Gears of Halo - Video game reviews, news and cosplay

Halo and Destiny - news and reviews.

Sunday, December 23

Dead Space 3 Achievement Points List


dea space 3

So when you get your hands on Dead Space 3 you might what to think about these achievement points -There's Always Peng! makes a return and given the game now has a co-op element, there's a few points that you'll only achieve by doing just that!

Dead Space 360 Achievement Points


Get On My Level (10 points) - Complete the game on any difficulty setting.
The Explorer (25 points) - Complete all optional missions.
Aren't You Thankful? (50 points) - Complete the game on Hardcore Mode.
Epic Tier 4 Engineer (40 points) - Complete the game in Classic Mode.
Survivalist (40 points) - Complete the game in Pure Survival Mode.
Gun Collector (25 points) - Collect all Weapon Parts.
The Professor (25 points) - Collect all Artifacts.
The Librarian (25 points) - Collect all Logs.
The Armorer (25 points) - Collect all Circuits.
There's Always Peng! (50 points) - Find Peng.
My Buddy (10 points) - Retrieve Resources from a Scavenger Bot at a Bench.
Metal Detector (30 points) - Successfully deploy Scavenger Bots to 15 Resource Areas.
Strapped (10 points) - Craft a Weapon.
Circuit's Edge (10 points) - Add a Circuit to a Weapon.
EMT (25 points) - Craft a Large Med Pack.
Full House (25 points) - Craft a Weapon with 2 Tools, Tips, and Attachments with all Circuit slots filled.
RIG Master (50 points) - Fully upgrade your RIG.
Master Plan (25 points) - Create a Blueprint that needs at least 2000 resources worth of parts and Circuits to build.
From the Jaws (10 points) - Save your Co-Op partner from an execution by killing the attacker.
Share and Share Alike (10 points) - Use the RIG to give an item to your Co-Op partner.
Medic! (10 points) - Revive your Co-Op partner 10 times.
Ghosts of the Past (25 points) - Face all of Carver’s demons by completing all Co-Op only optional missions.
Architect (10 points) - Share a Blueprint with your Co-Op partner.
Axes High (20 points) - Kill 30 enemies using Fodder axes.
Payback (15 points) - Kill a Soldier by TK'ing a grenade or rocket back at them.
Go for the Limbs! (10 points) - Dismember 500 limbs from living enemies.
And Then We Doubled It! (10 points) - Dismember 1000 limbs from living enemies.
Slow Mo (10 points) - Kill 50 enemies while they are in stasis.
Blast Corps (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies with explosion damage.
Shootbang (10 points) - Kill 30 Soldiers with head shots.
Empty Chamber (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies using melee strikes or a melee Weapon Part.
Dropping Acid (10 points) - Dissolve 50 enemies with acid.
Electric Lawnmower (10 points) - Kill 30 enemies using an electrified Ripper blade.
Overpowered Healing (10 points) - Use quick heal to heal yourself 20 times.

Unused armor abilities found in Halo 4 code



Unused armor abilities found in Halo 4 code - check this video of a mod using the codes in action.



Lord Zedd has discovered a couple of Armor Abilities that were not included in the final version of Halo 4 - a teleportation trick and a magical blue spell which removes whatever armour ability you foe has presented you with. Probably didn't make the final cut due to not being totttallly awesome fits with the game....

Thursday, December 13

Josh Holmes on making Halo 4


Here's a pretty sweet discussion with Josh Holmes who kind of ah a big deal in Halo... borrowed from BS Angel's Weekly Halo Bulletin. I don't think she'll mind.
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Josh Holmes, Creative Director for 343 Industries, plays an important part in everything Halo 4. He had an intimate relationship with the making of the game and continues to maintain that closeness now that we have officially transitioned to sustain mode. I’ve noticed several threads in our forum from those curious about our general design philosophies, so I asked Josh if he would be game for a quick interview. He said yes, and then I turned it into a long one. Go me!


Hello, Mr. Creative Director. For those who aren’t sure what exactly a Creative Director does, please summarize your job responsibilities in a single sentence.

As the Creative Director for Halo 4, I'm responsible for setting the creative vision for the game. I manage all of the various creative teams (art, audio, design and narrative) and guide them to successful execution against the vision.


For the record, that was two sentences. What other things did you do in the gaming industry before landing at 343?


I've been making games for over 17 years. Prior to joining 343, I worked at Electronic Arts and at my own studio, Propaganda Games. I was producer, designer and creative director on games that included the original NBA Street, Def Jam Vendetta, Fight for NY and the Turok reboot for Disney. Since joining 343, I've worked with Bungie in a publishing capacity on Halo: Reach and then moved into the Franchise Creative Director role and Halo 4 CD.


What inspired you to make the switch to Halo?


I fell in love with Halo the first time I played Combat Evolved back in 2001, when I was a Lead Designer at Electronic Arts. I remember saying to myself at the time, "One day I want to design a game like this." Fast forward a decade and not only am I working on a game like Halo, I'm actually helping to guide the future of the Halo universe. It's like a dream.


I would pinch you, but I’d like to keep my job. Speaking of jobs, what was the best part about making Halo 4?


The best part about making Halo 4 has been working with the rest of our team, because we have so many incredible, talented people. And getting to shoot them all in playtests.


