"Halo 2 is going to be the biggest game ever!!! It's already got more preorders than San Andreas did!!!"
Thus was I greeted when I arrived into the computer room this morning. And thus Have I been greeted, on and off, every half hour or so, for the last week, and to a lesser extent, the last three years.
Yes that's right folks. Halo 2 is out and if you, like me, cannot recognise that it is The Greatest Game Ever Made(TM) without ever having played it, then you clearly lose on a new level. If you have not yet been awed into submission by the earth-shattering demos, you must be banished forevermore from the lands of the faithful. And if you dare suggest that any other work of mortal hands is even half that of Halo 2's option screen, you will be flamed even unto the very gates of hell itself, to languish Haloless there for all eternity.
OK First off, I don't own an Xbox. My first heresy, is complete.
Second, my favorite FPS, was Red Faction. My blasphemies are boundless.
Third, I'm not going to buy Halo 2. The magnitude of my sins, is unprecedented in all the annals of scripture. But I digress.
I repeat, Halo 2 is out. And with it comes Hype and Marketing, the likes of which, ye have never seen. As I said, I've been stopped on numerous occasions over the last week by madly grinning Halo 2 evangelists, gleefully telling me cheery facts, proving that Halo 2 is the second coming... of Halo. Everyone has been going, on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on about Halo 2. Websites, magazines, ads, newspapers, blogs, phones, reps. Its guerrilla marketing site ILOVEBEES, featured four times on slashdot. And that's just the bloody marketing campaign. It's already been voted the second greatest game of all time, after only one day! Hell! It even featured on the news last night!
Q: What's the reason for all this?
A: "OMG OMF!!111 h410 2 15 50 gr34t!!1111 U L00Z3R!!11"
No, no I think not.
Q: What's the reason for all this?
A: Patriotism. or to be more specific Console Patriotism.
"L00Z3R!!1111 Ur ju5t 54d!!!111"
Remember all the hype surrounding Halo? Remember all the tales of online play and enemies so smart they just couldn't be beaten? Remember how people went out and paid $500 for a Xbox, just to play one game? Remember the reviews?
And after all that, people now complain about the repetitiveness of the single player campaign, the lacking marine(and enemy) AI, and the absence of Xbox live play.
I played Halo. I was a cracking good game. But it did NOT deserve the hype that surrounded it and it did not deserve the after party criticism it received once the initial hype wore off.(Only to be replaced by anticipation of Halo 2) People complained about the two weapon system(which was good). People complained about the speed. People complained about the lack of Bots(legit). People complained about the difficulty(clearly never played on legendary). People even complained about the coop mode because the second player did not appear in the cut scenes?! WTF?! Remember the complaining. I'll get back to it later.
And so Halo 2 is upon us, promising to fix everything that was wrong with Halo, refine and redefine the FPS genre, bring net generation graphics to this generation of consoles, and deliver the greatest game experience of your life. And the fans will start the whole thing up again. Why?
The reason Halo was hyped so much had nothing to do with the game. It had everything to do with Xbox fans desire to prove to themselves and everyone else, that the Xbox was the No1 Console, with all the No1 games, and that the Dreamcast,GameCube and PS2 could bite it dust.
Now this console patriotism is nothing new. Remember the whole Sonic and Mario thing, between sega and nintendo. Remember how all the kids used to shout down the other console owners and proclaim how much superior their own console was? Remember that? this is exactly what happened with Halo, and it's happening right now with Halo 2.
The current hype is not being driven by Bungie, MicroSoft, ILOVEBEES or anyone else, though they are steering it. The current hype is being generated by console patriotism. Console gamers have made an emotional purchase in buying one console over the other, and they will seek to justify that purchase to themselves and everyone else. Everybody's done it, at some stage. You just
have to get through enough consoles to overcome it completely,(like me :E) Halo 2 is the biggest example, but remember Fable, KOTOR? They were hyped too, but more on that later.
Is there an acid test for all this? Or is it all OMF BS? A little from column A, a little from column B! But seriously, think about this for a sec. When the next Halo 2 fan boy start waffling on about covenant troops that can do high school maths try this test. Tell him you preferred Fable, or KOTOR or some other big shot Xbox game. He'll scoff, or maybe agree that that was a good game. Now tell him you preferred San Andreas. Any results?
The Xboxers hate the PS2. Just like the Mega Drivers and SNESers hated each others consoles. It's even worse of the Xboxers though, because the PS2 is so far ahead, despite the Xboxes clear technological superiority. And GTA:SA, one of the PS2's best, and released right before Halo 2, makes the bile rise in their throat. Bring it up at a Halo 2 convention, or a forum, and watch the flames fly. Not that it doesn't work in reverse as well. PS2ers hate the Xbox because it is so superior. And they loath the fact that Halo 2 got more hype than GTA,(so I suppose the Haloers can be happy about that at least).
They all however, have missed the point.
Console Patriotism only leads to disillusionment
Console Patriotism is just like regular patriotism. It's irrational, dogmatic and blinds people to the truth. Usually this truth is that they're being conned. And of course it will lead to disappointment.
Halo,Fable,KOTOR, even GTA:SA by now. All were hyped to the max. Now they are all fantastic games, but that hasn't stopped people complaining about them, usually very vehemently. I've played GTA:SA. Anyone who complains about it is a twat. I've played Fable. Anyone who complains about it is an idiot. I've played KOTOR, anyone who complains about it will be killed by Star Wars fans for being heretical. Not that the games were perfect mind. But they were miles ahead of the usually junk that clutters game store shelves and no one complains about. In fact people usually give mediocre game more credit than they deserve. that's emotional purchase again.
It's inevitable. If you took part in hyping a game, believing the dogma that this game was going to be the greatest experience of your life, transcending normal human existence, then, when you at last take it home and find it was just software running on a processor in response to your input, you'll feel more than just let down. You'll feel bitter,cheated, betrayed. You'll grow to dislike, or even hate the game, as some have done to these great titles. Already (H2 day +1) people are complaining about Halo 2's ending, mip mapping and multiplayer. I haven't played it yet, but I know it will be a cracker of a game, well above these petty criticisms.
What I'm getting at here, is that Hyping and Console Patriotism, in the long run, are doing damage to the game industry.
How many people bought an Xbox just for Halo, only to become disillusioned and sell the thing, for a loss, at a later date. The same thing has happened for years, and the more it goes on, the more over hyped games people buy, the less they will buy in the future.
Halo 2 happens to be one of the worst example so far(no it won't live up to the hype, nothing could), but there are many other example on every console, and there will be more for years to come. My greatest worry is that companies will use the example of Halo 2 to try the same thing with titles of only half the caliber. Where will the good games go then?
I hope you've read this little treastie before you played Halo 2. If so, remember. Halo 2 is a FPS. A damn good one. Enjoy it for that, not for the fantasy created in chatrooms and peoples minds. And if you've come here, disappointed after playing what was supposed to be the greatest game of your life, go back and play it again. It's still a great game, you just missed that because you were looking for something that wasn't there.