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Times like these demand the most from parents. Children are found sat on the bottom step, gently swaying, whispering their well worn mantra under their breath 'finish the fight, finish the fight'. An understanding father or mother comes and sits down beside them, gives them an understanding hug and hands them a slip of paper. Wiping their dewy eyes, the young-one focuses on the handwritten list and realises this means more to them than any present they had ever been given.
Okay, so maybe this is a little melodramatic (how about hugely - ed), but still the next few weeks are going to be pretty tough. And I like to think that this might not be so far from the truth for some future games release when my kids are older and I am still further out of touch with their comings and goings. Maybe, just maybe I'll be wise enough to join them in their excitement and help them along the way. So here for you, in the absence of recognition from our elders and betters, is a list to help you get through the ten remaining days before release.
Whilst my kids are too young to even get close to Halo 3 360, I know that someday they will enjoy this too.
Read Halo: The Fall of Reach - The first book in the series by Eric Nylud sets up the series and should more than get your juices going with those inconsequential but oh so interesting little facts. Never be without something clever to throw out whilst waiting for match making, again.
Play through Halo: Combat evolved - Get a friend over and break out the game that started it all; play through the best Halo story mode so far. The only game in the series to receive an Edge 10, although of course Halo 3 still has a chance of hitting it.
Read Halo: The Flood - Having played through Combat Evolved, grab a beer and the sofa for a day and work your way through these pages that flesh out of that experience. Expand your first person perspective to include all that was going on in the battle around you. Find your place in the epic as you realise the scope of the challenge facing the Chief.
Read Halo: First Strike - Fresh from the events of Combat Evolved, you're now ready to man-up and prepare yourself to play Halo 2. First Strike fills in the intervening years between the first two games. Not only does it set the pieces in play for what is to come, but it makes sense of a lot that has already been.
Play through Halo 2 - Things are getting serious now. Pop in the familiar old game, select Legendary and play it through in one sitting. Soak up the action, now set in context of the wider fiction. 'Finish the fight' now no longer a statement of a game cut short, but the middle of a trilogy that is about to be completed.
Read Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - The last remaining task between you and the game is this last published book in the series. This will carry you through the remaining days of waiting. Along the way the story gains a few new twists and turns, and the plot builds as we wait for the coming climax.
Watch through Red vs. Blue [http://rvb.roosterteeth.com/archive/] - All this build up will no doubt have you on the edge of your seat. It's time today to draw breath before the final push. So sit back, and watch some Halo comedy in the form of Red vs. Blue Machima. For these imaginative dudes, Halo 2 is their stage and fans are their audience. These irreverent pieces of fan-fiction may not be cannon, but they are full of sweet sweet Halo goodness.
Media Blackout - Time to get serious now, with the likelihood of some Muppet grabbing an early copy and posting spoiler details all around the intertubes, it's time to dim the lights, draw the shades and retreat into the back as we call a complete media blackout. Whilst you are there you should also stock up and get ready for tomorrow's madness and queues. Hoard crisps, chocolate and of course the Mountain Dew so you have some sustenance for the queues. Charge the DS and PSP, and maybe even grab a new game. One final call to the game shop to confirm the pre-order, double check the 360 still works, then take yourself off for an early night, tomorrow's going to be a long long day.
Buy Halo 3 - Get to the store in good time, grab a spot in the queue and chat with friends as you get ever closer to midnight. Then, finally when the moment arrives, compose yourself, suck it up and don't shed a tear until you're safely back home.
Quite a list I'm sure you'll agree. This should do you proud to not only survive the upcoming days, but to be fully prepared to get the most out of the game. Whilst my kids are too young to even get close to Halo 3, I know that someday they will enjoy this too. Until then, you can be my surrogates and we will keep the consoles warm for them.
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