It was a long night for video game fans in Windsor.

In aniticpation of the release of Halo 4, some began lining up outside the Best Buy store at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The game was available for sale at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

Halo 4 marks the beginning of a new chapter for Master Chief, the series's iconic hero. Set some five years after the conclusion of Halo 3, in the middle of the 26th century, the new Xbox 360 game starts with Master Chief in stasis — lost in space on the damaged ship Forward Unto Dawn.

Mark Desjardins and friends were some of the first in line in Windsor.

'We stopped everything for Tuesday' — Mark Desjardins, Halo 4 fan

"It's honestly seeing an old friend that we haven't seen for five years, and on top of getting a nice long coffee chit-chat with him, we're kicking some alien butt. New alien butt," Desjardins said. "I'm really excited to get it."

The Halo franchise is the biggest star in Microsoft's gaming galaxy.

The futuristic first-person shooter has sold more than 43 million copies to date, generating in excess of US$3 billion.

Microsoft estimates gamers have spent more than 3.3 billion hours playing the series online.

Desjardins is one of them. He said he had no plans to work Tuesday and was going to play the game immediately.

"Some of us are ready to power through with energy drinks and coffee," Desjardin said. "There’s no work involved. We stopped everything for Tuesday."

Desjardins expected to see more people in line Monday.

"We thought it was going to [sell out] but the line’s not as long as I thought it would be," he said.

Even franchise execs once had to wait

Kevin Grace was in line at midnight when the first Halo video game came out in November 2001.

Today, as the franchise manager for Halo at game developer 343 Industries, he helps keep track of the entire Halo universe.

"Every day I say 'Thank you,"' Grace, 40, said of his ascent from Halo fan to ultimate insider.

That first game, Halo: Combat Evolved, was a hit right out of the box, coming out at the same time as the original Xbox console.

"There's a lot of mess still going on in the universe," Grace said.

With files from Canadian Press