War… it never changes…
Microsoft Console Wars however, they change often. Or at least the choices of games do!
Last night Microsoft had their Winter Console Wars night at RVB on K Rd in Auckland. There was a decent selection of games for the night ranging from typical Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero, Ninja Gaiden II and even some Poker (not a 360 game). There was also one extremely pleasant surprise in a preview build of Too Human which I spent a good 45 minutes with.
Firstly, the place was cool. There were lots of crisp TV screens and very comfortable couches to sit on and play some Xbox 360. While playing Call of Duty 4 I noticed one of the people I was up against was a man by the name of Caleb... who happens to be the Halo 3 Asia Pacific Champion. I am very proud to say I was one of the few people who managed to get a kill in (with a knife attack no less, oh yeah!) but he was good about it. Considering he easily killed me eight times for the one time I managed to get him.
I was interested to find out about his recent win, so I put a few questions to him!
Aylon: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself – where you are from, do you work or go to school?
Caleb: I'm from the little town of Gisborne and I work as a glazier at Gisborne Glass. I'm currently doing my apprenticeship there.
Aylon: What is it about Halo 3 that appeals to you so much?
Caleb: I really don't know. I played the original Halo at my mate’s house when it came out and just loved the game play and story line of the whole thing. But I didn’t start playing online gaming until Halo 3 and I just loved it.
Aylon: You won the final round on the Valhalla map – was this an easy map for you, or was there another you’d have preferred to play on?
Caleb: Well the map actually played to some of my specialities - sniping and battle rifle combos so it was a great map for me to play.
Aylon: Not so great for your competition! Approximately how many hours a day did you practise in the lead-up to the competition?
Caleb: I wouldn’t call it practising; I just play with some mates about 2-3 hours a day.
Aylon: Sounds fairly casual! Do you see yourself becoming a professional gamer, and taking this win to the next level?
Caleb: Not sure! I'll just play things by ear for now and see where it will end up.
Aylon: OK, cough it up - what strategy advice you can pass on to others?
Caleb: Yeah, throwing a grenade where the person is going to be so by the time it comes to shooting them they have no health and also bouncing grenades off walls around corners. Sniping is also a key thing in Halo 3 - so if you're good with a sniper you will do really well in the long range maps.
Aylon: Being the best Halo 3 player in the Asia-Pacific area is a huge accomplishment – has there been a lot of interest from the media? How are you dealing with the fame?
Caleb: No, not really. Just the local news paper and radio station and events like this Xbox 360 Winter Warm-up Wars. A few people have noticed me in town but nothing too major!
Aylon: You’ve said that the last ten minutes of the finals will remain in your memory for a long time – can you step us through those final moments, and what was going through your mind when you realised you had a good chance of winning?
Caleb: Well, I huddled up to my little 24-inch TV with all my mates cheering behind me. I had a large lead throughout the whole game, but I had a moment where I wasn’t getting any kills and I was stressing out. But my mates helped to calm me down. With 1 minute left to go I knew I had won. I was yelling and high five-ing all my mates. It was an insane feeling - hard to explain!
Aylon: Thanks Caleb - always great to see New Zealand on world gaming scene! Congratulations on your win, and we know you'll continue to do us proud.
So in the end, everyone had a fantastic night of games, drinks and pizza. Ninja Gaiden 2 looked great and had plenty of people playing and watching it. Guitar Hero always had a good crowd around the huge TV it was on and I even had my very first go at it. Didn't do as badly as I would have thought but showing how much of a noob you are in front of an audience is not something I would recommend for everyone.
Too Human was definitely the highlight of the night for me, as it was the only game there that isn't out yet and I've been wanting to play it for a very long time. I actually really enjoyed it and am happy to say I cannot wait for its release in August.
Thanks Microsoft for the great night and hope to do something like it again soon. Hopefully with E3 just around the corner they will have some really exciting stuff for us to have a look at soon afterwards.