The best thing about Halo was the two-player split-screen. It meant that the wife and I could play through the campaign co-operatively and experience the game as never before. I’d drive the warhog while she blasted the crap out of the grunts. We were a team of awesome.
Halo had become such a phenomenon that everyone we knew seemed to play it. People we were at work with (this was back when the wife and I worked together at the same bookstore) knew of the game, and some were avid players – it was just a matter of time before some of our work colleagues were invited back to our humble abode for a little four-player split-screen action.
There was something addictive about it, and Halo night became an almost weekly affair. And it grew on occasion, where we’d invite many people around and we’d experiment with ethernet cables and network multiple XBoxes together to grow to 8, 12 and even 16 player battles. These LAN parties were not as frequent, as they’d involve the transportation of television sets and XBoxes, and placing them around the house in multiple rooms.
But it was fun. We enjoyed ourselves. The neighbours may not have enjoyed it quite so much – this was before we had headsets to communicate and “teams” would end up shouting at each other tauntingly from one room of the house to the other. And we discovered that our XBoxes had names (strangely, ours was called “Goat”).
There were a couple of players who were particularly good at Halo, who dominated the playing field, but that was okay. We had fun, despite reaffirming my belief that I was inherently bad at games.
We instantly snapped up Halo 2 upon release, and the Halo night continued. Our favourite game (“Rockets on Prisoner”) was replaced by a variant of Crazy King of the Hill on Coagulation we called “Arg! It Moved!” (as the place you needed to stand to gain points and win would move every 30 seconds, usually just as you were about to stand there).
|How I usually looked online in Halo3|
And then something stupid happened. We gained broadband internet access, and I hooked up the XBox. The trial month of XBox Live was activated, and I sampled the world of Halo 2 online.
While the regular players who visited would repeatedly and frustratingly kick my ass at Halo, it wasn’t until I had access to online gameplay that I really sampled the nerve-wracking bloodbath of my continual fragging.
We still loved Halo, and the games we played were still fun, but when we found out that Halo 3 would be on the newly launched XBox360, we upgraded and were introduced to a far harsher sport online. The abuse would flow - the taunts and the colourful language - until it became necessary to plug the headset in for game-chat, turn the volume right down and leave the headset on the sofa next to you.
Halo night continued weekly, sometimes with a simple 2x 360 LAN or just meeting up online and connecting with private channels to team up against the constant onslaught of “Pro Gamers”. We had our moments of glory, but I was just too bad a player and I was obviously bringing everyone down. The frustration was starting to set in, and that seed of being bored by shooters had been planted.
Sure, there were other games out there that I loved – GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption to name a couple, but it was getting to the pitch where my interest in video gaming was dwindling, mostly due to being generally rubbish at it. I’d have given up right there and then if it wasn’t for one game. A game I’d initially discounted because it just looked silly. A game called Rock Band.