'Halo 3' Hits Stores Prompting All-Night Lines

Just who was willing to stand in line for hours waiting until the clock struck midnight to buy the new video game "Halo 3"? There was a pediatrician, a restaurant manager, several patient parents buying it for their children and plenty of teenagers who confessed they would be late for school — or probably simply play hookey to stay home until they had beaten the game.

One mother in line (who asked to remain unidentified because she is a teacher) said she would let her son miss a day of school. "He wouldn't be able to concentrate much anyway, because he would just be thinking about the game." She waited in line for 12 hours last year when the Xbox 360 was released and said this was the reason why she was willing to wait for the gaming platform, because one day "Halo 3" would be released.

Walter Garcia admitted he would be a little tardy for school. "This is something I have waited for now for three years, and I spent all weekend playing 'Halo' and 'Halo 2' to get ready for this. "

One father standing in line with his 10-year-old son grinned when asked if he was worried about his son missing school. "Flexibility, he said, is one of the nice things about home schooling."

Microsoft has a lot riding on the release of "Halo 3." Will it give Microsoft the edge over Sony and Nintendo, which have rival gaming platforms? "Halo 2" grossed $125 million during its first 24 hours after it went on sale, and it is reasonable to expect "Halo 3" to exceed that figure; after all there are more players who have become hooked. Bobby Clarkson said he has planned a "Halo" tournament as soon as he gets out of school on Tuesday. Why did he want to stand in line to get one of the first copies? "So I can go to school in the morning and tell all my friends about it. It's all about bragging rights"

Microsoft has stated in trade magazines that more than a million copies were preordered before the midnight release.

There is more than one version of the sequel: a regular edition at $59.99, a $129.99 "legendary edition" with a replica helmet and even a $399.99 Xbox 360 with a "Halo" paint job, but without the "Halo 3" game.

"Halo 3" picks up at the cliffhanger ending of "Halo 2," the story of the Master Chief, a masked soldier of the future, who returns to Earth in the midst of a fight for the survival of humanity. The game for the Xbox 360 is rated M for Mature gamers for blood and gore, mild language and violence.