There are two sides to every coin, so what was the hardest part of the process?

The hardest part about making the game was bringing a brand new team together, most of whom have never worked with one another before. Everyone had different experiences and approaches to making games and we were simultaneously trying to build something as massive as Halo 4 while working with a new and unfamiliar engine. There were times when it felt as though we were trying to do the impossible, and it's a testament to the character of the team that we managed to overcome so many challenges to build the game.


It was a team-building experience for sure. What are some of the more memorable moments you had with everybody while making the game?


So many moments… At the end of preproduction, we had an overnight creative retreat where Pierre tried to start a beach fire with gasoline and almost burned down several nearby homes (and himself) in the process. There was a late night Kung Fu showdown between Chris and Tajeen at the bar after one too many drinks – thankfully no one got hurt. Over the course of the project, we moved the studio at least three times to accommodate growth, yet still wound up bursting at the seams with humanity by the time we entered the final stretch. One of the funniest moments happened when I was at the EB Games event in Sydney, Australia. When I was coming over, they told me that there would be a dramatic moment at the beginning of my appearance, with the Master Chief coming out of the cryotube to welcome me onto the stage. It sounded awesome. In reality, Chief turned out to be the tallest member of the PR team wearing a $30 Halloween costume from Halo 3 and climbing out of a cardboard box that someone had decorated with felt markers, all while music from Halo: CE played in the background. Oh, and he got stuck in the cardboard box and needed to be helped out. Not the proudest moment in the Chief's illustrious career.


Now that we’re covered pre-launch, let’s talk about post-launch. Have any of the responses to Halo 4 surprised you?


It's been humbling to receive so many messages from players who have enjoyed the game and being able to play the game in Matchmaking now that it's out in the wild. When the game was first released, I spent a week at home on my couch, playing the game online while reading reviews between matches. It's surreal to pour three years of your life into something and then finally be able to see and hear the responses from people playing it.


I was wondering where you were that first week! Now that you’re back, what are our main priorities in regard to sustain?

Our first priority is responding to any unforeseen bugs or exploits that are uncovered by the community. Beyond that we are continuing to monitor playlist population and manage the rotation of experiences in Matchmaking to make sure that the most popular experiences are made available to players.


What philosophy do we use when making these decisions?


Our sustain philosophy is to support and maintain Halo 4's online community by analyzing player activity and making measured changes when necessary. We want to maintain engagement amongst the active player population through careful management of the active playlists, taking into account which experiences are most popular and addressing critical bugs and exploits as they are discovered. We also need to infuse the experience with new content in the form of authored map packs and community created maps so that the experience feels fresh and exciting for months and years to come.


Is that why we’re doing weekly updates instead of monthly updates?


In the case of Spartan Ops, we chose a weekly cadence for new episodes because it felt like the right timing to keep people invested in the story over the course of the season. We approached Spartan Ops like a serialized television show, but with the added interactive component of missions. For War Games, the weekly updates to playlists allow us to monitor the community's response to different game modes and take that into account when planning. We're also able to address map exploits that may be discovered (like the hole in collision that was found in Complex and being exploited in Oddball). Going a full month between updates would prevent us from addressing these issues in a timely manner.


Another thing we’re doing differently with Halo 4 is rotational playlists. Why are we taking that route this time around?


We put new playlists into rotation to keep the experience fresh each week and to test the community's response to different game types. We limit the total number of active playlists to prevent the population from becoming too fragmented so that we can provide an optimal matchmaking experience and if a playlist fails to capture or maintain population over time then it becomes a candidate for retirement, at least temporarily.


We have some great stuff in the works for 2013. What can you share about the things we currently have up our sleeve?

The second half of Spartan Ops kicks off on January 21, featuring new environments and missions along with the conclusion of the season's storyline. We also have more maps coming with the Majestic and Castle map packs, as well as some community-created maps that we will be selecting to add into Matchmaking, which will include both smaller 4 vs. 4 maps and larger Big Team maps.


Sounds good! Before I release you from my interview death grip, I have some random, fun questions now that you’ve tackled all the serious ones. So, Battle Rifle or DMR?

DMR, because I prefer single shot to burst fire weapons.


Frag or Plasma?

Frag, because I like to strip shields and then finish people off.


Covenant or Forerunner?

Forerunner, because I love the look and sound of the weapons.


Red or blue?

Blue, of course! Red is too angry.


Frank or Kiki?

Kiki, because she makes the best margaritas and Frank only exists to drink them.


I am suddenly thirsty, so I think we can officially call this interview done. Thanks for taking the time to share some insight into the making of Halo 4 and our general Matchmaking philosophies, Josh, and I'm sure we'll chat with you again after the New Year!

Halo: Reach Redefined

master chief with reach toothbrush
Even a Spartan needs to clean his teeth. 
I found this picture of the Chief on 9gag this morning - certainly gives Reach a new edge eh?

Tuesday, December 11

Tyrant's video review of Halo 4

Tyrant has done a video review of Halo 4 - which I'm only really posting because of his awesome white suit....



A key point he makes: Return to Battle field sux.

Sunday, December 9

Tips and Tricks to take down a Promethean Knight from Halo 4


knight halo chief artwork
The Chief ignored this guide at his peril...
The best ways to take down a Promethean Knight from Halo 4

Originally published at Post Game Lobby

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 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. 

