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Default For those of you who played MLG in Halo 2: This write up is for you

With the Halo MCC edition out, I decided to write a piece about the nostalgic Halo 2 days. I'm sorry if the spacing is bad or if the font is not appealing. It's hard to work with on the forum. If you would like a more aesthetically pleasing read, you can check out the piece on my blog:


An Ode to Halo 2: More Than Just a Game

The famous Nobel Prize laureate in literature and philosopher, Albert Camus, asked the following question about happiness: “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” Often thought unattainable or reserved for those who have achieved vast economic successes, happiness proves to be as elusive as it is abstract. Many people spend their entire lives idealizing what it will be like to finally achieve what Aristotle calls life’s central purpose. Through hindsight, I discovered that my life’s happiest moments were not partying it up during college, creating memories with my closest friends, or chasing my dream to be successful. As hard as it is to believe, I was happiest as a 12-year-old kid playing Halo 2 in his room with a plate of microwaved pizza rolls in hand.

For those fortunate enough to have been aspiring Halo 2 Major League Gaming (MLG) dreamers, you can understand what it means to become lost in the game. Though we played the same maps repeatedly, there was always something new to discover. On Lockout, for example, the map at first consisted only of walkways, spacious areas, and towers. But as we progressed, the map took on an entirely different meaning. Walkways turned into weaknesses in the opponent’s setup that could be exploited. Those spacious areas became a field for lost souls. And the two towers, Sniper and BR, became key positions to fortify. The game did not change; we, the players, changed the way we interacted with our virtual environment.

Now, you may be thinking why anyone would invest so much time into a video game to learn such intricate details about gameplay. Some did it for an escape from reality. Some did it for pure entertainment. Some did it for competition. Some did it because they became obsessed. No matter the reason, we were all bound by a common thread. We did not spend countless nights or hours mastering our perfect 4-shot with the BR, learning how to strafe perfectly to avoid bullets, or discovering strategic jumps to turn the tide of the match, in order to gain money. We did it not for some extravagant reward at the end of all the time spent, but for the love of the game. Halo became part of our identity, and we became part of a movement bigger than ourselves.

When Halo 2 was first released, achieving level 20 became an impressive feat. Once the levels reset, this feat increased to achieving levels in the high 40s and, if you were lucky, achieving the holy grail of the Halo multiplayer experience—the revered Halo ring. Obtaining these achievements, however, was a difficult and infuriating task. Matchmaking was filled with modders, host bridgers, and standbyers. Those who came to matchmaking to test their skills, all too often found themselves spawning in midair while a modder killed them instantly. Sometimes we would encounter the bridgers who had complicated network programs and setups that would cause people to lag out. And worst of all, the fabled blue screen of the standbyers left countless Halo players screaming at their television or throwing their controllers at the wall. All of these tactics were used merely to achieve high ranks in the game, which is why many of Halo’s true players switched to playing custom games or Team Hardcore.

In custom games, we discovered the double shot and spent hundreds of hours trying to master it. RRX, it seemed so simple. But even with Walshy’s claw or playing on southpaw, finishing an opponent with a double shot became the ultimate bragging feat because of its difficulty. Though many of us played competitively, we could always spare some time to play Tower of Power (now referred to as Zombies) on Ascension, fully equipped with energy swords, shotguns, and the almost instinctive nature of players to camp on big tower, shooting the zombies with scoped-in magnums. Playing custom games became a way to finesse our skills and practice with other likeminded players without the pressure or anxiety of engaging in the corruption that was matchmaking.

I, and many others like me, encompassed the roots of the MLG community. Though we were not in the spotlight because of whatever circumstances, we were always there in the virtual shadows of the Halo universe chasing the dream of playing against Final Boss or Carbon in a game of CTF Warlock or TS Midship. Custom games with MLG settings and Team Hardcore matchmaking, which had less cheaters than all the other playlists, became our new home for months—some for years. We bonded with unlikely comrades and became true friends without ever seeing each other’s faces. We learned strategy, teamwork, leadership, and analytical skills from the thousands of games played. But, in the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

We complained about the noob combo. We complained about host being able to BR across map. We complained about campers hiding in corners. We complained about having to carry our teammates with a positive k/d ratio of +15. In response, we took out our frustration on the undeserving Halo community by purposely going into matchmaking and deranking in order to make others feel our suffering. However, brightness was still on the horizon. We spent hours in team training perfecting our skills against unsuspecting amateurs. We abused the sword and sniper combo whenever we had a chance and bragged about our epic skill because of it. All too often, we found ourselves spending hours traversing the maze of Headlong’s outer boundaries—the search for the golden warthog deserves its own story. Even after thousands of super jumps, endless trash talking battles, and pointless out-of-map excursions, we still found ourselves coming back for more.

