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My hall of fame… November 19, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Games, Perception.
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I was able to borrow Halo 3 from my brother this weekend while he went to visit his girlfriend. Like many other students I’ve talked to, the multiplayer component is only a small draw. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely the most fun you’ll ever have being obliterated from across a map with pinpoint accuracy by someone who doesn’t remember the NES. So while I was curious about the fate of (most) people’s favorite super soldier, I wasn’t sure the single player game was going to be enough to earn my purchase, at least not with the other new opportunities available to me.

As it turns out, I never had to answer that question, since we ended up watching my girlfriend’s little brother* for the weekend. He and I immediately agreed to dig into the game together, tearing away as many meaty chunks of gameplay as we could in the limited time we had available. This was a good choice.

Obviously co-op has been a major component of the game throughout the series, and with good reason. Epic-scale battles with massive vehicles lends themselves well to the teamwork opportunities of a cooperative session, leading to a profound sense of satisfaction and camaraderie. Halo 3 achieves this to the greatest effect yet, thanks to the team-up of the Master Chief and the Arbiter. The game is then able to replace the somewhat nonsensical two MCs of past games with a logical and enjoyable juxtaposition of kindred spirits who can both play a part in the story.

The key “Aaah…” moment came when during a battle with a Scarab Tank, in which Pelican drop ships deploy ATVs with rocket launching marines perched on their backs. We wove figure eights around the massive machine while our passengers unloaded their payloads against the colossal war engine; we cheered at our success and the accuracy of the A.I. controlled gunners. While sharing the thrills of the battle, our enthusiasm spread into the game itself, and the marines became part of our experience. What started as a two-player game became an all out war, at least for us.

Out of body experiences are rare in games. Up until this weekend I’d only had the lurch of my stomach as I leaped from the Empire State Building in Spiderman 2, and the jerk of my limbs during QTEs in the Shenmue games. Now the adrenaline of Halo 3 co-op joins this rare list of gaming moments that let me transcend reality’s boundaries, if only for a moment.

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