We already knew Halo: Reach was a huge release for Microsoft as well as a major event for gamers worldwide. This fifth title in the Halo series is the last to be made by the original team, Bungie--future games will be handled by Microsoft in-house--and while expectations were sky-high, reviews and sales seem to have matched them.
Metacritic ranks the critical response at 93%, incredibly high, with most critics calling it the best title yet in an already-stellar series. (The reviews also note that those looking for engrossing story or character development should look elsewhere, but it's not like that kind of thing was ever a hallmark of the Halo series.)
Halo: Reach actually leaked a few weeks ago, but due to the difficulty of actually playing a leaked game (it requires the user solder a parallel port onto an Xbox 360), Microsoft didn't have to react strongly. Besides, the key part of any Halo game is the multiplayer, and online multiplayer can only be played with an official game.
When I wrote about that leak, I noted that Halo: Reach is "likely to be the biggest Xbox 360 game of the year, possibly the biggest game, period." That turned out to be an underestimation, because Halo: Reach isn't just the biggest game of the year--it's the biggest entertainment launch of the year. It's hard to measure dollars to dollars, since each copy of Halo: Reach costs $60 while even a more-expensive 3-D movie ticket costs only about a quarter of that. But we shouldn't let that cloud the insane fact that Halo: Reach made over $200 million on opening day.
No, not opening weekend--opening day. In comparison, Avatar made about $27 million on opening day, and Toy Story 3, one of the biggest openings of all time, made $41 million. Avatar barely made $200 million in its opening three-day weekend. Halo: Reach isn't merely a big video game: It's just big.