All of us experienced those magic moments where we realized that all of the hard work and thousands of hours were worth it. Whether you achieved an out BR quad shot with no shields on someone in an FFA or perfectly timed a plasma grenade to fall off the ceiling of the map to stick someone, these moments made our Halo experience. There were other moments, too, that gave us a rush of excitement. Tricking opponents to rush into you because of your harmless SMG, while secretly carrying a sword waiting to press YY to obliterate them, always put a smile on my face. Getting revenge on someone who just out BR’ed you or owned you in some other way by walking over their dead body and crouching became a viral sensation known as “tea bagging.” So much joy from such a simple action. What made the moment even sweeter was that your opponent had no choice but to see your spartan’s balls in his face because of the death camera… Good times, indeed.

Beyond the magic moments, however, were those rare, once in a generation moments, which you could never forget even if you tried. I remember playing a 1v1 on Lockout where my opponent just killed me on top blue. He was no shields. As I was watching my death cam, I saw him BXR randomly, which so many of us do, but his bullets hit a wall and they reflected off, killing him in the process. Another moment was when I randomly threw 4 plasma grenades across Coagulation and stuck a warthog filled with three people—the words triple kill appeared on my screen. Most of you will have different moments than me, but the fact still remains: they were your moments. No one will ever feel the rush that you did, but the memories will last forever.

As you can probably surmise, Lockout was my favorite map. Even after almost six years of not playing, I can still remember my strategies and tactics:

The game is TS Lockout. My team just spawned on BR side. Two are in library, one is BR3, and I am in BR2. Immediately, I shoot the fusion cores on snipe 3, and the sniper comes flying over to BR2. I pick it up and call out to my teammates to hold BR side. One goes to library window to watch bottom mid, sword, and BR1. The other holds BR3, while the fourth drops down to sword and picks it up. I move between open ramp, BR3, and library with the sniper, always zooming in and focusing on sniper tower and top blue.

While in library, I see my opponent coming from bottom blue to bottom mid. I line my scope up with his head, taking BR fire from him throughout. I crouch, pause, and jump, instantly zooming in on his head. I press the trigger—one kill added to our score. Now, out of sniper ammo, our fourth player, equipped with the sword, makes the shortcut jump to snipe 3. We all perfectly time our grenades to protect him. The person on BR3 engages with the other team at sniper tower in order to lure them out.

One of my teammates then throws a sticky from open ramp to the top of snipe 2, and it falls off the tower, killing two members of the other team. Now in library, I poke my head out, jump up, and throw two frag grenades to back ramp of snipe 2. Sniper respawns. My teammate takes it, runs with his head down to avoid headshots, and makes it to library.

To the aspiring players who knew they were good enough to go pro but couldn’t for whatever reason, I empathize with you. I know the pain. I feel the regret. But we cannot dwell on the past—it is over. All we can do is take with us our experiences, reflect on them, and embrace the nostalgia that comes along with them. For a long time, I would tell people my deepest regret in life was that I did not pursue my dream of becoming a pro gamer. This truth, however, only became exposed to me through hindsight. While I was still a child, becoming a pro gamer was the dream, but becoming the best Halo player I could be was the reality. The message in my story is that we need to chase our dreams to the edge of our abilities. We need to believe in them. We need to let them guide our actions. But, above all, we need to value the moment, the happiness it brings us, and remember that the journey of chasing the dream is what matters, not the end destination.

For those fortunate enough to have become professional, I thank you. You set the standard for everyone else. You were the dream that so many of us looked up to. Watching your gameplay on vod became the training grounds for my Halo development. I examined the way you moved, the way you shot, the way you communicated, and the way you implemented tactics. I mimicked your moves and began to play like you. I spent hundreds of hours playing Midship, Lockout, Sanctuary, Beaver Creek, and Warlock by myself in order to learn the callouts. Though I never became you, it was enough to live vicariously through your actions.

