Archive for November, 2001

Good and Evil…

November 30th, 2001
Deimosâ„¢, from Subnova, dropped us a line to point out a new desktop he'd created - snag it from our Wallpaper section.

GameZilla and ED review Halo

November 30th, 2001
A review we missed - at Gamezilla - is long, thoughtfully written, and very positive. There's some disappointment for the features lost in the move to the Xbox... but these aren't enough to downgrade the game:

A few poor elements hold it back from being the best it could be, like the overall lack of many story elements that were hyped during its creation. Also, it does seem as if a few elements have been purposefully left out, either from lack of development time, or holding them back for a PC and Mac release. Still, these items are more annoyances than anything and most certainly don?t keep it from being an amazing title. In the end, there?s really only one sentence of this review that you need to read to understand my point.

If you have an Xbox, purchase Halo.

The overall score was 97/100. Another review - at Entertainment Depot - was less positive; Halo got an Editor's Choice award, and was described as a 'thoroughly enjoyable title'... but some of the later levels soured the single-player experience for the reviewer in their repetitiveness and overwhelming 'shoot everything that moves' feeling. There seems to be a typo somewhere in the rating system; in one place, the game is given a 7/10 overall (while being described as a 'damn fine game'), but in another section it's given an 8.5 and and 'Excellent' - far more consistent with the subscore breakdowns. We'll assume the 7/10 is wrong. Both of these have been added to our Reviews page. (Thanks to Blue's News for the heads-up.) Update: Ryan N., from Entertainment Depot, confirms that the 7 was a typo - it's been corrected.

Ambient life would have helped

November 30th, 2001
Thanks to Chris Butcher, who posted a note on our forum clearing up a bit about the ambient life (and its omission in the shipping game):

the ambient life was an important key to understanding the purpose of halo... unfortunately we didn't have time to implement all the AI and animation for them, so there are certain plot points that just don't hang together well enough. oh well.

The more we hear, the more we realize the Halo story is deeper than it looks...

New Wallpaper

November 30th, 2001
Strider has created a new desktop image for our Wallpaper collection - go take a look. Them Bungie boyz sure know how to take screenshots...

VideoGameGal reviews Halo

November 30th, 2001
VideoGameGal has reviewed Halo - their review is bundled in a streaming video with a review for DOA3 (the total length is 11 and a half minutes, Halo starts about 4 minutes in). They gave it an 8.5; The breakdown was Graphics, 9/10 (human character models could use work); Sound, 8/10 (it seems they didn't like the 'heavy metal' bits of the soundtrack - their words); Controls, 8/10 ("almost as good as a keyboard and mouse"), and Replay 8/10 ("Deathmatch is so-so"). Go check it out on their site - we've added the listing to our Reviews page.

Edge gives Halo a 10

November 29th, 2001
Thanks to Griffon, who pointed out that there's a Halo review in the latest issue of Edge magazine - they rated it 10/10, a score shared by only three other games in the 104-issue history of the magazine. Not too shabby!

Detail rundown at Xbox365

November 29th, 2001
Xbox365 ranks vehicles, weapons, and baddies in Halo (in lieu of a review) - don't read the baddies list if you're paranoid about spoilers, but mostly it's safe. The headline sums up their attitude about Halo: 'I Lost A Week To A Starship Trooper'. Nice! (Thanks to Narcogen, at Rampancy.net, for uncovering this.

Invisible Dream reviews Halo

November 29th, 2001
Invisible Dream has put up their own Halo review - they loved the single-player game, though were a little disappointed with the number of weapons and the frequency and use of vehicles, but are skeptical about multiplay; their overall rating was 92/100. We've added this to our Reviews page.

Coalition of the Ring forms

November 29th, 2001
Relaten Psitir writes to point out that a new Halo clan is on the scene - the Coalition of the Ring. Check 'em out!

New Wallpaper arrives

November 29th, 2001
[SE]X-Com, of Socket Error, has sent in another desktop for our Wallpaper collection.

