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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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August 22, 2007 9:43 AM

'Halo 3' at IMAX impresses

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Nate Robinson, one of our intrepid interns, went to last night's sneak preview of "Halo 3," and brought back this report. And be sure to check out his video footage below -- including a fan who says that when the game comes out "it's going to be the biggest skip day of the year."

Seattle videogame fans were privy to a special treat Tuesday night, courtesy of hometown superstars Bungie Studios. The team behind the upcoming blockbuster "Halo 3" reserved the Seattle Center's Imax theater for a one-of-a-kind preview to show off their game's new features to, perhaps, the crowd that would appreciate it the most.

More than 500 people turned out for the event, far more than Bungie had expected, said Bungie staff writer and community figurehead Frank O'Connor. The Kirkland-based team had decided just the day before to hold the preview, but such short notice wasn't a problem for the Halo faithful -- some of whom waited in line for 12 hours and came from as far away as Oregon.

Those who made it into the theater were rewarded with the first public gameplay demonstration of "Halo 3's" single-player campaign, as well as a quick glimpse at the new multiplayer-specific gameplay options. Bungie showed off a few new vehicles (the Chopper, a motorcycle from Hell, and the Elephant, an enormous drivable base) and weapon types (some long-awaited, some wholly original). The majority of the campaign demo was spent tooling around in the game's third mission, Tsavo Highway, but the fans, who cheered heartily at every opportunity, clearly didn't mind.

The new multiplayer options, however, appear to add more than just new toys and refinements to a solid formula. New to "Halo 3" is a game type dubbed "The Forge" -- a mode in which the players are free to manipulate the environment as they see fit on-the-fly, promising a seemingly endless variety of gamplay options normally reserved only for mod-friendly PC games. This, combined with the previously announced ability to save, play back and edit video replays of matches, means the game's famously popular multiplayer just got that much better and hard to put down.

"Halo 3" comes out Sept. 25 for Microsoft's Xbox 360.

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