Gears of Halo - Video game reviews, news and cosplay

Halo and Destiny - news and reviews.

Saturday, September 29

Win an Xbox and Halo 4 with Gears of Halo and GameStop



UPDATE 2

Lone Wolf failed to get in touch and GrimBrotherOne won in the redraw. Box is now in his keen hands, congrats to you!
UPDATE:


LoneWolf Mcquaid was drawn from the hat!!

Please make contact asap via jimmyjangles@gmail.com to get details on how to claim your Xbox!

 Win an Xbox and Halo 4 with Gears of Halo and GameStop!


GameStop has offered Gears of Halo readers the chance to win an Xbox and a copy of Halo 4:

Exciting news, Spartans! Now through November 6th, those who pre-order Halo 4 at GameStop get three bonus exclusives that YOU choose! Vote each day for your favorites and a get a chance to win a $500 GameStop gift card. Visit Halo4Vote.com to enter and get complete details.

In addition to the three bonus exclusives, the following exclusives are also available with pre-orders at GameStop:

· Customizable Forest Armor Skin

· Mjolnir, Assassin, and Bonebreaker Emblem Set (PowerUp Rewards members only)

To sweeten the deal even more, GameStop is offering Gears of Halo fans, an exclusive chance to win an Xbox 360 and copy of Halo 4 once the game comes out on November 6th.

To win the loot, just Like this page on Facebook or Google Plus and then comment on this post with the bonus exclusive you will be voting for at Halo4Vote.com and we’ll pick one random winner (must be 18 and live in the USA). Contest ends on October 28th and all rights are reserved and our decision is final.

Friday, September 28

Spartan Ops Promotional Images released by 343

warthog halo 4Spartan Ops Promotional Images released by 343

Here's a whole bunch of Halo 4 Spartan Operations that I found at the Xbox site in the Press Kit section. Elites go boom and Grunts go flying in them. The images show off in really good detail some of the customisation you'll be able to apply to your solider and some of the kit they'll be using such as the rocket launcher, warthogs and ghosts.


rockets halo 4
Rocket Man

warthog running over an elite
Excuse me good Sir, do you mind moving?

Bungie hated Halo Wars. No surprise there then.

halo-wars

Halo Wars was a shitty game developed by Ensemble Studios which was closed down. Probably because Halo Wars was a shitting game. Tony Goodman was a big wig at Ensemble who lost his job when Ensemble was shut down probably for making a shitty Halo game. He was interviewed by Game Industry International on the subject  Tony described as 'The publisher as we know it may become extinct, but the publisher won't become extinct.' which sounds absolutely fascinating. Either way he blames publishers for making him make a shitty Halo game. 

Here's what Mr Goodman said about his shitty Halo game, Halo Wars.

Q: Halo Wars from what I understand was forced upon you guys. You were working on a game and had the Halo IP forced onto it after the fact. That's one of the downsides of working for a company that is beholden to huge franchises and, of course, to shareholders…

Tony Goodman: That's exactly correct. We wanted to reinvent the RTS in the console space, or kind of invent it in the first place because there hadn't been any good ones. And we made a lot of progress on that project. At the time, the lead designer was Graeme Devine, and I think it was Peter Moore who was the head of Microsoft [Xbox] before Don Mattrick. But Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, "I don't know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We'd feel better if Halo were attached to it." The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same. They just said, "Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?" But things aren't quite that simple.

And another problem was that Bungie was never up for it. So we started with Halo Wars, which I think turned out to be a really fantastic, under-recognized product. But Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was "the whoring out of our franchise" or something. Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]. So those are some of the dangers of working with a publisher. It's certainly easy to understand the publisher's point of view. "Looks like you're doing a great game, but wouldn't it be greater if it had Master Chief attached?"

-

Well at least we haven't Halo Kart. Yet.

Thursday, September 27

Is your copy of Halo signed by Bill Gates?

Do you remember when Halo 3 was launched? That day was like Christmas for me. After a long slow burning build up the day arrived.

And so it turns out that Bill Gates sold the first official copy of Halo 3 to this dude on the picture. It was apparently the only thing Bill signed that day.

I do wonder if it really was the first copy sold as I'm pretty sure New Zealand was the first country in the world to officially open for business that day as we are a head of time zone ...

Wednesday, September 26

JJ Reviews: Dead Space 2


dead-space-2-logo

JJ Reviews: Dead Space 2

Apparently in space they can still hear Issac Newton scream..... fresh from my run through of the original Dead Space campaign (which despite taking a while to get going, I found it to be a strong gaming experience [He sees dead people! He's like that kid from The Sixth Sense!]) I thought I'd give the sequel ago.

Waking in a hospital, strapped into a well tailored straight-jacket, I'm immeadiatley confronted with my apparent rescuer taking a bony arm to his eyeball, signalling the start of a frentic run through a hospital that's seemingly overun with the Necromorphs. Nice start Viceral Games!