Bioshock Infinite has new release date

In a move that has this fan slightly disappointed, Bioshock Infinite has been delayed for a second time with the game's release changed from of February 26th to the new date of March 26th.

It's only another 4 weeks but still...

Irrational Games suggested the reason was the game could do with some more spit and shine. 

Let's hope they didn't realise their ending sucked and they needed to rewrite it.....

Saturday, December 8

Sign up for the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge


BS Angel from 343 Industries has announced the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge

While Monday has a reputation for being the worst day of the week, that perception is about to change because on December 17, we're joining forces with Virgin Gaming and Xbox 360 to bring you the chance to win a UNSC-themed truck and/or a cameo in a future Halo game. Officially called the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge, this tournament will give you a shot at winning a real life vehicle (you virtual vehicles can suck it!) and one of more than 2,800 total prizes. What exactly will it take to score some sweet Halo swag? Why, I thought you'd never ask!

The Halo 4 Infinity Challenge on Xbox LIVE will bring gamers the biggest and most accessible Halo tournament in the world. This free-to-enter tournament will track your personal score in War Games and the number of Spartan Ops chapters you complete on global leaderboards, and your progress with relevant Halo 4 Challenges. The War Games leaderboard winner will walk away with a UNSC-themed, V8-powered 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor truck designed by our artists here at 343, the Spartan Ops winner will secure an appearance in a future Halo game (don't blame me if you end up being naked and blue), and the Challenge winners will get a prize pack.

Assuming you find the aforementioned prizes appealing, register today by visiting the Halo 4 Infinity Challenge website (please note localized registration sites will be available on December 12). If you'd like to get into the nitty-gritty of how everything will work, continue reading.

The qualifier phase will take place December 17 - January 10. For that part of the tournament, you will need to climb the ranks of the global leaderboards by competing in either the Spartan Ops or War Games leaderboard. After the qualifier phase, players will be tiered into three groups (Tier 1: Consisting of the top 10% of players competing, Tier 2: Consisting of the next 11-40% of players competing, and Tier 3: Consisting of the bottom 60% of players competing) and will enter the finals phase. The finals phase will start on January 12 and end on January 19. You can also participate in Weekly Challenges for a chance to win great prizes.

During the finals, the leaderboards will reset and prizes will be awarded to the top performers in each tier. While the prizes within all three tiers will rock your socks, the grand prizes will be offered exclusively for those that have battled their way to the top tier.

For tournament and registration information, please visit: www.halo4infinitychallenge.com. Your score will only be tracked from the time you register, so sign up now, Spartans!

Tuesday, December 4

Crimson Map Pack Achievements List


harvest map halo 4

Crimson Map Pack Achievements List

When the Crimson Map Pack being released into the wild next week, 343 Industries have let us all know that there will be a whole swag of new achievement points up for grabs.

I'm looking forward to checking out the Harvest map simply because of the name!

Here’s the list:
          
Now They Fly?
Get a kill while airborne in a Warthog.
50 points

Size Is Everything
Kill 20 enemies with a detached Machine Gun Turret.
20 points

ODST
Kill a player while you're airborne from using a Man Cannon.
30 points

Bigfoot
Kill 20 enemies using the Mantis' stomp attack.
20 points

David and Goliath
Board an enemy Mantis.
20 points

Clay Pigeon
Shoot an enemy out of the air while they use the Man Cannon.
40 points

Special Delivery
Kill an enemy with a melee attack when landing from a Man Cannon.
30 points

Pump Yer Brakes
Score the killing blow on a Mantis.
40 points

Saturday, December 1

Box Art for Bioshock Infinite released

bioshock artwork booker dewitt infinite

Bioshock Infinite's box artwork has been revealed. Featuring the protagonist, Booker DeWitt the artwork is bright and clean as opposed to the murky depths offered by the original two games which featured Big Daddies. The cover's suggested tone of the game is probably very deliberate as the game is set 'in the clouds' on the floating city of Columbia of rather than submerged in the leaky world that was Rapture.

Bioshock Infinite continues the franchise's meditations on political and economic ideological concepts by drawing from the concept of "American Exceptionalism" - which knowing Bioshock, it won't be such a noble pursuit as Americans like Booker DeWitt and his girl Elizabeth might think....

Bioshock Infinite is set for release on February 26 across the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms. Order your copy here!

Tuesday, November 27

Bungie release Destiny screen shot after a leak

destiny-screenshot-bungie-tank

Woah! Finally an official thing from Bungie on their new game, Destiny.

Following a massive leak of images and details to IGN gaming site, Bungie responded with an official release of this screen shot stating:

"Go ahead. Take a peek. It’s alright. We weren't quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can’t wait to finally show you what we've really been up to.
Stick around, we haven’t even started yet."

The screenshot shows an awesomely curved tank / battle gun of some kind, foot soldiers bearing arms and a landscape setting that appears to be er... snowbound.

Spartan Ops and Co-op Lag Explained by CruelLEGACEY


The  CruelLEGACEY explains why some people experience 'lag' when playing Halo 4:

Issue: Lag during Spartan Ops and co-op campaign.

