November 27, 2012

Destiny's game summarised in a nutshell

Following the release of an official picture of Bungie's Destiny game, here's the leaked description of the game. It apparently features Knights, aliens and space ships so sounds like a Star Wars knock off ;)

"Our story begins seven hundred years from now in the Last City on Earth, in a Solar System littered with the ruins of man’s Golden Age. A massive, mysterious alien ship hangs overhead like a second Moon. No one knows where it came from or what it’s here for, but only that it’s our protector," the document states. "Meanwhile, strange, alien monsters creep in from the edge of the universe, determined to take Earth and the Last City. We are young ‘knights’ tasked with defending the remains of humanity, discovering the source of these monsters and -- eventually -- overcoming it.”

Destiny's first official concept art released by Bungie

destiny by bungie

After a long, long wait Bungie has finally revealed an official conceptual art of their new game, Destiny. This was in response to a leak to IGN who appeared to receive a whole lot of information about the game from someone associated with an advertising agency.

Sounds like behind the scenes work to promote Bungie's first game since Halo: Reach is starting to happen.

Bungie have not yet official revealed that Destiny exists but have been giving unsubtle winks all year.

Here's some more pictures of Destiny that were released to IGN, showing some characters next to a space jet of some kind, an overrun building of some kind and some kind of satellite object hoevering over a city of some kind.

Leaked concept art from Destiny
destiny forest screen shot
Concept art leak?


This is what the Master Chief looks like in Halo 4

This is what the Master Chief looks like in Halo 4

First as a child:

Second as a middle aged Man (as featured in the Legendary ending of the game):

master chief face

November 19, 2012

The best ways to take down a Promethean Knight

take down a halo 4 knight

The best ways to take down a Promethean Knight from Halo 4 and 5 and 6

It's my humble opinion that never has the Halo universe faced a foe that is so difficult to take down as a Promethean Knight. 

My take is that basically the Knights are the new “Elite” for the Halo franchise but have magical transportation powers and dude that hovers over their shoulder with a light shield when things get a bit too heavy. 

Did I mention they also an auto sentry just to add into the mix?

Playing Halo 4 and 5 can be quite daunting on Heroic and Legendary modes, particularly near the end of the campaign where Knight numbers seem to crank up.

If you’re the kind of player that likes to stand their ground and kill everything in sight, here’s some tips on taking out the Knights.

Up Close and Personal

The scattershot is a wonder weapon. Three or four well place shots with the scattershot will likely turn your foe into a cloud of yellow digital ash. Shotguns are nearly as effective. The drawback is that Knights have a melee that make’s a Hunter’s melee feel like a soothing Thai massage.

Fear the Pink Mist

In what almost feels like a cheap shot, a well-placed volley of pink mist will drop the shields of a Knight very well. A follow up death shot with a Light Rifle or BR will finish the job.

Light Rifles and other comparable weapons.

A barrage of light rifle headshots will eventually take out the Knight. Having a BR to add more firepower is almost crucial.  To make an effective use of this strategy, your shots must be head shots other wise it will take forever to kill your foe.

A combo of a pistol and a light rifle is pretty useful too – a fully charged plasma blast will help lower Ivanhoe’s shields, leaving you free to follow up with a headshot from your BR or Light Rifle.

And so I creep

Sneaking up on an enemy to land a melee punch to the back of the next is a classic Halo move. You can apply this to the Knight by firmly holding down the RB button and you will be rewarded with a pretty cool assassination animation. You could also try using a Halogram* to trick the Knight by drawing his attention, thus giving you an opportunity to creep up and go all Black Hawk on his ass.

There are plenty of other ways to take kill Promethean knights, the above tips and tricks are just a few of the ways you can take them down efficiently. Using grenades and some of the other weapons in the sand box are options. 

I find a well-placed rail gun blast to the body of a Knight very satisfying. 

You can always use the sword as well!

* that was a typo which I've left in as a terrible pun. 

November 15, 2012

Jack costume from the Mass Effect series


Pretty good version of Jack, AKA Subject Zero from Mass Effect. As found at Aicosu.

Do your fans right, and they'll do you right

The success of a game can seemingly depend on pitching things right, not alienating fans and feeding your gaming community.

You might have heard how a dude who made Fallout Posters had the lawyers sicked on him when he seemingly breached an IPR right. That kind of response can turn the fan love off in a second but this post is really about two examples of game producers doing in right.

