The Future Shop in Toronto at the intersection of Eglinton and Laird, Microsoft came out to have a big Halo 2 blowout, and it was quite a bit of fun. Anyone else go?

It’s ironic, I didn’t even know I was going until I was there. Somewhere along the way, Red and I mixed our messages, and I thought she got off work at 4, when in fact she was scheduled til 7. So I wind up going to pick her up, but in trying to navigate a new route from our new address, I got there almost an hour late, and saw the Halo 2 stuff setting up for 7pm.

Come 7, it was pretty cool. After standing out in the cold for awhile, I was able to get one of those sport necklace-type deals with a tag on the end, showing I was #29 to get in. I could’ve been 3 or lower, but I chose instead to do some other stuff, and wound up deciding to try out Halo 2 anyway. I also got some stickers, and they handed out bottles of water with the Halo 2 logo on it… I guess it’s a pun on the formula for water.

Inside the tent, plenty of snacks, like guacamole Doritos (I’m assuming to match Master Chief’s green hue. Turns out they taste little if at all like the real thing, and aren’t bad), Reese Pieces Minis, mini-Hershey bars, hot chocolate (that took forever to reach a temperature that wouldn’t burn away my tongue’s skin), music, door prizes every half hour, 16 monitors hooked up for 8-on-8 team tournaments (first team to reach 100 kills wins), an Xbox bus outside with more Halo 2 hooked up, a life size Master Chief statue inside the tent, and even a prize of an Xbox surround sound system.

My wife unfortunately didn’t have ready credentials to get us into the VIP section, but since she works for 1UP.com, she managed to form a contact with the folks there, so maybe next time.

She also wanted one of the Halo 2 t-shirts, which I was unable to help win in the tourney. She didn’t fare so well either, which makes sense, as neither of us have ever played Halo before today. Still, it was a fun first time, and even better was getting to play it five hours before it was released. It was more for the experience than our dedication to Halo that we stuck around as long as we did… and hoping to win something.

The game was neat… the story sounds interesting, but the gameplay itself didn’t seem as mind-blowing as I’d heard… then again, with the hype Halo generates, that would be difficult. And incidentally, I got killed… quite a bit. I found moving around, and more so killing things, to be rather difficult. The recoil makes shooting guys rather difficult, though when I got to play single player later, there was no recoil that adjusted my aim skyward as multiplayer did. I can appreciate the realism, but I think Chief’s inability to bring his weapon back down after firing some bursts hurts it.

And the Warthog/dune buggy thing was worthless to me. Couldn’t run over anyone, got blown up once in it… seemed easier to just hoof it. Couldn’t get the gun to work, either… guess you need someone in back for that?

Still, the blue team of Chiefs (which I and my wife were on at separate times) seemed somehow easily overwhelmed by the red Elites on the other side, who got the shirts. :? I swear, it seemed like they could take far more damage… not to mention they seemed like they had something going on, where it’d wind up being 4-on-1 quite a bit, and Red or myself getting fragged before we knew where it came from.

Wish I could’ve stayed longer, but the wife has to be to work early tomorrow. Our numbers were 29 and 135 (I think)… I wonder if our numbers were even called for the door prizes. Major suckage if not.

Oh, and my favorite part of the whole thing? When this man arrived in his Halo 2 Hummer:

That’s us; we each got a single pic with him, and this one together. Master Chief is a friendly fellow, I must say. Many thumbs-ups around, and a high-five for one small kid there. He and I even banged fists all nice and friendly-like at one point. And that armor was totally bad-ass.

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