Halo 4 uses 2 different network models for online play. Spartan Ops and Co-op run on a “synchronous” network model. Let’s say you are playing 4-player co-op. One player is the “host”, the other 3 are “clients”. All 4 players load the level, and all 4 players start the mission at the same time. Now, when a “client” presses a button, such as ‘jump’, their Xbox sends a signal to the “host” Xbox, telling it what the client player is doing. The host Xbox receives these signals from all 3 clients, then calculates every movement, bullet fired, damage done, etc, and sends the updated information out to all the clients, who’s Xboxs then reproduce the changes. But, the host will only send out these updates when it has received signals from all 3 clients. It does this to maintain accurate and consistent information across all 4 players (In other words, all 4 players are seeing the same things in the same places at the same time).

This is where the lag comes in: If just one of the players in the game has a bad connection, it slows down their ability to send information to the host, which means the host has to wait longer before it can send out gameplay updates to the other players. So, even if you are a client with a great connection, and the host has a great connection, you can still get major lag if one of the other clients has a slow connection.

This is experienced as a sort of input delay (the game will not instantly react to your button presses).

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Check the link for more details on War Games an multiplayer modes.

Tuesday, November 20

Casey asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel?

Bioware's Casey Hudson asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel? 



The correct answer is:

Sequel*
*no further correspondence will be entered into on this matter

A look at how Halo 4's environment was designed

Polycount has a sweet article with Halo 4's Environment Creators which gives a fantastic insight into the development of the game. If you've played the game, I'm sure you'll agree they did an amazing job.

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What you’re about to read is a very generous peek into the work of some of the Game Industry’s strongest Environment Creators doing what they do best: Dropping Jaws and Melting Faces. Some protective gear is recommended. Please observe all emergency exits. We cannot be responsible for any messes that occur, or any injuries sustained through wild head turns and furious image saving.

We had some enormous challenges; Building a new team from nothing, charging through the growing pains of a new studio, wrestling with unfamiliar and unsupported technology, learning to work together for the first time, and taking over a beloved universe and all the world wide scrutiny that came with it. Any one of these things would have crippled a normal studio. Not us. We took our share of bruises, but we stepped over the finish line ‘better, faster, stronger’ than a decade of normal development would have awarded us.

The environment team, on top of simply making great imagery, also took on the role of storytellers. It doesn’t just show, it feels. Engaging the goopy, sloppiest part of the players parietal lobes and making the universe a reality, immersing the player in a deep felt experience. The art is emotional, it resonates with story and imagination, it silently speaks to you.

This is art focused, but salutes need to be thrown at the talented teams who fought dragons and the laws of physics to squeeze out more polygons and pixels, who gave us every technical advantage possible, who held our hair back when it was too much. The Xbox didn’t know what hit it.

This team is not made of Steel. It’s made of the crazy strong shit you hire to hunt Steel when Steel messes up and needs to be returned to Steel Justice.

You can probably tell – I’m very proud of this team.
Kenneth Scott,  Senior Art Director

UNSC – A FUNCTIONAL AESTHETIC


For the first mission of the game the general theme of the industrial design was “space submarine.” We wanted to achieve a functional aesthetic for the UNSC environments.  After the catastrophic damage sustained to the Forward Unto Dawn at the end of Halo 3, and after floating in outer space for over three years, the majority of the remains of the ship were left a frozen, shattered hulk. For the mission itself we wanted it to be cold and claustrophobic; piles of frost have accumulated in the cryogenics section of the ship; ceilings have caved in and some areas of the ship have lost atmospheric pressure.  The environments would also get progressively more damaged as the ship was sucked into the forerunner planet Requiem. The cool color palette would  give way to warmer tones as the events of the mission increased in intensity, culminating in an exciting start to the rest of the campaign.
Paul Pepera, Lead Mission Artist

Thursday, November 15

The best ever Leeloo cosplay?

leeloo-cosplay-costume

I spied this at Scruffy Rebel wondered if it was the best Leeloo cosplay ever done. For those that don't recognise this bright haired beauty, she was a key character in the film The Fifth Element.  Leeloo was played by Milla Jocovich who has gone on to become a one woman army in the Resident Evil series.



Don't agree this is the best cosplay ever? Check out more Leeloo costumes at Post Game Lobby.

Halo 4 stats - you better finish your Legendary run eh?


Now that the evil has awakened and been out in the wild for a week, here's some statistics on how Halo 4 has been played. They are pretty impressive, for any kind of video game.

  • Over four million people played Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.
  • 13.5 million hours were spent playing Campaign in the first five days.
  • 1.9 million hours were spent playing Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 16 million hours were spent playing War Games in the first five days.
  • 31.4 million hours were spent playing Halo 4 in the first five days.
  • 1,116,882 people completed the Campaign in the first five days.
  • 6% of total players completed the Campaign on Legendary in the first five days.
  • 43,335,060 achievements were unlocked in the first five days.
  • 2,675,140,836 kills were earned in Campaign in the first five days.
  • 505,250,095 kills were earned in Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 1,410,025,354 kills were earned in War Games in the first five days.
  • 4,590,416,285 kills were earned playing Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.

Source: Halo Waypoint

Check out this review of Halo 6.

Bad luck Diadact



As spied on Reddit.

