The Average Gamer

Halo: Reach Launch Party

As some of you may have seen on Twitter, Nick and I were at the Halo: Reach launch party last night. As far as parties go, it was great! There was cheesy music entertainment. There was free booze. There were D-list celebrities that I didn’t recognise until after the fact.

The only thing that was missing was the game. Halfway through the night we had a chat with Ben Cordell and learned that people who left early were given a HALO: Reach messenger bag as well as Halo controllers and other stuff. Oi! Hang on! Those of us who stayed to play the game and make it a good party got jack, while the people who were only there to show their faces made off with souvenirs? Not impressed. Not at all.

Long queue of gamers But that mini-rant aside, it was a good party. I spent most of it liveblogging for Haloathon (raising money for Child’s Play), only to find out that most of my emails were blocked by the fact that we were in a large concrete basement :( Hey event organisers… we have people from as far away as San Diego wanting to come your awesome party that we’re tweeting, but you sure aren’t making it easy for us!

Here what happened:

Starting out at 18:44: After some minor panics on the Central Line caused by signal failure at Shepherds Bush, we’ve finally reached the venue for the “Halo Reach Blue Carpet” launch in Central London. There’s a large queue of gamers and a TV van but no evidence of Halo, celebs or a blue carpet.

Queue’s just started moving though. w00t!

Master Chief outside the Halo Reach London Launch19:00 OMG, Master Chief! Or some kind of Spartan, anyway. That’s a an impressive costume and he towers above everyone in the queue. Overheard in a terribly posh London accent: “What a big weapon he’s got!”

Near the door, I see a blonde girl who looks like she might be a celebrity. At least, she’s wearing a crapton of makeup, a suspiciously even tan and has just been escorted out of a large car with tinted windows. Checking the internet later confirms that it was indeed Pixie Lott. Didn’t see her inside the party at all so I guess the famous people were herded into their own pleb-free section.

19:11 And we’re in! So far I’ve seen a few Master Chief types in very impressive outfits plus one gamer attempting grab Chief’s crotch. I guess the gamer is envious of his teabagging abilities. [I later find out this is Big Brother 11’s Sam Pepper. Who? I dunno. He was on TV and is pictured below in fetching purple] Lots of booze available, which is entirely the right sort of beverage for an 18 rated game :) No seats for us plebs so it’s standing room only as we huddle round the stage set up for the Elite Spartan Squad and their non-celeb but infinitely more experienced challengers. Everything is very blue and it makes photo-taking a bitch.

Actually, I tell a lie. There is a seating lounge we can get to but it’s round the corner from the screen. Basically, you can sit and enjoy mushroom risotto canapes or you can view the match. I’ve made my choice.

It’s 19:40 After a good round of drinks and canapés and ignoring the announcer who’s boring us with Halo sales figures and other dull stats, the competing teams team are brought in. HAlo Reach Red Team Winners 2Reggie Yates is the MC and he spends a whole 90 seconds introducing the 6-man Red Team, who are the skilled gamers. We then get introduced to each member of the “Elite Spartan Squad” Blue Team, made up of rugby player Ben Cohen, footballer Rio Ferdinand, dislocated elbow T4 presenter Jameela Jamil and some other people. I’d stopped paying attention by then. Basically, the celebs got 2 mins each while the talented players got waved to their seats :\ To be fair, there was also team captain and gamer Lewis Chapman who had a nice chat with Reg and got treated like an actual person. He beat 800 other Halo players to captain and train the team and he fully deserves his time in the spotlight.

At 20:13 The matches are underway between the celebrity Blue team of Rio Ferdinand, Ben Cohen, Jameela, gamer team captain Lewis and 2 others, vs the Red team of seasoned Haloers. They’re about to launch on a “rework” of Ivory Tower for round 2. Round 1 was a complete team deathmatch faceroll with a final score of 51 – 15 to the gamers. On the new round they’re faring no better and the celebs are being spanked by the Red team as well as each other. It’s hilarious, especially since the emcee (radio DJ Reggie Yates) is pulling no punches with his commentary.

“What are you doing?” he asks. “What’s wrong with the blue team? Is it lack of leadership? Lewis, you’ve got a team of roughnecks who are quite clearly RUBBISH at the game!”

The Elite Spartan Squadron have just been thrashed again, 64-10.

Post-match 20:53 Unsurprisingly, the celebrity gamers got annihilated again in round 3. The final score was 94 – 27 giving the Red team a hat trick steamroller of a match. There was a nice moment after the trophy presentations where the Blue team captain handed his winners trophy over to Lewis and did a nice joint Halo captains photo op.

Looking at the scores closely reveals an interesting discovery. Yes, the red team scored 97 but 66 of those points were scored by a single player, Red George. Good job carrying your team, George!

Happily for us less talented gamers, Reg went on to unveil 40 consoles all rigged up for playing and let us loose! I hosted an excellent 6v6 match wherein none of us had a clue what to do and about halfway through figured out that I had somehow chosen an Assault map where the objective was to grab a bomb and detonate it in your enemy’s base. It was good nonetheless, since the other team had the same problem.

Halo Reach Blue Elite Spartan Squad TeamThe room is clearing out now, so I’m pretty sure the rest of the evening will be be boozing and partying. I overheard at the bar that they catered for 200 people and 480 showed up so well done to Microsoft for keeping it going. Hope you all enjoy the Haloathon and have a great time when the game is out next week!

Later that night: Whoever Microsoft hired for the catering did a stellar job. Since there were more than double the expected people there, that was great work, guys. Good beefy chippy mini plates (pictured below). While the rational side of me says “Hey, maybe that’s why the early leavers got all the good stuff” the gamer fan says “Well, you did publish the location on Eurogamer. Why did you let them all in and give out freebies to the quitters?” :( Anyway, thanks to Microsoft for the booze and food and gaming (and the sense of disappointment), thanks to the PR agency for inviting us and and thanks to Joe, Rob and James from Universal Event Production as well as their their colleagues who made sure all the kit was working. Wouldn’t have been much of a games event without them.

Halo Reach Me Halo Reach Joe and Rob Ben Cordell HaloReachMasterChiefOutdoors Halo Reach Gamers and Booze Halo Reach Serious Gamers Halo Reach Sam Pepper Halo Reach Snaxxors Halo reach Master Chief's Weak Spot

See lots more pics at our Halo Reach London Launch Party Flickr set.

As you’ve probably gathered, the game is out next week. If you preorder Halo: Reach BEFORE the 13th (Monday) you get to play on launch day and a you’ll be able to download a Recon helmet for your character. Sure beats the Enslaved “sexy robot” skin.