracking womanly artificial intelligence that is his guide. Cortana is suffering from a kind of AI insanity and the Chief will have to save her ... as well as fend off a new alien force menacing the universe.
The game — which marks the first by the the new team at 343 Industries which took over the franchise from Bungie — has already received high ratings from reviewers (currently pulling in a score of 87 out of 100 on Metcritic). Our own InGame editor Todd Kenreck calls it "breathtaking, heart-breaking and awe-inspiring."
While you're waiting for the clock to strike midnight, check out Todd's review below, as well as the videos that follow, for his in-depth look at the game.
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.