Halo 3 Hype Builds: Free Xbox Live Gold, Midnight Launches, Regional Parties

With Halo 3 exactly two weeks out, the hype for Bungie's incessantly desired Xbox 360 shooter is reaching critical mass.

To celebrate the conclusion of the Halo trilogy on September 25, over 10,000 retailers nationwide will be selling the game at 12:01 AM. Microsoft's calling it "the biggest entertainment launch in history" and will be hosting launch night events in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Seattle to champion the cause. nope

But wait, there's more. The first three days of Halo 3's availability--September 25 to 27--will see all Xbox Live members temporarily granted the privileges of Gold accounts, chiefly online multiplayer, thanks to promotional consideration from Best Buy. In other words, everyone on XBL will have the chance to play the year's most anticipated Xbox 360 title online along with any other XBL-enabled titled for three days without worrying about that pesky membership fee.

Other Halo 3-related activities include opportunities to play Halo 3 online with celebrities and Bungie, a Halo 3 Play & Win content from Best Buy and another from Microsoft, Halo 3 content on Xbox Live Marketplace, and the participation of Target's Halo 3-themed race car in the NASCAR Dover 400 on September 23.