Seven seems like such a long time ago - a distant memory, filled with slow movement, poor weapon selection and general n00bish behaviour.
No longer - now that I am rated nine on Halo 2.
It hasn't taken too long either, which is good. What isn't is that I have now seen, and been on the receiving end of, people with a dirty, bulging 15 next to their obscure gamertag. These people are to be feared. When one appears at the top of the rating table for an eight player slayer rumble pit optimatch, it's probably best to accept defeat before the game has begun.
Bungie's rating system is a curious beast. They have detailed the workings on their website, but it's more complicated than finding your way around Future Publishing's hallowed walls. What is clear is that you get major points for finishing above people rated higher than you. Which is fair enough.
I managed to get to nine after a game stopped halfway through because of a loss of connection. My impatient opponents quit while I, clinging on to a faint hope, stayed. When it re-initialised, I automatically won, beating many with a higher rating than me who had pissed off.
It's fascinating to experience the various peaks and troughs of demand for the game. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the game struggled to find me enough players for a rumble pit game. Obviously the entire world was reading The Mail on Sunday over a Sunday roast.
Try any evening during the week and it's busier than Meadowhall at Christmas. And full of American pre-pubescants who are better than me.
Nothing like the feeling post-game, when a balanced selection of players have fought to the bitter end though. I had a game recently on Ascension where I finished one kill behind the leader. Bottom place was two behind me. It was one of the most adrenaline pumping, life affirming ten minutes I've had with a joypad. Cries of 'good game' afterwards fill the soul with a sense of camaraderie you just don't get in single-player games.
It's what online gaming was invented for.
Tell you what though, 25's must play Halo 2 online like God would. I'd love to see them in action, and would probably keep crouching/standing in a vain attempt at showing some freakish respect.
And then die.