Sunday, March 31

Jason Jones sensationally quits Bungie.

In a move that will wreak havoc at Bungie, founder Jason Jones has announced he has quit Bungie and will no longer be working on any projects, including the forth coming Destiny, a game he has been credited as being the creative force behind.

Jones said in a very terse press statement:

"My time with Bungie has come to an end. As I look back on my career, I've made some good games but at this stage of my life I've had a gutsful of being the chief Overlord at Bungie, and I need to find some new air to breathe. Farewell, and see you beyond the stars"

The internet has been rife with skuttlebut this morning with some Bungie forums suggesting Jones had cracked under the pressure of making Destiny, a game which possibly had the highest expectations for any game in recent history.

Some telling details have emerged on twitter about this issue. Marty O'Donnell, a long time Bungie stalwart tweeted "Sorry I stole your lunch Jason" while Frank O'Connor from rival studio, 343 Industries tweeted, "good luck with your re-invention of Tetris"

No other Bungie employees have made any public comment at this stage.

Destiny is expected to be released on 1 April 2014.

For clarity, this was an April Fool's joke. Joe Staten leaving was not.

Wednesday, March 27

Halo 4: Soundtrack 2 is revealed

Found at Halo Waypoint

Following the critical and commercial success of the record-breaking 2012 release Halo 4 Original Soundtrack by the award-winning producer and composer Neil Davidge, we are pleased to announce, in conjunction with 7Hz Productions, the release of Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2, available on April 8th 2013.

Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2 is a 20-track digital release and companion volume, featuring an expanded landscape of the key musical themes from the game that we couldn't fit on the first volume. 11 of the tracks are composed and produced by Neil Davidge with a further 8 by 343 in-house composer Kazuma Jinnouchi. 

The soundtrack also includes Kazuma’s new interpretation of Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s iconic “Never Forget” from Halo 3. The tracks on Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2 are presented in chronological order as they appear in the game, to help bring the listener right into the heart of the Halo 4 experience. Halo 4 Soundtrack Volume 2 will be available April 8th for $9.99.

Halo 4 Soundtrack Volume 2 Tracklisting

1. Atonement (3:16)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
2. Gravity (2:09)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
3. Wreckage (3:24)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
4. Aliens (5:31)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
5. Kantele Bow (4:04)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
6. Pylons (5:39)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
7. Escape (3:57)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
8. Swamp (2:49)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
9. Push Through (4:44)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
10. Convoy (4:44)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
11. To Galaxy (Extended) (7:04)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
12. Lasky’s Theme (3:55)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
13. Foreshadow (3:34)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
14. Cloud City (4:35)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
15. This Armour (4:47)
Composed and Produced by Neil Davidge
16. Intruders (3:39)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
17. Mantis (4:02)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
18. Sacrifice (3:02)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi
19. Never Forget (Midnight Version) (4:37)
Composed by Martin O Donnell and Michael Salvatori
20. Majestic (2:12)
Composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi

Monday, March 18

The Gears of War: Judgement reviews are in. Is it good?

judgement gears

Well it depends who you talk to:

IGN says:

"The success of Judgment’s story comes down to the clever use of familiar storytelling techniques. It begins at the end, with Kilo Squad under arrest and facing a military tribunal for an unspecified crime. Discovering the how and why they arrived here is exciting because you’re involved in every moment leading up to the arrest. Cutscenes are mercifully few and far between, leaving us to dig into the details during playable flashback sequences. This is where Gears of War bottles lightning again.

Kilo’s testimonies do a terrific job of involving us in a story that unfolds simultaneously with gameplay. Characters observe and comment on their environment in the moment, while sporadic narration explains the motivation for their inevitable crime. The Gears of War fiction desperately needed clarity to compensate for its depth, and Judgment gives thoughtful consideration to its audience. The constant context kept me interested, aware, and engaged every step of the way. For the first time, a Gears of War story is as important as its third-person action."

Kotaku appears to find the declassified missions a bit of a chore:

"If we look at the narrative, Judgment tried to do something curious. The testimonies are broken down to smaller levels, most of which give the player the opportunity to tell the "declassified" version of what really went down. So, you can either choose to play the level vanilla, or you can choose to play it with special circumstances. Think stuff like, finish the level in X minutes, only use certain weapons, fight even more vicious enemies.

In their ideal form, these declassified missions present an opportunity for the player to add some spice to the basic Gears of War setup of shooting enemies with your lancer until they stop moving. It's a shame, then, that half the time it felt like some of the challenges addedannoyances instead of making things more compelling. I loved missions that would force me to get out of my comfort zone, like going through a level pistols-only, or adding an ambush where there previously was none.
And then there were levels that experimented with visual obfuscation. One level in particular I can only describe as running through fun house mirrors at a carnival while high. When levels like that came up, I'd pass on going declassified, even if it cost me "stars." See, you're graded on your performance, filling up a three-star bar depending on what you do. Declassified missions fill the bar up faster, though in these cases, it wasn't worth it."

