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Steve Downes, the voice of Master Chief, meets a young Halo fan. Downes was on hand for the Halo 4 launch in Seattle.

Signing autographs in one corner of a bustling University Village Microsoft Store was Steve Downes, the all-too-familar voice of Master Chief. Past him down the left side was Seattle Seahawks NFL cornerback Richard Sherman, posing for pictures and laughing with fellow Halo fans. And just outside in the chilly Seattle air was Master Chief himself, strutting around the parking lot in his intimidating green gear.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is a huge Halo fan and was on hand for the Halo 4 launch.

Now this is what you call a launch.

As one of 30 cities around the world hosting marquee Halo 4 launch events, Seattle celebrated the debut of Halo 4 in grand style. Several 343 Industries employees, who took over development of the Halo games from Bungie Studios, were on hand at their first-ever Halo launch. And of course there were the hundreds of fans waiting to get their hands on the newest edition of the famed franchise.

This evening had Halo written all over it.

Ironically, part of the event took over the parking lot that sits in between the Microsoft Store and the Apple Store. While throwing t-shirts to the crowd, a 343 employee joked that he’d pay $100 for anyone to hit the Apple logo.

By the time 10 p.m. came around, the doors opened at a big tent set up for gamers to try Halo 4 against other 343 developers.  The first fans in line arrived around 1 p.m. and nine hours later, at least 200 people were waiting to get in. Inside the tent was a mobile Halo museum, featuring original franchise artwork.

Master Chief and Master Chief Jr. at the Halo 4 launch in Seattle.

Over at the warmer and crowded Microsoft Store, four more consoles were set up with Halo 4 for people to get an early sneak-peek. That’s when the lines began forming for gamers to pick up their copy of Halo 4 at midnight. By the time I headed to Starbucks to write this post around 11:30 p.m. the line had also grown to at least 200-deep. There were still at least 100 when I came back around 1 a.m.

I asked an employee if they might run out of copies. She smiled and just shook her head.

Downes, Jen Taylor (voice of Cortana) and other 343 employees and developers signed autographs for well-wishing fans. The boy in the picture above told Downes that he sounded just like Master Chief.

“Well, it’s the only voice I got,” Downes replied.

These t-shirts were given away at the Halo 4 launch in Seattle and encouraged people to vote with Election Day upon us.

Sherman, the NFL stud cornerback, said he’s been a gamer ever since you “had to blow on the games to clean them.” A self-proclaimed Halo guy, Sherman tried going up against fellow fans and 343 developers earlier in the night but couldn’t play ten seconds without respawning.

“Those guys are riiiiidiculous,” he admitted.

But that couldn’t keep Sherman from enjoying the launch.

“This is amazing,” he said. “I wish I knew about events like this when I was younger. They should have these kind of things all the time to bring people together. A lot of gamerheads would love this kind of stuff.”

This was my first Halo launch event — first launch event for any game, really. It really reminded me of being at a sporting event or concert, when you’re surrounded by people who all share a common passion. Whether it was the seven-year-old in awe of Master Chief or the loyal lifelong Xbox gamers, it was easy to see that everyone here had one thing in common: an intense love for the Halo franchise.

Previously on GeekWire: Halo’s success by the numbers: 46 million games, $3 billion in revenue

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