Microsoft and 343 Industries have shown consistent care and good taste in their handling of the first post-Bungie installment of the Halo franchise, and should be commended for it. The lavishly produced Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn live-action web series – the final installment of which released just today – has been warmly received, Halo 4′s Spartan Ops campaign offers a total of 50 downloadable co-op missions for free, and the game itself is a marvel (read our Halo 4 review).
Unfortunately, that sterling record now sports an unsightly, if inconsequential, blemish: Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled by Mountain Dew, a free “location-based promotional game” presented by “Mountain Dew and Doritos – in partnership with 7-Eleven, Xbox, 343 Industries, and Ogmento.” Too bad none of them bothered to look up the correct spelling of the word “fueled.”
Available right now from Apple’s App Store, Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled by Mountain Dew tasks players with visiting 7-Eleven Stores and scanning “Halo 4 themed Mountain Dew and Doritos products” in order to unlock rewards in Halo 4. Up for grabs are “Double XP matches, an exclusive Halo 4 Theme, a ‘Bulletproof’ Emblem, and a ‘Locus’ Helmet (US Only) or Ghost Prop Avatar (Canada only)!”
Once they’ve registered and “deployed,” players will find themselves on a wire-frame map of their neighborhood, with any nearby 7-Eleven stores (“Hills”) clearly marked. Those “Hills” can be attacked remotely until players have used up their “Supplies” (a single attack will do it), after which a trip to the store to scan items – thereby restocking said “Supplies” – is in order. Players can also “Scavenge” for “Supplies,” which translates into waiting anywhere from 20 minutes to 12 hours for them to regenerate. Of course, “Hills” can also be directly attacked while players are actually in the appropriate 7-Eleven Store – direct attacks do more damage than remote attacks, and are presented as the player firing at a Spartan surrounded by a glowing shield.
Predictably, there are opportunities for players to involve their friends in all this nonsense – you’ll get a “50% Supply bonus when they Register!” says the app – along with Leaderborads, in-app Achievements and Medals (I managed to earn “First Strike” at my local store, only because no one else had played there yet).
To be fair, Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled by Mountain Dew is not irredeemably offensive, and die-hard Halo fanatics will probably appreciate the bonuses that can be earned, though they’d best be prepared to invest a fair amount of time in the pursuit. Scanning Doritos and Mountain Dew to restock “Supplies” can only be done once an hour, and it’ll take many, many hours of “Scavenging” and remote attacks to be crowned “King” of any given “Hill.”
That said, the whole enterprise is just kind of dumb and disheartening. Halo 4 is as prestigious a project as video games are apt to deliver this year – our Awards Season movie, if you will. Gamers get enough bad press, and are subject to enough unflattering, inaccurate stereotypes (fat, lazy, unkempt, never go outside, wouldn’t know how to get a date if his/her life depended on it) as it is – do we really need to reinforce those views by standing around convenience stores, pointing our phones at tortilla chips and heavily caffeinated soft drinks? Is that how 343 Industries wants the public at large to think of Halo fans?
Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled by Mountain Dew is available now from the Apple App Store.
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