Joe Staten on gamestate

November 29th, 2001
Joseph Staten, Halo's Cinematics Director, wrote to clarify one of my biggest gripes about Halo - the lack of saved gamestate in cutscenes. It turns out that gamestate (what the game looks like, around you) IS saved... in almost all cases. The few exceptions happen to be the few I noticed. (Figures, dunnit?) From the horse's mouth:

The gamestate right before the cutscene begins almost always remains unchanged (with respect to dead bodies, dropped weapons, decals, etc.) for the duration of the cutscene. In some instances we chose to purge scenes of "garbage" (dead bodies, et al) in order to solve performance issues, but I'd say this occurs in maybe 5% of Halo's cinematics.

The only consistent gamestate "error" during the cinemas is the fact the "Cinematic Chief" only shows up with the assault rifle rather than whatever the Player is carrying. Unfortunately, it would have taken some special code and scripting to rectify this error, and other things were more important--like making our ship date :')

This information (and Marty's information yesterday concerning sound quality on stereo TVs) have been added as footnotes to HBO's Halo review, so that people can see Bungie's response to our concerns.

Story conjecture…

November 28th, 2001
FriendlyFire writes about some of the issues brought up in our recent Halo Review, specifically the storyline. I'm going to break with tradition, and quote a boatload of his note, because it's pretty intriguing stuff:

[...] some dialog in the game makes me think that the Master Chief's appearance on Halo is beyond coincidence. I'm refering to comments by 343 GS in more than one location in the game. Once you return to the control room with the Index [sounds an awful lot like Codex doesn't it ;)] and Cortana reveals to you the true purpose of Halo, 343 says something odd. I can't remember the exact phrasing off-hand but he said something along the lines of, "Well of course that's the purpose of Halo...But you already knew that...I mean, how couldn't you?" At this point the camera zooms in for affect installing a sense that there's someting peculiar about his comment. He also says something about "the last time you were here" but we're fairly certain the Chief has never been to Halo before.

Furthermore, in the last level of the game, on-board the Pillar of Autumn, when you're running around the engine room trying to trigger a Fusion explosion, 343 keeps referring to you as "Reclaimer". He also mentions something along the lines of, "this is not the plan".

This lead me to two possible conclusions:

  1. 343 is mistaking you for someone - or something - else.
  2. You are in fact who 343 thinks you are.

If 2 is true, then how is this possible? How could you be part of a plan for a ring construct which you've never been to before and never even heard of? One possibility comes to mind but it is, of course, only conjecture: perhaps we're dealing with a Time Paradox. Perhaps at some point in the Chief's future, he enters 343 GS's past. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Of course, it's just as likely that 343 is mistaking you for someone else but that raises other questions: How could he mistake you for someone else? I think he knows you're human. Also, if he is mistaking you for someone or something else, who or what is he mistaking you for? A Forerunner, perhaps? Questions, questions and more questions....

Good stuff... comments are always welcome. Once again, it looks like it's time for a Halo Story section (either forum or moderated pages)...

PA gets tired of Halo

November 28th, 2001
Heh - the boys of Penny Arcade seem to be over their infatuation with Halo; today's comic (and indeed the news) suggest that they never want to see it again:

I've heard people say it's too short. That's a hard case to argue - in fact, quite the opposite is true. This is a game that feels as though it was unduly lengthened by committee, affixed to some perverse device, warped and stretched to near infinity. I'd put forth that a game is only too short when you still want to play it by the end. [slight spoiler snipped - go read it at PA] I've never actually groaned before when a game's protagonist implies there will be a sequel. That's something I can't say anymore.

Thanks to R.net, for catching this one first.

See the sea…

November 28th, 2001
Razorback sends in another nice drawing - useable as wallpaper, or just to look at. We've added it to our Miscellaneous Art section.