This week Bioware responded to the story of Mass Effect 2 being accidentally included with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II:

"Rumor has it that about a thousand customers who purchased Call of Duty: Black Ops II for PC today were also treated to a surprise copy of Mass Effect 2. If you were one of the affected, chances are you thought it was a mistake, but we prefer to think that it was an omen, and when the universe talks, you should listen.

If the universe thinks that you should be playing Mass Effect right now, who are we to argue? In fact, we want to help! The first fifty fans affected by this phenomenon to send us a picture holding their special disc 2 will receive a code for a FREE PC copy of Mass Effect Trilogy.”

Bioware is of course well aware how the fans react when things get screwed up so that’s a pretty cool way of front footing an issue. The cynic in me wonders if the inclusion of Mass Effect was accidental so a bit of promotion could be made for the Mass Effect trilogy... 

The second example is a Halo related one from Microsoft / 343 Studios is a pretty good Halo fan site, so named for the vessel that harboured the Master Chief at the end of Halo 3. When it came time to promote Halo 4 and the internet film named Forward Unto Dawn, one could have imagined 343 Industries were tempted to claim some kind of IPR right* over that website url. They didn't and instead they went in massively with the promotion of Forward Unto Dawn which meant that the fan site received a massive amount of publicity - and that's keeping with the Halo spirit developed by Bungie so clearly 343 have taken that mantle on board very well.

I think these two examples are really cool actions by the producers and other game makers will do well to heed the examples. This writer figures fans will respond and respect such moves - everyone recognizes the business is about making money but carrying yourself in an honest and decent manner will work wonders - especially if you're looking for repeat customers.

*I haven’t checked but I doubt any one from Microsoft or Bungie trademarked the phrase 'Forward Unto Dawn’ when producing Halo 3. 

November 12, 2012

A catch 22 if there ever was one

Win indeed. I nearly always play matchmaking on mute. 

November 10, 2012

We thought it was important this was posted

bs angel halo 343 industries
BS Angel
This would be BS Angel from 343 Industries and she appears to be doing the Mister Chief?

Who does the voice of Sarah Palmer from Halo 4's Spartan Operations?


Who does the voice of Sarah Palmer from Halo 4 and 5's Spartan Operations?

It took me until the second mission of Spartan Operations to realise that the voice actress for Spartan Sarah Palmer was none other than Jennifer Hale who many Mass Effect fans will know as the voice of Commander Sheppard, or "femshep' for those in the know.

I find it difficult to reconcile the hard edge toned of Hale's spartan with the soft face of Sarah. They just din't seem to match. What do you think?

The character of Sarah Palmer has a minor role in the Halo 4 campaign and a slightly bigger one in Halo 5 - here's her vital statistics:

One of the first recruits into the Office of Naval Intelligence’s SPARTAN-IV project, Sarah Palmer had already been a marine for over a decade, garnering twelve tours of duty across eight different worlds, much of that time spent as a lieutenant in command of others.

Due to her physical prowess, her innate leadership, and her unquestioned loyalty to the UNSC, despite an upbringing by two embittered colonial parents, Palmer was an obvious choice for the program. Now she’s the commanding officer of all Spartans on Infinity, providing seasoned and battle-hardened expertise on the field.
veddette lim halo model plamer

Sarah Palmer is modelled on actress Veddette Lim perhaps best well known for her turn in the television show, True Blood.

November 9, 2012

Halo 4 reviewed - it's great!

The Big Green Guy
Halo 4. You may have heard of it?

Despite Halo being illegal to sale on opening day in New Zealand, I'd managed to get a copy in the morning of launch day and proceeded to play it over the next three nights on the normal setting.

No disrespect to the makers of the prior Halo games Bungie, Halo 4 is the game that Halo: Reach should have been, that is to say a direct continuation of the story that was 'finished' in Halo 3. And why do I say that? Because Halo is about the Master Chief and this is a Halo game!

The gist of Halo 4 is the Master Chief has found himself on a planet of Forerunner design where an entity known as the Didact is pretty darn keen to destroy humanity and it's up to John117 and his rampant companion, Cortana to save the universe one more time.

The opening vignette is a bold statement by 343 Industries. Featuring Dr Halsey being interrogated or interviewed (depending on your point of view as she's handcuffed) by an unknown agent seemingly intent on getting some unknown truth out of her about the Spartan programme and the Master Chief. 

It's one of the most foreboding starts to a Halo game ever presented, bringing a story angle that's only ever been addressed in the wider Halo universe via novels and firmly places the context of the game as being about John117. It's also 343 saying, "hey, we can do the most amazing animation that's ever been done for an Xbox game!". If the Xbox 360 is nearing the end of it's life then may it's death be swift so that all future games can look this good!

