I'd like to say the Halo 4 release kind of snuck up on me and caught me off guard, but it didn't. I've been checking the timer almost daily as I watched the seconds and minutes tick off and the day counter slowly turn into hours. Now, as I sit here trying to hammer this blog out before I head out to the midnight release, I'm thinking about how much I don't know about the game. I've heard great things about it, but I know practically nothing about it, and that was intentional.

I've avoided any of the pre-release media and coverage. I love all things Halo and know I will love it, so why spoil anything by reading about it or watching trailers. There are some games, like Halo, where I prefer the first time I experience any of the content to be when I sit down and start playing the actual game.

(Admittedly, I have watched Forward Unto Dawn courtesy of Machinima, but that's about it.)

As ridiculous as this might sound, Halo is a primary staple in my house. My daughter is one of the best online players I have ever seen. I've watched her destroy the competition and catch flak from grown men who resort to name calling and accusations of cheating; my son and I have played through the campaign of every Halo game together on legendary. And we always, always, always go to the midnight releases, although there have been a couple of instances where we couldn't all go together. Someone was there...at least one of us...to support the game and get a hold of it at the earliest opportunity. One year my son was in the hospital with a ruptured appendix, and he insisted his sister and I go to the midnight release...so we did. But then my daughter, God bless her, waited a few days until he was released before she ever played it.

If you're interested, here is a blog I posted for the midnight release of Halo Reach.

This year isn't all that different. My son isn't in the hospital but he is at work. So here in a bit my daughter and I will be off to stand in line as we eagerly await our turn to pick up Halo 4. I'm more excited for this episode of Halo than any of the others. I'm not quite sure why. I've already heard about some of the reviews and things are sounding good, so maybe that's why. Or maybe it's because 343 Industries are the ones building it this time around, and I'm excited to see what they can do with the series. I suppose it could be because I think Halo 4 has a very real shot at being a Game of the Year contender. Could it be something far more simple...maybe it's just that I'm proud of my little gamer girl and the memories we have standing in line at midnight releases. Regardless of the reasons, and whether you're a fan of Halo or not, tonight is a big night for the video game industry and I'm excited to see how the game is received by gamers like you and me.

Timeline of Events:

2215 (10:15 PM) - Departed home base headed for the local GameStop with daughter in tow. The weather is a chilly 39 degrees, but it's a clear star filled night.

2230 (10:30 PM) - Arrive at GameStop. Surprisingly there is no line, and only a handful of cars in the parking lot. The lights are on in the store and there is some movement.

2232 (10:32 PM) - Enter the store to pay in advance; inquire about where the crowd and fun & festivities are. Receive number 55. Encouraged there are at least 54 others here with us. Disappointed no huge events but apparently it's too cold. Hah, lightweights. Also pre-ordered Black Ops II and will apparently get Nuke Town and some special avatar? Whatever, just give me the game...and Nuke Town.

2235 (10:35 PM) - Apparently Game Stop kept their doors open to the public after hours which is cool. There are about 20 fellow gamers milling about. Hey, look at that...they have a Wii-U set up. Crowd is too large to get a good look. Makes mental note to come back when less crowded.

2245 (10:45 PM) - Daughter calls friend and asks if he is coming to the midnight release. I hear her exclaim, "No Wyatt, don't be a Christmas noob...you're better than that." I chuckle. Apparently Wyatt decided to wait to get Halo 4 for Christmas.

2245'ish (10:45'ish PM) - Tweet with fellow Game Informer peeps including @mojomonkey_12, @Joyfulpenguin, @DarkeonWarlord, @indiejones84, @champion677_GIO, @StrangerGIO, @GI_Jolt815. Talk mostly about Halo, but also Bioshock. Gotta love Twitter.

2250 (10:50 PM) - Mention the Forward Unto Dawn series to my daughter, she has not heard of it. We sit in the car and watch the first three episodes. Its proof positive we need a Halo movie. This series is pretty good if you ask me.

2330 (11:30 PM) - The line starts forming outside of the Game Stop, so we quit on Episode 4 and go get in line. There are about 100 people in line, which is impressive considering it's late, it's cold, it's a Monday night and tomorrow is election day.

2335 (11:35 PM) - Overheard in line, "I'm so done with Call of Duty." After two bloggers wrote their Dear John letters and hearing this sort of response from fellow gamers, it will be interesting to see how well the game sells. Money talks...

2340 (11:40 PM) - See the Youth Pastor for the church we used to attend get in line...which is not uncommon, we've seen him at every midnight release we've ever been too. Cool guy.

2345 (11:45 PM) - GameStop employee is checking numbers. That's a good sign. Little kid in line behind me looks to be about 10 or 11. There are about a dozen underage kids in line. An older gentleman walks up to the kid, I'm assuming his father; the kid tells the man you have to be 18 to buy the game. The man says, "It's okay...I'm here." Not much the ESRB can do about that.

0001 (12:01 AM) - Line is moving. Yay.

0005 (12:05 AM) - Halo 4 is in hand. After the whole Bungie issue, didn't know if we would ever see another Halo. Daughter and I are very happy and I stop in the middle of the road to snap a pic of the game.

0007 (12:07 AM) - In the car and headed home. Daughter and I are jamming to John Cougar's Jack and Diane. We're about a half a mile from home and she calls her brother to tell him we'll be there soon (like 2 minutes, but I don't say anything). Ah, life is good.

0020 (12:20 AM) - Arrive home and run inside. Start unpacking the game. I don't know if new games have a "smell" like new cars do, but as I tear the cellophane away and remove the security label, I can't help but feel like they do. And it smells like freedom.

0025 (12:25 AM) - Halo 4 comes on 2 discs and it takes a few minutes to get online. There is a small patch that has to be downloaded and installed, which further delays the process briefly, but really not that big of deal.

0030 (12:30 AM) - Game on. Halo 4 is beautiful - it looks amazing and sounds amazing. Son and daughter are happy and daughter is already mowing down the competition as she adjusts to the new game mechanics. Pulls down a couple second and third place finishes, but I'm sure she'll be topping the charts in no time.

And with that...I think it's time for me to get to bed. I'll be blogging about the game more soon enough, but honestly I probably won't get to the single player campaign until this weekend. Until then...

Good games!