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CES: Halo Wars and Halo ODST set for release this year

January 7, 2009 |  6:30 pm

Halo 3 ODST

LAS VEGAS -- Get ready, Halo Nation. Microsoft tonight announced that it expects to release Halo Wars on March 3 and that Halo 3 ODST was on track to debut during the second half of this year.

The announcement, made during Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer's CES keynote speech, means many Halo addicts fans can get their first fix of the franchise since Halo 3 was released in September 2007. That game, Halo 3, smashed video game sales records and lifted eyebrows by selling $170 million worth in the U.S. within the first 24 hours of its release. So far, 8 million copies have sold.

Halo Wars differs from Halo 3 in key ways, however. The first, and arguably most significant, difference to hardcore Halo fans is that Halo Wars was developed by Microsoft's Ensemble Studios, not Bungie, the original developer of the franchise. The second is that it's a strategy game, not a shooter like its older siblings. That said, Microsoft is hoping to broaden the franchise's appeal to a bigger audience, said Craig Beilinson, director of marketing for Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, which runs the Xbox game business.

For purists, there is Halo 3 ODST. Developed by Bungie, the title is named after an elite military force in Halo 3 called Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The studio in November announced it would release the game in fall 2009.

-- Alex Pham

Photo credit: Bungie