Halo 3 is one of those titles that I just never picked up. Even though I only recently (i.e., within the past year) bought a 360, the latest game in the Halo series wasn’t one that I just had to get hold of right away. I actually avoided it for as long as possible for a variety of reasons, but a certain someone, along with the price tag that comes with a game that’s close to two years old, convinced me that it was probably time to finally see what folks have been talking about. Buckle up tight, folks: this week in co-op, we take a day trip to New Mombasa.
Thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia, I’ve been able to keep up with the plot of the Halo series despite not having played the second one and it having been 6 years since I played the first. So I had no problem jumping into the boots of the Arbiter and knowing roughly what’s going on in the world of Master Chief. Even if I didn’t, playing a character voiced by Keith David would be enough to keep me happy, which is a good thing as my trip back to the world of Halo wasn’t exactly a smooth one.
Maybe it was because Mike set the difficulty to Heroic, or maybe my memories of Halo have faded over the years, but for some reason I felt that I could pretty much charge the enemy and be ok before having to find some cover to recharge my shields. This was not, as it turns out, the best strategy and I endured several random AI teammate cries of “The Arbiter is down!” before getting a feel for the game again. I can only imagine what went through Mike’s mind as he watched the Arbiter leap into a nest of Brutes with only a carbine and make threatening aiming gestures before getting blasted into oblivion again. Fortunately, he kept relatively silent and would patiently move away from combat long enough to allow me to respawn so I could leap (literally) into the fray again. As we progressed through the jungle, we were able to work out a strategy that worked pretty well for our play styles: Mike would take point, and I’d sit back some and pick off foes with any weapon that had a scope that I could get my hands on. When things varied from this formula, i.e., I’d get my hands on a weapon that had a little more “oomph” to it, things took a slight turn for the worse...
Mike: Dammit! Where the hell did that brute shot come from?
Me: oh… there was totally this brute over there that I couldn’t kill in time because he had Precursor shields.
Mike: There are no Precursors in this game, Jason.
Me: Sure there are! In fact, hey, there’s one over there *shoots Mike again*
Mike resists the urge to shoot me in the back...
By the time we reached the UNSC outpost, I was finally getting into the swing of things and, much to Mike’s relief, had reduced the number of “co-op buddy with a rocket launcher” related deaths. Before the cut scene that introduced the next level was over, Mike was already giggling. I was confused but he told me to just keep watching. And then it happened: “Where are we going?” “…to war…” That little exchange became the new call and response for the rest of our evening, with several variants depending on which voice actor was talking at the time.
“Where are we going?” “To Miranda!”
“Where are we going?” “To war!… which never changes…”
“Where are we going?” “To El goddamn Dorado!”
As our play session drew to a close, the last level we played before calling it quits also provided the most memorable moment of the evening. We had just been provided two Warthogs and were told to make our way to the city of Voi. Mike takes the turret of one and tells me to get in and drive. I, being the independently minded fellow that I am, decided to hop on the turret for the other one. In a move that neither of us expected, my AI driver took off while Mike’s AI driver just sat there doing nothing. As the Arbiter sped off into the distance leaving Master Chief in his dust, Mike shouts at me “Where are you going?!” Amidst fits of laughter, I reply “TO WAR!”
… before my driver drove off a cliff.