Plot wise, Halo 4 is pretty simple in that it's just a race around the park trying to figure out how to stop the Diadact, saving a few soldiers here and there, taking down a Covenant armada there and battling the Promethean army (which turn out to be some kind of enslaved humans), oh and hunting down the Diadact. 

It was nice to meet the Librarian after learning about her on the Forerunner novels. 

The Librarian
One thing that puzzled me and I'm sure to figure it out on a second run through is why the so called Covenant Zealots had come to Requiem, unless I missed something it was explained too well.

The mechanics of Halo as we know it are all there - the meelee, the grunts with useless aim, grenades, DMR headshots and the new and improved assassination from behind are extremely fun to get back into.

Some of the set pieces were quite brilliant - very late in the game we visit a Halo installation where we have to hold of a significant push by the Covenant using a Mantis. It's epic and will challenge any seasoned Halo player on the Legendary setting and serves an example that the new makers of Halo know a thing or two about making video games.

For this player, the graphics are the true highlight of the game. Video cut scenes are brilliant, Cortana and the Chief are amazingly drawn characters. Cortana has been given a vibrant feel (she's well acted too by Jen Taylor) and the Chief's verdant greens are a stand out  You may recall level Sierra 117 from Halo 3 were the Chief runs through a forest to save Johnson. The forests in this iteration of Halo makes that level look like it was done in crayon by a blind person. It's just marvellous.

To promote Halo 4 a whole lot of concept art was released and it was simply fantastic to walk around a corner and boom - there were the structures and ideas that had been my desktop screen come to life in game.

The music of the game was pretty cool. To repeat the original Halo themes without Marty O'Donnell at the helm would probably have been a mistake so 343 Industries went with Neil Davidge who has produced some excellent music which did a fine job of setting a new tone for the franchise. At times I felt the music I was listening to was the sound of the planet Reqiuem such was the wonderful atmosphere it helped generate. I hope Davidge gets to go another round on Halo as I think he's quite good.,

I think Halo 3 is my favourite Halo game as it came out at the apex of my Halo multiplayer mania and it 'finished the fight'. This new Halo is probably the best Halo thus far in the sense that every previous element or mechanism that I came across in game has been improved apon, the graphics are amazing and the Master Chief has been made into a real character with a touch of humanity about him as opposed to the automaton that he arguably was in say Halo 2.

The ending of the game features a awesome trench run of sorts in a Broad Sword, a game of hide and seek and an ending that had a touch of tragedy about it and the moment when that occurs is arguably the defining moment of who the Master Chief really is.

One can only wonder what will be in store for the Big Green Guy - there's a lot of Covenant still out there and that planet Requiem sure was interesting......

November 6, 2012

From Tiger to Destiny by way of Demonware

Click in the image for the big picture. 

It's being hailed as a massive leak but it's not really. It's a post from some dude who works for a firm called Demonware who got to attended Bungie Day and hear all about the new Destiny game.

There's no real specifics here, everything is mentioned in a broad, passing sense.

Still, Bungie will be pissed this kind of thing was disclose, probably in breach of an NDA.

November 4, 2012

How to use the Sword in Halo 4

halo elite spartan sword

How to successfully use the Sword in Halo 4

Halo CE taunted us very early on when that game's Elites could strike us down with an energy sword but the Chief could never get his hands it as it disintegrated when dropped by an Elite. Fans wanted to use it and badly. Halo 2 thus let people have the chance to slice and dice their opponents and the Halo multiplayer universe hasn't been the same since.

The sword can be a wonder weapon to use if you do it right. Here's some pro tips on how to successfully use the Halo 4 Covenant in multiplayer and rack up some nice kills.
  • Players move faster with Sprint by default, they assume they can just run at opponents and kill them with the lunge from far away. This is a mistake, Halo multiplayer is a hotbed of any thing can happen. 
  • You still need to be ninja like with the sword. In close quarters and confined places it is your friend. Use it to blind side players in those tight spots and corners.
  • When Boy Scouts go camping, they take a knife with them. Same can apply in Halo - when camping, a sword in your back pocket can be quite useful for when an enemy chances upon you.
  • A sword lunge can be parried with a sword melee. If you deliver a melee successfully, you will then be able to lunge immediately after your melee, getting the jump on your attacker.
  • In consideration of the above, the sword has an important change from the prior Halo games which allows to swing much faster than it has in the past which eliminates uwanted parries. This means you have to be on your game when faced with a savy opponent
  • Normally when sprinting with normal weapons, if an opponent shoot you, the shots will slow you down a touch. A sword wielding player is immune to this so there's an advantage to be exploited.
  • Remember to keep an eye on your sword's energy level - you don't want to be caught with an uncharged sword as basically you'd be slapping your opposition with a feather duster which is fine if you like being tea bagged.
This isn't the be all and end all of the sword. Post Game Lobby suggests you experiment with the weapon yourself and learn its secrets as you go.....

