The stock market felt the surge of Microsoft's Halo 3 computer game's blast-off, marking the final chapter in the groundshaking trilogy.

Microsoft shares soared 3.35 percent Monday prior to the game's release at retailers' midnight sales of the new game. The required Xbox 360 consoles are also expected to go over the top, according to Microsoft officials, who scheduled Monday's star-studded midnight sales at some 10,000 major electronics stores across the U.S.

Although no Elvis sightings were reported by Stephenville retailers, sales were brisk.

“There were about 100 waiting for the stroke of midnight,” said Jeanette Vaughn of Hastings Books, Music, and Videos store. “Ages ranged from seven to 50.”

By Wednesday, only one Collector's Edition game was available at Hastings. Three Xbox 360 consoles were still in stock with five on the way.

The Standard Edition contains only the game and manual.

The Collector's Edition, when available, has a metal case and contains the game disc, manual, an interactive bonus, the disc with added features, and the “Beastiarum” book.

The Legendary Edition has a Spartan helmet included.

A Stephenville Wal-Mart electronics clerk said 42 copies of the game were sold at midnight. At press time, she said thirty-six games are still available and three Xbox 360 consoles.

Australia's time zone paid off, as its game fans became the first in the world to buy the media hyped Halo 3.

According to United Kingdom's Telegraph News, Aussies lined up for hours outside of computer stores. One chain reported recruiting extra staff and security guards for the crush of bodies.

Videos of New York crowds recorded masses of shoppers chanting and singing, biding their time to rush into Best Buy. Some had been in line for 30 hours.

Epic hero Master Chief was immortalized in wax specifically for Monday's midnight sales event. It is the first video game character molded by the famous 250-year old Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London, created especially for the Las Vegas site. The iconic hero is stationed at the entrance of the popular tourist stop to greet the Halo Nation fan base and pose for photos.

Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates was seen Monday night in Bellview, Washington, shaking hands of those in line waiting for the last tick of the clock. It was no surprise he had a smile on his face when it is estimated that due to the 1.7 million preordered games in the United States alone, it is expected that this year's fiscal revenue from Halo 3 may be as much as $430 million.

The equivalent of a new Harry Potter book or Star Wars film for the $30 billion video game industry, wide praise has been garnered from reviewers for the lush settings, cinematic story, and breadth of features.

Will Master Chief stop the Covenant? Destroy the impending flood threat? Save mankind?

Lines are already forming for the Xbox 360 to find out. Don't forget your helmet!

Information supplemented by Internet sources

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at sherry.boardman@empiretribune.com or (254)968-3124, ext 229.