Thursday, August 4, 2016

Treading Old Ground to Finish the Fight

A hair over three years ago, I wrote about my love for the Halo series, and my sorrow over not being able to finish it, due to its exclusivity to the XBox 360 console. That's quite a while ago now, and I feel it's time to revisit that topic, due to a change in circumstance.

I've been toying with, and resisting, the idea of buying an XBox 360. The launch of the XBox One was almost three years ago, and during that time, the price is what drove me away, because there were only four games I was really interested in anyway: Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.

In the last month or so, Gamestop has lowered their prices on the 360 to a mere $50, and with the missing games ranging between six and twelve dollars apiece, it seemed a goal was finally in sight.

So I did it. I ordered an Xbox 360, with a copy of Halo 3.

I haven't owned a console since the Nintendo 64. It was a grand old thing, looking not unlike the hood of a muscle car (especially with the RAM expansion and hooded air intake for it), but it had no moving parts. It was silent as a ghost: just plug the game in, switch it on, and the only thing you heard was what came through the speakers. It was a bit of a contrast with my gaming PC, which has no less than eight fans in it -- three alone on the video card. My computer isn't exactly silent.

So, it was with some trepidation that I hooked up the system to my 40-inch LED television that's currently in service as the monitor to my computer, put the batteries in the wireless controller, and switched it on. The console loaded up perfectly fine, but it didn't seem to be reading the disc. Digging through the shelves my computer -- and now the console -- sat on, I found a folder of DVDs. Picking one at random (disc one of the X-Men movie, if you care), I inserted it, and it read fine. Shrugging, I polished the game disc and tried again. It worked this time, and I was off.

Pictured: Me, off. 
I played an hour or so before work, and about an hour after work. It happily picked up right where Halo 2 had left off, with it being close to two years since I'd last played it. 

And then it happened. I'd just finished the fourth chapter of the game, and it was loading the fifth, when...

So I'm off to Gamestop. I'm going to show them the disc, explain what happens when I try to play it, and hopefully obtain a replacement that will play past Chapter 4. (And also maybe a copy of Halo 4. I want to finish Chief's story before I start in on the side stories.) But this is the first disc-based game that I've played since PC's stopped requiring discs in the drive, and certainly the first pre-owned disc-based game I've probably ever played.

This is not, so far, a good experience. I'm hoping after this little speedbump is out of the way, things will go more smoothly.

Who knows, maybe I'll put out another one of these things when the XBox One is $50, and I've gotten my hands on a copy of Halo 5. Because Microsoft, in what has spurred me to this current decision, has graciously deigned to allow us to use the Halo Forge map-making program and maybe some multiplayer, but are still keeping the campaign exclusive to console. Which means that the preceding games will likely still never see PC release. I'm sure that if Microsoft could, it would snatch up every copy of the first two games and destroy them just to spite the PC market.

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