Imagine lines of fans that rival the release of Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace. Imagine 4.2 million copies of a videogame being pre-ordered, marking guaranteed record-breaking sales before the doors to game stores even open. Now stop imagining. All of that is reality for Halo 3, the final chapter in what is easily the most popular first-person shooter and action-adventure game of all time.
Halo 3: Takin’ names and breakin’ records
Imagine lines of fans that rival the release of Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace. Imagine 4.2 million copies of a videogame being pre-ordered, marking guaranteed record-breaking sales before the doors to game stores even open. Imagine $170 million in profit within 24 hours, creating the highest volume of sales in the history of entertainment, topping even the $117 million record set by Spiderman 3 on its opening day.
Now stop imagining. All of that is reality for Halo 3, the final chapter in what is easily the most popular first-person shooter and action-adventure game of all time.
The controls have been updated to make the most of the Xbox 360’s capabilities, and there is a wonderful focus on vehicular combat. The primary mode of play is a campaign, where the name of the game is to kill as many of the other guys as you can, as stylishly as you can, all while spinning the tale of Master Chief’s war against a hostile group of aliens called the Covenant.
Then there is the insane 16-player multiplayer mode: if you have four Xbox 360s, a local area network (LAN) connection and 15 friends, then each of the players can be human controlled. Of course, if you lack friends or a LAN but still hate battling computer enemies, there’s always the online mode via Xbox Live, which lets you build a ragtag troupe of gunners to take on another ragtag troupe from all over the world.
The graphics are a luscious landscape of endless deserts, war-torn urban areas and the most realistic rolling hills of grass ever depicted in a videogame. The draw distance, or how far you can see before the graphics become horizon, is a stunning 10 miles.
To put that in context, most games are designed with a draw distance between 500 feet and three miles, with distance fog used to hide the non-rendered areas of a terrain while players approach the edges of the map. There’s no distance fog here, and if you have the means to play the game in high-definition with 1080p settings, you’ll swear you’re looking at a reality that you control.
The story, which closes the Halo trilogy, is splendid stuff. Master Chief and a few of his buddies begin on Earth, most of which has been destroyed by the Covenant. Chief’s trusty AI computer, Cortana, is having trouble transmitting to his squad, but the United Nations Space Command troops aren’t about to lay down and accept the onslaught led by Covenant loyalists.
You know what? I’m not going to bother breaking the plot down farther. If you don’t have any idea what I’m saying so far, then nothing else I say will make sense. If you do understand me so far, you’re excited about playing through the storyline for yourself and expect me to shut up before I spoil anything. There isn’t much to say about this game that will convince you one way or the other about buying it. Either you own it, and are playing it right now, or you downright hate it and will never buy it. I expect it’s probably the former.
What PSU thinks of Halo 3
It’s 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, and 35 students with classes that started yesterday (or start later today) are wide awake, amped up on Mountain Dew and Bawls energy drinks. They won’t be going to sleep until well after 4 a.m., for they have Halo 3 gaming to do. The Viking Game Room has four Xbox 360s and large projector screens set up, each displaying a fresh copy of Halo 3 as 16 gamers at-a-time experience gaming bliss.
There is electricity in the room, with gamers taking turns to frag one another and experience the suave controls of this new adventure. Game Room Manager Aaron Faw is standing next to a table offering late-night gamers free pizza, pastries, chips and salsa, and a plethora of energy drinks. He tells me that he has enjoyed the evening so far and that though he hasn’t yet played Halo 3 tonight, he doesn’t mind-he was a beta-tester for the game and knows how much fun it is already. He said he feels the turnout for the midnight release party was very positive, considering that fall term had just started.
“When serious gamers get a chance to play a great game for free, I guess class doesn’t matter,” Faw said. “Halo 3 is going to bring us a lot of business, and this night seems like a good indicator of things to come.”
Faw said that he wants to organize a proper tournament later this term, and that it will be open to anyone who wishes to register. Interested gamers should be aware that not every player is going to be a casual gamer. Some of the players, like 19-year-old Julie Conrad, will be professionals.
“I’ve enjoyed playing Halo 3 so far, and I would appreciate a formal tournament on campus,” Conrad said. She is a member of the PMS Clan, a nationwide collective of professional gamer girls that compete in tournaments and serve to remind the boys that girls kick ass too. Conrad’s professional handle is PMS Vanilla, and she said that she loves all sorts of multiplayer games.
“Rainbow Six, Team Fortress, you name it and I’ve probably played it,” Conrad said. “I was a beta-tester for Halo 3, so I’m sort of used to it by now. I’d love to see a PSU tournament, to see how I stack up against gamers all over campus.”
Conrad was the dominant player of the release party, though no scores were being recorded. It was all in fun, and former Game Room employee Korey Statford, who attended the release party following a four-hour business finance course, said that he enjoyed the non-competitive atmosphere.
“It’s a great game to ease into, because though Halo 3 and Halo 2 are similar, there were some map changes, arsenal additions and other minor nuances that take some getting used to,” Statford said. “Overall it’s pretty impressive, though I wish this game hadn’t come out right at the start of class.”
Want to Halo? Try the Game Room.
The Viking Game Room is located on the west side of the basement in the Smith Memorial Student Union.
Monday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.Friday: 10 a.m. to midnightSaturday: Noon to midnightSunday: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Students: $3.60 per hour (six cents per minute)
Non-students: $4.20 per hour for non-students (seven cents per minute)
Additional Xbox controllers: $1.20 per controller per hour (two cents per minute)