Finish the fight

The Covenant has invaded Earth and you’re the only one that can stop them. You’re the Master Chief, a genetically enhanced supersoldier, and you need to save humanity. You and every other one of the 4.2 million Halo 3 owners around the world.

Some call it the Star Wars of the thumbstick generation. On Sept. 27, the day Halo 3 came out, students left school in the middle of the day to buy the game.

Halo 3 not only set a record by making the largest opening day profits of any video game ever, but with $170 million earned on its first day, it snagged the record for the highest grossing day in entertainment history. The previous record holder: Halo 2.

While many video games are produced for many game consoles, the entire Halo series can only be played on Microsoft’s Xbox, and Halo 3 can only be played on the year and a half old Xbox 360.

“I play it with other students, and sometimes even with alumni or camp friends,” Jordan Bender ’08 said. “I’ve played with Andrew Pattison ’07 and John Howe ’07. I also play it with complete strangers from all over the world. I’ve played with people from South America, France and China.”

Though gamers lined up at Best Buy stores across the country to get the game at midnight on Sept. 27, Bender along with many other students waited until daylight to purchase the game.

During their third period free, Bender, Nick Cuse ’08 and Colin Turner ’08 purchased the game at Best Buy on Van Nuys Boulevard. Bender decided to buy the Limited Edition which cost $69.99 (compared to $59.99 for the standard edition). Bungie Entertainment, Halo 3’s producer, also sells the Heroic Edition for $129.99 which comes with a replica of a Master Chief helmet, that is way too small to fit any grown human, Bender said.

Bender went home after school that day and played the game for five hours. He tries to limit the amount of time he plays during the week but will play extensively on the weekends, he said.

The aspect of the game that attracts so many students is the ability to play the game online with friends, Will Marenberg ’08 said.

“Previous Halo games have allowed you to play cooperatively with another player locally and they changed that in Halo 3,” said Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of GameSpot Magazine. “Now up to four players can play the game cooperatively and on top of that you can do it online at Xbox Live.”

While playing cooperatively, many students admit that they lose track of time.

“Because it does not take long for games to load and start, you forget how long you play for,” Cuse said. “By the time you look at stats from the previous game, your next game is basically ready. You never stop to think about it. It’s just on to the next game as soon as you finish the first one.”

Though it is not his favorite game, math teacher Kevin Weis owns and plays Halo 3 regularly and understands its addictiveness.

“Online games, where you get to play with your friends and other anonymous players around the world, are generally more addictive,” Weis said. “They provide a way for people to hang out, kill monsters, save the world and show off your skills. What could be more fun than that?”

In the online mode, friends can join and create clans to play together and play teams from around the world. The game is also designed so that the more you play, the higher your worldwide ranking is.

“When you are on a winning streak, you never want to stop because you easily increase in level,” Trevor Abbott ’08 said. “Even when I lose, I don’t want to quit because I just want to end in a win.”

Abbott has been playing Halo since the first one came out in 2001. Before Halo 3 came out, Abbott was part of a clan with seven other classmates including Bender and Marenberg.

Maddie Lenard ’09 has also played the game since the first was released. She started playing the game with her brother and now plays with other students in her grade, including Jason Mow ’09 and Carl Lawson ’09.

Mow and Lawson are part of an online gaming team and compete with other Halo players around the world.

Though the games are similar, many Halo players feel that Halo 3 is the best installment of the series because of the improved graphics of the Xbox 360. They also cite the improved storyline that is used for the single player campaign mode.

“In a lot of ways Halo 3 follows up on what Halo 2 did and does not really change the formula,” Gerstmann said. “At the same time it feels completely different and that’s a delicate balancing act that kind of permeates every aspect of the game.”

One of the reasons that Halo 3 has been so successful is that it expanded on the weapons, vehicles,and gameplay that had been popularized in other first person games since the release of Halo 2, Abbott said.

“I used to play Halo 2 every day,” Abbott said. “I only have played Halo 3 on the weekends so far. Lately, I’ve been too busy, but once everything in school settles down, I’m picking up my controller right away.”