‘Halo 3’ an unlikely social blessing

Senior Greg Binder and sophomore Jess Gallicchio duke it out in a Halo 3 multiplayer match.  The game, released at midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 25 for XBox 360, has pulled many students into its addictive, thrilling atmosphere.By Jess Decina

Chris Taylor had only been working at the GameStop in the nearby Quakerbridge Mall for about a month when the much-anticipated Halo 3 was released last week. Taylor thought he’d have to face crazed fans and utter chaos when his store decided to plan a midnight release of the game. But that night was nothing compared to what happened the following weekend.

Taylor, a senior double psychology and English major, was working in the store on Saturday, Sept. 29, when a customer walked in and made the strangest request Taylor had ever heard.

“[The customer] opens up his zipper bag and out comes a [Nintendo] Wii,” Taylor said. “Half the people in the store were just staring at it. And he goes, ‘Yeah, I wanna trade this in.’”

The customer, according to Taylor, wanted to trade his current system, valued at $170, and use that money toward an Xbox 360 and Halo 3, which would cost more than $400.

“He spent $430 just to play one game,” Taylor said. “I guarantee that didn’t happen in any other store except ours.”

Released exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Halo 3 falls under the category of first-person shooter games. Gamers can choose either the single-player campaign or the multiplayer mode. According to Taylor, the Halo series is a game for both serious and casual gamers.

“It’s so easy to pick up and play,” he said.

While Taylor doesn’t think Halo 3 is worth trading in one’s worldly possessions for, he admits that the game has a fierce attraction among college students. Senior Greg Binder, who’s had the game since the early morning hours of Sept. 25, has been engulfed by this tide.

“When people used to ask me what the date was, I used to figure it out according to when Halo came out,” he said. “It turned out to be a pretty big anticipation.”

On the night of the release, Binder bolted out of a late-night rehearsal, picked up the game (“There was no one on line; I just picked it up immediately,” he said) and was back in his room by 12:30 that morning.

“I played it until six in the morning,” Binder said. “When you’re playing Halo, time means nothing.”

Binder wasn’t the only student who ran to the mall that night. Senior Bryan Arenas was the ninth person in line for the game and had finished it before most students had begun to wake up.

“The first thing I did was call everyone I knew to tell them I had beaten the game already,” he said. “They all said, ‘If you tell me what happens, I’ll kill you.’”

The game’s single-player mode takes only about six hours to beat, according to Binder. This lack of complexity in the game’s plot is arguably one of Halo 3’s biggest weaknesses, Binder said.

“Compared to other games, it’s relatively short,” he said. “But it has a lot going for it. There’s four levels of difficulty and all these secrets you can get.”

Halo 3 also has special features that its two predecessors didn’t have. One of Binder’s favorite aspects of the game is Forge, where players can alter maps as they please.

“If you want to add a vehicle or weapon anywhere you want, you can,” he said.

Another feature allows players to film and store their matches. This feature was a great ego boost for Binder, who proudly replayed his best games for others to see.

“You can film any part of the game you want,” he said. “You can also download other people’s videos from on-line to your XBox.”

But both Arenas and Binder agree: You don’t play Halo 3 for the single-player campaign or the flashy features. Halo 3’s greatest strength lies in multiplayer mode, where up to 16 players can compete against each other.

“It’s going on with your friends and having all of these messed up strategies that you’ll never do in real life,” Binder said. “It’s about communicating: the trash talk [and] being good at it.”

Arenas, also a big fan of multiplayer mode, is looking forward to hosting Halo parties — get-togethers where all of his friends can play the game.

“I love the atmosphere that it brings,” Arenas said. “Getting a group of your friends together to play is a lot of fun.”

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