As Monday the 13th began to crossover into Tuesday the 14th, a modest line formed in Ephraimʼs Wal-Mart over anticipation of the release of Halo: Reach.

Halo: Reach is the newest Halo game and the final installment of the series to be developed by Bungie, the studio that first launched the progenitor to the franchise, Halo: Combat Evolved, back in November of 2001 for the original Xbox game console. Reach has been reviewed positively with a 94 out a 100 on Metacritic.

Though the last proper installment, Reach is actually a prequel to 2001ʼs Combat Evolved. Players follow Noble 6, a super-soldier pitted against the fictitious alien race known as the Covenant for control of the human colony of Reach in the year 2552.

Ephraimʼs group of avid fans awaiting Reachʼs release ranged from stocky high schoolers to Snow College sophomores. And they werenʼt all men - peppered in the modest crowd were a handful of women equally excited for Reachʼs release, much to the amazement of a few men. The groups began to talk amongst themselves and socialize over their shared interest in Halo.

As Monday quietly melted into Tuesday, IDs were checked and conversations ended as Reach was sold to its salivating fans, who undoubtedly rushed home to crack open the gameʼs ten-hour campaign and robust multiplayer network the series has established for itself.

Although the line of Halo enthusiasts in the local Ephraim Wal-Mart barely approached 20, the reverberations of its release were heard throughout the country, from flagship launch events in New Yorkʼs Times Square to the myriad events in GameStops, Best Buys, and game retailers around the nation. A Halo release is kind of a big deal.

A big video game release holds a palpable excitement for a certain crowd. As I drove my roommate home that night, a copy of Reach in hand, we chatted about our favorite game releases weʼd been a part of. From last yearʼs Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 release, to the game console launches back in 2005 and 2006, a big release like Reachʼs is a raised flag for gaming enthusiasts to convene, and even in the small town of Ephraim, that call was heard.

Halo has become something of a cultural touchpoint throughout the last nine years: from a decadeʼs worth of caffeine-fueled late night multiplayer sessions to the widespread acknowledgement of its presence, itʼs an epoch of entertainment. For those who are fresh high school graduates, Halo first released as they barely cusped 10 yearsʼ age. For them, Haloʼs reign as one of the most popular games of the 21st century has been cemented with this ultimate release.

Take a peek into a guyʼs apartment this weekend. Thereʼs a good chance heʼll be playing Halo: Reach.


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