Microsoft has pledged to "aggressively pursue" whoever leaked Halo 2, the eagerly awaited sequel to the Xbox hit, onto the net.
The game, a key title for MS' console in the run up to Christmas, is believed to have surfaced on Usenet and the web last night, possibly in the form of a localised French version, according to early reports. The download is said to weigh in at 3GB and lack support for Xbox Live multi-player gaming.
"We are currently investigating the source of this leak with the appropriate authorities," the software giant said today, in a statement. "Microsoft takes the integrity of its intellectual property extremely seriously, and we are aggressively pursuing the source of this illegal act.
"We consider downloading this code or making it available for others to download as theft."
Halo 2 was recently completed by Bungie, the one-time Mac-centric games developer Microsoft acquired in order to get its hands on the original Halo. It was a wise move: Halo has proved very popular indeed, not only on Xbox but through later PC and Mac ports. Halo 2, which reached the Gold Master stage in its development earlier this week, has been placed centre stage for MS' Christmas Xbox sales push.
That hasn't changed, MS said - "the launch of Halo 2 worldwide remains unaffected". Halo 2 will still ship around the world during the second week of November. That contrasts with last year's Half-Life 2 code leak, the result of which was a delay of 12 months to the title's launch. ®