November 3, 2012

Halo's 'Forward Unto Dawn' Reviewed

Here's my review of the Forward Unto Dawn Series done piecemeal as I watched each episode. 

The verdict? It's good Halo, but not great Halo.

Episode One in which I'm reminded of the expression great grey green greasy Limpopo river

So I finally had a chance to watch the first episode of Forward Unto Dawn. Colour me underwhelmed. Cliched, slow and way too much teenage agnst. Oooh my mum doesn't love me, my brother's probably dead  and the hot chick is just, well hot.

Loved the production values, the grey / green tone that permeated and everything. I really enjoyed seeing the General turn up in a Warthog.

Overall, it did however simply feel like a very expensive fan made home movie, Frankly I just want to see some guns blazing and a big green guy kicking ass.

I really hope the next episodes of Forward Unto Dawn crank up into high gear. The potential is there for this project to be a really strong piece of science fiction however based on the first episode, it looks like we have Halo for Twilight fans.

Episode Two in which we watch paint dry

What can I say? Nothing much happens in this second part of the FUD series. Again, it's a cliche mix of growing pains, military complex and no Master Chief.

I guess, the only really interesting thing about the part was a blink and you'll miss it cameo by 343 Industries' Frank O'Conner as "Beamish" - you might know him as director of the Halo franchise. He looked kind of evil, as if he was just aching to give the lil punk soliders the bash.

Episode Three in which things get a little hot and heavy

This Narnian got pashed
The third episode of Forward Unto Dawn has been released. It is finally time to sort the men from the boys, the cadets from the captains of war.

It's time to introduce the Covenant.

You might have read me bitch about how slow the build up has been thus far in the FUD series - so it was pleasing to see some real action happen. The Covenant have found the UNSC training base and have sent in three ship loads of Covenant forces to destroy all that they can find.

We got to see an enormous elite, a betrayal and finally the Big Green Guy. Hopefully the action will continue and even ratchet up a notch, as for me, Halo is not about allergies to drugs that prevent you from joining the war or pashing the girl from Narnia, it's about taking down the bad guys. Which has actually yet to happen.....

The quality of the film is pretty good, there's some good acting, nice music and the general tone is pitched just right (aside from being slow).

November 2, 2012

Falcor and Etreyu from Never Ending Story cosplay


The Neverending Story was one of my favourite films as a kid. I always wanted to ride on Falcor the Dragon. I suspect with this picture, Falcor would rather ride Atreyu. Just saying....

Just the facts about Halo, Ma'am

“Halo” Franchise Fact Sheet as released by Microsoft to help with the launch of Halo 4.

The “Halo” franchise is an award-winning collection of properties that have transcended video games and grown into a global entertainment phenomenon. Beginning with the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” (2001), the critically acclaimed and record-shattering series of games have reinvented how people think about video games and have since built  a fan base of millions worldwide and inspired multiple New York Times best-selling novels, comic books, action figures, apparel and more.

Published by Microsoft Studios, the “Halo” series of games is exclusive to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system and the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network. To date, more than 46 million copies of “Halo” games have been sold worldwide, driving more than 5 billion hours of gameplay by people connected to Xbox LIVE. “Halo” games have consistently defined multiplayer gaming and have dominated Xbox LIVE charts since their release.

“Halo” Titles

Launch Day
“Halo 4”
343 Industries
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary”
343 Industries, Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo: Reach”
Bungie Studios
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo 3: ODST”
Bungie Studios
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo Wars”
Ensemble Studios
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo 3”
Bungie Studios
Microsoft Studios
Xbox 360
“Halo 2” for Windows Vista
Hired Gun of Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Studios
“Halo 2”
Bungie Studios
Microsoft Studios
“Halo: Combat Evolved” for Windows
Bungie Studios and Gearbox Software
Microsoft Studios
“Halo: Combat Evolved”
Bungie Studios
Microsoft Studios

“Halo” Franchise by the Numbers:

Accolades and Awards:
The “Halo” series of games is among the most critically acclaimed of all time:

  • ·     Over the past ten years, “Halo” games have collectively garnered more than 580 media and industry awards, accolades and nominations.
  • ·     “Halo” games have received more than 100 “Game of the Year” awards from media organizations, as well as multiple “Game of the Decade” accolades for their impact on the industry and global pop culture.
  • ·     Guinness World Records named “Halo” the number one game series of all time, based on a 2010 reader poll.

