Halo 3 launch recap: Tulsa, OK
Far, far away from the madness of Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, the launch of Halo 3 in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a comparatively muted affair. But only comparatively, because it was definitely noisy. Trust us. Also, forgive us for the crappy cell phone images; it's all we had on hand. The night began at 9:00, when GameStop asked patrons to arrive. Once there, we were told by some of the folks already in line that we had to go to GameStop, pay for the game in full, grab a receipt, and get back in line. Easy enough, right? Nope. It seems the mall security was only paid for the time between 11:00 and midnight. When we reached the foyer door, telling the security guard that we must procure a receipt, he replied that he wasn't letting anyone inside. Fortunately, the GameStop manager eventually got wind of this and managed to get receipts to all those who didn't have one, but the rest of the evening still remained an interesting affair. Let's just say that Halo fans run the gamut from geek to jock, with a little bit more of the latter in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Looking upon the mass gathered at the mall, it became apparent Halo has definitely expanded the gaming audience. Whether or not the results of the expansion represent a good thing is up for interpretation. There were plenty of gamers in attendance who likely play little more than Madden and the occasional movie tie-in or FPS. Of course, there were also a few geeky gamers of the highest order. Hell, a Monopoly match broke out while we were all waiting to be let into the mall proper (we were all trapped in the foyer until about 11:00). We were more than a little disappointed that we seemed to possess the only DS in the crowd, our dreams of multiplayer Puzzle Quest crushed. There was one PSP though.
After we were let into the mall, things got a little more frenzied as people began shouting how many minutes were left until midnight. This might have been charming if it had been done in fifteen minute intervals instead of every single minute, but we digress. We heard a few snippets of WoW talk in line behind us as well as some exhaustive conversation between a pair of war history buffs. It was the college sect that drew most of our attention though. If you've ever been absolutely infuriated by the behavior of someone frequenting an online match of Halo 2, it was probably one of these guys.
These aren't the people who have been following every bit of Halo 3 information for months. No, these guys got all their info from G4. At one point, two of the guys directly in front of us got bored, so they decided to play a "game." Sitting about five feet away from each other, legs splayed apart, they began tossing a half-full bottle of soda back and forth. The object of the game was to "try and hit each other's balls." We tried to look away, but were strangely fixated on the spectacle, as were a number of other people in line. We watched for several minutes, but we're still not quite sure who "won."
Eventually, the GameStop manager quieted the crowd down and told us that there were three lines for the game, each corresponding to a different edition. Those who wanted the Legendary Edition would have to go into the "back room" to claim their prize. Exactly what sort of prostrations they had to go through in that room, we may never know. Rest assured though, when they left the store with their big box in tow, they all wore the same wide grin.
Once the line began to move (after the "countdown" guys counted down every second of the last two minutes before midnight), it was actually a pretty painless process. Ten people were allowed in the store at a time, with a new one shuffled in for every one that left. A carousel of joy, if you will. We walked in, handed over the receipt, and received our copy of the (scratch-tastic) Limited Edition. Pretty uneventful really. Loud, certainly, but uneventful. Apart from the three hours of waiting for the store to open, the whole process took less than five minutes.
Now all we have to do is play it.