Early on it's clear the graphics in Dead Space 2 are much improved over the original game. It seems to move more fluidly and I like the new changes - the rig looks a little more friendly and I'm seeing and hearing hero Issac's face more. Add all this to some nice frights and well drawn bits and pieces, walls, furniture and fancy door locks, Dead Space 2 looks to be the money.

What I'm loving 2 hours into the campaign is the destructible environment, new, scary monsters and even though it's still get from A to B and solve stuff along the way, that activity has been made less a chore. That happens when trains nearly land on top of you.

There was a particular level where I was endlessly wandering around in a church and I was attacked by a group of very grumpy creatures that reminded me of Velociraptors. So I was extremely delighted after having slaughtered them when I earned and achievement called "Clever girls" which was a play on a scene from the film Jurrasic Park. Through out the game there was another 3 or so set pieces with these creatures and they were fantastically fun to tackle.

Tuesday, September 25

Kiki Wolfkill talks about Halo's Pillars



Kiki Wolfkill talks about Halo's Pillars

Gameplanet has had a fairly long yarn with Kiki Wolfkill whom Halo fans will know as Frankie's right hand lady - i.e. one of the producers of Halo 4. 

Gameplanet: You mentioned core pillars – what are these, and how do they influence the way 343 put together the game?

Kiki Wolfkill: You can look across any number of games and they'll have similar pillars, but for us, when we sat down and started thinking about what Halo 4 needed to be, we looked at the whole breadth of things coming out over the next three years, we looked at player behaviour over the next three years, we looked broadly at how entertainment is evolving, and tried to think about those. So I think where we landed was that we needed to understand what is the key strength of Halo, and what are the key things that differentiate us.
kiki wolfkill producer
So rather than chasing other things, let's make sure we're really doubling down on things that are strengths and differentiators of Halo. And I think epic Sci-Fi is one of those, and a lot of people on the team – including myself – can clearly articulate how they felt the first time they played Halo 1. The first time they landed on that Halo ring. That became something that really resonated with the team in terms of how do we get back to that feeling?  

For people who have played Halo before, but also for people who haven't played it before, because there are people who were five years old when the first Halo came out. So how do we get that moment of wonder and awe and amazement that the player has been transported to this place that they want to explore. So that kind of gets back to that first pillar – we wanted to deliver this epic Sci-Fi adventure, and closely tied to that is the return of Master Chief. We wanted to make sure that felt meaningful.

The second pillar was really around delivering a very powerful and visceral campaign and gameplay experience. Our Halo sandbox is a really powerful and unique characteristic of Halo, so it's about how we build on that and add whole new experiences that can be gained by adding new tools to the sandbox. That's where the new enemy class came from, and all the things they bring with them. The other part of it is how do we ensure a good first-person experience? 

A 900 pound Spartan named John
A 900 pound Spartan named John 

You're a 900-pound Spartan, you're heavy and powerful, but you're also very nimble and light – how do we make sure the player feels that a little bit more in the style of their movement, and the audio that they're hearing in their heads-up display? I think those became focal points around that pillar.

Then the third is that we have to deliver on innovation in multiplayer. For us that manifested itself in Spartan Ops, exploring this whole new delivery method and a whole new co-operative mode, and also the changes we made to the competitive multiplayer. Having this infinity multiplayer overlay, this idea that there is a narrative that connects you to the campaign experience, and this idea that the campaign and multiplayer aren't these completely disconnected game experiences. We want all of it to feel like it's part of a whole, and in multiplayer when you build your Spartan force, you have a sense of place and understanding as being part of that universe.

-

I think this shows that Kiki should clone herself and she should work on every game!

Are you New Zealand's best Halo player?

Are you New Zealand's best Halo player? NZGamer is hosting a competition to find out who is the best of the best to celebrate the launch of Halo 4.

If you think you can deliver the beat down to NZ's finest Halo players, register your intent here and win a Halo 4 console.

To give my fellow Kiwis a chance of winning some sweet prizes, I won't be entering.....




Halo 4 campaign game play Video


promethean knight

Here's a video of some Halo 4 campaign game play - the feature of which the animation that occurs where our hero the Master Chief assassinates a Promethean Knight with his own sword. It's brutally awesome.



Extra for Experts: Check out this Lego version of the Promethean Knight.

Promethean Knight as Lego

lego-halo-promethean-knight


LegoHaulic has made these sweet Lego creations of Halo 4's antagonists, the Prometheans. He's got the Knight, Crawler and the flying thing all sussed!

Spartans go on a date?

spartan cosplay dress date


Are Spartans allowed to date each other? Is that against UNSC regulations?

I found this spartacular image on my ipad and I have no memory of how it got there. But here it is, some full Halo glory. Any one know what the deal was? Looks like the hook up happened at Comic Con....

