What started with a simple 'Tweet' quickly became possibly the best trip of a lifetime...
Let me RWD for a moment and try and fill in the gaps for everyone reading.
As some of you know (and some may not) i have been fascinated by the man behind the visor since it all began...The man with no visible face...The man simply known as The Master Chief.
But little did i know the first time i played Halo that it would become such a humongous chunk of my life.
I dedicate many hours to both game-play and to the HaloWaypoint community.
I love to share my thoughts on the franchise aswell as reading others.
Never before has anything gripped me to such a level that Bungie did back in the day.
From that day forward i have remained fascinated by anything and everything Halo,
Don't get me wrong, I've had hobbies, But nothing to this scale, Not even close.
So it all started with a tweet,
A tweet that i certainly wasn't expecting, from Graeme ''AceyBongos'' Boyd.
Simply reading 'Hello mate! Would love to talk to you about something very cool. Can you email me?'
As you can imagine i quickly replied back and a short email conversation took place, Followed by a very hyper phone call made from myself to Graeme...
Mind goes blank for that crucial moment..
Me- 'Erm Hello there, This is Fran or ShadEO9 from twitter...Is that ermmm....Acey Bongos? =/
(For that split second i had a severe case of amnesia and *POP* mind goes blank totally forgetting Acey Bongos name.)
Luckily laughter quickly broke my silly silence...
After a short telephone call it was made clear that the opportunity was there for me to fly out to 'The city of Angels' Los Angeles, To attend something bigger than i could have ever imagined, E3 2012.
Now any gamer dealt the same cards may relate to this next line more than the average 'None gamer'
But the sheer feeling inside my body can only be described as that warm fuzzy feeling you got as a child opening 'Presents from Santa'
I've been a gamer for years, Sat up all hours watching E3 presentations whilst Google-ing' any news and info i could find along the way.
But this year that wouldn't be the case, Instead, I would be there, Taking in all the goodness of the event.
And trying my best to remember every tiny little detail Halo related to share with the community.
So with all this in mind i set my sights on everything Halo, As many can confirm, I became a rather familiar face around the Halo 4 booth this year, I wanted to finally meet the great people of 343 Industries who i had been 'following' on Twitter, Watching there videos, Reading the blogs and everything virtual in between.
I knew how much this meant not only to the fans, But just how much it means to the staff of 343i.
They have been working endlessly for 3+ years to bring to the table a game, Not just any game, But a game that so many fans around the world hold very close to there hearts, Some more than others,
So in the wise words of Yoda -
Ok forget Yoda.
In the wise words of....Well.....Someone else ...-
'With great power comes great responsibility.
As eager as us the fans were to see what 343 Industries had up there sleeves at the very same time the staff were working endlessly to proudly present us with something special, Not your typical 'Average Joe' revealing, Something alot more special than most.
The Master Chief was making his come back, this had to be big, Had to keep the fans attention, And that is exactly what they delivered.
On my long loooong looong flight over to L.A i couldn't sleep, My mind was working over time,
I was trying to piece together the small amount of info we had already regarding Halo 4, While trying to guess what they could possibly reveal to us. The excitement kept me awake the whole flight, Switching at Frankfurt, Germany, Then onto L.A.
Arriving at LAX i was greeted by XCN'S Oli. Up until now we had only communicated through email, So to finally meet Oli was great.
Taking in the sheer size of the city, And everything in between was at first a little overwhemling, But i soon grew to love this place, As big and scary as it first seemed, It was truly breath taking, A beautiful city filled with loud and welcoming people.
Arriving at the hotel my mind was on focus, I new exactly where i wanted to be, And new exactly what i wanted to do, I wanted to keep everyone from the community in the picture, Tell E3 as i seen it, Basically share my experiences with anyone who would care to listen.
Sounded fairly easy to start, Everything i seen, Share it with the world! Tweet it! Blog it! Anything it!
This became a little difficult to digest as the madness took place, Starting with the Xbox media briefing.
It was set to take gamers by surprise, With Halo 4 being the show opener.
I took my seat in the Galen center and experienced the show as many others did, If not in person via many internet sites aswell as for the first time ever, Directly through the Xbox 360 dashboard.
Immediately my personal 'Mi-Fi' unit decided it wasn't going to play ball, Failing miserably to upload anything with anyone due to the mad volume of users trying to do exactly as i was in but in mass volumes,
My only connection with the outside world at this point was my Twitter.