Tuesday, November 13

Xbox Live's 10 Year anniversary will make some punters VERY HAPPY

xbl-xbox-anniversary-tweet

Larry has suggested via twitter that long term xbox live users might be in for a free xbox to celebrate the 10 Year anniversary of the gaming service. Larry also hinted there might be a competition for everyone else to win some Xbox swag as well. 



Monday, November 12

The first Halo 4 mythbusters video is out



Mythbusters for Halo 4 is out now for your view pleasure. Not sure how a Mantis riding a Scorpion makes for great game play but there you go.....

Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

I think this picture is of some rabid Mass Effect fans doing cosplay of the Montreal staff.
Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

Yanick Roy the Studio Director of BioWare Montreal has formally announced on the Bioware blog that his studio is where the magic will happen for the next Mass Effect game. You'll be able to judge if they'll be any good as they are the team that did the Omega DLC.

Here's some clipped paragraphs from what he had to say:

Because BioWare has always believed that the company culture is one of the key ingredients of the games we make, we took two important steps with the team. First, we deliberately seeded the new studio with many transfers from Edmonton. Second, we chose to grow the team relatively slowly, allowing new people to join the team and integrate into its culture in due time. Even with that approach, though, the Montreal studio has made significant contributions to the Mass Effect franchise. We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content. 

Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega. With each new portion of work, we took on deeper and broader responsibilities, but we always worked in conjunction with Casey, the Mass Effect leads, and the developers in Edmonton.

That evolution now takes its next step, with the news that the next Mass Effect game is already in development, driven by the team here in Montreal. This is the goal we have been working toward for years now, and every member of our team is proud, excited, and humbled to take on the responsibility for the next game.

To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.

Sunday, November 11

How to grenade glitch in Halo 4

This video by the Halo Council's Clicked shows you how to glitch your way to more accurate grenade throwing in Halo 4 matchmaking.



How do you do the glitch? Simply aim, throw the grenade and then sprint.


Friday, November 9

Where are Halo 4's easter eggs found?

What are the Easter Eggs that can be found in Halo 4

You know what an easter egg is right? No? In gaming terms and Easter Egg is a nod of some kind, a hidden message, an in joke or reference. Bungie placed eggs in all of their Halo games, the most famous perhaps being a piece of music called The Seige of Madgril' which can be found when standing in certain, out of the way locations.

Here's what 343 Industries put into Halo 4 and how to find them.

Here's a sweet video which shows plenty of eggs:



Dr Halsey's Audi Log on Rampancy

As you first land on Requiem, you will come across a crash site of Covenant Cruisers. If one keeps to the left long enough one will find the way out. Those who chose to explore the site are rewarded with an audio log of Dr. Catherine Halsey discussing the inevitability of A.I. rampancy or rather how perhaps Cortana might be able to over come the issue. Halsey was the lady in handcuffs at the start of the game - she's the one who created the Spartan programme.

Check out this youtube video to hear Halsey speak.


Here’s quite a cool easter egg that was recently found in Halo 4.

A set of doors have a false reflection, in that they show some scenes from Tsavo Highway which keen Halo players may recognise from the third game of the series.



Spartans burnt into the wall

After the Master Chief exits the covenant crash site and steps into the sunlight, a mountain path littered with Warthogs extends out to the left Look to the right instead - edge of the cliffs stands an outcropping of rock with a rather unusual tree and a metal framework.



Manoevure to the lower ledge at which point you may look up at what appears to be a series of burn marks across the structure. You'll see what could be a Spartan portrait.

Double Rainbow

Following completion of the first section of the ‘Reclaimer’ mission, the Mammoth will traverse a river nearby a waterfall. When the Mammoth halts, check out the double rainbow.

Conan O'Brien does a voice cameo

Conan did some early promo work for Halo 4 - an no wonder as he managed to get himself included in the game. On the Shutdown mission, Conan can be found as a soldier chatting about being in the military in the UNSC warehouse. The other soldier is Andy Richter.

Master Chief Helmet as a structure on a building

On the first mission, at the part when you're outside in space, this building looks a little like the Master Chief's Helmet:



I took this picture with my iphone in a dark room so the quality is poor. 

Halo 4 Collectors edition found on the floor of the Foward Unto Dawn



On the FUD, check out the floor in the area where the Covenant board - you'll spy in the floor a copy of the Collector's edition of Halo 4 - that's very meta.

Suggested eggs but don't really count

Sergeant Johnson Egg on Shutdown level.


This is the dude and it doesn't look like Avery. At all. 
If you kill a lot of marines in the hanger bay that houses the Pelicans, eventually a black marine will spawn. Some claim this is Sergeant Johnson but frankly it looks nothing like him.


Halo 3 Launch Trailer  - note haven't checked this one out yet. 

In the prologue cinematic there is a brief shot where the Master Chief takes down a Brute Chieftan. That is apparently following on from the end of the Halo 3 launch trailer where Master Chief jumps into a pack of heavily armed Brutes.

Vic Deleon's V's in Spartan Op's Sniper Alley



 Level Artist for the Halo series, Vic Deleon placed a few scratched out 'V' into the Sniper Alley Spartan Ops mission. The V is presumably his initial.

Follow Vic on twitter here









JJ Reviews: Halo 4

Spoilers !

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

Despite the game being illegal to offer for 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 Diadact 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 hand cuffed) 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.

