Not since the highly anticipated release of Halo 2 almost six months ago has the gaming world been excited about something new. Tired of old multi-player maps on Xbox Live, the creators of Halo (Bungie) have released four new player maps to download to reinvigorate the popularity of the game. Two of the maps, Containment and Warlock, are available free with Sanctuary and Turf, which will cost you about six bucks. On June 28, Sanctuary and Turf will be free but the official Halo 2 Multiplayer Pack CD will be available for $12 with nine maps and video features.
Also recently released is an auto-update which fixes someaggravating cheats. One, called the standby sneak, allowed unethical players to freeze opponents and move to other positions. Other cheats included the ability to pull flags through walls (in capture-the-flag games) and fly through the air with an energy sword.
Additional changes to the game include improvements on certain weapons, increasing the damage underappreciated weapons can cause, decreasing the timers on grenades and reducing the dual-weapon damage that made certain weapon combinations almost unbeatable. In other words, they're balancing out the playing field.
One anticipated unpopular move by Bungie is a full leaderboard reset. Everyone gets to start over. For those of you that suck, this is a chance to prove yourself again.
Whether playing Halo 2 by yourself, with friends or online with players from all over the world, there's one other experience you must try. At the Northgate Reel Theater (6950 W. State St.), every Friday night at midnight, gamers take over several theaters and play each other ... ON THE BIG SCREEN! If you've every played with four people on one Xbox you know it can be difficult to play in your tiny little screen quarter. However, on a theater screen it's like you're in the game itself. Admission is $3 to watch and $10 to play, but fighting it out with seven other players on a huge movie screen is worth the cost.
My gaming partner and I made it down there last Friday night and were lucky to find two empty game controls. We paid our Hamilton and began playing. Selecting a preset player I hurried through and accidentally selected "Default" as my profile name. This, unfortunately, set the tone for my play. Now I play quite a bit-I feel guilty sometimes for the amount of time I spend on the console-and consider myself a decent player, able to hold my own on Xbox Live. The competition in the theater was fierce and other players trounced me in kills 10-to-1. It was humiliating. I wonder what kind of dedication and time it takes to reach a proficiency level like those players had. I fear I'll never have the amount of free time to achieve such levels. I think I'll accept "Default" as an appropriate title for myself from now on.