Sunday, September 23

The Trash Room

The 'Trash Room' as found on Reach's Pillar of Autumn Level

Saturday, September 22

Are there Hunters in Halo 4?

hunter-halo-4-four

Are there Hunters in Halo 4?  There sure are! Check out this render


Those damn insurrectionists! Halo 4 Propaganda

Those damn insurrectionists! Halo 4 Propaganda

Halo 4 Flood Mode: Quelle Horreur!


flood-halo-4

Flood Mode

Little English blog let it be known that Halo 4 will feature Flood Mode.

Do you recall Infection Mode from the prior Halo games? It's been replaced with Flood Mode.

So instead of the Walk Dead running round with swords, the mode will feature Spartans who have succumbed to the plague of the Flood.

Word on the streets of France is that the Flood Mode supports up to 12 players with two playing as Alpha Flood Infected and the other 10 attempting to survive and not get turned to the dark side. While infected players do not carry a weapon, they do have sharp claws and enhanced vision (promethean?) to hunt down their Spartan prey.

Great to see that along with the permanent addition of Grif Ball, Halo 4 is truly mixing things up a bit.


Frankie says the weirdest things


This from the guy with the balloon fetish about the Halo 4 user interface:

When a Halo fan at Neogaf asked a question about the secondary weapon UI on screen for H4 or lack of it,  Frank from 343 had this to say:

No. Not a bug. Weird emergent UI decision based on a number of factors. At first my mind was blown, because I found out about it in a review meeting internally, but then it was pointed out to me I had been playing like that for six months and never noticed - just like the grand majority of test subjects. That's the symptom, but the reason is slightly more layered.

* There are so many weapons that silhouettes become semi-meaningless. Sure you can see a plasma pistol, but by the time players get to concussion rifle versus plasma mortar, those start to lose mnemonic cohesion. You add in several geometric and semi-symmetrical forerunner weapons, DMR versus BR, increased necessary sandbox cycling in campaign, MP and SPOPs, playlist/mode cycling and several other scenarios you can fill in yourself, as well as multiple user selectable load outs, it became apparent through testing and data that the most effective method for payers to understand what their secondary weapon was - was the weapon switch button, followed surprisingly, by memory. The experience and data around those allow us to reduce UI clutter by one item. And the HUD, while in some ways more subtle In terms of saturation and brightness now, needs as much clarity and simplicitly as possible to increase immersion and enhance gameplay space without letting its animation and audio do more than increase the sense of 'place 'in the user FOV.

It's an almost invisible and very subtle change for a very subtle improvement in the experience on balance. In certain game modes, Snipers for example, it's easy to see why it doesn't matter. But ironically player load outs vastly improve player awareness about what secondaries are. Worst case scenario, you will barely notice and get used to it. Best case scenario it will streamline your experience and in a hyper edge case, save your life when an enemy Tag appears in that extra real estate.

That's an experiential description, not necessarily the design breakdown.

-

Just goes to show that leaving something so simple as an element of the User Interface in or out of  a video game can be a quite a nuanced decision!

Thursday, September 20

Possibly the most perfect Cortana cosplay ever!

cortana-halo-model-cosplay-sexy
 I am your shield; I am your sword

This photo is possibly the most perfect Cortana cosplay ever


The blues are awesome, the face is pretty and the costume is subtle enough to not be so obvious that it's a roughly made onsie.... what do you think - is this player's version of Cortana better than these keen lasses?

For those not in the know, Cortana is a popular character from the Halo franchise. She's expected to play a big role in Halo 4, indeed it's known she's going to go rampant.

Found with another image of the curvey Cortana here.

Tuesday, September 18

Bioware announce a new Mass Effect game is coming

Some random ME fan art
Bioware signals a new Mass Effect game is on the way.

In the midst of two dudes retiring, Bioware managed to announce two things related to the Mass Effect franchise.

The first thing is more DLC is on the way. The second is a full ME game is coming:

"Executive Producer Casey Hudson and his team are coming off an amazing eight-year run with the Mass Effect trilogy. But they’re not done yet. We are releasing more multiplayer content and we have more single-player stories coming throughout the next six months, including Omega which is coming in the Fall.

But the Mass Effect universe is vast, and Casey and our teams have plans for another full game. “Where to go next?” with such a project has been a question a lot of us have been asking, and we’d all love to hear your ideas."

I think I've said it before - Casey Hudson better get his 'scripting' right with any new game.....

Monday, September 17

Commander Sheppard Fan Artwork

shepard-femshep-fan-art

I was checking out Tash Vader's fantastic Tumbler site and spied this fantastic fan art of Commander Sheppard from the Mass Effect series. The colours are just amazing. Check out Muju's deviantART page for more wicked Femsheps!

Saturday, September 15

Halo 4 campaign clip montage



Here's a youtube video of all the Halo 4 campaign film clips that have been released over the last while. The planet Requiem sure looks like an interesting place!

Friday, September 14

Sweet sketch of the master Chief

Sweet sketch of the master Cheif

Here's a the start of a sweet sketch / colouring of the Master Chief which is reminiscent of the Halo 2 era by Redditor kirstyglanville. I think it's pretty sweet, you can check out the full work here.

