Microsoft claimed one of the biggest opening days in entertainment history Wednesday, saying its "Halo 3" video game generated more than $170 million in U.S. retail sales in its first 24 hours on store shelves, easily exceeding Halo 2 first day sales, which brought in $125 million when it came out three years ago.

The sci-fi action sequel saw more than 1.7 million pre-orders, and more than 1.4 million went online to play the game, making September 25 the busiest day yet on Microsoft's online gaming platform, Xbox Live. Tuesday's launch did not go off without a hitch, however, as several customers reported receiving scratched game discs due to faulty packaging - a problem Microsoft has vowed to fix.

Halo 3 will be a crucial component in the company's race against Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft has spent millions of dollars in a marketing blitz to promote the game, hoping to drive sales of its Xbox 360 console and Xbox Live memberships this holiday season. But can Halo 3 live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes, based on some early reviews which praise the game's solid gameplay, amazing graphics, and online functionality.