The Halo video game for Xbox has created a craze sweeping the nation, but coordinators for a Tahlequah tournament Saturday decided gaming wasn’t worth risking life and limb following Friday night’s winter storm, and will reschedule the event.

The tournament, set to take place at Tahlequah High School Performing Arts Center, is a fundraiser benefiting the THS Save-A-Senior all-night graduation party. This will mark the 22nd anniversary of the all-night party, designed to provide graduates a fun and safe environment for celebrating academic freedom.

“We knew after the winter storm we couldn’t ask the kids to come,” said Laura House, coordinator for the event. “We will reschedule when we can confirm the availability of the PAC.”

House encourages gamers who didn’t have time to register to do so for the make-up game.

“We had 18 teams of four registered for Saturday,” said House. “But, the good part is this will allow us to reopen registration.”

Cost is $40 to register a four-member team, and all ages are encouraged to join in the fun, said House. Participants in the Save-A-Senior will compete for prizes, in addition to bragging rights.

“Halo: Combat Evolved,” the first of two games in the series created for Xbox, is a first-person shooter created by Microsoft-owned Bungie Studios. It was released for Xbox on Nov. 15, 2001, and as a PC and Mac port later on.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, Halo is widely considered to be one of the best first-person shooter games ever, rivaling such classics as GoldenEye 007, and Half-Life. Only its sequel, Halo 2, has sold more units for the Xbox video game console.

“The game’s characters are superbly detailed, command a real presence, and feature lots of depth,” said Jean Luc Dinsdale, reviewer for insidemacgames.com. “Every single character, from the non-playable characters to the principles, are endowed with distinctive characteristics, voices, and behaviors that match their size, strength, and affiliation. To boot, each character boasts an impressively large collection of animations and sound bites to round out those personalities.”

Northeastern State University freshman Nick Winkle knows a number of Halo players.

“The game is huge,” said Winkle. “Halites [nickname for Halo players] take competition very seriously.”

The basic story line for the game is linear, with only one ending. It is presented to the player through an instruction manual, scripted events and conversations during the game, and a number of cut-scenes rendered using the game’s graphic capabilities.

“Halo,” like many of the Bungie’s other games, has an intricate plot.

The “Halo” in the title refers to an enormous artificial space habitat similar to a Culture Orbital discovered by the warship “Pillar of Autumn,” which the central character, the Master Chief John-117, is aboard. With the help of his fellow marines and the ship’s artificial intelligence, Cortana, John-117 discovers some of the secrets of Halo while fighting off members of The Covenant, archenemies of humanity who, presumably, wish to find Halo’s secret for themselves.

Reviewer Steven Rjach of game-over.net, describes the realistic feel to the characters created by Bungie.

“ . . . Another area that Halo excels in is artificial intelligence, both enemy and friendly,” said Rjach. “When you’re accompanied on a mission by a team of marines, you’ll never have to issue orders or worry whether or not they’re taking cover in heavy fire. They react accordingly to the situation and, at times, issue you orders to advance or provide cover fire for them. . .

“ . . . On the flipside, Covenant troops are just as savvy as your fellow marines. Enemies fight intelligently, circling around to flank you while lobbing grenades towards large groups of soldiers.”

According to Gamerankings.com, the game received an average ratio of 86 percent based on 71 media outlets, including GameSpot, GameSpy, Games Domain, IGN, Game Informer, GamePro and Avault.

Part of the game’s attraction is the player’s opportunity to become part of a vast gaming network. While two- to four-player gaming is possible on a single Xbox, the game has the capability to accommodate up to 16 players in one Halo game over a local area network, using four Xboxes that have been connected through the Ethernet hub. Those using the PC version of the game have the added benefit of online play.

The game has become so popular, it has its own wiki - or expandable encyclopedia, at www.halopedia.org, which gives visitors a thorough overview of the game, with links to even more information.

The 20 Most-Anticipated Games of 2006

According to Gamespy.com, the following are the 20 most anticipated video games for 2006:

1: Halo 3

2: Legend of Zelda - Twighlight Princess

3: Games of the PlayStation 3

4: Game of the Nintendo Revolution

5: Gears of War

6: Sport

7: Enemy Territory - Quake Wars

8: BLACK

9: Elder Scrolls IV - Oblivion

10: Fight Night - Round 3

11: Neverwinter Nights 2

12: Company of Heroes

13: Okami

14: Huxley

15: Unreal Tournament 2007

16: Supreme Commander

17: Kingdom Hearts 2

18: Half-Life 2 - Aftermath

19: Hellgate - London

20: Splinter Cell - Double Agent

Source: www.gamespy.com, Feb. 17, 2006.

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