Halo @ E3 2014 – Halo: The Master Chief Collection

No need to rehash the intro, let’s get right to it!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection reactions:

Rumors notwithstanding, The Master Chief Collection is confirmed real and is almost everything I could want.

“Almost” you say? Of course! What kind of Halo fan would I be if I didn’t gripe about something trivial during a franchise high point?

Hyperbole aside, I’ve tried to Continue reading →

Bundle of Champions

With less than thirty days until the release of the fourth major expansion for Halo 4, it’s time for me to start getting hyped!

There’s plenty of info on the “Champions Bundle” around, but I wanted to highlight a couple of reasons why I’m really looking forward to it:

Map Love

The new maps – “Pitfall” and “Vertigo” – each have a stand-out trait; being a remake of a fantastic Halo 2 map (The Pit) for the former and the interactive electric environment of the latter.

My past strategy on “The Pit” consisted of running full go at the rocket launcher in the hallway, so with ordnance dropping all over the place I’ll have to find a way to go about it.

I never did particularly well with that strategy, so maybe it’s a good thing 🙂

I’m a sucker for new play spaces and the fiction that accompanies them in Halo, so you can count on my doing a lot of walking around and staring in between the headshots I give (and receive).

Nothing but Skin

I’ve never cared about the weapons skins before, but the Assault Rifle: Teeth TTH and the Steel Skin Pack have me excited to suit up.

Why the sudden interest in these weapon covers? Is it the history lover in me? Does my sub-conscience long to write the great American Steampunk novel?

I’m not sure – but I’m in. Expect my futuristic guns to have teeth and bolts all over them.

Halo 4 Champions Bundle poster

Covering Up

Something I have always cared about is dressing up my doll … ahem … arming my Spartan, and the three new armor mods of Mark V, ODST and Prefect will do just fine.

I like how 343 have gone both old and new school with the new armor, and it’s always cool to see more variety in Theater Mode.

There are also eight poses thrown in for good measure, as what’s the use of all the cool armor if you can’t strike a pose?

As I haven’t earned enough commendations to obtain some of the cooler poses in Halo 4, the opportunity to change it up in the War Games lobby is a welcome one.

Honorable Mentions

The Ricochet gametype and armor don’t have me as excited as the rest, but I’m looking forward to giving them a go. As with most objective games, if I can go in with a group of friends I know I’ll have a better time.

The Resistor Tactical Package – “which allows Spartans to maintain their full mobility and dexterity while taking incoming fire” – is for someone who actually takes enemy fire.

Since my skillz allow me to never take a hit, this TP is rendered worthless to me. I’m sure other people will find it useful 😉

>>>>>>>>>[4721640]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

HBOhio – the write-up

I’ll start with thank yous, as is only right.

Rev and Jackie, for putting this on and making it incredible.

Everyone at HBOhio, Grim and Louis Wu for making it possible.

CurrerBell, for being okay with me being me … even encouraging it!

Our tale begins on a dark and stormy night, with a long kept secret that could tear a family apart …

HBOhio logo

Getting there

Actually our tale doesn’t begin there at all. It begins on a Friday afternoon (5/19/13) as myself, my better half, and our youngest all make the trip down to Columbus for HBOhio.

Considering I already live in the Buckeye State, my three-hour trip was relatively short compared to those who came from the far off lands of North Carolina and Michigan.

I had originally planned on this being a one-man trip, with Currer staying home while I was gallivanting off in our state’s capital. That changed when she expressed an interest in going, and when it was pointed out that the LAN was dangerously close to our wedding anniversary 🙂

So with both sets of parents watching the rest of our crew, the three of us headed down for good times.

They’re all going to laugh at you

After checking in at the hotel (and being told that several break-ins had occurred by guys using crowbars to steal TVs out of the rooms, followed with a “enjoy your stay!”) we drove over to HBOhio’s HQ, Rev’s place.

Driving over I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve met a completely new group of people, and a few of the old high school insecurities came back. For example – how do I act cool without desperately trying to act cool? do they know how cool I think they are? is saying “cool” even cool anymore? Questions like that.

Per usual, I was being an idiot – whatever they thought of me the group couldn’t have been nicer and I truly appreciated it. To be among a collection of colleagues who dropped more video game references than I get to hear in a year, love Halo across the board and actually knew who Trogdor is? Nice.

Hang on to you butts

We arrived around 5:00pm, about the middle of the pack with some of the group already there and more to come.

HBOhio - Jurrasic 1

After frightening away the other movie goers with deadly-accurate Raptor impressions, the entire theater was ours

Once assembled, we did what anyone in our position would do – go see a twenty-year-old movie in 3D! What film you ask? Super Mario Bros.Mrs. Doubtfire? Close but not quite – Jurassic Park, and it’s held up much better than many of the films that came out that year.

Pale Riders

Now comes the MAW run of the weekend – an entire Saturday (4/20/13) of Halo filled with prizes, food and gameplay that reached (dare I say, started at?) a level of epicness that only happens face-to-face.

Revenant brought something to the LAN that all great commanders must – a plan. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched out of your mind for an event and then it devolves into something like this:

“This is awesome!”