I could tweet and tell what i seen, but when i tried uploading photos it just wasn't gonna happen.
Sadly i felt a little deflated as i wanted you all to see as i saw, But moments later that is exactly what happened.
343 Industries opened with the world watching, Everyone in complete silence taking in every moment..
The feeling inside the Galen center was indescribable. Everyone sat glued, Watching Master Chief finally make his return, Discovering new enemies. nothing like we had ever seen before, Known as the Prometheans.
As i'm sure many of you already know please let me explain for those of you who may not...
The Prometheans are an elite forerunner warrior class set out to defend there planet known as the requiem.
consisting of crawlers, A dog like enemy who attack in packs, Fast and ferocious on there pray.
The Promethean knights are advanced sentinels, Fast on there feet there attack is speedy and powerful, And in the blink of an eye they can vanish away from there attackers to evade defeat. They have the ability to deploy Watchers.
Watchers are capable of healing there allies, And provide protection to there army, With the ability to throw back attacking grenades at fast speeds, And provide a shield to the Promethean knight.
Together they are powerful, Certain to be the Master Chiefs biggest challenge yet.
Along the way we are introduced to new forerunner weapons which will be available in both campaign and multiplayer. At first glimpse they look super impressive, And playing with them confirms just that.
Leaving the Galen center later that morning it was clear to see Halo had left the biggest impression of the show, Hearing people excited for the return of Chief and Cortana, Left me with a very large smile on my face, 343 had done exactly what they set out to do, To WOW the audience, Capture them for that moment and keep them wanting more.
The HaloWaypoint forums went into overload, thousands of members logged onto discuss everything they had just seen, The sheer demand for any more info that was circling around the web caused a slight bend in the system to say the very least, I was unable to access the forums directly myself, Again falling back to my Twitter.
Tuesday morning arrived, And still people were talking, Around the breakfast table in my hotel we discussed the day aheads plans, For me i had only one thing on my mind, The Halo 4 booth.
Little did i know what to expect, I knew for sure it was gonna be huge, Surrounded by the buzz of fans that is just what it was. Parked directly outside the booth was a life-sized fully working Warthog. Fans and gamers alike queued for many hours, Some to have there photo taken with the Warthog and also with the new and improved Master Chief.
The queues for the Halo 4 theater grew longer and longer, Everyone wanting to get there hands on some Halo 4 game-play, We all wanted to know, If behind all the amazing footage, Was the game still 'Halo'
By this i mean that magical feeling you only get when playing Halo, It's hard to explain but ask any spartan and they will relate to what i mean by that, No other FPS has that feel, And we were all hoping Halo 4 still contained just that.
After queuing for awhile and talking to other fans from all around America and the rest of the world the time had finally arrived. I was at the front of the line, Ready to get my Halo 4 fix.
After a short presentation by 343 we were lead through into a large dark room, Only alight by the LCD TV monitors and Xbox's that were in there. A quick adjust to the games new layout and i was instantly hooked.
The weapons feel alot more powerful, Sounds are alot more realistic, Alot more believable, You really feel you're behind that visor fighting tooth and nail for your team to reach victory.
The graphics are crisp and realistic, A massive step in Halo's evolution, One that has been coming for awhile now, And it works. Assassinations are speedy and effective and a little more brutal, As is the general flow of the game. Spartans can easily return to the battle with a simple touch of a button which is a nice touch to the game.
The new armory is impressive, Fresh to look at, and i'm sure will impress many,
Armor and weapon skins add a more personalized touch to the game, As does the weapon layouts.
Being able to choose what weapons best suit your game-play style works well, Even if at first alot speculated about this.
Spartan Ops brings Halo 4 to another level, Alot like firefight but with more of a purpose, players will work together in teams of 4 to complete weekly released free DLC levels against both new and old enemies.
After being lucky enough to get my hands on this personally i can honestly say it is impressive, and will bring many hours of MP fun to everyone who chooses to play it.
After being a part of the Halo Waypoint community for awhile it was brilliant to finally meet some of the great people from 343 Industries aswell as community members along the way.
I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who made this trip possible, I am truly grateful to everyone involved. I will forever remain in your debt.
343 Industries, I trusted you from the start and never doubted a single move you made,
Thank you for your hospitality. I'll be a fan for life. 'Talkin bout November 6!
Over the next few weeks i will be going into more detail with everything from new weapons, new maps, new armor abilities and loads more.
So watch this space! And thank you for your support!