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.

It was nice to meet the Librarian after learning about her in Greg Bear's Forerunner novels

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......

Thursday, November 8

Tell Casey what you want in ME3


Casey Hudson asks via twitter what we want to see for the next Mass Effect game.

Two things Casey:

Quality writing, reviewed by an expert.

A sequel, not a prequel. 

Thanks and have a nice day.


How to use forge in Halo 4 - video tutorial




Here's a video on how to use forge in Halo 4 prepared for you by the team that made it, Certain Affinity (who are no strangers to helping out on Halo related content).

In their words:

This video covers the basics of editing using Forge in Halo 4. We'll quickly build a simple Mongoose racetrack using Duplicate, Magnets, and Rotation Snap. People new to Forge should leave with a better idea of how to use Forge, while those more experienced will get a taste of the new features that make editing in Forge faster than ever before.

Wednesday, November 7

This is the evil that awakened in Halo 4

diadact-halo

Meet the Diadact, the bad guy of Halo 4 and the ever loving husband of the Librarian.

The Didact was a Forerunner Promethean who held an extremely high status in the Forerunner society as supreme commander of the entire Forerunner military. There's a huge back story but eventually he took control of the body of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting (refer Halo: Cryptum) and set about laying plans to finish off the Halo programme.

By the time the Diadact finally meets the Master Chief in Halo 4, his actions across the milenia have seen him defined as the bad guy of the Halo universe.



Meet the Librarian from Halo 4

librarian halo 4
Do you have some books to return young man?
After being first mentioned in the Terminals that were found in Halo 3, the Librarian has loomed large in the back story of Halo, effectively acting as humanity's guardian angel, working to counter the after effects of the Human - Forerunner War, the battle to protect the Universe from the Flood and finally the actions of the Diadact.

The Forerunner novels Cyrptum and Primordium showed the Librarian has one of the central characters of the Halo realm, so to finally see what she looks like in Halo 4 is nothing short of a great moment in Halo gaming history.

This image of the Librarian taken is a great example of just how far Xbox game design has come - you may recall one of the biggest criticisms of Halo 3 (and ODST) was just how bad human faces were represented. The characters in Halo 4 are just amazingly detailed. 


Tuesday, November 6

Destiny titbits revealed by Demonware accidentally

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.

To err is human; to curb stomp an Elite, divine


halo4-fan-artwork-mantis

Neogaf member highlaw drew this wicked fan art inspired by Halo 4 - featuring the Mantis wreaking havoc on an elite who is surely out for the count.

Halo Street art, filmed as it's made



Epicness of the Chief!

Monday, November 5

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand...

chief giving copy of halo 4

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand, the Master Chief personally gives you your copy!

This was from the Auckland launch where Kiwis can be the first in the world to get their hands on Halo 4 due to the time difference from the rest of the world.



Saturday, November 3

JJ Reviews FUD FIVE

The Hunted...
It's been a long time coming for Forward Unto Dawn to go all Black Hawk on our ass and while episode 4 started to cranking into some real Halo action, the fifth and final webisode of the FUD series delivered an epic set piece worthy of having the Halo name attached.

If you'll recall the events of FUD 4, our heroes were making a dash in a Warthog for a Pelican to beat a hasty exist off the Planet.

With a knowing nod to the Halo CE Warthog' mechanics, Laskey comments that the Warthog is hard to drive. I think it would be too if your exit route was paved with Jackals!

Our heroes are forced to stop after driving over a very keen Jackal which leads to them realising their foe has withdrawn. The Chief figures out they are being hunted and so begins the climax of the series, the Chief taking down a Hunter.

Correction, make that two Hunters - as any Halo fan will know, the Mgalekgolo always hunt in pairs.

The production values of FUD really shine at the point, a silhouette of a Hunter against a forest backdrop is truly  menacing and a fantastic set piece where the Master Chief climbs on the back of one to implant a grenade within its wormy structure serves as a fitting climax to the series.

What this does show, for this writer anyway, is that if a Halo movie is to work, it needs to feature the Master Chief and lots of him. The extremely long slow burn to get to some action was painful as a viewer to behold.

Too many characters in the first three episodes where introduced and were effectively merely set up cannon fodder for Covenant troops. Frankly, any old trooper could have been killed along the way for shock value.

That said, it will keep me up at night wondering how this guy died.

If the Gears of War movie gets off the ground, it will be interesting to see how they hand the pace of the film. if done well that could perhaps serve as a guide to how a proper Halo movie could be made.

A nice coda at the end of the episode shows Laskey as a war veteran aboard the UNSC Infinity vessel (remembering an old love), thus suggesting he might feature in the Halo 4 game and some what poignantly tying in the name of series into the whole thread of the Halo cannon.


Friday, November 2

Bioware talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

mass-effect-game

Bioware's Ryan Warden talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

You may have heard that the Mass Effect series is going to be bundled up into one pack across a range of gaming platforms. Sounds like it was a mammoth task to get it all together. Here's an article that was post on the Bioware Blog. 

-

I’m Ryan Warden, the External Producer for Mass Effect Trilogy. I’ve been with BioWare for almost 9 years now – first as a tools programmer, then working with external teams to coordinate the translation and foreign-language voice recording for the Mass Effect series. Lately I’ve been working to help bring you Mass Effect Trilogy for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.

