I'm gonna start this off by letting you all know I don't own an Xbox 360. At least not anymore and definitely not by my choice - though that's a story for another day. That said, I spent vast hours in Halo 3 when I did own one and I have to say, it did change my perspective on gaming. VidMasters, armors, map packs, you name it, I did it.
So that's just a lot of words to say this: When me and my friends found out about the Halo Reach event going down in Toronto, we were morally obligated to hit it. Hard.
My buddies had been given vague details about the event at Fan Expo the week before. Basically what they told me was: "Laser tag, Halo: Reach demo booths and a Covenant turret." Obviously I was instantly sold. However, heading down, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.
When we arrived at Dundas Square, sure enough, the lot had been transformed into a literal battlefield. Little could be seen from the sidewalk. Dry-ice coated the caged-arena and drifted over the crowd, giving the pink and green lasers even more intensity as they flew through the air. As if we needed any more
incentive to gun it across the busy four-way intersection.
We joined the massive line of "recruits" waiting for our shot to battle Covenant scum. It was moving at a glacier's pace and we knew instantly that this was gonna be a long, long, evening. Fortunately, we had some entertainment. Making his way through the line-up and meeting and greeting each and every soldier-to-be was the big-man himself: Master Chief. Or a big, guy in a suit pretending to be Master Chief. Either way, he was a cool guy and we got to hang out with him for a bit. [Does Master Chief show up in Reach after all? Guess we'll find out...]
I'm the kid with the controller, if you couldn't tell. About that: during the four-hour wait, the Microsoft-hired babes were randomly picking people out of the line and obnoxiously asking them to loudly shout "Hoo-Rah". Everyone who was encountered obliged, and I couldn't help but think "sucks to be you". Than they came up to us.
For some reason, they chose my younger cousin to answer some Halo trivia. With frustrated protest from me, he told them quite honestly that he didn't own an Xbox 360. I suppose they took my deceitful ways as a challenge and decided to give me the quiz instead. Bad move, ladies.
The first question was Halo 3 related and I answered it with ease. The second was Reach-related, and I honestly haven't been following it very closely of late. They allowed me to pick someone in the line-up to answer it for me. Thankfully, the kid up ahead knew the answer. Needless to say, he quickly became my best friend. Long story short: I won the controller and got a picture with the cuties, as you can see above.
Fast forward four hours and we're at the gate.
A jacked bouncer in Halo: Reach gear chit-chats with us before selecting our group of five to head around into the pre-game training tents. We're debriefed... by several more very cute girls in war paint and Halo: Reach shirts. The acting is awesome, each one carrying on like a real drill sergeant. Though admittedly, the intimidation factor is betrayed by their petiteness and their prettiness. And there's the fact that their voices are clearly strained from yelling all day long, but the effort was appreciated. We are lead into tent after tent. In one, we are forced to take a short video game related survey on standing monitors. My attempt to wheel the gorgeous army commander backfires:
"Must have been a weird job interview, huh?"
*Death glare / Silence*
"What do YOU think?"
Than, we are treated to clips of Halo: Reach in action, being told this is footage of the war we are about to be part of and likely killed in. One obnoxious kid in our group (who earlier had asked me to trade the controller for Halo: Reach dog tags) exclaims: "I've seen this trailer a bazillion times already!" The mood is killed instantly.
Finally, we are lead back outside where we are suited up with laser tag vests. I "unfortunately" couldn't get mine on correctly so another beautiful soldier had to come and assist me. ;) Me and my buddy are given heavier Assault Rifles while the others get away with Magnums. After a short countdown, we're off!
Covering behind, boxes and slabs strewn at random around the map, we get to live every Xbox-user's dream: Blasting down endless Microsoft employees. The face paint and purple shirts do nothing to disguise them as the Covenant. Than as me and my pal take down the final opponent and hit the beacon, winning the mission, I take the opportunity to do a mock-TEABAG on a downed "Covenant" grunt (yes, they were forced to play dead after being eliminated). Definitely the highlight of my night, and we all share a collective chuckle. Thankfully, he also found it amusing.
We had back into the main tent, and are given the opportunity to play some Halo: Reach for real. My friends, tired, hungry and having played it at Fan Expo, insist it's not actually worth the extra wait. I guess I'll find out for myself in a couple weeks.
All in all, an awesome day. We had back out to Union Square, and wind up at a 24 hour Japanese buffet for dinner. Hit the spot, after a long afternoon of destroying Covenant scum... Or waiting to do so at least. Well done, Microsoft Canada. Maybe we can be friend's again some day. Until than, I had fun explaining to the fan boys in line just why I prefer playing Kz2 on my PS3 and I think I'll be just fine doing that for the next little while!