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Halo 2 slips to fall 2004

First multiplayer screenshot released.

"So remember last year when we told you we don't announce release dates until we're confident we'll meet our deadline?" Bungie's webpage asked on Friday. "Well now were confident. Halo 2 will ship in Fall, 2004. Please make a note of it."

Not exactly the news that Xbox fans had been waiting for, but it does at least put to rest the persistent rumours flying back and forth about whether the game would hit its April shipping target.

Bungie has also made an effort to soften the impact of the news with the release of the first Halo 2 screenshot, which is described in some detail by Bungie here. "It's really important to point out that this screen is straight from the current game engine. The resolution is a little sharper thanks to the way screens are dumped from the frame buffer, but this is entirely representative of the lighting, polygon counts, bump-mapping and particle effects," we're told, which is encouraging, to say the very least.

"There will be a fair number of new details and announcements to follow over the next few months, and of course there's always E3," the item continued. Expect to hear plenty more about Halo 2 in the near future, then.