Wednesday, September 12

Return of the Forerunners Vidoc for Halo 4

promethean-knight-halo

Return of the Forerunners Vidoc for Halo 4



Here's a 10 minute vidoc from 343 Industries that delves a little bit deeper into the Foreunner mythology  and class of Foreunner known as the Prometheans that will be the antagonists of the Halo 4 game.

Featuring usual suspects like Kiki Wolfkill, Josh Holmes, Brian Reed and of course Frankie, the vidoc explains about Foreunner design considerations and the challenge of making the presence of Forerunners fit as being active participators in a Halo campaign.

The vidoc also shows some of the flash new Forerunner weapons in action - the bolt pistol looks pretty cool!

As I hadn't noticed it before (despite the above picture!) the vidoc points out how the Prometheans have parts that appear to be floating, rather than attached to their giant frames.

This video leaves me in no doubt that Halo 4 is going to be the best game of the series. Some of the game play and vistas shown is totally amazing. The campaign has a high quality look about it.

I wonder if there will be a 'Bob' class of Forerunner and if so what should his name be? I propose Jack.

Cortana and the Chief by Levi Hoffmeier

halo-artwork-cortana-mastercheif

You might recall that Levi Hoffmeier has done a lot of concept art design work for Halo. He's a pretty impressive art  designer and he clearly loves Halo and has done some more imaginations on what Halo 4 might look like but I just love this picture of the Chief and his digital goddess, Cortana. Levi says he was "trying to channel 70's / 80's space opera covers."

Is the Promethean Knight's design based on Megatron?


megatron promethean knight comparison

Is the Promethean Knight's design based on Megatron?

I couldn’t help but wonder if Halo’s Promethean Knights are some kind of distant cousin to the fearsome Decepticon leader, Megatron. They seem to share some of the same characteristics – except for the fact Megatron is a robot and the Promethean is a Forerunner…..

What do you think? Am I stretching it a bit? You disagree? Don't be such a Negatron

Sunday, September 9

The official list of Halo 4 Promethean Enemies


battle-wagon-knight-halo-4



The official list of Halo 4 Promethean Enemies

If you haven't yet heard, Halo 4 will feature a new set of bad guys for the Master Chief to pummel into submission. Those guys would be the Prometheans, a form of Forerunner who supposedly serve to protect the Diadact.....
Here's a list of the foes you will face. 

Alpha Crawler - More dangerous than the standard variety, the Alpha leads packs of Crawlers into battle. Luckily, Alphas can be identified by the series of Hardlight spikes along their head and back. this unit uses Supressors as a ranged weapon.

Crawler - The most common Prometheans on Requiem are the Crawlers. Crawlers are extremely agile and move in packs. The can swarm an enemy and tear them to pieces, or utilize a Boltshot from a distance.
crawler
A man will crawl? 

Crawler Sniper - A long range variety of the Crawler.

Knight - The captains of the Promethean force, the autonomous and intelligent Knights are ancient warriros tasked with defending the artificial world called Requiem. An encounter with a single Knight can turn deadly, as they systematically bring more enemies into the fight. Knights wield weapons like the Supressor and LightRifle.

Knight Lancer - Utilized primarily as scouts and marksmen, Lancers are extremely accurate even at a great distance. Among their many skills, Lancers utilize Promethean Vision to track targets even when they're behind solid objects.

Halo 4 Promethean weapons details


scatter-shot-halo-4-description

Halo 4 Promethean Weapons


Here's the official list of the weapons that the Promethean species found on the planet Reqiuem will be shooting from the hip with in Halo 4. There's seven news weapons in total to play with in the new sandbox. 

Promethean Binary Rifle - The Z-750 Special Application Sniper Rifle includes two core-mounted particle accelerators with unparalleled stopping power to bring down distant foes with one shot.

Promethean Bolt Shot - The Z-110 Directed Enemy Pistol is designed as a close-range precision weapon that devastates organic matter.  Historically, the Boltshot came into use at the end of the first century of conflict between the Forerunners and the Flood, and remained in use until the war ended two centuries later.

Promethean Incineration Cannon - The Anti-Material Z-390 High-Explosive Munitions Rifle fires several streams of explosive particles along multiple paths that detonate and spread on impact.  Mixing traits of a rocket launcher, shotgun, and flame-thrower, it's a highly destructive weapon.