We began work on Mass Effect Trilogy in earnest last April, shortly after Mass Effect 3 had shipped. The trilogy was complete, but there was a slight complication — there are people who had missed out on one (or more) titles in the series. From day one, we had announced that Mass Effect would be part of a trilogy. Jumping into the series at a midpoint could be intimidating. One thing you should know about our development team is that we’re all very passionate about the trilogy, the entire Mass Effect universe. So we started looking at ways to take away any intimidation or barriers players new to the franchise might feel, while also providing an amazing overall experience at a great price for the holidays. So the Mass Effect Trilogy was born.

Now I know that may sound like an easy thing to do, but it actually took a lot of talented people and a lot of effort to make this happen – for every version of Mass Effect Trilogy. Even for the platforms we’ve launched all three games on before, reissuing a game isn’t easy. There isn’t a switch in the game code that you can flip and suddenly it runs on newer, completely different hardware architecture or a new online client. There is no such thing as “just a port.” Luckily, we have great partners at Microsoft and EA who were instrumental in helping us make as seamless of an experience as possible for all three games.

Then there was building the original Mass Effect for the PlayStation 3.

Fortunately, we had a huge head start because of the work we had done with Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 for PS3. With that said, the original Mass Effect game was built completely differently than its successors, as we’ve learned a lot of lessons since then about how-to and how-not-to build a game. To be completely honest, I thought that it was unlikely that we could port Mass Effect in less than a year. It might take three years. Maybe even twenty-three! Fortunately, the team at Edge of Reality, an external team we’ve worked with in the past on many projects, thought otherwise. So we decided to try.

There were some complications. The audio technology that we originally used was no longer supported by its developer… and the engine didn’t support the PS3. “No problem,” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution. The levels and art assets in Mass Effect were massive and streaming into memory would probably have to work differently on the PS3 – which is NOT a trivial issue. “Shouldn’t be a problem’” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution.

Wrap up of Halo 4 Reviews from around the net


Here's a selection of choice paragraphs of the pre release press reviews of Halo 4. They are pretty impressive and it's clear that Halo 4 is a new era in Halo's chapter. 

Game Informer loves it

343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation.

Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and well-structured in the series.


It starts with a mesmerizing CG cutscene that flat-out knocks you on your ass. The lighting is flawless, subtle movements and animations abound, and it even goes so far that Commander Lasky (yes, the same Lasky we see as a teenager in the Forward Unto Dawn webseries) has crooked teeth – not the usual polygon-perfect Chiclet choppers that every other animated video game human has. It strikes a fine balance between old-school fan service and establishing context for new players, and it quickly segues into gameplay, where Halo 4’s greatest strength becomes immediately apparent: its gunplay.

Of course, gorgeous graphics are only one responsibility a console’s killer app must bear. Perhaps equal to Halo 4’s monitor-melting visuals is its bar-none, best-in-class sound design. If you think you’ve heard Halo, check your ears and listen again. Nary a gunshot, MJOLNIR boot clank, or Covenant Elite’s “Wort wort wort” passes through your speakers without a significant, authoritative overhaul that lends an aggressive, testosterone-inducing punch to Halo 4’s combat.

Wednesday, October 31

Halo 4 plumbs new depths of infrastructure to keep it all running


Here's an article on the behind the scenes needs to keep the juggernaught of Halo 4's back end infrastructure up and running.
Jerry Hook and Tamir Melamed, the hardest-working plumbers in the video game world not named Mario or Luigi. 
Hook and Melamed lead the engineering team laying the subterranean IT structures that will power every pixel of the multiplayer experience in “Halo 4.” Everything fans experience online – stats, screenshots, the simple joy of blasting a friend or stranger to smithereens – depends on the infrastructure they’ve built over the past year and half. That infrastructure is supported by Windows Azure, which provides the team with the affordable scalability they need to keep a game like “Halo 4” running smoothly for fans.
Tamir Melamed and Jerry Hook
Tamir Melamed and Jerry Hook

The average gamer probably doesn’t think about the virtual machines, cloud services and other technologies that power their fun – at least not as long as everything runs smoothly. When “Halo 4” launches Nov. 6, millions of fans around the world will simultaneously push the game’s back-end scaffolding to the limit. Any glitch, any hang-up, and the engineering team gets thrust into the spotlight. 
“That's the lot of the plumbers of the world,” says Melamed, principal development manager for Microsoft’s 343 Industries. “You only think about them when something goes wrong.”
If Hook and Melamed are concerned about the launch, they don’t show it. They’re both naturally modest and laid back – probably by necessity. When the first “Halo" game launched more than a decade ago, the video game industry’s rhythm was more or less straightforward: create a bunch of discs, ship them, and start work on the next release.

Things have changed. Since “Halo 2,” the franchise has supported online multiplayer games via Xbox LIVE. Today the Halo Waypoint site is open 24/7, serving as a central hub for fans craving online games and Halo-related content. The upcoming “Halo” release features Infinity Multiplayer, a vastly expanded suite of multiplayer modes, weapons, vehicles, armor abilities and more. And “Halo 4” takes the multiplayer experience even further with Spartan Ops, a series of episodic videos coupled with missions that will stream to users every week. 
Hook, Melamed and their colleagues on 343 Industries’ Section 3 team will be responsible for keeping things running for months, even years after the official launch. (The team takes its name from the Halo universe; fittingly, Section 3 refers to a military branch responsible for black ops.)
“‘Halo’ from here on out does not end,” says Hook, executive producer at Section 3. “It’s a sustained franchise. Players will always feel engaged.”

