Tag Archives: halo-2

Halo 3: Recon

Bungie has finally “dropped a trailer”:http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=ournextgame for their latest reveal – an expansion (presumably) for Halo 3 set during events between Halo 2 and Halo 3. Our new hero is an ODST(Orbital Dropshock Trooper), alone in Covenant-occupied New Mombasa.

Two things about this trailer video really fascinate me, both with regard to the city-governing AI, the Superintendent. The first is the level of expressiveness in the Super’s reactions. The icon the Super uses to represent itself is simply a circle with two eyes, and yet that is enough to convey a wide array of feelings with respect to events taking place within its city. Most of the expressions are flashed across the screen almost faster than you can catch them without slowing the video down, but it’s well worth taking the time to focus on them for a few moments, since a lot about the Super’s personality can be derived for those glimpses.

The second that’s fascinating is watching the Super’s process for gleaning information about the drop pod. The Super attempts to identify from its civilian database the vehicle on its crash approach, and when it fails to do so, it accesses the UNSC database and makes a positive ID. From there, you can almost see the Super switch gears as it elevates both its awareness and priority level for the drop pod’s passenger as it begins to use the city signs to guide the ODST to some, as-yet unknown destination.

As always with Bungie content, there is a lot hidden in the trailer for attentive viewers to puzzle out. Already I’m looking forward to next fall and seeing this new expansion.

Machine Enema

Mike Rouse – a.k.a. sodaGod – is the man. He is _el capitan_ of Machine Enema, a Halo-based “machinima”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machinima group. Of all the machinima producers out there right now, Machine Enema produces the best quality movies. Mike has written a number of really solid stories and then translates those into video that, quite simply, sparkles like none other. He introduces a number of ambient effects to give his movies a very unique feel. It’s often difficult to find good voice talent for machinima, but Mike has managed to land a number of excellent voice actors. Heck, Mike even does half the voices in most of his movies himself.

spartans.gifOne of my favorite series currently is PIE. It’s about three super-enhanced warriors, one of which become possessed by a malevolent AI. It’s up to one of these warriors – ADAM – to stop him before he can destroy everything. There are four-and-a-half chapters available in this series at the moment. The chapter titled “Pestilence” falls between Chapters 2 and 3 and provides an alternate viewpoint. The… ‘half-chapter’ is titled Omicron and falls in as something of a prequel to the series. “Omicron” may actually be my favorite of the bunch, ironically _because_ it’s short yet tells a lot of story in short order. It _is_ required, however, to have seen the prior four chapters before watching Omicron; it doesn’t make quite as much sense without having that context.

I love Mike’s scripts – they’re always funny and witty while at the same time being powerful and moving. I can’t wait to see if he produces any more chapters in this series. He’s also running a series called Jungle Trigonometry, which seems to be something along the lines of a series of stream-of-consciousness explorations. It’s very, very random and strange. It’s not really my cuppatea, but I have to admit that there is a certain level of artistic beauty to the sketches that makes them enjoyable.

Gaming On a Whole New Level

xbox-logo.jpgThe Xbox 360 is just simply amazing. Last night was the first time I’ve ever really had the chance to sit down and explore my way through the new dashboard and see all the available features. I was awed. It’s sleek, trim, and sharp and miles better than what the original Xbox can do.

First order of business was getting all the equipment set up. Piece of cake. Then it was time to login and connect to Xbox Live. A quick update and I was ready for account recovery. Done in a wink. Then another update, change the gamertag (appending a TTL to the front of my tag), toss Halo 2 in the tray, download _those_ updates, download the maps to the hard drive, download a final update, and we’re in business. And let me just say, I noticed a definite improvement. Not only were the graphics more crisp and clean, making it a _lot_ easier to spot a Spartan on the other side of the map with just a glance, but my gameplay was better than it’s been in weeks.

xbox360.jpgI’ve had a theory about this for a few weeks now. I think those of us who still played Halo on an original Xbox were at a bit of a disadvantage to those who played on a 360. For starters, the processor speeds are different. The 360 can render and process the game much more quickly than the original can – and that’s part of the point of having the three processing cores in the 360. Trouble is, the original Xbox then has a hard time keeping up, resulting, I think, in increasing lag times – and in any FPS game, lag is a definite detriment. Add to this the fact that the graphics are better on a 360, thus giving those players a slight advantage just on the level of visibility. Faster spotting times means faster reaction times – and it made a big difference in the way I played last night. Then there are the recent Xbox Live updates of recent weeks, which have, I suspect, favored the 360. These three factors taken together leave me suspicious that the original Xbox is now far too outdated for Live performance to allow those still ‘stuck’ with that console to continue to be competitive. Could be I’m wrong about all this, of course, but I think I’m at least close.

I only messed with my 360 for about an hour last night, outside of all the initial installations and upgrades, but already I find myself addicted. There are demos I want to download, the arcade to try out, videos to watch, and much more. My inner geek is going, “Whee!”