“I know!”

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

But this party faux pas was avoided by the man with the clipboard. Rev had it all worked out, from the order of gaming to the prizes to be won by stupendous deeds of daring do (or marks of shame, but more on that later).

Rev's clipboard

The clipboard of destiny!

Much honor to you my friend, for keeping the awesome on track!

I wanted to note that watching the Halo 2 menu loop over and over during setup would made HBOhio a success in my book, no matter what else we did – it’s been a while since I’ve played the game and it brought back great memories.

HBOhio - During the game 5

Blue Man Group

I was fortunate to have (what I thought) the best seat in the house, right next to Bluerunner in the garage with an entire half-sheet of game space all to myself. It could be argued that team “Danger Zone” in the rooms upstairs had the sweeter spot as everyone had their own screen, but the ability to stretch and the lack of heated man-smell gives our garage-group the advantage I think.

HBOhio - During the game 2

Most pose after, others during

(While the garage wins on comfort, Danger Zone emerged victorious on the win/lose ratio. Next time Gadget … )

HBOhio - During the game 4

The back …

So with projectors humming and heads held high we played through a plethora of Halo 2 and Halo 3 maps and modes. Containment, Bomb, Territories, Avalanche, Capture the Flag, Sand Trap, Lava Lake – the list goes on.

HBOhio - During the game 3

… and the front

Without a montage there’s no way to convey the good times so I’m not even going to try, but it was fantastic to have that Halo: Combat Evolved LAN feeling where the guy that just took you out (or vice versa) was right next to you.

Stories with a side of BBQ

After the morning carnage it was time to fuel up at City Barbeque for lunch. There was a lot of local color on the walls, with the barbeque sauce labeled “Blazing Rectums” as the standout. (Kids, I wouldn’t Google that one if I were you.)

HBOhio - BBQ 1

Burning orifices aside, the food was fantastic. In addition to stuffing our faces Rev had us go around the table and give a brief history of how everyone got there, history with Halo, etc. It was great to hear everyone’s story and be reminded that while many of us enjoy the franchise for different reasons, at the end of the day that translates into getting together with friends and having a blast.

Schwag Bag

Something important was just left out of the preceding paragraph; yes, our love of Halo translates into having a blast with friends – but at HBOhio it also translates into getting awesome stuff!

Shortly after lunch Revenant handed out the goodie bags and talk about a freakin’ amazing bonus – not only do we get to hang out and play Halo all day, but we get schwag?!? I feel bad for the holidays left in the year – they just became the wannabe highlights of 2013.

HBOhio - Prizes 2

Schwag included:

  • 6 Halo decals – not for the face!
  • 3 Xbox 360 codes provided by BS Angel (a Halo 4 Campaign background, Watcher avatar prop and Halo 4 picture pack) – you can haz!
  • HBO button – pin sharpened to a diamond’s edge!
  • ONI Patch – they don’t officially exist!
  • Blamite –just like Mom used to make!
  • Mystery Megablok Halo figure – tiny and mysterious!
  • German candy – Danke!
  • Personalized Legendary Patch – read those words again, and weep you don’t have one!

Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this treasure chest of goodness – a HUGE thank you to all who made it possible!

But these items weren’t the only thing we could take home – there were prizes to be won throughout the LAN. The pictures below don’t do the amount of stuff there was justice (or the feeling I had of wanting to grab everything and make a run for it), but I can tell you there was a great haul to be had with bits and pieces sent from all over.

HBOhio Prizes 1

Warning: staring at the magical table of schwag may cause temporary blindness

I was fortunate to “win” the first prize – a set of CQC Kontrol Freaks (the mark of shame I mentioned earlier). I came in last place in a Halo 2 game of Swords ‘n’ Shotguns.

But the joke’s on you my friends – I was already using a pair when I tanked the match! Your effort to improve my game is futile! (maniacal laughter)

Covies won’t know what hit’em

Right … where was I? Maniacal laughter. No, after that. Yes! We rounded out Saturday (4/20/13) with some more unusual Halo 3 game types (Rocket Race, Dragon Slayer, etc.) and what for me was the highlight of the trip gameplay wise – an ODST Firefight throw down!

Three teams of four competed for pride, glory, and a set of MegaBlok ODST drop pods. I go into a more detail in this post, but this mini-tournament sums up all the best parts of what a LAN can be – intense team-based action where having the players in the same room really makes a difference.

Our team (SIX min WHISTLE, Kermit7, BlueRunner and myself) came in second place and the Covenant will think twice before attacking Crater again. Hoo-rah!

Walking Away

And that’s the high note HBOhio ended on for me – after wolfing down some excellent pizza and taking one last grab from the M&Ms bowl (which they kept filling from a feedbag somewhere – seriously, how can you keep it full with over fifteen people grabbing from it all day? It was nothing short of a miracle) Currer and I headed out.

HBOhio - Leaving group shots 1

Defiant to the end

I feel like this write-up didn’t capture half of the awesome that went on (not to mention Sunday and Monday), but I hope it conveys what an incredible time I had and how grateful I am to Rev and Jackie for hosting.

Until the next one!

