Gamers Get Their Hands on Halo 2

By Jenni Miller  |  Posted 2004-11-09

Gamers Get Their Hands on Halo 2

NEW YORK—Cough. Cough. The "Halo Flu" may be striking businesses today. Thats because the long-awaited Version 2 of "Halo" went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at 6,500 stores around the United States.

"Halo: Combat Evolved" was the launch title that some argue saved Microsoft Corp.s Xbox game console. Bungie originally unveiled "Halo" in 1999 at Macworld to enormous buzz, but what garnered even more press and fan attention was when Microsoft scooped up the independent developer in 2000. "Halo" had been set to debut on the Mac, but now its developers were joining what many of their fans considered the Dark Side—and "Halo" was going to debut exclusively on the Xbox.

The Xbox and its killer launch title went on sale Nov. 15, 2001, and within four months "Halo" had sold more than 1 million units, making it what Microsoft called "the fastest million-unit seller ever for any next-generation console." That is, until "Halo 2."

Click here for PC Magazines "Halo 2" slideshow.

Despite a code leak in mid-October and one store chain in the Midwest breaking the retail date—a quick search on eBay before "Halo 2" went on sale turned up several supposed copies of "Halo 2" and "Halo 2 Limited Collectors Edition"—"Halo 2" is poised to break all video game records. With such a demand for the game, will it affect employee productivity?

According to one Microsoft developer/blogger, it might even affect Microsoft employees.

"Xbox Live is disabled on the corporate network, but assuming it works like the original Halo, System Link games will work between conference rooms so long as they are on the same subnet. As many of the conference rooms sport nice big projectors, I predict the Master Chiefs image will be burned into a few of those by late-November, and a few developers will have improved physiques gained by carrying Xboxes to and from work on a regular basis," the blogger wrote.

Early Tuesday morning, at Toys R Us in Times Square here people lined up around the block, from 45th Street, around the corner and down Broadway to 44th Street, in hopes of getting their hands on the latest version of "Halo." The empty MTV Studios across the street looked depressing compared with the commotion of fans, street teams handing out free Mountain Dew soda and other goodies, and of course the normal foot traffic of Times Square.

One family of three from Trenton, N.J., had been in line since about 8 p.m. Despite being huge "Halo" fans who had played the original together, the family insisted no school or work would be missed to play "Halo 2."

A 22-year-old sanitation worker who had been in line since 2 p.m. was thankful he had the next day off. He said hes played the original "Halo" every day since it came out and finished it about eight times. After finishing the Xbox version, he played and finished the PC version as well. He said he would "stay up all night [tonight playing] until I black out."

Next Page: Fans show their loyalty.

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Two fans who joined the line at around 7 p.m. had the "Halo 2" emblem painted on their bodies. One, a 28-year-old graphic designer who played "Halo" with her friends as a team in multiplayer mode and had finished it several times, up to the hardest level of difficulty, had the emblem painted on her cheek and spray-painted in her hair. A 23-year-old friend had it painted on his bare chest, despite the temperature being in the 40s. Although he had just gotten laid off, he admitted that if he were working, hed have called in with the "Halo Flu."

"I have not played a game with so much enthusiasm and excitement since the early days of Nintendo," he said. His team agreed, adding that "Halo 2" would definitely affect their work.

Farther back in line were roommates, a 29-year-old apprentice film editor and a 26-year-old editor for a medical publishing company. "Were not that hardcore," they claimed when asked if they would miss work to play "Halo 2." Between them, however, they figured they owned all of the gaming platforms.

An international student who is in New York studying business said he had originally played "Halo" on a friends Xbox in Germany. He was in line to buy an Xbox and "Halo 2." "Its global," he claimed. "Its Microsoft."

It is global. One Microsoft employee came to Times Square from Tokyo and brought with him a reporter from the popular Japanese gaming magazine Dorimaga. Other Microsoft insiders, including Jay Allard, general director of Xbox, talked to fans and posed for pictures. Allard said theyd been there all day. Meanwhile, radio station K-ROCK broadcast live from 45th Street.

Is "Halo 2" worth the hype? Yes, according to gaming Web sites, which are giving the game near-perfect reviews, including PC Magazine and 1UP.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

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