Tamte on Mac Halo

November 28th, 2001
Spanish Macintosh site Macuarium has posted an interview with Peter Tamte that talks about Macintosh gaming, his company Destineer and Bungie.

I've been to Bungie's new studios inside Microsoft. They're filled with Macs. And, they're also filled with people who love the Macintosh. Please be assured that Microsoft and Bungie plan to bring Halo to the Macintosh. They love the Mac just as much today as they did before being acquired by Microsoft.

It's short but a nice read. Pax.

New Fiction to read

November 28th, 2001

"This is most likely your last chance to get out of this alive," said Kent in a commanding voice. Edwin didn't respond; he just continued to sit against the wall, staring wildly around the room, and whimpering between his rapid breathing.

Our first Fan Fiction submission in two weeks, Aragorn819's Prologue to 'The Sceptre' is now available in our Fan Fiction section. Check it out!

New T&R content and JJ interview, coming up!

November 28th, 2001
Hot on the heels of an accusation that Bungie doesn't care about its fans, the Online Team has updated the Tru7h and Reconciliation site. New concept art (don't look if you're anal about spoilers), a new section of the multiplayer guide (vehicles), with three GORGEOUS new screens (you'll find 'em in our Screenshot database, as well), and maybe most interesting of all - information about a fan-conducted interview with Jason Jones.

Here's how it will work. Think up a question for Jason (no huge lists, please) and send it to haloqna@microsoft.com. We'll accept submissions for the rest of this week, then pick the best ones and hand them to Jason. We'll return with his answers next week.

If all goes well this may be the start of a semi-regular feature wherein you can ask questions of a variety of people from the Halo team. So think up a good question and ask away!

Remember - this guy doesn't talk much... so this is a huge opportunity! (Thanks to Vector40, who pointed out how slow we're being on reporting this.)

Hearing Cortana on a stereo TV

November 28th, 2001
Sometimes, if you're polite enough, you can get people to correct mistakes you make instead of just telling you what an idiot you are. (Or maybe they call you an idiot when you're not around, then correct the mistake for you - I'm not sure.) In any case, Marty O'Donnell, stung by my unfair appraisal of Halo's audio in the review I posted recently, wrote to correct some misconceptions.

I have heard the problem you are describing and it is due to the way some people have their TV audio setup. Some TVs have weird faux surround or enhanced stereo settings and that can change the mix on Halo.

I'd complained specifically that Cortana's speaking parts seemed to come directly from the central speaker, and so were lost in a stereo setup - not so, says Marty:

As a matter of fact, Cortana's dialog is specifically split equally left and right.

How to fix this?

The Xbox needs to be set on "stereo" and the TV should be set on normal stereo not surround or enhanced or anything else like that. No one should be missing any of the dialog.

So there you have it - make sure both your TV and the Xbox are set to standard 'Stereo' sound if you don't have a surround sound setup. (The Xbox sound controls are only accessible if there's no DVD in the drive, so dump that Halo disc.) Thanks for the information, Marty!

HBO reviews Halo

November 27th, 2001
Took a bit longer than most, but HBO has finally put up its own review of Halo. A side benefit of the spoiler system we implemented a couple of weeks ago - we were able to get a bit more deeply into the game than many reviews, for those willing to read spoilers. The default behavior (just as in the news) is no spoilers - you get the review, but all spoiler bits are left out. If, however, you've turned spoilers on, you'll see some specific examples of certain points along the way; hopefully, our arguments are strong enough to stand without these specific examples, but they'll make the case better if you do see them. Enough blathering - go read the review. (We've added the link to our Reviews page, as well.)

GameKult reviews Halo

November 27th, 2001
genohunter writes to point out that GameKult, the French gaming site, has put up a large halo review (they liked it, except for the lack of bots), and a ridiculous number of screenshots from the first couple of levels.

"Halo is a majestic title that you must own if you plan to buy an Xbox."

Overall rating was a 9/10. We've added it to our Reviews page.