By MrDaravon 0 Comments
Before the Fight had to be Finished, then Finished again, then coming soon to be pre-Finished, there was Halo 2.
My experience with Halo had started back probably about a year after the original Xbox came out. I was rooming with 3 guys at the time, and we all worked together with a bunch of other friends who kept telling us about this awesome Halo game they were playing at another friend's house. Eventually me and my best friend pooled together an absolutely enormous stack of games to trade in to EB; many games I now regret trading in (and have since re-acquired). We got several hundred dollars in credit, enough to get a Xbox, 4 controllers, Halo, and some other game that I can't recall. It didn't matter, because we had Halo, and it was amazing. We soon found out (I forget how unfortunately) about GameSpy and Xbox Connect. We used my shitty PC (which we could never get the fans working on, and had to run it open case by an air conditioner) and managed to get a 2nd network card in, and ran shitty taped-down ethernet cables all over the place to get our Xbox "online" and play against other people. None of us really come from a PC background, so this was largely our version of the LAN experience. While I have all sort of memories and whanot from the 8 months or so we had this set up, two stick out in my mind:
-With LAN play on original Xbox, you would see the other systems with whatever system "name" the owner had given it, essentially a super primitive Gamertag. While most attempted some kind of humor, the best one that we ever saw by a country mile was one named "JEW OVEN", which is both at the same time hilarious and also probably the most offensive gamertag/name I've seen.
-One particular game that we played on Blood Gulch. There was 4 of us, including one of our friends who dabbles in games very little. This particular map was crazy, I believe it was multi-flag with the regular weapon/vehicle setup. I remember one specific moment where what must have been the near entirety of all 16 players being in the very middle of the map, with tanks and warthogs and explosions all happening at once. I specifically remember this and that this was the most awesome experience I'd ever had with a game.
Over time our group of friends all got sort of scattered and moved around. It was probably not until near the release of Halo 2 that we were all in the (relatively) same location again. I specifically went out and bought a Xbox prior to Halo 2's release as I had previously been using one I'd found in the trash which somehow worked but was obviously struggling (long story). The prospect of not only a new Halo game, but one I could play online properly with my friends and random assholes over the internet on my on TV was amazing! The French (?) version of the game leaked early, and some people at a forum I frequented at the time had pirated it and were crapping on the multiplayer changes but I didn't care, fuck those guys! I pre-ordered the LE at my local Gamestop and waited in line at midnight with my friend again to get our copies. I worked at a Walmart almost right next door at the time, and one of my co-workers came over to give me and my friend a hard time at about 12:15 as they'd just gotten theirs at Walmart, but I didn't even care! I had my 3D/lenticular Halo 2 pre-order card thing from Gamestop and was waiting in line with my 7-11 Halo 2 cup (both of which I still have).
As soon as we got back to my place my friend and I played a few levels co-op in Campaign, and it was awesome. Later that day after I woke up I played my first multiplayer for a good chunk of the day, and did pretty poorly; doesn't look like I won a game until about 10 in. But the maps were new Halo maps and were fantastic. As far as I can remember and from looking at the gaps in time on Multiplayer, I'm pretty sure I finished the game later that night. At the time it was new and awesome, so no one was bitter and jaded yet about the Campaign.
I played about two-thirds of my total Halo 2 games (1,475) in the first three months through the end of January 2006. Many of the friends I made during this time (which were in turn my friends had met up with by playing Rainbow Six on Xbox) are still on my list and played with today. I dropped off at some point, but we then all got back into it on a fairly regular basis from April through August of 2007, presumably due to the lead-up hype for Halo 3. Some specific memories I have from my Halo 2 time:
-Getting my first annoying invite over Xbox Live; I remember I was doing a single-player Campaign level and someone was inviting me to play multiplayer. At that point either you couldn't hide yourself, or if you could I certainly didn't know how.
-Staying up all night to play Halo 2 even though I had to go to work at 6 in the morning; I killed the last hour or so watching the documentary that came with the Limited Edition, which is still an awesome documentary.
-Possibly my favorite online gaming memory; I actually posted this in a 1up contest to get a Mythic Map Pack code and actually won one of them with this, I'll just post it in it's entirety:
"The best gaming memories are playing with friends; possibly my fondest memory was playing Halo 2 with a bunch of my friends one night, but most importantly playing with my best friend who was incredibly drunk at the time (a rarity). The surprising eloquence of his rambling insanity and smacktalk was actually so good I had to write some of them down. The following is a small sampling, most of them I'm not sure would pass 1up language standards.
"I killed that guy that killed you and told him to bathe in my warm fecal matter."
"We live in Virginia, the state of constant arousal."
"I know your father's name."
"Are you one of those guys who like, beats his wife, but then feels bad about it?"
"I killed that guy on our team. He did not capture the spirit of our team with his brashness."
"I can't hold my liquor, an unfortunate trait I inherted from my father, who was a coward."
"If you have a wife I will spy on her if I'm dead."
"I'm sorry to have to tell you that your mother is a prostitute and your father is too afraid to tell you."
I remember specifically we were playing on Blood Gulch, and at one point he was on top of the enemies base screaming "I know your father's name" and combined with his drunken movements, the 5 or 6 people in the base literally could not kill him. Some of the people in the base were audibly confused and had no idea what was going on."
Once Halo 3 came out we never touched Halo 2 again. To this day even most of my friends believe Halo 2 had better maps than Halo 3, and I would probably be inclined to agree. When the call went out that Halo 2 was being shut down, I probably would have played on the last day just for the hell of it, regardless of whatever the "visual flair" is for Reach. I'll be honest, the first few games I was hating it; I still liked the maps, but graphically the game looks pretty awful now (especially playing it over HDMI on a large 1080p TV, good lord) and most importantly the gameplay just felt off. Nothing felt quite right. As time passed and I played some games with my friends and even a few with Urk (amazingly) I got into it more; I still never got used to the grenade throwing and the SMG starts were still horrible, but by the end of the unexpected 2nd day it was up I had played to the point where the graphics didn't bother me at all and I was having a lot of fun. I reached the point where I was going for 77 games played, and just barely hit it, even though bungie.net doesn't show the 1 custom game I played, but I played it dammit! I was on past the point where new people were able to get on, but finally bailed around 9pm EST on the 15th.
Although it's largely passed, I was even at the point where I seriously almost bought Halo 2 Vista just to be able to play online. That temporary insanity has passed now, but I am left with a refreshed sense of history and past for the series, and left more hyped for Reach then before. I've even begun to play Halo 3 online again in preperation for the Reach beta. That's my story!