I’m hooked again. It’s been so hot and humid here that the one area of the house where I can be really cool is my bar/games room and why be in there and not play Halo – probably the best video game ever.
I’ve always been a fan of virtual reality games. In San Francisco there was a really high-tech games centre across from the hotel we were staying in and wandering in one night I found that for $5 (this was about 10 years ago) you could put on a helmet which transported you into another world. It really was quite incredible – you actually thought you were there – in the streets fighting gangsters. It was all done, of course, with 180 degree projections inside the helmet but for the 15 minutes the $5 lasted, it was one hell of an experience.
Fast forward to 2001 when I arrived in France and ‘inherited’ a new family. Struggling to work out what sort of present to buy the kids, I settled on an X-box thinking the kiddy games would be an instant hit and so they were, but not for me. Making fairies jump from toadstool to toadstool just didn’t get my adrenalin going and so I discovered Halo.
I won’t bore you with the details of Halo but needless to say it involves saving Earth, or what’s left of it from hordes of marauding alien life forms. Halo 1 was enormously successful, then came an equally amazing Halo2 and nearly 2 years ago, Halo 3 arrived. To put how successful these (Halo) games are into perspective, consider this. On the first day of its release, Halo 3 sold $170 million worth of DVDs of the game. That’s just the first day. The biggest grossing picture of all time is supposed to be Titanic (although methinks Mama Mia must have overtaken it by now) but that has ‘only’ taken $1.8 billion in the 12 years since its release. 12 years ! Halo is phenomenally successful – so much so that there is reputedly a movie being made to try and replicate the game’s success.
But back to my ‘addiction’. When I first got into Halo1 I would be up until 4am playing on the console trying to eradicate those pesky aliens. Halo2 wasn’t quite as good as it was supposed to be and when we moved into the new house, I had almost given up playing it but then Halo 3 came along with a whole new set of creatures to kill and a whole new set of weapons with which to kill them, but what has made the experience all the better is that in my bar/games room, there is no natural light. With the lights off it is absolutely pitch black and by projecting the console onto one wall of the bar, the aliens are now 4 feet tall – virtually life-like. So much so that on quite a few occasions, as I have been ‘wandering’ through some dark alien planet structure and have been the recipient of a surprise attack by a gang of these nasties, I have actually pulled away from them to the extent that I have fallen over backwards on my seat. That’s when I usually switch off and go and have a drink! Problem is, I’m so shaken up I can’t hold the glass!