'Halo 3's' communication breakdown


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TOKYO -- Gamers across Asia are unhappy at the lack of an English voice track for Microsoft's Xbox 360 title "Halo 3," one of the most eagerly expected games of the year, released Wednesday in most of the region and in Japan on Thursday.

The majority of Asian versions of games, including "Halo" and "Halo 2," are equipped with Chinese- and English-language audio tracks, allowing gamers to choose the one they want. "Halo 3," however, has only Mandarin audio and English subtitles, much to the displeasure of non-Mandarin speaking fans of the series.

The cover of the game states "Language: English/Chinese," and gamers assumed that the setup would be the same as the previous games. Many Xbox owners in Japan preorder big games from Hong Kong-based sites like Play-Asia.com because they're cheaper and the games are region-free.

"My copy has already been shipped, and before it arrived I found out that I can only listen to the game in Mandarin. I don't want to be reading subtitles while I'm playing the game. Microsoft should tell people if they were going to do things differently (than) all the previous games," a Japan-based gamer who had preordered "Halo 3" from Hong Kong said in a phone interview.

Gamers in Hong Kong who had lined up outside stores for the midnight release Tuesday night were particularly displeased as the language used is Mandarin Chinese and not the local Cantonese dialect. Xbox online forums are full of Hong Kong gamers complaining they would rather hear English audio than Mandarin.

"I just had my team try it out, and the Japanese version has only Japanese audio and English subtitles, but no English voices," a an Xbox Japan spokesperson said.