Good Things

The end of my day can’t get here soon enough to suit me. I’m about fit to split. Energy. Excitement. Enthusiasm. All those and more. Two reasons why I’m eager to leave the office today:

# My piano gets tuned tonight – finally. I can’t wait to hear how much better it sounds once all the strings actually resonate with their true frequencies (or at least as close as we can get them). I’ll be much more likely to sit down and play on a regular basis after it doesn’t hurt to listen. It’s amazing just how much an out-of-tune piano can turn even the most avid player away until things are set to right again.
# At long last I’ll be acquiring my Xbox 360. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor (whose namelessness is driving me batty), I can now join the ranks of Halo 2 (and soon, Halo 3) players on the killing fields in higher resolution. It’s rumored that there’s water on Warlock. I aim to see it.

I can’t wait. 5:00 is so far away…

Tombstone and Desolation

The fans speak, and “Bungie delivers”:http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=certainaffinitymaps. Word came down today that on April 17, two new Halo 2 multiplayer maps go live for download. Initially, talk was that Microsoft was going to release these new maps as Xbox 360 exclusives, an announcement that fans responded to with a great deal of animosity. Bungie quickly stepped up and said they would go to bat for their fans and urge Microsoft to release the maps to everyone with an Xbox Live Gold account.

Personally, I think Microsoft made a wise and fair decision in releasing these maps to everyone who owns Halo 2. It would have been “patently unfair”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/03/20/matchmaking-new-halo-2-maps-and-you/ to release them any other way. The two maps – “Tombstone”:http://www.certainaffinity.com/images/screenshots/tombenv_11.jpg, which is a remake of Hang ’em High, and “Desolation”:http://www.certainaffinity.com/images/screenshots/derenv05.jpg, which is a remake of Derelict – are maps I never got to experience in Halo: Combat Evolved. I’m pumped about being able to finally play these two popular maps and try them out in Spartan-vs-Spartan combat.

Good choice, Microsoft, and thanks for loving your customers so much, Bungie! We owe you one!

“Master Chief, Give Me Some Room”

It pains me to do it, but I’m putting Halo 2 up on a shelf for a while. My gameplay the last several weeks has been nothing short of frustrating, and I’m afraid that I’m just not having fun with it right now. I don’t really know what happened, why my head isn’t in the game these days, why I can’t seem to do even the most rudimentary things without it resulting in my dying. A lot. But I can’t, and I’m not, so Master Chief is going to have to wait on me for at least a couple of weeks while I try to cool off, calm down, and remember why it is I love this game. Maybe a hiatus will do me good.

I don’t plan to give up my Friday nights on Live with the guys; I just think we’ll have to play something else for a week or two – _Splinter Cell_ or _Rainbow Six 3_ or something else. There _are_ other games out there – I just tend to ignore them in favor of Halo 2.

I won’t completely be on a Halo 2 dry spell – there are a couple of events coming up in which I’ll be participating. But I’m hoping that I’ll play better and enjoy it more if I _don’t_ play Halo on my regular Friday evenings.

We’ll see how things go. Halo 2 is still my favorite game for the Xbox, probably always will be. I just need some space for a while.

Matchmaking, New Halo 2 Maps, and You

This just seems remarkably unfair:

FyreWulff pointed out a thread on Bungie.net discussing the new Halo 2 maps coming out soon – Jeremiah mentioned that these maps would likely be incorporated in a significant number of playlists – and (at least at this point in the developments) those playlists would no longer be available to people playing on the original Xbox.

This is, of course, a Microsoft decision. If Bungie had their way, everyone who had already purchased Halo 2 and had an Xbox Live account would also have access to these new maps – and they’re going to work to see if there is any way to make such a thing happen. But I’m annoyed and a little angry that Microsoft continually tries to shaft their customers this way. I can understand and appreciate their desire to get as many Xbox owners to upgrade to an Xbox 360 as possible – they understandably want to make as much money as possible. ((And it’s not like we don’t _want_ to upgrade; it’s just that for some of us, the cost of a 360 is still prohibitively expensive.)) And I can appreciate that we, as consumers, don’t actually deserve to get new maps for free; heck, I’m willing to _pay_ for the new maps. But I do believe it’s terribly unfair to single out Xbox owners from being able to get these maps just because they’re Xbox owners who haven’t been able to upgrade yet.

I’m really hoping that Bungie is able to talk some sense into the powers-that-be at Microsoft to actually make these maps available for everyone. We who love Halo 2 so much want to experience every aspect of the game. This is especially true for those of us in “specific communities”:http://tiedtheleader.com who will end up being left behind on some of these matchmaking lists if it turns out that we won’t be able to acquire these maps.

It’s just another way that Microshaft is trying to take it to their customers by punishing them for not purchasing certain of their products. It’s bad market sense, it’s bad public relations, and it’s a terrible way to keep your customers happy. Here’s hoping they repent of this decision, but I’m not holding my breath waiting on it.