At least, it was the last time we checked; none of us laid eyes on the clock for a while now. My friends and I all sat in front of a brightly lit TV screen in a dark room, with controllers in our hands, music blaring in the background, with sodas and snacks on the side (for the ones spectating of course). The palms of our hands were sweating... As so many bodies lied on the streets of New Mombasa, we were all so close to the winning the game, yet it felt like forever and a day until one of us finally hit that 50 kill mark. After dodging bullets, ducking explosions, and defying death for as long as possible, eventually the score card flashed and the screen faded to black, the last place loser gave up his spot, albeit reluctantly, and sat in the back.
But that was just a brief intermission. After all, "The Show Goes On..."
Nothing's "Lovelier Than You"
I don't think there'd be any other game like Halo
, much less series. Halo
gained its recognition for its control scheme, complex storyline, and epic single player campaigns, but everyone knows what the true deal with Halo is: The multiplayer. Whether you're fighting against or along, shooting at or with, Halo does it all and then some. Sure, there's been many other games that were fun to play with friends, such as Mario Kart
, and dare I say, Mario Party
, the Halo series is one of the best multi-player games to have ever caught my attention.
And it's best played with friends on the couch.
Let's forget about this thing called Xbox Live and Playstation Network for a second... Just pretend it doesn't exist: Back then, before the whole internet craze and all, we played games on the couch with a neighbor or a friend dropping by after school. We whipped out the good ol' NES/ SNES, plugged in the controllers (remember when they were wired?), and chose from a collection of games like Contra
, King of Monsters
, Killer Instinct
, Mortal Kombat
, and more. None of those games had an online functionality (mostly because it didn't really exist back then) and yet they provided so many good times, mostly because of interactions between PLAYERS.
I mean, after all, isn't it more fun to scream at your friend's face than to do it over a microphone? That's why my favorite Angry Video Game Nerd was when he and Justin Kyle fought together (take that any way you wish) in Battletoads
Best episode ever, "Check It Out."
Fast forwarding, when the Xbox came out, Halo
was the must-have game to get; Everybody and their grandmothers (who probably had to have bought it for their underaged young'uns) knew all about it. Sure, the premise wasn't totally original (humans versus aliens with a super soldier on the side) but Halo was like a totally awesome Contra
: Two super-soldiers waging fast frantic bullet storm action against an alien race (minus the one hit kills)? Sign me up! Me and my friend (let's not be grammar police, it sounds better that way) played this game almost every day, and it was made all the more fun when you're yelling for the other to "cover me" and to "take the left side."
But once the alien bodies lay across our feet, it wasn't long before our thirst for blood and violence (hold the guts please, we ARE gentlemen) made us turn for one another. Maybe it was because there werenít enough enemies. Maybe because we ran through the level like professionals (at least on Normal). Maybe it was to get back at the guy who "volunteered" to send you on a plasma grenade suicide mission. But we aren't going to do that here... Oh no... No, we finished the mission, quit out of our session and loaded up a multiplayer deathmatch. We chose our personas (with names that didn't belong to us), set an arena , usually something small like Beaver Creek and Rat Race, and started shooting at each other with bullets, explosives, and plasma beams. Sometimes people would come over and join us in our little frag fests. The more the merrier... The better the times.
A little while after Halo 2
dropped, we pretty much established our weekly Halo
ritual: We all brought out our controllers and gathered around the TV to play. Loading up our profiles, we instantly started to trash talk each other (like threatening to kill us with the Energy Sword and tea-bag our bodies) as we decided how would team up with who (there's always "that one guy" who everyone wants to team up with because he's so good). We all had our own controllers, even those who didn't even have an Xbox, so whoever loses signs himself off and unplug his controller. While I settled for a normal blue controller, my friends and one of my brothers had that silver wireless Halo 2 promo controller that they sold at the launch who they dared not let anyone touch.
Yes, we were that dedicated to the game.
Love is like a "Battlefield."
And yet as much as we played it, no two games were alike, and most likely, each and every game was like as fun as the last, almost to the point that it's like itís being mass produced. I mean, in just one of our matches, we have like 50 insults, 5 comments on the sexuality of the situation (i.e. "That's so gay!") and 34 tea bags (did he really need to count?). We played from dusk to dawn (weekends for the win), hooping and hollering (because our parents couldn't hear us over their karaoke sessions), shooting and looting... Time just flies as fast as the bullets over our virtual avatar's head. We take a few 5 minute breaks every now and then, but rest assured, our sessions last for hours with very few rest in between.
But despite the long endurance, none of us felt tired throughout the whole time: Our spirits high, we proceeded to toss frags, ram Warthogs, and sword lunge across the map (remember that rocket sword lunge?) without the feeling of fatigue, even after the yelling we did about screen watching. I mean, speaking of screen watching, that's one thing that local play has over multi-player: The fact that just many, you can sneak a small peek at your opponent, or you could hear things that maybe you weren't supposed to. Hear that Energy Sword? Watch out. Heard that sniper crack? Move to cover. Opened the gate in Zanzibar? Get the hell out.
Perhaps our good times made us oblivious to our weariness... Or maybe it was the fuel we were consuming, like Coke, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper with a bowl of Lays and Doritos and Fritos on the side. Maybe it was because we had "Dance Floor Anthem" by Good Charlottle playing in the background. Maybe it was the thrill of escaping from two players only to lead them into a frag infested trap for a double kill.
Or maybe the long sessions of gaming dulled our senses. After all, that's probably why we had the will to listen to Cascada's "Everytime We Touch" from start to finish.
Thank God no one asked why it was on the iPod.
"Get Em High"
But everything good must end...
Eventually, as we all grew up, we didn't have much more of these Friday Frag Fests anymore. We tried to keep the show alive with Call of Duty 4
and Modern Warfare 2
, but those games are more about winning and skills than having a good time. Plus, with online now being the new craze these days, there wasn't much need to come over anymore as we could just put on our headsets and chat in a private chat. That was fine and dandy I suppose, but I'm more of the kinda guy to talk in person... Even when I got a cell, I just call and text a time and place to meet up.
We are still friends, and we still hang out regularly, but when we game, it's mostly just taking turns in single player or online endeavors... Good times, sure, I guess, but nothing like the things we used to do... When Halo 3
was out, one of my brothers grew attached to the Missile Pod and Gravity Hammer, naming them both "Frank" and threatening to kill us if we even touched one (and as luck would have it, despite being one of the worst players, he always managed to stop us from using his toys within 30 seconds of picking them up). Now, my brother just brags on getting that "Chopper Gunner..." It just isn't the same anymore.
But nevertheless, the memories shall remain within my mind forever... I don't have any pictures of our events, nor any remnants of what happened (we gave up our Xbox, games, and controllers to give them away to people who didn't have them once the 360 came out), but as soon as I heard the word Halo (even when it's completely unrelated like that Beyonce song), all those memories come flooding back to me like a slide show, and that's something you never forget. You can recall all the great epic moments in gaming, from seeing the wonders of Ico
to slaying giant beasts in Shadow of the Colossus
, but none of it would ever be as great as just playing a little Halo
among family and friends.
I always hated car rides...