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Let’s save the world, Master Chief

The last of the Halo trilogy has stunned everybody and given hope to Microsoft that it could successfully battle Sony in the gaming industry, writes Rahul Sharma.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2007 01:33 IST
Rahul Sharma

Master chief is the big hero and Halo 3 Microsoft’s latest attack on mankind. But hang on, if you are a guy and like doing things guys do pick up a fancy flare gun, dress up in steel and go shoot the bad fellows then it might be a good idea to check out the new video game that has taken the world by storm.

As box office openings go, it’s an all-time star a Big Daddy that will be hard to follow after the showstopper raked in $170 million on the day it was released last week. The last of the Halo trilogy has stunned everybody and given hope to Microsoft that it could successfully battle Sony in the gaming industry.

In the Halo series players don the steel of Master Chief to fight aliens hell bent on destroying the world. The first of the trilogy Halo: Combat evolved was launched in 2001 and helped Microsoft establish its Xbox as a favourite in a market where Sony and Nintendo have their share of products. The second version clocked in $125 million on the first day of release in 2004, then becoming the biggest entertainment launch of all times.

I am yet to see Halo 3 (I know Halo 2 well), but I am told it’s fast and furious and a lot of fun... Well, as much fun as killing some strange-looking creatures among weirdly landscaped places could be on a video screen. “The game’s pleasure lies in the things you can kill and how you do it. Enemies are engagingly varied, ranging from small, easily frightened creatures that will shriek and run away if things start going badly to monstrous walking tanks. Weapons include shotguns, sniper rifles, flame throwers and a giant sledgehammer that slices most monsters in half with a single blow, if you can just get close enough,” said a review in the International Herald Tribune.

Whoopeeeee!! I can hear folks shouting as they get stuck into a game that some say is a huge lot better than its predecessor but with a weak storyline. Weak storyline? Are we talking about films here? Seems so, given that Halo 3 is the biggest grosser ever in the booming US entertainment industry where, thanks to fans and pre-orders, it has beaten Spiderman-3 and the last Harry Potter book.

The game has spawned action figures, books and a planned film adaptation as video games become the fastest-growing sector in the global entertainment industry with business expected to reach $50 billion in some years.

The good part is that you can always play the game online if you don’t want to buy the game or have an Xbox. That’s where the game has lived and gained popularity in the past three years it took Bungie Studios to wrap up the last of the trilogy. Some more baffling numbers here: more than a million members played the game online in the first 20 hours on September 25, according to Microsoft.

It shows that video games releases are as keenly awaited as the next Bond or a Harry Potter film. If I believe the blogs and websites, those who consider gaming religion in India had a look at most of Halo 3 about 10 days before its launch. I am told there were separate previews in Mumbai and New Delhi. The invite went out on a game lover’s website. Guys, do shout the next time you plan a preview. I’d love to join you for the big fight to save mankind.