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With half a day to go, N.Y. hearts 'Halo 3'

On the eve of the launch of the final trilogy in the legendary Xbox game series, a small line forms amidst a big marketing blitz.

The emergence of a 'Halo 3' line on Monday afternoon outside a midtown Best Buy store. Caroline McCarthy/CNET Networks

It doesn't hold a candle to the lengthy queue that assembled a few blocks north for Apple's iPhone in June, but a handful of New Yorkers decided to sacrifice a full day's work (and then some) to wait in line for Halo 3, the highly anticipated title for Microsoft's Xbox 360 that hits stores at midnight on Tuesday.

First in line at the Best Buy on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, the official launch site for the city, is 28-year-old Uche Nwachukwu, a Web designer from the neighboring borough of Staten Island. "I want the experience," Nwachukwu told CNET when asked why he chose to wait outside for the game rather than simply buying it on day one or preordering it. "I want to meet new people, maybe get some prizes."

Waiting in line for a highly anticipated product, it seems, has become the tech world's equivalent of visiting Mount Rushmore.

The stage display crammed into the Best Buy store. Caroline McCarthy/CNET Networks

He'd been in line since about 6 p.m. ET on Sunday night and said that this was the longest amount of time he'd ever waited for something, but by no means the first time--Nwachukwu had queued up for the earlier Halo 2 release in November 2004 and the Xbox 360 system in May 2005.

"For Halo 2, I was out there at 11:00 the morning of (the release) and about the same time for the 360 as well," Nwachukwu said. "This is the first time I've waited overnight for something."

At about 2 p.m. ET, there were slightly more than a dozen people in line for the midnight release, but the Best Buy store was crammed with gawkers and curious shoppers who wanted to know why there was a massive stagelike contraption set up in one corner of the store. (It's for the broadcasts that the cable networks G4 and Spike TV will be holding later on Monday night.) The doors to the store close at 9 p.m. in anticipation of the launch, and then at midnight, the Master Chief shall rule Manhattan.

Or at least that's what the gamers hope.