Epic ‘Halo 3’ is heavy, man
"Halo 3" is huge.
I'm not talking about the $170 million first-day sales it racked up. I'm not talking about the multimillion-dollar marketing campaign behind it. I'm not even talking about its much-ballyhooed gameplay, which can be anywhere from 20 to 200 hours and beyond.
No, I'm talking about the packaging it came in. I'm talking about how this was the first time I picked up a video game and someone asked me, "Do you need help with that?"
I was at Ala Moana Center early Tuesday morning with hundreds of other "Halo" fanboys, waiting to pick up my Legendary edition of "Halo 3."
The first to leave the mall with the big black box in tow was 17-year-old Michael Blickos, who camped out in front of GameStop nine hours before the shop reopened for the midnight release.
Toward the end of the night, he and a friend started doing their homework for school the next day. He wasn't going to miss school, but he wasn't going to miss out on the midnight madness, either.
"'Halo' isn't just bang-bang," he said. "It's an epic game that has a really great story behind it."
He should know: He's played through all the games several times, and read the books. I should know, too, because I've done the same.
Most of us have waited three years for the third and final chapter of the vaunted Bungie Studios creation. This was our "Deathly Hallows," our "Return of the King."
The Legendary edition is three DVDs packaged in a specially marked helmet of the game's protagonist, Master Chief. For $130 it is and isn't worth the extra $60. The extra DVD specials are fun, especially the director commentary of the previous games, but nothing you won't watch on YouTube sooner or later. At the same time, it's essential owning for hard-core fans.
And the helmet? I don't even know where to put the thing. In terms of conversation, it's an ice-breaker for sure. But I'm trying to date again, and I'd much rather talk about things other than my helmet.
GENE PARK / GPARK@STARBULLETIN.COM
Benny Tagaca, 16, left, Mason Laikupu, 17, and Michael Blickos, 17, keep their sense of humor while waiting at the head of the line outside Gamestop Ala Moana Center for the release of the video game "Halo 3" Monday evening. The words on their makeshift table list their reasons for being there, among them: "We have no girlfriends ... we have no lives ... we're cool like that."
Of course, the game itself was worth the months of hand-wringing anticipation. The plot wraps up rather neatly, even if the story is a little hard to follow at times.
As much as I enjoy the story, no doubt the game would be nothing without the "bang-bang" aspect of the game. "Halo 3" is everything "Halo 1" wanted to be, Bungie executives have repeated, and it certainly feels that way.
Nothing ventured in this game. There are just more enemies on screen, more guns, more vehicles and more maps. The artificial intelligence has gotten a lot more complicated, trying to handle up to 30 enemies on the screen at once.
But that won't matter to anyone reading this. You've already made up your mind as to whether you will buy the game. "Halo 3" isn't going to win any unconverted. It just makes us converted all the more happy.
It's all done with mathematical precision, with Bungie updating and reworking proven components from the previous two games, from the physics to the glorious music that seems to know when to kick in and fade out at key moments. It's fun, broken down into algorithms.
The multiplayer aspect effortlessly moves the game from "solid" to "essential gaming." The Forge map editor will keep things interesting for years to come, while online cooperative play was as smooth as silk and added new dynamics to the story mode.
Online play is being logged and updated every 15 minutes on Bungie.net. According to Bungie, more than 1.4 million players were logged on to the game on Wednesday alone, with 4.7 million matches logged.
I might not be as good at math as those guys, but I can definitely say that that's huge.