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Gamer goes for 'Halo' of glory

February 20, 2007|by SEAN CLARK

Do you know people that always seem to be wasting their time playing video games? Have you ever told someone they're just wasting their time and money buying games?

Well, consider this. A very good video gamer recently won $100 because he played so much.

On Saturday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m., I went with my sister to Hagers-town 10 Cineplex on Leitersburg Pike to take part in a "Halo 2" tournament hosted by Game Crazy, a video game retailer with a store on Wesel Boulevard.

Seeing as how I plan to host a tournament myself sometime, I went with the eye of both a competitor and a critic.

We bought our tickets for $10 apiece, and as I walked in I could hear "Halo" music booming over the theater's speakers. I'm a pretty huge "Halo 2" fan, and I repeatedly thanked God for life as we entered.

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All contestants created a character to manipulate in the tournament - in "Halo"-speak, we made a profile - and took our seats. The tournament was double elimination, so if you lost, you fought the other losers in the loser's bracket to climb back up to the winner's bracket. My sister and I went down the list of people entered in the Xbox 360 we played on and counted 30 entrants in all. Altogether, about 50 people competed.

The games were played on a 40-foot movie screen. The screen was divided four ways for each of the combatants as they shot, bashed and blew their way to the top.

The tournament had a few flaws, in my opinion. First of all, in "Halo," if there are only three people playing at once, then the person on top gets twice the amount of screen than the others do. Now, the announcer from Game Crazy said this offers no advantage, but I know from personal experience that this does in fact offer an advantage, since you can see twice as far as everyone else. Also, neutrality and common-sense proportion was not used in picking maps. The levels we played on were supposed to be selected randomly, but sometimes, they favored certain players. And for one of my games, we played on a huge map designed for 16 people, except we only had four people playing, so it took forever to find and kill someone.

Secondly, we had many problems playing on the Xbox 360, Microsoft's new system. First, the wireless controllers disconnected repeatedly, and when this happens in a "Halo" match, your character stops moving but everyone else can still move. So while the poor person panicked, trying to reconnect the controller, everyone else could kill them and get free points.

Also, the game play was kind of weird. For instance, there's a type of grenade that's supposed to stick to enemies, guaranteeing a kill. However, there were many times where someone would throw a grenade and it would bounce off the other player.

One of the finalists was the guy that knocked me into the losers' brackets in the semi-finals. This also was the man who set up the first part of the tournament, putting everyone's names into the Xbox 360.

Now, this guy - I'll call him J. - was an excellent player, and he pretty much crushed me. I didn't mind. After awhile, losing feels good, since it's the only way you become better. However, in the final round, J. played terribly. In one match, he only ended up with 1 point. It didn't seem right.

In the end, Nick Kerschner won, and he received $100. I came in eighth place. My sister finished second in the losers' bracket.

That day I made a lot of friends and got a lot of advertising for my tournament done. Game Crazy plans to have two tournaments every month, doing some "Madden" games and "Gears of War" matches along with "Halo 2."

I had a good time overall at this tournament and I learned a lot. I can only hope that things are better next time.

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