Interesting facts:
·     More than 46 million copies of “Halo” games have been sold worldwide.
·     The “Halo” franchise has generated more than $3 billion in sales.
·      “Halo: Reach” generated more than $200 million in sales in the United States and Europe in the first 24 hours of its release, eclipsing all previous 2010 U.S. entertainment launches, including the three-day opening weekends of Hollywood blockbusters “Iron Man 2,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Toy Story 3.”
·     First-day sales of “Halo 3” reached $170 million in the U.S., breaking all previous single day entertainment launch records, and breaking the record held by “Halo 2” ($125 million).
·     “Halo” games are bestsellers on both the original Xbox and Xbox 360 platforms. “Halo: Combat Evolved” and “Halo 2” were the top two selling games on Xbox, and “Halo 3” and “Halo: Reach” are two of the bestselling games on Xbox 360.
·     More than 9 million copies of the “Halo” series of books, comics and strategy guides have been sold. Nine of the 11 novels are New York Times bestsellers.
·     The “Halo 3” soundtrack made the Billboard 200 on Dec. 15, 2007, and also reached a peak position of #18 on Billboard's Top Soundtracks list, and #20 on Top Independent Albums. The “Halo: Reach” soundtrack eclipsed the success of all previous “Halo” soundtracks when it reached the #8 spot on Billboard’s Top 10 Soundtracks list on Sept. 23, 2010.
·     More than 2.7 million people played the “Halo: Reach” multiplayer beta in May 2010, surpassing all previous console video game beta tests on record.
·     The “Halo: Reach” beta was more than triple the size of the “Halo 3” beta.
·     Since the launch of “Halo 3,” players have generated more than 120 million pieces of user-generated content from within the game.
·     More than 5 billion hours of “Halo” gameplay has been logged by players on Xbox LIVE.

Key Beats in the “Halo” Franchise Timeline:
·    The first Halo novel, “Halo: Fall of Reach” released in Oct. 2001; ten other novels follow, nine of which become New York Times bestsellers.
·    “Halo: Combat Evolved” launches on Nov. 15, 2001; becomes the gold standard for console shooters.
·    “Halo 2” launches on Nov. 9, 2004; bestselling original Xbox game of all time and sets a new record as the biggest entertainment launch ever with day one revenues over $125 million.
·    “Halo” graphic novel releases on Jul. 19, 2006 from Marvel Comics.
·     “Halo 3” launches on Sept. 25, 2007; sets record as the biggest entertainment launch in history and becomes bestselling game of 2007.
·     Marvel releases limited edition comic series between Oct. 2007-Jun. 2009; makes the New York Times bestseller list for graphic books.
·     “Halo Wars” launches on Feb. 26, 2009; makes history as the bestselling console real time strategy game ever.
·     “Halo 3: ODST” launches on Sept 22, 2009, selling more than 2.5 million copies within two weeks of release, totaling more than $125 million in sales.
·     “Halo” Encyclopedia published on Oct. 19, 2009 from DK Publishing.
·     “Halo Legends” anime series released by Warner Home Video on Feb. 16, 2010.
·     “Halo: Reach” launches on Sept. 14, 2010; becomes the biggest game yet in the “Halo” series and surpasses all previous 2010 U.S. entertainment launches with more than $200 million in day-one sales.
·     “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” a remastered version of the original “Halo” campaign with fan-favorite maps and new features, launches on Nov. 15, 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the franchise.

“Halo” Licensed Products:
From clothing to collectible action figures to award-winning soundtracks, the “Halo” franchise extends far beyond the games. With over 35 licensees helping expand the “Halo” universe, there is something for every “Halo” enthusiast. Astonishing sales numbers are a testament to the growth and success of this program:

·         Over 7.5 million Halo action figures have sold since 2005
·         Over 300,000 Halo remote control vehicles have sold since 2009
·         Over 37 million Halo Mega Bloks have been produced since 2009
·         Over 2 million ActionClix figures sold since 2007
·         Over 9 million fiction novels, graphic novels, comics, art books & strategy guides sold
·         Over 650,000 Halo soundtracks sold
·         Over 750,000 Halo individual music tracks downloaded
·         Over 3,000 fine art pieces sold