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Exclusive interview: Halo 2's final players share their stories

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April 14, 2010 was supposed to be the end. By midnight of that day, Microsoft planned to shut down the original Xbox Live servers, and Halo 2 fans would be forced to play their very last matches. An online era would come to a close, and everybody involved would finally move on.

Never underestimate the passion or determination of gamers. On the morning of April 15, a handful of players realized they could keep playing Halo 2 as long as they left their Xbox consoles powered on, and for another three and a half weeks – until system errors and power failures finally dwindled their number to zero on May 11 – that's exactly what they did. Not even the temptation of early access to the Reach beta could distract them.

Who were these Halo 2 mega fans? Why did they choose to play so long, and what was the experience like? I interviewed five of the few to find out.

GamesRadar: When did you realize you could keep playing Halo 2 after Microsoft’s cutoff?

HiredN00bs: Well, the cutoff didn't happen exactly at the end of the day of the 14th. People were still able to sign on for some time on the 15th. I left my (original) Xbox on that night, and the next day I saw posts from people who said that they couldn't sign on anymore. I turned on my monitor and I was still goin'! I did not plan to stay on past the cutoff; in fact, I figured the system would automatically boot us at some point.

GamesRadar: Why did you decide to hold out for as long as you did?

xxBooker Dxx: I loved Halo 2. It was the game that got me on XBL. I just wanted to play until I could not.

HiredN00bs: It was a combination of novelty, curiosity and nostalgia.

Agent Windex: For the memories, for the love of the game and just because Halo 2 is so much fun.

T0 BE CONTINUED: I had not planned on it whatsoever. The first few days, I stayed on because I had logged in with two of my friends, and each night we talked and always decided, "Let's play again one more time tomorrow." I also had decided to start streaming so I could share the experience.

Every day in my stream, I was asked if I'd keep going, and when it came to calling it a night, I couldn't bring it to an end. Eventually it transitioned into, "Okay, I'm going to keep playing and keeping this alive for however as long as I can."

It also helped a lot since I'm deaf and wasn't privy to the in-game voice chat, so that some of the final few players started coming into my stream and talking to me. Players were thanking me. It gave me an even stronger appreciation of the game and the community.

GamesRadar: How difficult was it to keep your consoles on and connected for all that time?

Agent Windex: It was really difficult to stay online. I had to survive two storms. I have no idea how the electricity didn't go out.

T0 BE CONTINUED: Since I hadn't planned on this at all, I had shutdown enabled, so every night I'd have to rubber band my controller to keep it from going idle while I slept. Weather was really cool in my area so I'd have the windows open and my ceiling fan going, keeping my room at a constant 70 degrees.

GamesRadar: What did you guys do in Halo 2 for all of those extra weeks?

Agent Windex: For the first week, we mainly played Big Team Battle, but when the numbers got too small to play that, we did customs mainly.

T0 BE CONTINUED: If we had 6-8 players, we'd play Team Training and/or Rumble Pit. If we had more (12-16), we always wanted to play Big Team Battles. Occasionally we'd play custom games like Zombies, MLG, Hide and Seek, Tower of Power, Tremors, Troy and glitch our way out of the maps.

HiredN00bs: An interesting thing to note: the Halo 2 matchmaking system continued to work, even after Bungie's statistic-collecting servers were unplugged.

GamesRadar: How were you finally kicked off?

xxBooker Dxx: I was kicked due to a power failure.

xxMAKDADYxx: Ethernet turned off due to home remodeling.

HiredN00bs: Stupidity. I was carrying my gamertag on a USB stick, took it to a friend's house to show him the Reach Beta and instinctively logged into my account. I clicked the guide button to abort, but it had already booted me off Halo 2.

T0 BE CONTINUED: On April 23, 2010 at 2:24 am, my 360 decided that it could not continue any longer and froze. I had knew it was coming since I could smell the metal smoldering earlier that day. People in my stream cried when they saw it happen live, which really touched me, that a game could bring us to a point where we became so emotionally invested in it.

Above: T0 BE CONTINUED's final moments before her Xbox crashed

GamesRadar: What did this experience mean to you?

xxMAKDADYxx: It was special to be able to give Halo 2 a proper send-off and show Bungie and Microsoft how much we love it.

T0 BE CONTINUED: I am really fortunate to have met and made friends out of the players/fans who have came and supported us in our dedication. If it wasn't for my stream, I would have honestly never became close to the players/fans due to communication barriers.

HiredN00bs: I'm honestly surprised at all the media attention it got. I met a friend of mine who lives in New York for brunch last Sunday, and he told me he read about it on CNET. There was a point where I felt like I was done, ready to log off, but then all of the messages started to pour in from all over Xbox Live encouraging me to keep going.

GamesRadar: What does Halo 2 mean to you?

T0 BE CONTINUED: College years memories. My deaf friends and I started with CE and about 10-15 of us got the midnight release of H2. There were LANs, MLG events, parties, jokes, friendships, epic games and so much more.

