There are buckets of amazing things to talk about surrounding next week's release of Halo 3 for Xbox 360. First off, all expectations are that its sales figures will obliterate any Hollywood box office record for an opening weekend. Yes, I realize that a game costs significantly more than a movie ticket, but seriously--gaming has come a long, long way. That's a whole different discussion, though.
My buddy Derek at AKQA tossed me the link to the Halo 3 site they just wrapped and launched to help promote this new blockbuster and it's pretty unbelievable.
I'm enamored by the concept. Most video games just focus on showing some hot graphics and animations from the game to entice folks to buy. With Halo 3, they finally took the step beyond and moved to telling a story. The serious gamers are already lined up for their copy, it's the fringe people who need a reason to buy (even if they have to buy an Xbox console in addition). With a very cinematic approach, they show the culminating battle of the war that takes place in the game and put it on par with other epic battles in our world's history. They did some really interesting offline promotions along these lines, as well.
I'm also impressed by the execution. In a world where the obvious solution would have been to take the already-created 3D characters and use them to tell the story, they instead painstakingly created the battle scene you'll see on the site out of true miniatures, and passed a film camera through the scene. Insodoing, they were able to do some things that couldn't have been done with CG--like allowing visitors to download any frame of the entire piece full-screen, to be used as a wallpaper.
Enjoy the story, and as you move through the environment, keep an eye out for the cauliflower explosions and the cotton ball smoke coming from the tank.