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HALO: Guns and sore thumbs

Some scientists say that 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth cooled, the oceans formed and single-cell organisms began to multiply. But for many people, life didn’t begin until the year 2001, when a Spartan soldier named John 117 began a fight that would not end until 2007.

Better known to the gaming community as the Master Chief, the tale of his journey spread across six years and two gaming platforms.

The Halo video game franchise is known for its gripping storyline of an enhanced super-soldier fighting against an organized alien species, “the Covenant,” who is trying to annihilate the human race. Along the way, the Master Chief encounters an ancient ring (“Halo”) in space built by a long-extinct race as a means of containing an additional enemy called “The Flood.”

Microsoft and game developer Bungie set out to make Halo 3 the biggest game release of all time. The market was blitzed with all kinds of publicity, including specialized sodas, large premier events and television coverage of the release. More than 10,000 stores planned to open their doors at midnight to allow fans to receive their copies of the game. The release of Halo 3 was supposed to be “the biggest entertainment event in history,” according to a Microsoft news release.

“I preordered my game back in March,” said Christian Giron, a USF sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering.

While waiting for the game to be released, we decided to chronicle our experience of this great event. We made a pact to play and beat the first two games in the two days leading up to the midnight release of Halo 3. In addition, each game would be played at increasing difficulties – normal level for Halo and heroic level for Halo 2.

Beginning Sunday night before the release, with two days to go, we began to play the first Halo. With the difficulty setting on normal, we swept through the game in a quick seven hours, finishing around 5 a.m.

We took a break from the carnage of charged plasma and sticky grenades, and slept a few hours before starting our mission to complete Halo 2. Monday afternoon, fighting more resilient enemies with better aim due to the “heroic” difficulty, our fight was a hard one.

Reaching only the midpoint of the sequel, we had to take cover and delay the fight to go to Citrus Park Town Center. On our way to get a copy of Halo 3, we passed two Game Stop video game stores before reaching the mall, all with long lines of people waiting to get inside.

Fans – men, a few women and one person of indeterminate sex – were sitting outside the stores in beach chairs and under tents. Many talked about rumors of how the game would end, while others debated how the multiplayer settings would change the gameplay experience from previous games.

We saw people playing cards, reading books based on the game and selling pizza slices and energy drinks for $3. It was late at night and people were excitedly waiting to get

their game.

Both of us are veterans of midnight releases, so the sights were familiar – not unlike the recent sleepover of USF fans waiting to get tickets for the West Virginia game.

Mall employees gave out numbered tickets to the customers as they arrived to stand in line to ensure that everyone would go into the store in the correct order. This allowed fans to mingle and walk around without worrying about losing their spots.

Shortly before midnight, employees came outside to

randomly announce these

numbers, rewarding their owners with free Halo accessories and merchandise. Screams of excitement filled the air as people received their prizes.

As Sept. 25 finally arrived, fans cheered as they were allowed to enter the store, 10 at a time, to get the discs that would contain the conclusion to Master Chief’s saga.

Clutching the Halo 3 box, we rushed home, filled with

excitement. We’re ready for the final fight.