Memo to my fellow game geeks: STAY THE FUCK HOME TONIGHT.
Please. I beg you. Do not turn out in droves. Do not stand in line. Just go to the store tomorrow, like a normal person, and pick up your copy of Halo 2. Exchange your money for goods and/or services as if you were buying, say, a toaster, a bottle of Advil, or perhaps having H.R. Block prepare your taxes. Those extra twelve to sixteen hours will result in the salvation of your dignity, and, in a small way, the dignity by association of the rest of us.
I can sort of kind of maybe get behind, on a purely conceptual basis, the midnight showings of the big blockbuster movies. At least with that, you're actually seeing the movie first with a bunch of other people who want to see the movie first. It's a communal experience. A big, stinky communal experience that gets you whacked in the back of the head with a toy lightsaber at one o' clock in the fucking morning, but a communal experience nonetheless.
I'd never DO that, of course, because first, my aging, decrepit frame does not need to be crawling home from a mall movie theater at 2:30am just so I can be among the first to be disappointed, and second, I don't need to meet that many new people I'd then be compelled to forcibly sterilize. With the new stadium seating, it's just too big a demand on my free time.
There's going to be no communal experience tonight. Just a bunch of guys standing in line to shell out 55 bucks for something they'll then immediately take home to play alone, or, if they're lucky, online against the people they were just in line with, and their counterparts across the country. Having spent some time on XBox live, listening to other XBox Live players, trust me on this one. These are not the kind of people you should be anxious to spend more time with.
I mean, OK. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you live in New York or L.A., where they're going to make a big deal out of it, spending lots of money on a party and having music and crap for you to stare at while you wait to buy your game. That sounds pretty exciting at first, unless you live in New York or L.A., where even the public restrooms have a company rep, two plasma-screen TV's, a DJ, and a complimentary gift bag.
In the rest of the country, where the game stores will be opening their doors at midnight, your experience will be, shall I say, less than ideal. A drive out to a darkened suburban mall. Trying three entrances before you find the one they convinced security to unlock. The walk past all the darkened, closed stores and kiosks, until you get to the store, where, if you're lucky, the assistant manager brought the Master Chief helmet he made for Halloween and is walking around with it on his head, pointing an empty Super-Soaker at you and shouting, "Halt, Covenant spy! Present your pre-order receipt!".
If you're not lucky, you'll be confronted by two wage-slave clerks who drew the short straw, wearing promotional t-shirts they already hate the sight of, who rightfully resent you and everything you stand for, and who, through bleary, hate-rimmed eyes, recite their sales script in a monotone as they take your money and hand you your shiny silver box. And it's one o' clock in the fucking morning, and the guy behind you keeps hitting you in the back of your head with his toy lightsaber.
STAY HOME. You're worse than the Ikea whores. At least, with the cheap Swedish furniture, there's only the one place to get it. You, on the other hand, will be making an extra special trip to an extra special store at an extra special time to buy an extra special thing that you won't be able to avoid for the next year. Every Target, every Wal-Mart, every Costco, every toy store and department store is going to be THICK with the fucking things by Friday. I half-expect to see copies of Halo 2 sitting next to Cosmo, 101 Delicious Meatloaf Recipes, and tiny Jesus Tells You Your Cat's Horoscope books in the supermarket checkout line.
In fact, I figure sometime in January, we'll see the class action suit by game store employees after doctors discover they're all suffering from Halo Lung Disease, in which millions of copies of Halo 2 end up lodged in the breathers of people forced to work around them all day. By June, the earth's surface will be 70% copies of Halo 2. And by this time next year, the Von Neumann hive mind that is Halo 2 will have colonized three other planets.
So put the homemade "My Other Girlfriend Is A Holographic A.I." shirt down, back away from the car keys, and get some sleep. You'll need it when the underground resistance movement forms in August.