One of the things that made Halo 2 such a beloved success on the Xbox was the incredible level of depth possible in customizing the multiplayer options. Thousands of game variations were possible, and fans never stopped coming up with interesting new takes on the Halo formula.
In Halo 2 for example a few game types were actually adopted by Bungie after being created by fans. SWAT and Zombie for instance became so popular, unofficially, that Bungie gave them their official seal of approval. SWAT was a variant that took away player’s shields and gave them a Battle Rifle to start with. The end result was basically a one show kill process that, when played correctly, was actually more like Rainbow Six than Halo. Zombie on the other hand played exactly like it’s name and relied more on the honor system than anything else. Every player started with a shotgun and an Energy Sword. Players with swords were Zombies and had to take out the shotgun toting players. As the game starts there is only one Zombie, but everyone he kills has to switch to the other team and carry a sword from then on. It was pretty much impossible for the non-zombie team to actually win, but it was really a rush to be the last man alive trying to fight off a horde of “Zombie’s”. See, pretty fun stuff can come out of the community.
I have mentioned this before, but I have a powerful urge for Bungie to include custom soundtracks. This isn’t really a concern so much as it is a yearning though, because as one of our esteemed readers pointed out recently, custom soundtracks are mandatory for all Xbox 360 games. There are just too many great times to be had with custom soundtracks for this to be passed up. I’ve assaulted Castle’s in Oblivion to “Come on Eileen,” taken down drug cartels in Crackdown while jamming to The White Stripes, and blasted one and a quarter million points in Geometry Wars while laughing hysterically to the Top Gun soundtrack (I promise you there is simply no other way to play Geometry Wars than with Mighty Wings blaring in the background. Some will say that Kenny Loggins’ classic Danger Zone is better, but they don’t know anything. Do yourself a favor and try it out with Mighty Wings.)
While hearing “Take me on your Mighty Wings toniiiight!” can really get your blood pumping in Geo Wars. Halo is where music is truly necessary. My favorite memory of music related to Halo was during a ranked Single Flag CTF match on Zanzibar. Once again me and my buddy Chris we’re fighting the good fight to get that damned flag, when we decided -- along with our two teammates -- that the other team was simply too good for us. So we spent the entire Offensive round figuring out the perfect volume for me to play La Bamba through my mic so that everyone could hear. Then when we went on defense, and instantly made a beeline straight out of the base, we had the music…it was time for a beach party. Now imagine, if you will, the other teams confusion upon returning to the beach having stolen our flag and to see the opposite team leaping up and down in the water, playfully shooting each other (pretending to have water pistols), and screaming (possibly drunkenly) garbled words to La Bamba. The other squad was rather irate, as folks who take games too seriously often do, but we had one our best Halo related laughs ever and that’s all that matters.
The point is that customization leads to great times. I’m even more convinced of this after seeing some of the armor combinations players were coming up with in Rainbow Six Vegas. Hopefully this great new trend is extended to Halo 3, because all the things I’ve talked about are absent from the beta right now. Get to work Bungie. A great game only gets you so far, then you have to give players room to be silly with it, and make it their own.
On a final note, since I have this venue to speak to the people with. If you’re in the beta, STOP TEA BAGGING. Tea Bag’s should be saved until you get an absurdly amazing kill. Some people are doing it these days as if the act itself was the victory. Damn kids don’t understand how disrespectful that is in the world of online gaming. So next time you go to TB a kill, make sure he deserves it. It completely takes away from the act if you do it every time. If you always do it, how do you celebrate spectacular kills?