To keep things up 24/7, they decided to take the franchise’s existing infrastructure – built over a decade by the Bungie game studio – and move it to Windows Azure. The team says Azure gives them a robust, cost-effective way to scale up and scale down as demand ebbs and flows across the globe.

Meanwhile, they’ve built up a team of engineers that possesses serious coding chops and the ability to stay sane in the always-on world of live services.

“We know we can’t anticipate the 101 things that will go wrong,” Hook says. “The only thing we can control is ensuring our team responds appropriately to those situations.”
Hook and Melamed recently sat down with the Microsoft News Center to chat about “Halo 4,” the gaming industry’s shift to a services-oriented world, and how to stay cool when the building’s on fire. 
MNC: So how does your behind-the-scenes work show up in “Halo 4?
Melamed: There's a whole new slew of scenarios we enable on the back-end, either in the game or on Waypoint, that people enjoy: screenshots, their stats and the ability to compare to friends, different game modes. We make sure if someone is hassling someone else in the game you can ban them. All those abilities really help users enjoy the game more. 
Hook: From my perspective, part of what 343 Industries is trying to do is have a conversation with fans. When you talk about service-driven game development, when you talk about new modes like Spartan Ops, these start becoming more long-tail models for entertainment instead of release a disc, go dark and come back. That means your community engagement maintains through one title to the next title as much as possible.
So there’s what Tamir was talking about in the game, like screenshots and map packs, but you also see more entertainment like Spartan Ops. Think about a TV show: you don’t just launch and then go dark until the next year. With Spartan Ops, we’ll release an episode every week. Each episode is comprised of five missions with stories similar to your campaign. So for the first time when you purchase a disc, you don’t just have one campaign but you get two: the standard one and an ongoing, episodic one. 
MelamedFans will be able to come back every week and experience a new episode. They can jump in at any time, or watch and play old episodes – as you would similar to DVR. Players will be excited to come back to the title for the new experiences.

Saturday, October 27

Mass Effect movie progressing?


Word on the street is that a Mass Effect movie is still in the works. Apparently  screenwriter Morgan Davis Foehl has been tapped to write another script. Thor screenwriter Mark Protosevich wrote a draft of Mass Effect some time ago, but given how terrible THAT movie* was, I'm not surprised Foehl has been given the chance to beat the movie into shape.

Given Gears of War is in development hell, and the Halo movie was reduced the to Forward Unto Dawn series, I'll believe a Mass Effect movie is happening when I have the ticket in my hands. 

Still you can always watch the animated film that's serves a prequel to ME3.

*Protosevich also rewote the terrible I am Legend, the flop that was the Poseidon - I wonder if he's been living off the glory of the The Cell for too long. Let's hope Jurassic Park IV doesn't suck. 

Dragon Age III concept artwork

The Bioware blog proudly boasts these concept art pictures of there forth coming game,  Dragon Age III: Inquisition:

concept-art-dragon-age-inquisition

concept-art-dragon-age

concept-art-dragon


Friday, October 26

JJ Reviews: FUD part IV

master-chief-forward-unto-dawn
Jump in.
The pace picks up with the fourth episode of the Forward Unto Dawn series.

Faced with certain death, the cadets manage to find themselves cornered by a Elite. Caught by fear and a lack of weaponry they appear doomed until the Big Green Guy turns up to save the day with a cliched take-down-the-enemy-from-behind move to introduce the character. Cheesey, but it worked for a fine introduction of the Chief.

From there, our now armed and motivated cadets are escorted by the Chief to a Warthog so as to make an extraction point with a Pelican. Our heroes are besieged by a crew of Jackals who are raining green lasers and pink crystal shards from a roof top.

The camera work is fast and furious with a technique of showing a lot of action in slow motion which then lapses in to real time. A shot of the Chief jumping from a fair height and completing a land that would have put him into Olympic medal contention was very well done.

As I watched, I wistfully rued once more that I was watching 'Halo movie light' and not the full Hollywood production that Peter Jackson had planned.

I appreciated what appeared to be a nod to the infamous power of the original Halo: Combat Evolved pistol - the Chief managed to take down 2 or 3 Jackals with single shots from a fair distance.

Not sure where part 5 is going to take us, the simple plot story line suggests nothing major in terms of Halo canon will occur but maybe we'll get to see the next episode from the point of view of the Arbiter..... ;)

Thursday, October 25

The many faces of Cortana

cortana pictures

Like the many faces of the Master Chief last week, Waypoint has now just thrown up the evolution of Cortana. For those who've never played Halo before, she's the Master Chief's spiritual guide of sorts. She featured in Halo 4 and we bore witness to her state of rampancy.

I guess seeing  Cortana made a cameo in Halo: Reach the line up should have included a shot of her from that game:

cortana-cameo-halo-reach
Cortana's cameo in Halo: Reach 

More pictures of Cortana can be found here.