To play Halo 3 is to witness one's own death over and over again as in an out-of-body experience: flying through the air with arms flailing, slumped brokenly against a wall, floating face-down in gently lapping water, or tumbling down stairs like rag doll. The camera follows each uniquely nuanced death, lingering lovingly over the player's twitching corpse until his allotted time in purgatory is up and he can live again.
Just as in Groundhog Day the weather man wakes up unscathed after electrocuting himself in the bath, throwing himself off a bell tower, and driving into a ravine, so it is in the game. Dying so often, one becomes strangely indifferent to it.
You may think I'm not very good at this game. I choose 'Heroic' skill level, which roughly translates as hordes of enemies. Between lingering deaths, my most successful tactic is to cower behind any available cover, sniping at the enemy. The comedic manner in which the diminutive aliens waddle around and run in panic when routed makes this activity feel anything but heroic. Sometimes, larger adversaries stand as though mesmerised, inscrutable behind their iridescent helmet visors. Unable to restrain the destructive habit honed in every computer game since childhood, I squeeze my trigger and perish at once in a volley of return fire.
There is plenty of beauty in the scenery: misty shafts of sunlight, waterfalls gushing over rocks, fish and alien vegetation. Such reveries are invariably interrupted by - what else? - death. After saving humankind so many times, maybe I'm just tired of mowing down alien hordes. I think I'll give killing and dying a rest.