Rare v Bungie: Humpday Challenge
It all started back in January. Two long months ago, Hey Ernie sent round an ordinary looking email with the casual question “is anyone up for some Humpday action, then?”
Using some contacts in Bungie’s Testing department, he had managed to secure ourselves a slot on their weekly show of strength, the Humpday Challenge; where the creators of Halo 3 invite teams along to take them on at their own game, only to crush them with a random and bizarre match type if things aren’t going their way.
And so it began. A team was assembled, practise was organised and since the start of the year our lunchtimes have been dedicated to creating the well drilled, slick machines of death that stand before you now.
As the clock hit 1700 hours (UNSC time) on March 5th, we congregated in Testing knowing that the time for practise was over and the reputation of Rare was at stake.
The timer counted down; the screen faded from black; and we were off…
Game 1: Team BR on Guardian
As guests of Bungie, we got to choose the first map. Not wanting anything too open or with too many power weapons where we could get severely caught out, we picked Guardian.
Starting at the sniper’s end, we immediately hunkered down as a barrage of grenades hit us from the opposite end. It was a very tentative start as we all tried to figure out just what exactly we had gotten ourselves into.
Bungie opened up an early three point lead but the battle moved back and forth across the map with Rare always remaining in touching distance. Our policy was to take an area and apply strength in numbers to hold it, which seemed to be serving us well.
As a twist on normal Team BR, we had exchanged all powerups and snipers for fire bombs. Whilst initially met with mixed reactions, it did prove for some interesting play as they were thrown down for defensive barriers and also created classic Kodak moments as those with the flaming helmets got warm elsewhere, too.
Although we felt we were competitive throughout, with the finishing post in sight and us pushing to claw back the handful of points’ difference, Bungie opened up a commanding lead and took the game by nine points.
Game 2: MLG Team Slayer on Pit
Next up was Bungie’s choice and they set us down in a map we are very familiar with but where all the objects had been moved, causing a very few disorientating minutes.
Again they brought the fight to us and the battle raged around the centre of the map and around the base of our starting tower for the majority of the game.
The lack of radar proved both a blessing and a curse as it allowed you to both sneak around and be snuck upon. On more than one occasion a stalemate was broken as the aggressors were suddenly caught in a hail of crossfire and grenades.
Our team held together well, looking for the high ground advantage and supporting each other superbly, allowing us to always be in contention; at the forty point mark, only two kills separated the teams.
However, once again Bungie stretched their legs and sprinted for the line, winning the game and leaving us with no chance of a series victory.
Game 3: Team Rockets on Construct
We were now in a bit of a quandary. Not only was the series lost but we had also planned to close out on the Pit. A quick brainstorm later and we opted for something, silly, fun and explosive: Team Rockets.
An intentionally enclosed map was chosen to add more spice to the mix and from the off Bungie seemed to having trouble. At one point their score was -1 as Sancho took exception to something Master must have said.
Unfortunately for them, that was a sign of things to come and as soon and as we hit double figures we eased away from the Americans.
To put simply, it was carnage. Bodies of both colours lay everywhere and were buffeted over and over from the waves of explosions that rocked the installation.
Amidst the shriek of shells we notched up the win, taking it by almost a Steak Dinner and a half by the end.
Yes, we lost, but we went down fighting and we did the golden ‘R’ of Rare proud. They have seen off better men than us and to walk away with even a single round to our name means our heads are held high.
Plus, if we’re being cheeky, we edged it 185 to 172 on aggregate…
…which I’m not. I fear the flaming head of retribution.