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International Halo 4 tournament hands out a guest spot in the next Halo and a Halo truck

A set of nearly month-long international Halo 4 tournaments kick off later this month with the winners of the twin tourneys taking home a USNC-themed Ford F-150 truck or an appearance in a future Halo game.

The Halo 4 Infinity Challenge, sponsored by Virgin Gaming, 343 Industries and Xbox 360, is a free-to-play tournament that runs from Dec. 17 through to Jan. 19. The tournament will have players from around the world fighting to top the global leaderboards in either War Games or Spartan Ops. The winner of the War Games tournament will receive a UNSC-themed, V8-powered 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor truck designed by 343 Industries. And the Spartan Ops winner gets an appearance in a future "Halo" game.

The tournaments are open to anyone in a country where Halo 4 is sold and Xbox Live is available, with the exception of Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont and Quebec, according to the official rules.

Frank O'Connor, franchise development director for Halo, told Polygon that the twin tournaments were inspired in part by a desire to give gamers something to do in the half-season break for Spartan Ops.

"We didn't want to do what happens with me with Breaking Bad, where it ends with a cliff hanger and then you have nothing to do but wait," he said.

The story-driven episodic game mode will go on hiatus starting Dec. 10. During that week, the five missions from the first half of the season will repopulate the matchmaking for Spartan Ops as a "Best of Spartan Ops" compilation. Then, once the tournament kicks off on Dec. 17, those episodes will return, one episode a week, to support the challenge. Players will have to work their way up the leaderboards by playing through the episodes in Legendary difficulty, O'Connor said.

"It's not going to be the Master Chief, but it's going to be more interesting than someone just showing up."

The second half of the Spartan Ops season will resume in January, O'Connor added.

Both the War Games and Spartan Ops tournaments will start off with qualifiers that run from Dec. 17 to Jan 10. At the end of the qualifiers, players will be tiered into three groups based on the results of the leaderboards with the top 10 percent making it into tier one, the top 11 to 40 percent making it into tier two and the rest into tier three.

The finals will run from Jan. 12 to Jan. 19. Only the winner of the top tier, for both War Games and Spartan Ops, are able to win the grand prize. O'Connor did say that players in all tiers have a chance to win the more than 2,800 prizes being given away throughout the tournament.

To participate, players have to register for the tournament at the official site. A player's score will be tracked from the time they sign-up, once the tournament starts. The eligible scores will be pulled from the results of the Infinity Challenge playlist for War Games.

For Spartan Ops, qualifying games can be found in the "Find Game" matchmaking option of Spartan Ops. Games in the "Play Chapters" option don't count. Players need to complete as many online co-op games as possible to go up the tier. You can play the same chapter more than once to increase your games completed score.

The Halo 4 Infinity Challenge will also include weekly challenges. The first 20 people to complete the challenge, and are registered for the tournament, will get a prize pack.

O'Connor said that the team is aware that the winner could live in a region where the grand prize truck may need to be modified to allow for right hand driving and that they will be able to deal with that.

He couldn't say much about the in-game appearance prize, because they haven't figured it out yet, but said they are taking it "very seriously."

"It's not going to be the Master Chief," he said, "but it's going to be more interesting than someone just showing up."