Microsoft game set for release in fall 2009

“Halo” is coming back, this time without Master Chief.

At the Tokyo Games Show on Thursday, Microsoft unveiled the newest game in its ultra successful shooter franchise: “Halo 3: Recon.”

Set for release in fall 2009, it’s being developed by Bungie Studios, the developer of the first three “Halo” games that divested itself from Microsoft to become an independent company last year.

As the title indicates, game is an expansion of last year’s hugely successful “Halo 3″ rather than a sequel. It will feature a new space marine character, rather than super soldier Master Chief, who was the protag of the last three installments.

Bungie and Microsoft were believed to have been planning to unveil the game at the E3 videogame confab in Los Angeles in July. That effort was scuttled, however, after a dispute between the two over which would make the announcement (Daily Variety, July 17).

Though it is continuing to work on some “Halo” projects, such as “Recon,” for its former corporate parent, Bungie is also developing original games. Microsoft, meanwhile, has “Halo Wars” coming out from developer Ensemble Studios next year and is putting together an internal team to work on future “Halo” projects, including one with which Peter Jackson, who had been attached to exec produce the now defunct “Halo” movie, is involved.

Microsoft also unveiled several new action and role-playing games meant to appeal primarily to the Japanese market, where it has trailed far behind competitors Sony and, especially, Nintendo in sales. Corporate VP John Schappert, who repped the company at the event, did note that Xbox 360 sales have gotten a substantial boost in Japan, North America and Europe following a recent price cut.

Sony, meanwhile, made very little news at a Tokyo Games Show press conference. It announced that is bringing a version of its PlayStation 3 with a larger 80 gigabyte hard drive, already available in the U.S., to Japan and that it will allow users of the handheld PSP to download games directly from the Internet.

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