Game Night: The Beginning

Here at Trial and Error, we try to provide a unique or interesting perspective that will both entertain and inform you, our dear reader. In my quest to do so, I present a new weekly series: Game Night.

And, as I sat around contemplating what this weekly epic should include, it occurred to me that the perfect beginning would be covering the game that it all began with.

I’ve been gaming in some form since I figured out how to hook up my parent’s old Atari and learned the epic annoyance that was Zipper Boy. But you see, kiddies, it wasn’t until my neighbor forced me onto Halo 2 that I experienced multiplayer first-person combat. I was living in a small apartment complex that, instead of halls and indoor walkways like most civilized domiciles, had doors facing an open-air walkway.

I only mention the architecture of my home because its layout was extremely unaccommodating for reaching my door at the very end of the second floor without being harangued by my neighbor. Every day I would pull my car into the parking lot, taking great care to close my car door so as to not trumpet my arrival, and then stealthily climb the stairs as lightly as possible.

Needless to say, I went out of my way to avoid speaking to this fellow. One of my many avoidance failures, because this man really did have unnaturally keen hearing, led to a conversation about video games, and a particular title called Halo 2. I didn’t know there was such a thing as Halo 1, let alone that it earned a sequel, but sequel there was and the bat-eared man was singing its praises despite the pestering fact of not actually owning an Xbox yet owning the game.

In his good-natured, pestery way he demanded I try Halo 2 and delivered his copy into my hands. And that, my good children, is the day that Mr Ghosty discovered the joy of headshots. The game sucked me in; I played through the single-player campaign and head-to-head matches against my cousin and any other poor soul who happened to step into the “batcave”. Fast-forward through a move and connected internet, with a side helping of getting my own copy of Halo 2, and we come to the online multiplayer.

Xbox Live began service in 2002 and maintained support and online interactivity for its Original Xbox Games from that point up until Wednesday, April 15th 2010. Microsoft has chosen to do this to add more functionality to the Xbox Live experience for those who enjoy the service on their latest console, the Xbox 360. As a sort of going away party, a large portion of the gaming community spent time playing Halo 2 multiplayer on its last day of operation on April 14th, and I was in the thick of it with them.

I fully expected to fail miserably and die more than one really should in a competitive game, and was pleasantly unsurprised when exactly that happened. That’s not to say I didn’t have the odd good game or two, but after nearly three years of not playing a game you’re bound to be a bit rusty.

What surprised me most was how great those old maps, save for one or two, still stand up. The gameplay was always frenzied, and I was amazed at how easily I slipped back into the old habits and began moving through the map as I used to, and if that doesn’t attest to the amount of hours I put into the game then nothing will.

I felt truly nostalgic playing this game again. Though I can recall playing the NES, I was too young to really remember it. Going back to play Zelda is always fun, but not a nostalgic experience, while sitting down to play Halo 2 on Xbox Live was my first true nostalgic experience. The same stupid tricks made me yell at my TV screen and I found myself enjoying all the finer points of the game, just as I used to. From the final stats count that Bungie is putting on their site, I don’t believe I was the only person to feel this way about Halo 2.

Bungie also went back and talked about the game with those who created it, which is definitely worth a read. You can find that post here.

As game nights go, my final playthrough of Halo 2 was a fond jaunt down memory lane and got my blood pumping for the Halo: Reach beta on May 3rd, and I shall look back on Halo 2 and remember the beginning of my need for a good headshot: every few days, or else I get jittery.

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