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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Great Expectations

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Looking forward to being disappointed

I remember when 'Halo 3' came out like it was yesterday. Or like it was five years ago. Which, rather coincidentally, it was.

My friends and I had poured hundreds upon hundreds of hours into 'Halo 2's' multiplayer. We had dedicated most of our high school years to it, sacrificing homework time for Team Slayer and basically absorbing ourselves into the universe any way possible. By the time we graduated (I personally thanked Bungie for making 'Halo' in my graduation speech), the rumblings of 'Halo 3' coming out were already starting. We were bombarded with trailers and CG vignettes that reminded us that Sept. 25, 2007 was to be the Third Coming of the Master Chief, and the constant barrage of media wouldn't have let us forget if we had wanted to. Microsoft was the dealer of 'Halo' news, and we were the junkies that scrambled after each tidbit. I remember dropping a bunch of money on 'Halo 3' memorabilia and rewarding my binge with roughly 300 bucks in overdraft fees, but I didn't care. I was riding high on the hype train.

'Halo 3' was going to revolutionize our lives, and everything else was forfeit.

We arrived at the Bangor Mall GameStop on that fateful September afternoon to get in line for the midnight launch. A couple other hardy souls had already started lining up before us, lawn chairs, Mountain Dew and 'Game Informers' in tow like precious cargo. We were digital pioneers circling the wagons, staving off boredom and trash-talking angry white boys with naught but the armaments of our excitement and Sbarro pizza.

Finally, after almost a dozen hours in line and dealing with the demands of the mall security guards, I sprinted out of the mall, waving my prize in the faces of everyone else still in line. Unswayed by cries of 'jerk' and 'cheapskate,' I emerged into the dark midnight of what was sure to be the best day of my life...

...until I realized that I had left my girlfriend in the mall, at the mercy of the masses of grubby line-stalkers.

Oops.

As I've learned the hard way, there's something intoxicating about submitting yourself to the hype of a game you're looking forward to, in allowing yourself to be excited to an incredible extent. Even if you know that the messianic qualities of the game you're fawning over falls short of your astronomical expectations, it doesn't really matter. Until that game is in your hands and you've demolished your free time and hygienic habits to experience it to the fullest extent of your wishes, that game is glorious in all forms.

Ever since 'Halo 3,' I haven't truly allowed myself to be embroiled in the hype for a game. Maybe it's the fact that I'm older, wiser and realize that not everything is as awesome as the trailers make it out to be, or perhaps I'm just cynical, but I think the true purpose is that I just don't want to give my heart to another game until I know it's the one I'm waiting for.

Yes, I did just draw a dating simile. You can all stop your collective gasping at any point.

On the flip side of things, there have been games that have flown under my radar up until the last minute that I've ended up getting and absolutely adoring, games like 'Super Meat Boy,' 'Assassins Creed II,' 'Bastion,' and last week's focus, 'X-COM: Enemy Unknown' all quietly stole a place in my heart without me absorbing a full-on media blitz to do so. But is it because these games are necessarily better, or is it the fact that I haven't built my expectations as high as the Coches Mountains?

I'm not downing the fact that people love to build hype for a game. Having that kind of passion for anything (except maybe stealing handicap parking spots or eating dandelion stems) is an awesome, incredible thing. It's one of the more elaborate and endearing personality quirks of humans. We almost know from the get-go that we're going to be let down, but we don't let it stop us. That hope we carry is a beautiful thing, even if its lifespan isn't always that long, usually destroyed by harsh reality.

Bah, listen to me getting all psuedo-psychological. I need to keep downing this 'Halo 4'-themed Dew and watch the multiplayer developer diaries over again. I'm all in all over again.

All aboard the hype train, baby! 

By the time you read this, Aaron Waite will not have Halo 4' in his hands, and that makes him a sad panda.

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