HiredN00bs: From a game play perspective, it's my least favorite of the franchise (albeit, that's kinda like saying vanilla ice cream is your least favorite in Neapolitan; it's still delicious ice cream). It was the online play, and the smooth online interface the game incorporated that really sucked me in. I mean it many ways, Halo 2 made Xbox Live what it is today.

GamesRadar: Will you stay in touch with your fellow Halo 2  holdouts?

Agent Windex: Of course, I've played with them in the Beta multiple times.

xxMAKDADYxx: Definitely - the final group was very close and had a lot of fun.  We are currently playing Reach together.

May 14, 2010

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23 comments

  • Axcle - May 15, 2010 1:05 a.m.

    I wish I had realized this. My jealousy levels just reached 9001.
  • ColonelKc - May 15, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    I feel bad that I never had an original xbox.........Please dont flame me.
  • apparatus25 - May 15, 2010 1:30 a.m.

    @ColonelKC It's cool bro. I didn't either. PS2 then the 360.
  • Cwf2008 - May 15, 2010 2:19 a.m.

    Wow...was the game really that good? I wonder how many of them have to get new xboxs now after frying them...Oh imagine the electricity costs as well
  • Clovin64 - May 15, 2010 9:58 a.m.

    Thers an important message to be learned here: Never underestimate the love of truly dedicated gamer towards his/hers faveourite game. Hardcore gamers, I salute you!
  • philipshaw - May 15, 2010 10:29 a.m.

    This is cool, just shows what a community can do when they care about a game so much
  • Fazoid - May 15, 2010 10:34 a.m.

    @ColonelKC, @apparatus25 Exactly the same here, I had a PS2 then it took the release of the PS3 for me to realise that the 360 was the way to go. Never regretted it once. I truly admire the gamers that stuck it out until, quite literally, they couldn't any longer. Talk about Finishing the Fight! reCAPTCHA: Liberate player... Enough said.
  • zer0hvk - May 15, 2010 10:50 a.m.

    this is really cool, I'm glad we got to read what they actually thought about it and didn't come off as attention whores or Halo (3/ODST/Reach) haters/pseudo-boycotters a-la Left 4 Dead. They really seem to love the game and the community. Game on! :)
  • Peloun - May 15, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    Man this is a sad story
  • nadrewod999 - May 15, 2010 2:31 p.m.

    @Colonel KC, @apparatus25, My console order was: Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, PS1, Game Boy SP, DS, PS2 (I know that I got the Game Boys and the Playstations in the listed order, but not sure how they overlap), 360, Wii (it was my girlfriend who got this, not me), PS3 Just because you like games doesn't mean you have to have every console, or even play every console. So long as you can relax and have fun in most of the games you have, you are more of a gamer to me (and probably others) than any achievement whore will ever be. As such, let us mourn the loss of Halo 2, but only while we are not celebrating the future launch/fall of Reach. Oh, almost forgot, very nice interview, GR, I am glad to hear what was on these uber-gamers' minds while they "finished their fights" in a great gaming franchise (because it is so well-known that it has probably brought tons of people into our culture: I personally prefer ODST/Reach/CE to Halo 2/3)
  • D0CCON - May 15, 2010 5:15 p.m.

    Bungie must know of this. If I were them, I would seriously consider making a Halo 2 remake. Update the graphics, but do nothing to the balancing, maps, etc. Personally, I'm not a mega fan of the game, I only play it casually and to be honest, I doubt I'd buy a remake, but for the type of person who would kill their Xbox just to get 1 more day of Halo, it would be a nice gesture.
  • xSTARMANx - May 15, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    damn i never even got to play halo 2 fuck.....
  • Biopiate - May 15, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    I'm not even a big Halo fan anymore; I converted over to Playstation years ago, and this still makes me kinda sad. Halo 2 was the first online multiplayer gaming experience I ever had.
  • MW3 - May 16, 2010 6:02 a.m.

    I played halo 2 for the last time on the 13th of april. Sad thing to see such a great game go. It was very nice to the video of his last moments of halo 2 as well.
  • MW3 - May 16, 2010 6:03 a.m.

    Hers sorry
  • super0sonic - May 16, 2010 8:56 a.m.

    This was amazing. I really liked this story
  • Cyberninja - May 16, 2010 11:38 a.m.

    i say they should have kept old live support even if it did stop people from having more then 100 friends
  • Grif - May 16, 2010 1:54 p.m.

    I wished I had played Halo 2 in it's final days. It was nice reading their stories. Thanks Talkradar for all the support (this article and the beta codes) of the last few Halo 2 players.
  • Xplosive59 - May 16, 2010 3:35 p.m.

    dont like halo at all but this is a sad story
  • CurryIsGood - May 16, 2010 8:28 p.m.

    @Axcle damn thats OVER 9000!!!

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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