>>>>>>>>>[4721640.720.504]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

From Crisis Cores to Lockout scores

Originally posted at GameSpot June 2, 2008

Mondays are always a bit of a downer. But to ease the pain of the work week ahead, I like to think back on the weekend, especially if it was a particularly good one – and this past weekend was.

A lot of good things happened, but for this blog we’ll stick with the gaming highlights. In chronological order:

Friday, May 30, 2008, 11:00-2:40 a.m. – My in-laws had a cookout for some friends who came in out-of-town, and as the party died down my brother-in-law and I tried to get in some Battlefield 2125. I saytried, because he needed to download a rather large patch for the game, and it just took too long.

But we made the best of the situation, watching the pilot for “Arrested Development” and playing someHalo: Combat Evolved. He slaughtered me on two games of Slayer on Hang’em High, but I was able to leave with a bit of pride with a 25-23 victory in Damnation.

Something I almost forgot to mention: My brother-in-law just bought Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for his PSP. Like him, I have never played a Final Fantasy game (gasp!), but the title was nothing short of impressive. The graphics and music were first rate, and even from the short game play and boss fight he showed me the game looked like it had a lot of depth. And the cut scenes! Wow.

This may be a series I could get into in the future – I could tell this game points to a rich tradition, and I know it’s one many people cherish.

Sunday, June 1, 2008, 10:45-1:30 a.m. – My brother-in-law came over with his girlfriend and while she and my wife did their thing, we played some tennis and then headed to the basement for someNeed for Speed Most Wanted and Halo 2.

I had been talking up Most Wanted for a while, so I was glad to be able to finally show him the game – and things worked out better then I had planned. Nothing is worse then wanting to show off a game but having it somehow fall flat on its face. NFSMW delivered, however, and we had some of the greatest police chases I’ve seen in the game.

One in particular had a cruiser we just smashed through in a roadblock and rolled over and over, upwards of at least five times. It was nothing short of awesome, seeing in roll in front and them hitting the back view only to see it keep going. How can you not love it?

Next was Halo 2, and we had three of the greatest matches I’ve had in a long time. Did I win either any of them? No – but they were epic none the less. Rifles for the first and third, rockets for the second; 25 kill count on Lockout all three times – it was fantastic.

They were just what multiplayer FPS should be about – great confrontations, amazing (or not) shots, close calls, intense grenade battles, logic-defying comebacks (by me), and loud shouts of “Yes!” and “Noooooo!”

An excellent night, capping of a great weekend. Let’s hope it pulls me through the week!

Post tenebras lux

The $0.55 trade-in

Originally posted at GameSpot on May 2, 2008

Ah, lunchtime (of 4/30/08) – the best part of the work day. Today’s lunch consisted of not just good food, but a few good games as well. I just got back from Gamestop; traded in some old games and got a few new ones.

Traded in:

ESPN NBA 2K5

ESPN NFL 2K5

ESPN NHL 2K5

Rallisport Challenge 2

These are all great games (except Rallisport Challenge 2 I can’t vouch for; I bought it used and it never worked), but I just don’t play them. Sports games and I have a somewhat rocky relationship, as I usually only play them when I have friends over. But, I’ll save that discussion for another time.

That said, here are the games I picked up – after my sweet trade-in value of fifty-five cents kicked in!

Picked up:

Need For Speed Most Wanted

Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3

X-men Legends

 Of the three, I’ve only had time to play Most Wanted, but I’ll hopefully check out the other ones soon. Yoshi’s Island is an old favorite of my wife’s and Legends received good reviews – so once I get to them, I know I won’t be disappointed.

We even had some friends over to try Most Wanted, but we ended up having more fun with Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. Hey, whatever works – I just want the games on and the people happy.

Post tenebras lux

Recent happenings on ringed orbital installations

Originally posted at GameSpot on April 24, 2008

Halo has been happening around me lately, with two recent examples proving yet again why this game is fun.

Last Tuesday night (April 15th) we went over to family’s house for a cook-out; burgers on the grill, fresh-baked cookies for dessert, etc. – a really great night. What capped if off, however, was the fact that my brother-in-law recently hooked up Xbox Live again.

So after a long day at the office and a fun night with family, I went home and went to bed – right? Wrong! I did my duty and after tucking everyone in to bed at our place, drove back to the in-law’s house and played some slayer! It was a blast to be back on live again; even at the late hour there were still plenty of people playing Halo 2. There were even new maps I hadn’t seen yet, which is always a bonus. I was definitely a little rusty, but got back into the groove pretty quick.

Many thanks to my brother-in-law who not only extended the invite, but let me hang out until 2:30 a.m.

If that wasn’t enough, we had friends over the next night (April 16th) – and a certain game was played for roughly four hours. That certain game? Halo: Combat Evolved. This is the couple my wife and I had introduced to Halo, and they couldn’t wait to play. Rockets on Derelict, Slayer on Prisoner, even some sniping on Boarding Action – very cool.

The girls did great in their own right, with a certain someone getting to know and loving the red B button. We all had a great time, and finished up past midnight.

All this to say, Halo is still pulling its weight when many other games have out-lived their fun. Hail the Maser Chief!

 Post tenebras lux