In the present day, MLG has expanded to include so many great games, yet Halo, the game that made MLG what it is, has lost its fervor. I don’t blame MLG or the players. Yes, it’s true that Halo 3, Halo Reach, and Halo 4 had better graphics, more additions added to gameplay, and more everything. But with all the additional add-ons to the new Halo games, the spirit of multiplayer Halo suffered. What made Halo 2 such a great multiplayer game that transcended the boundaries of the virtual universe was not the maps or the massive online community, it was a synergistic combination of multiple elements: simplicity, the glitches, and the physics of gameplay.
Halo 2 was strikingly simple. It was minimalist in nature. There were no load outs, no jet packs, no Promethean vision. You were simply a Spartan, or elite if you preferred, thrown into the battlefield with only your weapons, your grenades, and your wit. Many complained about gamers abusing Halo’s glitches—BXRing, BXBing, and others—but these glitches created a tremendous skill gap between players, which added to the competitiveness of the game. They added a new element to the multiplayer experience without sacrificing the game’s innate simplicity. Learning these glitches, allowed you to escape difficult situations, and if you were lucky, they allowed you to completely own your opponent. By the physics of gameplay, I mean that when you shot, your shots connected. When you threw grenades, you could predict their destination. When you jumped, you knew how much was too little or too much.

As I nostalgically remember my past Halo days, I think back to a time when the pitfalls and hardships of life seemed so insignificant compared to the present day. Perhaps it was because I was a child, and I was blinded by my immature view of the world. Or perhaps it was because I was truly happy and totally consumed by something I loved. I like to believe the latter.

Many of us grow old, follow the projected path of success, and die. The fulfillment I received from playing Halo 2 all those years eludes many people their entire lives. Passion, true happiness, whatever you want to call it, does not have to be some extravagant success or object. It can be something as simple as sitting down in your room playing a video game. Halo was more than just a game. It was more than a way of life. It was life.

True happiness is not fleeting. It may not last your entire life, but, by some emotional insight or personal awareness, you will experience—you will just understand— how it feels. I have received numerous odd looks and silent judgments when I tell people what Halo 2 gave me, but I know that if they had the opportunity to experience what I felt when I played Halo, they would just understand. They would see into my soul, and I would see into theirs. Instantly, we would become forever linked by a common thread. This feeling is not an illusion. It exists. Two of my closest friends are people I have never met in person. As unorthodox and peculiar as this may sound, I feel their comradery, and they feel mine. After 10 years, we are still linked by that unbreakable thread.

Though I suffered in school, got yelled at by my parents, and missed out on developing my social skills as a kid, I never regret dedicating thousands of hours to playing Halo. Like Vince Lombardi says, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.” The only difference is that my fulfillment lasted years. Yours can, too.

As we take with us our past lives of Halo and create new memories, we need to remember that true happiness is not this esoteric concept reserved for the special among us. I am not saying you need to quit your job in order to relive your past glory. I am not saying that you should drop everything you are doing to pursue a career in professional gaming. I am saying that you need to make time for the things, whatever they may be, that bring you happiness because as you grow older, you lose the free time you had when you were younger.

It has been so long since I played Halo 2, so I may have forgotten to include some fond memory or some aspect that made the game special. I apologize.

I hope that my words have connected with you. I hope they sparked some distant memory of forgotten happiness inside you. I hope they made you remember a time when out BRing your opponent bought even more happiness than a paycheck. I hope that you will never forget your experiences because they are a part of you, and you are a part of them.

We are not merely individuals. We represent a movement—a community of others—that will always give us power. Though the spark will surely fade with time, the means to reignite it will always be inside of you.
Next time life hands you a beating, quad shot her, teabag her, and move on to the next encounter.

You are a Halo legend. Your mind is your battle rifle. You are the living spirit of Halo 2 gaming.

Anthony Tan (Gamertag: MR BRUCE Lee)

Last edited by mike; 11-26-2014 at 01:01 PM.
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Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon View Post
Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal.
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holy shit that's one hell of a write up

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Dude. This made me tear up a little.
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that was AWESOME
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That was great.

I love the last thing.

Next time life hands you a beating, quad shot her, teabag her, and move on to the next encounter. You are a Halo legend. Your mind is your battle rifle. You are the living spirit of Halo 2 gaming.
XBL - Stoodlepop :: PSN - MindlesssDribble

Witness the future of classic Halo content. Lost In Time.
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The feels...
GUYINTHEHAT for old school.

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Great, great read. Forgot to reply in here earlier after I had read over all of it. Good stuff man, thanks for taking the time to type it up.
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A great write up for sure. I highly enjoyed it.

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