It was funny, you get the feeling for some things, like “everything will turn out ok”, or that “it’ll be for the best if..” you know what I’m talking about here. This event from the outset felt good. We were given the scantiest of information and with hindsight, that was just perfect.
All I knew was that I had a flight to Zürich to catch.
Upon arrival at Zürich we were given a top-secret mission to perform. We were part of a highly skilled team of xenoarcheaogists, and there were some glyphs to be had in UNSC territory 0134. That was literally about all we had to go on, and nobody was giving the game away.
The sounds of Halo cracked out in the lounge, above the drone of gaming journo’s as we readied ourselves for departure.
This was the Halo Experience.
So, we were told we were xenoarchaeologists and that the USNC needed us to find some glyphs, clues to the area we were holding from the Covenant.
The UNSC coach transport carried us safely to our destination as we catch up on some background with the full length Forward Until Dawn story, more on this at a later date.
The radio crackled over the speakers, a military voice ordered radio silence, then static. We got static for another few minutes, then more radio chatter. The unit was under attack, but it’s garbled and we were given tantalising scraps of what might be happening. We twisted and turned around the narrow streets and we came to a shuddering stop. It was dark, it was cold and I needed the loo. The 2 UNSC escorts suddenly sparked into command, confusion was the name of the game and we were boarded by more infantry units.
Commanded to disembark and board the waiting trucks, we were told to leave all bags on the coach, as one bag got stomped on by the staff sergeant. There went his laptop.
One-by-one we were herded into waiting troop carriers, it was still dark, it was still cold, my passport was still on the coach and I don’t have dental records.
We were transported for what seemed like an eternity into god only knows what. The backs of the trucks were pitch black and what seems like bravado from us, soon turned into silence as we travelled. Eventually, after what seemed like miles, we stopped and waited in the pitch black. Orders were being shouted outside, but we were still waiting. There are eight of us in this truck, all wondering what was happening. It was still pitch black in the back of the truck. I’d have given anything for a loo.
The door snapped open & we were ordered out. Confusion reigned as we were told to collect a pack and wear its contents, a poncho, gloves, scarf and hat. All were needed as it was cold and damp.
We were brought into a briefing tent, all intricately detailed with maps and artifacts, by Dr Catherine Halsey, this situation had changed though. The UNSC forces had been attacked by forces unknown. Make no mistake, this was a war zone now and the military were in command.
We were quickly split into three squads, Alpha, Beta, and Charlie squad. Alpha squad were to rescue 2 fallen marines who had recovered a glyph. Beta squad, to find a professor who also had a glyph and Charlie squad, who were to rendezvous with the Master Chief.
As part of Alpha squad I was hustled into search and rescue. After another short truck journey, with a briefing by our squad leader, we were ready, as battle ready as we’re going to be. Now I knew how Laskey felt. Was I ready? Was I wearing clean pants?
We disembarked and made our way towards a fork in the pathway, the sound of plasma fire echoing around our location. Our squad was split into two further smaller units, and I followed the commander towards the radio beacon of the injured Marines. As we approached their location, we could hear the sounds of the Covenant and something else, far off in the darkness. The Marine explained that something attacked them, not Covenant forces though, something else. They were after the glyph and it was dropped. Two squad members were ordered into the darkness to find it, while I and another helped the Marine to her feet. With the glyph now recovered, we rendezvous with the rest of the squad and made our way nervously back to the trucks.
We met up with the other squads at an outpost and we tried to make sense of the glyphs combined. Dr.Halsey suggests there should be a fourth glyph, but we only had 3. Who or where is the last glyph? Boom! The outpost is hit by enemy fire and all the lights went out. In an opening at the far side of the enclosure, a light comes on. Was this it? Were we doomed? Boom! Enter the Master Chief, all pyrotechnics and lights, astride his growling green charger. The Warthog driver runs over with the last glyph and we found out that in order to close a porthole, we needed to turn off the generating machine with the glyphs, but we needed to hurry. Dr.Halsey’s radio went dead but we knew what we had to do.
Once more into the trucks, we arrived at our final location. Up on the hill in front of us, was a huge structure, with a curious orange symbol on the walls and a bright beam, firing off into space. We climbed the last few feet of the incline and made our way through into the courtyard of the building, where we crouched and waited for orders. The Chief stood, emblazoned in light at the doorway, and we made our way in groups of 5 into the structure.
We gathered in the inner courtyard around a glowing machine, the noise was deafening as your whole body throbbed with the sound. The glyphs were finally in place, and Dr.Halsey was rescued. The machine powered down and the porthole was closed, but what ancient evil did we awaken during this mission?
The lights came up and the dark canvas walls were removed to reveal banks of screens and Halo 4 on every one. We had won this mission, Marine, drink it up.
The whole experience, the acting, the locations, the situations were something that will never be forgotten. The story was specially written by 343 Industries, and the immersive storyline was easy to fall into. Dr.Halsey was played by none other than the voice of Cortana, Jennifer Taylor and a working mine and the 13th Century Gutenberg Castle had been transformed for the event. We had taken over Liechtenstein in a little over 2 hours and it felt good. Now, it was time to stow away the military gear and play the game.
The following morning we were heading back to Zürich airport and the coach driver had the radio on. A German-speaking colleague informed us that we’d made the national radio news in the Principality. We were the talk of a country.
This was Halo’s biggest launch event ever, shrouded in secrecy and attended by games journalists from around the world, as well as some very lucky fans, who had entered an online competition.
It makes you wonder what they could possibly do to launch the next in this epic blockbuster series. Invade the moon maybe? Whatever it is and whatever they decide, it would be worth seeing if you can get one of those tickets, whatever the cost.