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Tycho / on Mon, Oct 18 2004 at 4:30 am

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High Encryption

We did go play Halo 2, and they did make us sign something, but it was a while ago - the build we played is the same one all the most recent press was based on.  Talking about Halo is always really complex for me - partly because of my mind, which is a deranged knot of neurotic impulses.  The rest of it is just because we were mean to the first one, for reasons I still maintain, but can’t be explained without a certain amount of nuance.

It’s easy enough to see, now, that Halo has become some kind of Goddamn cultural phenomenon.  There is no more pristine moment for some people than when they manage to scrape together four Xboxes and four televisions and enough people to fill them out.  Essentially, I’ve just described a LAN Party, a breed of bliss that is not unique to Halo and certainly not unique to consoles.  As difficult as it might be for me to imagine, the first LAN experience many people have had is through this game.  Their first co-op experience as well.  So no, I’m not startled by the enduring power of it.  I’m no stranger to sentimentality. 

The Single player campaign, well, you know what I thought of that.  The response to those statements was measured in Kelvin.  It was as though we had come out against caramel or something.  Preposterous.

So when we started attending (and indeed holding) raucous Halo parties, the forces arrayed against us felt they finally had the means to take us down - we had been caught in some kind of lie.  That I would have been let down by Bungie’s Single Player experience but simultaneously entertained by their Multiplayer experience doesn’t seem like a contradiction to me, but then I am not an idiot.  I do not have fetal alcohol syndrome and my face largely conforms to the ordinary ratios.   

As I said, we have had the opportunity both at E3 and here locally to play the multiplayer component of Halo 2, and people from Bungie have been right there both times and it makes me feel like such a jackass.  Put aside the fact that I don’t retreat from my initial statements.  These are the people who labored over something that I compared to crucifying my penis.  They had the equanimity to have us come out and, for all they knew, shit on their new thing.  I just don’t have that gene.  I would invite me out, and then decapitate me so I could fuck my neckhole.  We went out there and came back and they didn’t even fuck our necks once.  I’m going to call that class.   

I will tell you what my favorite thing about Halo 2 Multiplayer is.  There are things that anyone would like, as holding two needlers and unloading them is sort of its own reward.  Of course, it’s nice to have the same power to create your own gametypes that you’ve enjoyed at home taken online with bountiful new options.  Customizing your character - Elite or Spartan, with insignias you create with an in-game tool - that’s appreciated, certainly.  Not my favorite thing.

There is absolutely no server browser of any kind.

You’ll be surprised how liberating this is.  Typically joining an online game is this arduous purgatory state where you finally find a server that has enough room for everybody, but then you join and can’t be on the same team, so you play for a while and don’t enjoy it until people leave and you can join your friends, at which point fucking Bob disconnects the server.  That scenario doesn’t exist in Halo 2 for a couple reasons. 

One, you create a little “Team” in a menu before you ever play.  Teams aren’t like Clans, they’re temporary, but I’d imagine that your teams will be made up largely of your Clanmates in any case.  So, you’re there with your allies or quondam foes, the four of you let’s say, and as the guy that put together the team you let Halo 2 know you’re ready to drop.  It goes out and finds four guys roughly your ability level with a good connection and you’re off to the races.  Want a larger game?  Tell it so, and Halo 2 will track down another group of four to match with you, and eight more miscreants for your stalwart band to mistreat.  Here comes “Reason This Is Good” number two.  If the server drops out there, for whatever reason but you’re welcome to call it cowardice, somebody else is chosen to be the server automatically and play continues.  The upshot of this is that you spend your time playing the game, not fiddling with it trying to coax an optimal experience.  The process I’ve just described is for official ranked games, that draw from a set of specific parameters to glean better ranking data for the players.  We were locked to this mode the day we played it.  But even in custom mode, there’s no “browser” as we think of it, if I understood the UI guy I talked to.  You simply set parameters and join games. 

I don’t know anything about Halo 2’s single player, or, at any rate, I can’t tell you.  Probably best to leave it at that. 

(CW)TB out.

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