Saturday, September 8

Halo 4 spoilers about the Prometheans

prothean-knight

A user on NeoGAF, has spilled his guts about what he read in Game Informer about the “Prometheans” in Halo 4. Take with a grain of salt and be wary of spoilars!
  • The Knights are one of three subdivisions within the Prometheans.
  • Crawlers are basically cannon fodder to distract from the Knights.
  • Watchers are support units. They can shield knights, spawn watchers, resurrect knights.
  • Prometheans work together strategically.
  • Frankie's example of a Knight sniping him, he takes cover behind a column, Crawlers attack him by crawling down from the column.
  • Promethean weapons/equipment designed to fight Flood.
There are different variants of Knights, watchers, and crawlers.
  • Knight - Deadly warriors, use weapons like Light Rifle and Supressor.
  • Knight Lancer - Scouts and Marksmen, use Promethean Vision to locate hidden enemies
  • Knight Commander - Have skills of Knights, but can wield Incineration Cannons, stronger armour, Autosentry turrets
  • Knight Battlewagon - Rare but incredibly dangerous, huge frames draped in heavy armor and hardlight shielding, can deploy Autosentries, will wield Scattershot if you get too close. 
  • Watcher - Wield boltshots, summon crawlers, protect and resurrect Knights.
  • Crawler - Agile and move in packs, fire Boltshot from distance
  • Crawler Snipe - upgraded crawlers
  • Alpha Crawler - Lead packs of Crawlers, has a Supressor
Some more tid bits about the Prometheans:
  • Prometheans work for the Forerunner civilization, "or whatever is left of it."
  • Why do they now appear as robotic entities? Were they always this way?
  • Prometheans are directed by a "general of sorts".
  • First you encounter the Covenant. Then the Prometheans. But it is when they combine forces, and how they combine, that will offer biggest surprises.
  • Also, the variants of the Prometheans weren't the blue ones, perhaps
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I'm not sure about these crawlers, they seem like a lame, annoying replacement for Grunts?

Frankie Says: one map in Halo 4 is a remake

Frankie Says: one map in Halo 4 is a remake:


I guess it's not Turf then :(

Update: the remade map is Valhalla, known as Ragnarok. It features the Mantis.

CTF rules for Halo 4, the medals on offer!

CAPTURE-FLAG-HALO

Everything you need to know for Capture the Flag in Halo 4 as borrowed from the Waypoint Bullentin as written by BS Angel. 


Halo 4 CTF


We recreated CTF as an all-new experience for Halo 4. Our goals early on were to create a fresh and exciting experience, focusing heavily on team play and being the flag carrier. If you didn’t get a chance to play the new CTF over the weekend at PAX, here are some elements of the new CTF experience.


Flag Carrier Experience – Picking Up the Flag

This is easily the biggest addition to CTF in Halo 4, and we’ve made it a huge focus and priority to develop. Before we run through the changes, let’s talk about becoming the flag carrier, which is an experience in and of itself.

The first thing you’ll notice about being a carrier in Halo 4 is you’ll automatically pick up the flag. Unlike a weapon, you won’t need to hold or press a button to take the flag. We extensively tested different flag pick-up methods and settled on this one as it gets you into the action very quickly. While there will be occasions when you accidentally pick up the flag, we feel this is worth it as you can now easily grab the flag from a tough-to-reach location with just a touch, and there’s a very natural feel to the transition. We’ve also carefully tuned the flag pick-up radius, so you’ll need to be right on top of the flag to grab it.


Flag Carrier Experience – The Flagnum

The moment you pick up the flag, you’ll hold the flag in your left hand and draw a Magnum in your right. The Magnum allows you to defend yourself in combat and joust other flag carriers. We’re still working with the exact tuning of the flag carrier’s Magnum, but we’re hoping to give the flag carrier a slight damage boost. As in previous Halo games, your melee attack will still instant-kill. You can’t switch weapons while holding the flag, and there are unlimited reloads on the Magnum. We’ve also added a brand new assassination called the “Flagsassination”.

Flag Carrier Experience – Movement Speed

Unlike previous Halo games, you’ll move at full speed as a flag carrier, including jump and strafe. One difference to regular movement is you can’t sprint. However, a huge advantage to the Magnum is forcing enemies to stop sprinting – so in most encounters, you’re on a nearly level playing field.


Flag Carrier Experience – You are the Objective

As soon as you pick up the flag, your HUD will change to highlight the point of delivery. Each player in the new CTF has a special presentation layer that changes based on the current game state. The new HUD features clear navpoints and verbs that let you keep track of the objectives and flag locations with just a glance. When you’re holding the flag, you’ve got a job to do – deliver it! You’ll become the center of attention as your teammates are charged with escorting you, and enemies with stopping you. To help reinforce this, you can’t drop the flag; this makes you the centerpiece of encounters as you move the flag to the delivery point, with teammates escorting you along the way.


Rule Changes – Scoring

One of the biggest rule changes to CTF is your team flag is no longer required to be at home to score; we found this keeps the flags moving across the maps through the flag lanes, and helps focus the flag defense, escort, and capture objectives. In a tie game with one point to win, flag carriers and teammates will have a tough decision of running the flag or stopping the enemy flag carrier. We’ve seen this lead to epic carrier vs. carrier battles that were so exciting we even created special rewards for them (more on this later).


Rule Changes – Defending and Returning the Flag

When the enemy team drops your flag, the return timer will start. The timer is now clearly integrated into the flag’s navpoint, so it won’t be a surprise when it returns back to your base. Unlike previous Halo titles, standing on the flag will not speed up its return timer. We found this greatly improved the flag attack and defend scenarios as players can use more of the play space around their flag to defend it. It also helps to think of the flags as moving entities across the map, and your job is to keep the enemies moving, and yours in one place. So many games come down to the final moment, and defending your flag for even a few seconds can make all the difference.


