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Halo: Reach leaked to net 3 weeks before release

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The latest installment in the highly lucrative Halo game series for the Xbox 360 has been leaked to the internet three weeks before its official release date by fans who hacked a hair-brained method Microsoft used to secure review copies.

Halo: Reach, the final chapter in the wildly popular first-person shooter series, is available as a torrent on The Pirate Bay and other sites, with hundreds of seeders and leachers. The download runs on Xbox 360 consoles that have been already been modified using a hack known as JTAG.

Members of a group known as GameTuts said they acquired the game from Microsoft's own Xbox Live Marketplace. It was supposed to be available only to those with 9,999 99,999 Microsoft points, the equivalent of about $1,250 in cash, but the fans found an as-yet unpublished way to circumvent that requirement.

YouTube is now teeming with videos, such as this one, purporting to show highlights of the latest game. A fair number of them, including this one, were posted in the past 48 hours but are no longer available “due to a copyright claim by Microsoft Corporation,” YouTube said.

Over its six-year history, almost every chapter of the Halo series has seen a pre-mature release. It started with Halo 2, which was leaked onto the net in October 2004, a month before its official release. Halo 3 was sold early, and Halo 3 ODST is also reported to have suffered from the same mistake.

Microsoft so far has said is “aggressively” investigating the reports. "Posting to Discuss, Request, or Link To information or campaign spoilers from illegitimately obtained sources - including illegitimately obtained copies of Halo: Reach - before the game is officially released will be considered a leak and will be treated as such," Bungie moderators reminded users. ®

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