Monday, 24 September 2007

Halo 3 week is here!

Yes, it's Halo week. Though I'm sure it's as boring to most people as it has been to poor Canyon, I'm spending a lot of time talking about Halo and obsessing about Halo and counting down until the release of Halo 3, etc. etc. etc. I haven't been this excited since Superman Returns came out, though I will draw a veil over the aftermath of that. (Clue: It involved sulking.)

I remember when the Playstation was launched, Final Fantasy VII was one of the big early releases, and some of the press at the time mentioned, in astonished and whispered tones, that each FF release was treated like a big movie premiere in Japan. When Halo 2 was released years later the same thing happened in the West, though sadly most of the hype channeled through inept journalists whose sole experience of gaming is Minesweeper, Tetris, and that evil brainwashing Grand Theft Auto thing that makes children steal cars and shoot prostitutes. Game culture is more readily accepted in Japan, whereas in England most press coverage of gaming blames all the ills of the world on kids pootling around a digital environment for a few hours a week, not unlike Ye Olde Worlde village elders screeching that demons are possessing the youngfolk and making them do the sex and the violence.

I expected more of the same this week, but until today I was surprised by how muted it has been. Bear in mind I'm saying that after a few days staying away from the internet, so I have missed out on a lot of it. Now I'm beginning to see the hype starting. Not long ago I saw this wrapped around Waterloo IMAX:

My piddly little cameraphone does not do justice to the size of it. The mainstream press has started to talk about it; a piece in today's Financial Times talks about it as if it's the second coming, at least for Microsoft and their stock market value. I expect more as the week goes on. In addition to this, I've been getting ready for the launch by immersing myself in the Halo world: listening to Martin O'Donnell's superb score for Halo 2; reading the official line of tie-in novels by Eric Nylund and William Dietz; replaying the end of Halo 2 so I'm fully prepped on the events of the (somewhat rushed) finale.

To make my excitement even more feverish, at least one early rave is in, which cheered me (even though I don't always agree with their reviews). Hopefully Edge magazine will turn up this week with a review. Will it get one of their rare 10/10 ratings? Probably not. Knowing them, they'll dock two points for some arcane reason. Overuse of the colour purple, one sound effect used twice that reminds them of a TV show they hate; something like that.

One thing I won't be experiencing is Marvel's Halo: Uprising, by the amazing Daredevil team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. Tackling the bridging story between Halos 2 and 3, Bendeev tell the tale from the point of view of survivors of the Covenant invasion. The first issue was great. The second? Out in mid-October. The third and fourth issues are out in December and February. I'm sure Bendis is busy with all of his other five million comics, and Maleev might have more trouble finding photo-references seeing as how the comic is set in the future during an alien invasion as opposed to being a contemporary urban crime tale, but still, this bi-monthly release schedule is absurd, especially as no comic is coming out in the launch week. Trust Marvel to screw up the tie-in.

However, the best thing I've seen so far is Microsoft and Bungie's ad campaign. To clarify, adverts are the devil's poops, doing nothing to improve mankind. At least most of the time. Some can be better than that: Tony Kaye's Pirelli ads; Jonathan Glazer's Guinness commercial with the horses; Sony Bravia (especially the balls one). These ads for Halo 3 are in that pantheon, especially the final one, which almost made me choke up earlier tonight. (You'll pay for that, Debussy!!!)

That's how you advertise a product. Of course, some wag managed to express my misgivings about the online multiplayer version and all of its off-putting and nauseating teenage players with this very very not-safe-for-work spoof voiceover.

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