Rule Changes – Overtime

Overtime is also new and improved for Halo 4, and you’ll get there if time runs out in CTF and the score is still tied. Overtime is now 60 seconds long, and the first team to score wins the match. We’ve added some intense dynamic music in OT to keep the pressure on.


Scoring

As in Infinity Slayer, you’ll be earning points in CTF not only for your team by scoring flags, but also for yourself by contributing to your team. Each medal in CTF awards you with medal points, which determine your place on the scoreboard compared to other players. Here’s a quick summary of the medals just for CTF.



Medal Name
Description
Points
Flag Capture
Deliver the opponents flag to your base
100
Flag Carrier Kill
Kill an opponent who is carrying a flag
5
Flag Kill
Kill an opponent while holding a flag
5
Flag Defense
Kill an opponent close to your flag, or help return it
5
Flag Runner
Capture 2 flags in one game
15
Flag Champion
Capture 3 flags in one game
25
Flag Assist
Help a teammate score a flag
10
Flag Driver
Drive a Flag Carrier close to your capture point
5
Flag Joust
Kill a flag carrier while holding a flag
15
Flagsassination
Perform an assassination while holding a flag
15



In addition to CTF medals, you’ll still earn the standard medals you earn in Infinity Slayer. CTF also supports a custom game option that allows you to turn Infinity Ordnance on or off, allowing you to earn Infinity Slayer-style rewards in Capture the Flag. Team scoring is much simpler; the first team to three scores wins. 

Friday, September 7

Silentium Foreunner novel synopsis from Amazon

silentium-halo-novel-cover
Buy this novel
Silentium Foreunner novel synopsis from Amazon

You have heard that there's going to be a third Halo Foreunner novel released AFTER Halo 4 is let loose on the masses. This follows the stories of Cryptum and Primordium which have given us a never before explored insight into the mysterious Foreunners who have loomed large in the Halo games but never been met in the flesh. 

Greg Bear once again has written for the Halo franchise and this is what Amazon has to say about Silentium:

In the last years of the Forerunner empire, chaos rules. The Flood—a horrifying shape-changing parasite—has arrived in force, aided by unexpected allies. Internal strife within the ecumene has desperately weakened Forerunner defenses.

"Too little, too late, the legal rate of Juridicals is only now investigating possible crimes by the Master Builder and others. Evidence-gathering agents known collectively as Catalog have been dispatched to collect testimony from the Librarian and both Didacts: the Ur-Didact, treacherously abandoned in a Flood-infested system, and the Bornstellar Didact, who accompanies the Librarian as she preserves specimens against the dire possibility of Halo extermination.

Facing the imminent collapse of their civilization, the Librarian and the Ur-Didact reveal what they know about the relationship between the long-vanished Precursors and the Flood.

The Precursors created many technological species, including humanity and the Forerunners. But the roots of the Flood may be found in an act of enormous barbarity, carried out beyond our galaxy ten million years before...

Because of that barbarism, a greater evil looms. Only the Ur-Didact and the Librarian--husband and wife pushed into desperate conflict--hold the keys to a solution.

Facing the consequences of a mythic tragedy, one of them must now commit the greatest atrocity of all time—to prevent an insane evil from dominating the entire universe."

This sounds like a pretty epic conclusion to the Forerunner saga! It is most interesting this novel is being released following Halo 4 - from this synopsis one could inter-alia guess that it's adventures are confined to a time frame set prior to the Chief finding himself on the planet Reqiuem - which wouldn't mean the novel HAS to come out after Halo 4's release. This makes me wonder if it's release is merely timed to coincide with a post Halo release honeymoon period and thus perhaps encourage sales of the book. 

Time will tell.  You can pre-order Silentium from Amazon here

Thursday, September 6

Steve Downes - the voice of Master Chief


steve-downes-halo-john117
Wake me when you need me


Steve Downes - the voice of Master Chief

After I wrote about the stir in Japan about the voice actors of Cortana and the Masterchief being changed for the Japanese version of Halo 4, thought I'd look up Steve Downes who a lot of Halo fans might recognise as the Master Chief. Steve has sort of become famous in the gaming community for his role as the voice of John 117 - he is of course the ying to Jen Taylor's yang.

Here's his biography which shows that along with being The Big Green Guy, he's got a full time job as a radio DJ, does other voice over work

From Steve Downes site.

'Millions of fans already know Steve Downes' legendary sound as the voice of one of the world's most beloved heroes: The super Spartan cyber-soldier--Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 from Bungie Studio's top selling HALO video game series for Xbox. But countless many have also heard this epically talented VO extraordinaire as the exclusive voice for the Carnival Cruiselines national ad campaign and as narrator for The Discovery Channel's hit show--The Shark Attack Files.

