Kiwi gamers were queued up at midnight in Auckland for the first worldwide copies of the biggest video game title of the year - the long-awaited conclusion to Xbox 360's sci-fi first-person shooter trilogy, Halo.
After five hours of playing, I can report: fans will find it is all they wished for and more.
It far surpasses Halo 2 and impresses with smooth graphics, strong storyline and frenetic combat. Multiplayer is endless fun and the kit comes with additional material to load up your 360 like themes and screenshots.
New maps and a whole new single player campaign to conclude the story. Multiplayer maps are all newly designed and there is a map forge tool to create your own maps to multiplay with.
Cooperative play is an awesome feature with 4 player cooperative online against the Covenant.
New weapons like the gravity hammer and fuel rod cannon throw some heavy fire at the covenant and defenses such as the bubble shield and gravity lift. Weapons are well matched to situations and the obligatory dual wield weapon combo's are hot items.
This raft of new weapons, grenades and defense items create a different feel for play leaving the player less time to go hunting for the ammo stockpiles.
So the big question for the millions of fans: what happens to Spartan supersoldier Master Chief in his battle to defend the galaxy from the alien theocracy the Covenant? Does he die?
It would be wrong for me to tell how the story ends.
Halo games - the first released at the time of the launch of the original Xbox - have so far sold over 15 million games and the hype for the new game is that it could sell US$200m worth in the first week.
It deserves it.
It will be another huge success for Microsoft, being an exclusive title for 360, made by developers Bungie.
An estimated 2.5 million people are still playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live! Check out the official Halo 3 site.
Mad Gamer Rating 9.5/10