The Halo Fanbase runs a severe risk of suffering from an overdose of advanced hype for the upcoming title that will cap the franchise. The amount of information being released about this game is almost dizzying. As a gamer, it’s hard to keep up. As a blogger, it’s almost impossible to comment.
The marketing machine for the Bungie/Microsft industrial complex is in overdrive. They are a racecar running in the red. They are a mushroom cloud laying mother… well, you know.
When do these people sleep?
While we sit and wait for our pre-orders to arrive, wave after wave of sneak previews [some official, some not] spill over us like so many aftershocks from an E3 Tsunami. If its not press from a junket overseas, it’s another Neil Blokamp short. If it’s not a walkthrough of some place called Tsavo Highway, it’s bootlegged scans of a magazine that we should really be purchasing.
What agenda drives all of this? Does The Maker not know that Halo 3 is a guaranteed line around the block? Or is the Master Chief being front-lined to finish the fight of the console wars as well? Whatever the priorities, it is good to be a Halo Fan this week.
This smorgasbord of views and reviews is a dangerous proposition, however. If one were to consume everything that was being served up to us on a daily basis, their risk of becoming spoiled escalates like a rocket upon liftoff. All of this information can go a long way towards ruining a Christmas morning. Even worse, it can provoke our imaginations to conceive an idea as to what Halo 3 is, having not played it first-hand.
Take the following field report, for example. A TTL Gunslinger ‘tagged L Askan stood in line for hours to enjoy the IMAX demonstration in Seattle. You may remember him from his Halo 3 Beta Combat Montage. Check out his reactions to a live demo of what awaits us all…
They started the presentation off with a run through of the third level in the game Tsavo Highway mentioning that this was the first level where you really get to drive vehicles. The beginning of this level is sort of a staging area, dark and even a bit scary. Frankie and Luke Smith loaded two hogs with marines and got on the road.
I can say with great certainty that the graphics in the Beta were NOT finished or polished. The second that the two hogs broke out into the sunlight I was floored. FLOORED. This game is Beautiful. Gorgeous. So real it was unreal. I thought for a second of the parallel to the second GRAW…until I saw the first squadron of Brutes and Grunts. Let me back up and say that the boys were playing on Heroic and you could tell that this is the level of difficulty you’re going to want to play the game on if you’ve played Halo before.
You know what I hate? Jackal snipers. They are back and deadly as ever. Luke and Frankie had dismounted their hogs when some of their marine counterparts took dirt-naps and loaded up together. At one point a jackal sniper hit whichever one of them was gunning while they were moving at a pretty good clip.
I got my first look at some of the new pieces of equipment, like the Flash Grenade. If you are looking at one of these when it detonates, your screen goes white for about a second and a half then slowly fades back to gameplay as your “eyesight” adjusts. I saw the flamethrower. If you do end up as flambé your attacker will get the added bonus of a new medal, the Incineration medal.
The Gauss hog will be back in H3. I was nervous that I’d lose my favorite gun after playing the Beta and seeing how overpowering a good hog team can be. One good hog run could easily turn the tide of a big team game in the beta, and with everyone still working out the new counter measures it may be a bit before we adjust and strike the new balance Bungie is looking for.
Tsavo Highway was expansive, Just the sheer scale was something to behold. Every time I thought “wow that was big”, they’d turn another corner to reveal another giant encounter. I was impressed. They didn’t complete the level, but they showed us more than the first group as a reward for waiting in line so long.
Pssst…I saw 9 multiplayer maps in the menu.
After the campaign demonstration they got into showing us some of the new Forge mode. Wow. This is the ultimate in game customization. The only thing you really can’t do is change map geometry. Besides that, you’re free to do just about anything. Don’t like where something spawns? Put it somewhere else, take it off the map- even replace it, it’s all up to you. You can even put teleporters on the maps. The way it works is that you hit up on the D pad and your Spartan model turns into a monitor who can flay freely around the map, using a “budget” for equipment. This budget ensures that you don’t try and put 10 scorpions on snowbound or some other potential game “breaker”.
After giving us a taste of Forge Frankie and the boys closed things up nicely with a saved films demonstration. If you think what you saw in the Beta was cool you’re going to be blown away. The machinima implications alone are unfathomable right now. All information is saved as game information, meaning that anyone who downloads one of your films is not limited to your system specifications. Read: Your junky TV picture won’t be how I see a film. The Dolby 5.1 positional holds even in freeze frame- so if you pause and zoom around the level you can hear real time battle sounds at any position on the map. You will have the option of looking at them through player POV, or detaching the camera and flying freely around the map, or you can detach the camera and lock it to a player so that it holds a vertical and horizontal axis around the player. Not only is this going to change machinima to near movie quality shots and angles but anyone out there looking to make a montage should be foaming at the mouth to learn this function.
I’m purposely leaving out some other things I saw, in the weapons and vehicles category especially, because you’re going to want to find out about some of these things yourself. Take my word on this.
Halo 3 pwns your soul.
What? Halo 3 will own my soul? What does one do with a comment like that? Does that mean that Halo 3 will be my God?
No game can live up to this much hype. Or can it? This gamer is going into full press-blackout mode. Preconceived notions about what a game is – or should be – can be a terrible thing. I want to experience Halo 3 for what it is…
When the disc spins in my tray for the first bout, the last thing I want is to be confronted with discrepancies between what I see, and what rumor or conjecture suggested I would see.
Time to lock it down. Time to tune it out. See you in September.
Until then, there must be one or two war stories left to be eked out of Halo 2 – if for no other reason than old-times sake.