Some of Steve's other voiceover credits include Sears Craftsman Tools, International Truck, Comerica Bank/Michigan and the Chesapeake Energy TV campaigns, just to name a few. And Steve's exceptional and acclaimed voice work doesn't stop at the monumentally successful Halo game series and these fantastic commercial, promo and narration spots…

Over the years Steve has spent some of his down time as Chicago's favorite radio host from 97.1 FM WDRV, “The DRIVE,” and he's recognized, across the country, as the host of two exceedingly popular nationally syndicated radio programs: The Classics and The Wine Experience. The producers at 97.1 FM WDRV call Steve Downes a national rock 'n' roll radio icon and proudly claim that “Steve's on-air delivery and vast music knowledge not only protects The Drive's creed of 'Respect The Music', but also furthers it.”

Needless to say, Steve Downes, as the iconic voice of Master Chief (and some would say of rock 'n' roll), holds the reverence and recognition of literally millions of 12-50 year olds. This sound of a legend can tell and sell your story and save your next spot with the surefire skill, influence, experience and precision, you should only expect--and will only get--from the voice of a hero.'

If you've got the time, check out Steve's voice over reel - it's most disconcerting to hear the Master Chief talk about sex, sharks and Led Zeppelin.....

Halo's voice over actors dumped for Halo 4



cortana-concept-artwork

Halo's voice over actors dumped for Halo 4

Believe it or not but people other than yourself care about Halo so much that when the game makers change something or do something they don't like they throw their toys and cause a riot. Something Mass Effect 3 fans would never do of course. 

The Halo community of Japan did however start a petition when Soutaro Tojima, the audio director for Halo 4 announced that there would be a change in the Japanese voice over actors for the Master Chief and Cortana. 

The Japanese cast  has featured Atsuki Tani and Akiko Koike for the past Halo games but has been replaced by voice actors Rikiya Koyama and Ayumi Fujimura.

Kotaku reports that that 'the change in cast was almost immediately met with a stream of confused, worried and angry twitter posts directed at Tojima and his decision. Tojima replied that the voice cast choice was "strongly influenced by 'my own feelings'" and that when the game is released and people play it, if they are disappointed by the cast, it will be entirely his responsibility. Unsatisfied with Tojima's response, Japanese fans have put up an online petition to have the original voice actors reinstated.'

I doubt anything will change as a result of this petition however it's nice to see that gamers in Japan care just as much about Halo as us in good old New Zealand. 


Of Forerunnners, Terminals, Halo and Bornstellars

forerunner

Of Forerunnners, Terminals, Halo and Bornstellars

The Forward Unto Dawn has done an Ascendant Justice for us (man, I miss that blog!) and given us chapter and verse on the Forerunner Saga as written by Greg Bear, how those novels tie in with the Terminals found in the Halo series and more generally the wider Halo Canon, if you didn't know is the official word on how things are in the Universe. It's something to with the Pope and canon law....

Either way, here's the first few paragraphs to get you hooked else you can just dive into the whole thing.

"In fleshing out the story of the Forerunners, only hazily outlined in previous Halo media, a picture far different than what many fans expected emerged. The Forerunners were guardians of the galaxy, true–but they also harbored a hubristic streak from millennia of uncontested control of the Milky Way. Cryptum and Primordium also “humanized” the Forerunners beyond a homogenous group–there were heroes, demons, and ordinary citizens who wanted to avoid trouble. These Forerunners lived, worked, and (very occasionally) died. Families had conflicts, and society was imperfect.

And then came upstarts–humanity, and their allies the San ‘Shyuum. The Forerunners found the aliens, who encroached upon their territory, to be stubborn adversaries. Though the Forerunner beat them back, it took 50 years for the last bastion to fall. It was only after the fall of humanity–with the San Shyuum quarantined and humanity stripped of its technology and exiled to their home planet–that the Forerunner learned why the humans had fled into their territory. At the same time they were fighting the Forerunners, the humans had narrowly defeated a far more dangerous foe–the Flood.

The Forerunners were nothing if not thorough. They realized the threat that the Flood caused and began devising possible defenses. They believed their defeated human enemies might have answers, but bitter in defeat, even the dead impressions refused to yield their secrets. Eventually, the Flood did return, and after decades of warfare and exhausting every other option, the Forerunners activated the Halo Array. Every sentient being in range of the rings was eradicated to deprive the Flood of sustenance and stem its assault on the Ark, from which indexed life was reseeded across the galaxy. The Forerunners disappeared–whether any of them survived via the use of Shield Installations remains unclear, although fans may be tantalizingly close to the truth come November 6 and the release of Halo 4."

