"Pocket, do you not want to bring anything else out of your car?" My friend looks nervously at the little green Polo, never the least permeable of containers, with the dents in the roof, missing VW badge, stolen stereo and broken window. It is rupturing from the weight of all my worldly possessions: laptop, PS2, DVDs, games, photos, books and toiletries ? all of which lie beneath a layer of duvets, pillows and clothes.
"Prioritise, man, prioritise! Halo 3
!" I shriek, throwing myself out of the seat with the copy in my hand. "Nothing at the moment has more value to me!"
My journey to Halo 3
has been long and torturous, not least because, as usual, on the day I finally get it the world has chosen to throw every other possible calamity and responsibility into my path. I've been up and down the M62 so often that I'm rating the services on their prices for penny sweets and average toilet cleanliness.
I'd had the chance to play a little co-op the day before, but that, for me, is not really what Halo's
about. It's a team game. Either killing them or joining forces to kill others. That is the true glory. The co-op was better than Halo 2
and it was fun trying out all the new weapons and shields /in situ/, but I just couldn't stay interested - mainly because I was talking myself out of enjoying it. My friends seem to be split between two camps at the moment - hating Bioshock
and loving Halo
, or visa versa. This is their moment to shine, whilst I mutter under my breath about the shoddy graphics and lack of grit. I have missed Johnson, with his Danny Glover-esque, cigar-smoking, one-dimensional character and I'm pleased to see Bungie has left him as transparent as he always has been rather than sending him on a series of seminars which make him start drinking fruit tea and comforting his men whilst strumming an acoustic guitar. Or am I? Maybe something like that would have kept me amused a little longer.
-friends have all been raving about the cut scenes, but the Bioshock girl in me just shakes her head forlornly and remembers that initial plane crash as oil burnt on water.
Finally, in the middle of the night, I arrive - ready for some Evil Team action, only to be told that there's no controller for me. After several frantic phone calls to people who were, unsurprisingly on reflection, unwilling to wake up at midnight to give me a 360 pad, I accept the fact that I am not going to get to join in personally and sit down to watch a master lesson.
Since Tesco's release date balls-up got announced on our most-frequented forum the boys had their copies since the Saturday prior to release - at midday. This meant that in the middle of me singing Singstar
in the midst of ten semi-naked men on Saturday night (I love my boys - they're so borderline homosexual they intimidate gays), I receive a text to say that the Evil Team have completed Halo 3
on Legendary by midnight. This, apparently, took into account a break for KFC too. Hence these guys are already ?pwning? the best players from around the world and, in the first instance that I heard, being abused by Americans pointing out statements that are far too accurate about their love-lives. The next group, bizarrely, happens to be a group from the boys' forum and in the lobby the Dubliners give almost audible submissive praise to them, saying, "We knew we were in trouble. I said 'Back off, boys. We've got rllmuk's finest here!'" to cheers from my guys, spreading some much needed colour back in their cheeks.
Stories are already spreading about relationships being dissolved and house purchases falling through, and the game's been out for a mere four days for the lucky few! When I get a chance to speak to the team about the game overall (after they've won eight games in a row and are prepared to take toilet, tea and takeaway breaks) they rave incessantly about it in the frenzied tones of a true fan. Theatre mode's been stealing more hours from their lives, replaying and reviewing their finest moments. The Forge, where the editor can spot a Warthog exactly where a team mate needs it to drive away with the flag or snipe an enemy has been making it too easy for them, but then the hidden skulls have been much loved as they make the game more difficult, removing alliance shields or upgrading enemy armour, for example.
They reassure me that, unlike Halo 2
, there's no penalty for losing, so next time (I'm promised, with, I imagine, crossed fingers behind backs) they say I can play along with them without being too much of a burden.
Oh, also, they won't let me live if I don't put a word in about the gravity hammer. Best weapon ever in, what they reckon is the best FPS package ever.
Me, I'm reserving my final decision a little longer.
Now if I can just find that control pad.