Chris Dooley and I headed over to our local mall's GameStop to check out the throngs of 'Halo' devotees and perhaps even pick up a copy of so coveted game. (Well, not really perhaps, I've had my copy reserved for some time ...) While there were the usual groups of kids that were 'too cool for school' there also were a lot of really genuine 'Halo' fans, ones that were psyched to chew the fat on Master Chief, the comic, and what they were going to do the second they got the game and went home.

This midnight launch pulled out all the stops. Chick-fil-A was on site, handing out three dollar sandwiches to whoever was feeling hungry. A huge candy stand was there offering delicious refreshments for only one dollar each. And then, of course, the piece d'resistance, Dippin' Dots. Seriously, how can you turn down ice cream at a midnight event?

The first question I posed to the willing gamer masses was, 'How long have you been waiting here?' Our answers had a wide range. One group informed me that they were waiting in anticipation since last night at Best Buy. Apparently they'd been misinformed that Best Buy was holding a midnight release last night. Sadly untrue. So from their perspective, they'd been waiting over 24 hours. The first group of Halo lovers in line had been waiting in anticipation since 6 O'Clock. It was around 11 O'Clock when we interviewed them. Their respective ages ranged from 14-16 and they were all SUPER excited about their soon to be third run in with the Chief.

As for 'Halo: Uprising'? The first group of people we talked to had different, but valid opinions. One fan said that the comic was good, but they needed to put in more Elites since they were such a huge part of the series. We don't disagree. Another fan told me that he loved Marvel so much that they could "hand him a turd" and he'd still read it. You GO, Marvel, that's got to be one heck of a compliment.


We also asked what part of the game were people going to dive into once they got home. Would they be hitting up multiplayer on Live or just jumping directly into Campaign mode? While there was some argument -- One fan spoke up -- "I'm playing multiplayer, screw you guys!" -- most of the people we talked to were going home to play Campaign, all the way. These fans were dying to see how the story ends and most of them had already played the multiplayer beta.

One of the more interesting questions, at least for me, was whether or not these 'Halo' faithful thought that the merchandising and advertising campaign went a little too far. While the overall feel from the fans was that they could've done a lot worse, we got quite a few suggestions on what exactly would have been overkill. Firstly, Halo Boxers. I asked if those boxers would come printed with Master Chief heads. They replied that they'd rather have the arbiter on their boxers. Hey -- to each his own! Another group did a shout out to Control-Alt-Delete's web comic mocking the amount of merchandising 'Halo 3' has been receiving by bringing up the fact that only 'Halo' tampons could stop the flood. Sexy, huh?
For any 'Halo' fan, the hype surrounding '3' was crazy! Thirty second commercials and ad campaigns have been broken down and analysed more than enemy radio transitions during wartime. With the game being pumped up as the best thing to come to the 360, EVER, it's got a lot to live up to and most of the gamers we interviewed expected it to fully do so. Some cited the ad campaigns, others suggested that the ending to 'Halo 2' was so bad, that Bungie would never do that to us again. Regardless, it's going to be interesting come tomorrow, when folks start posting impressions. Which you can do so right here.

We know that 'Halo' fans are a spirited and passionate bunch, but I never expected to come across so many cool parents at the launch. I spoke with two fathers who were more than happy to let their kids stay home from school tomorrow and play 'Halo 3'. The way one father put it: kids are skipping school to do crack and smoke pot, we might as well let them stay home to play a video game we know is OK. Translation? Some parents know video games aren't the cause of all the world's problems! Take THAT Jack Thompson!

All in all, the launch was pretty fun. We got to talk to some cool people, take pictures, join in the mass hysteria that was the 'Halo 3' chant and manic count down, hand out 'Halo' comics, and of course, I got to pick up my copy of 'Halo 3'. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go fire this baby up. There's something kind of monumental about starting up the last game in a legendary series for the first time. MAN! Now I'm regretting I didn't drop $100 bucks for the legendary editon! Oh well.

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