Forerunner structures found on Requiem
Forward Unto Dawn has also done a very handy and concise set of bullet points regard the plot of Halo Cryptum and Primordium:
  • Forerunners learn of the Flood after defeating humans
  • Forerunners attempt to learn cure for the Flood from humans
  • Didact proposes Shield Worlds, Faber proposes Fortress rings; Didact loses and goes into exile in a Cryptum
  • Librarian’s Conservation Measure accepted by the Council
  • Halo test fired by Mendicant Bias
  • Bias interrogates the Prisoner, goes rampant
  • Didact awakened by Bornstellar
  • Didact captured by Faber, Faber brought to trial
  • Bias attacks capitol; several of the Halo rings destroyed; fate of the capitol unknown
  • Rings flee to Ark
  • Bornstellar Didact captures Mendicant Bias and Installation 07
  • Primordial killed

Sunday, September 2

Halo: A Hero Awakens video

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Fan of Art of the Cheif
Video: Halo: A Hero Awakens



This is some nice propaganda about the Master Chief and Cortana with the staff of 343 playing up the fact the Chief will have to 'find him self' in Halo 4. The video shows how the cinematics for the cutscenes are created using human actors such as Mackenzie Mason as Cortana and Bruce Thomas as John 117. It's very interesting - it reminded me of Andy Serkis making the Lorde of the Rings.

I guess the reference to A Hero Awakens is a double word play, the Cheif waking after going into cyro sleep on the Forward Unto Dawn at the end of Halo 3 and this new apparent self discovery that will happen in H4.

Who is Mackenzie Mason, is she really Cortana in Halo 4?

Mackenzie Mason halo 4 actor
 Mackenzie Mason 
Who is Mackenzie Mason, is she really Cortana in Halo 4?

Well a fair while agao we had thought Paisha Coffey was going to be the model for Cortana in Halo 4 but the release of the A Hero Awakens video clearly shows that Mackenzie Mason has done the cinematics modelling / body acting / performance capture for the character of Cortana.

This role means Mackenzie got to run around and interact with the other actors, and most obviously play the Master Chief's counterpart. Her movements are the movements of Cortana in game.

mason-mckenzie-performance-capture-halo4
Mason doing the performance capture for Cortana.
The voice of Cortana will continue to be voiced by Jen Taylor who has done the voice over for every Halo game. 

Saturday, September 1

PAX 2012 Seattle Cosplay Pictures

cortana-costume-suit-pax

Cosplay Pictures from PAX 2012 Seattle 

Penny Arcade commonly known as PAX is on right now at the Seattle version of the event. And what does PAX mean? Well, aside from a little bit of Halo 4 news, PAX means cosplay. Here's some that was spotted by Gawker. I'm sure you'll agree, the quality of these characters and their costumes is pretty amazing - check out the ladies (!?) from Zelda!

zelda-cosplay-costumes

The sentence is death... by exile

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Halo 4 has been revealed featuring a map called Exile

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The above video shows some Halo 4 glory released at PAX, a new multiplayer map known as Exile and some Capture the Flag gametype action.

Rumour has it (sing it like Adele does if you like....) that a big changes to the traditional capture-the-flag mode is the flag carrier will find them selves in the position of not being able to intentionally drop the flag. The flag carriers also will have a waypoint marker over their head that both sides can see.

Exile itself looks big and grand and the game play in the video looks pretty sweet.


Alex Garland talks about his Halo movie script

alex-garland-writer

Alex Garland talks about his Halo movie script

Alex Garland made his name as the Danny Boyle's script writer for the films, The Beach and zombie flick, 28 Days later. Halo fans might also know him as the guy that was paid a million dollars by Microsoft to write the first draft of the Halo movie they and Bungie wanted to make.  It eventually failed to be made.

That was quite a few years ago but Alex was asked about the script in a recent interview he did for Edge Magazine as part I of what I presume was press for his the last film he scripted, Dredd.

Did you get a taste of what that’s like in your involvement with the aborted Halo movie?

AG - I didn’t really. I mean, I got hired to write a script. I wrote the script, I handed it in and that was it.
JJ - So he's not a fan boy then....
Did you get any feedback on why D.B. Weiss was hired on to do a rewrite? What were the concerns with your draft?
AG - There were no concerns initially. That was the draft that they financed and sold, and then the concerns began. You’ve got to understand, in my working life there are two different things. There are jobs I do working for hire, which I do every now and then if I’ve got bills to pay, essentially, and then there’s the films I make with DNA, which is a completely different process. I can’t get sacked from the film Dredd. I can’t get sacked from 28 Days Later. I’m not a writer for hire. I’m coming to them with a project and saying, do you want to make it? It’s a completely different set-up on all levels.
So you didn’t have as much emotional investment in the Halo script?
AG - When I’m working as a writer for hire, I’ll do the best job I can, and that’s kind of it. But I’ve got much more emotional connection to a project I can’t get sacked from, where I’ve worked on it because I’ve chosen to. I doubt I’ll ever get hired to do something like that Halo script again because I’ve done it a couple of times and it’s never worked out. So why would they keep paying me money to do it? It doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t pay me to do it, put it that way.
JJ - I guess that explains the script re-write then......
I was interested to read that Garland thinks that Bioshock had one of the greatest ever stories - that's a sign he knows his stuff eh?