Giant Bomb likes the new throw a grenade technique:

"Most of the enemies are guys that you've seen before, from bloodmounts to lambent versions of various creatures, and you'll fight them with the same basic arsenal. There are a few new weapons, like the Marksa, a semi-automatic rifle with a good scope that makes for a lighter, friendlier gun in medium-range sniping situations. The biggest gameplay change is a control change that makes weapon-switching more like Halo or Call of Duty. Instead of using the D-pad to switch between four different weapons, you can now hold two, and tapping the Y button swaps between them. Grenades are now dedicated to the left bumper, rather than being something you have to select before you can use. This change may come down to personal preference, but playing Gears this way makes me wish it was like this all along. Grenades become a lot more useful when you can just toss one out at will instead of having to stop shooting just to switch over to your grenades. It's a nice change that some people will probably hate."

Game Informer wussed out, sighting some problem with Sim City. Hello! There's an epic campaign to be played. Just review that!


Tuesday, March 12

GOWJ: Play Date with Kumail Nanjiani and Dwyane

This video is actually kinda amusing  - it's pure promo for Gears of War: Judgement but the ad libbing as Dywane, a rest home based retiree and Kumail play the new game is quite good.

Find out how to download the ME3 Citadel DLC soundtrack for free

The producers of Mass Effect have given fans another reason to love them (guess they are making up for something) and have allowed gamers to download the music to the recent Citadel DLC for free. That's right, those suppposed microtransaction loving tight wads at EA allowed something valuable to be given away for free. Their shareholders must be seething with rage!

Seriously, it's a pretty cool thing do to -instructions on how to download the soundtrack are here.

Here's the official guff "Sam Hulick, Cris Velasco, and Sascha Dikiciyan came together to compose an emotional and powerful score for this personal journey. The BioWare team is proud to present 20 new tracks from the Mass Effect universe, available to download now at no additional charge."

Sunday, March 10

Another Destiny tease found in ODST

asklon logo odst

Bungie teased that Destiny was coming as far back as the Halo 3 spin off, ODST. Another teaser was found in that game, note the triangle 'Asklon' logo was the same in the first Easter egg. 

The reference to Infinity probably has Halo fans all up in arms regards the ship that features in Halo 4 but it's probably a reference to going beyond the stars (Bungie didn't make Halo 4 anyway...)

Atlantis Station concept art from Destiny

Here's another piece of concept art from Destiny. It appears to be called Atlantis Station and is seemingly derelict except for that blue light coming from inside. What lurks at Station Atlantis?

Was this cut from Halo 4? UNSC Light Assault VTOL

UNSC Light Assault VTOL mega blok
Mega Bloks has revealed some new Halo toys in their official line up. They are completely new toys that are apparently a part of the  ONI REAP-X subdivision which has never been mentioned in Halo lore before...

An email to buyers of the Bloks said of Reap-X

"The Office of Naval Intelligence, commonly referred to as ONI, is the intelligence service branch of the UNSC. While ONI serves various functions and operates under a multitude of subdivisions, the existence of the Reverse Engineering and Prototyping–Xenotechnology department, acronym REAP-X, is unknown outside the ONI division. Working under the ONI umbrella, REAP-X develops concepts, technologies and applications that are often field tested by ONI via other military branch deployments. 

The REAP-X department evolved from smaller splinter groups created during the Human-Covenant War and helped funnel weapons and shield technology to human forces via Misriah and other firms as the war came to a close. Its big breakthrough however, was a Forerunner slipspace engine discovery that created the basis for the engineering concepts that helped complete the Infinity project. With unlimited resources, funding and attention from top brass the department houses many variants of never before seen military vehicles developed for special missions."

We're light on real details but I'll speculate maybe the VTOL was cut from the campaign of Halo 4?

Thursday, March 7

Greg Bears chats about Silentium's Easter Eggs...

BS Angel from 343 Industries did a quick interview with Forerunner trilogy author Greg Bear which hints at things to come in the new novel, Silentium.

Thanks for joining us today, Greg. Your trilogy provides incredible insight into the Forerunner race. Do you see their civilization as grand? Tragic? Admirable? Evil?

All civilizations, all extended cultural groupings, are predatory and self-involved. The Forerunners have had a very long run as the dominant race and dominant culture in our galaxy. But over that period of time, they’ve become both inner-directed and self-satisfied, something which irritates the Librarian no end. She understands the ebbs and flows of living history better than most Forerunners, and sees their larger-scale blindnesses as both unnecessary and counterproductive – and in the end, fatal.

What kinds of inspiration did you look to when you were imagining Forerunner society and their amazing technological and architectural abilities?

Looking at the Forerunner environments and designs gamers have experienced, it became obvious that Builder/contractors would be very important. And looking at the destructive power of the Halos and the history of the Flood, it was equally obvious that we are dealing with a warrior civilization near the end of its history and power. The contrast between the warrior Didact and the gentler Librarian, savior of humanity and other species, gave me the remaining clues I needed to begin filling in their social structure and relationship. Science fiction pioneers such as Edward E. "Doc" Smith and his Lensman series, Olaf Stapledon’s vast future histories, Arthur C. Clarke’s expansive City and the Stars and Childhood’s End, and the extraordinary works of Asimov and Heinlein, as well as the wonderful technologies and aliens imagined by Larry Niven and Iain Banks, helped shape my own fictional universes over the last forty years, and no doubt helped me imagine the Forerunners as well.

Can you describe your process for conceptualizing amazing worlds like Charum Hakkor or the Capital on paper?

It’s a kind of waking dream, I think, wherein I mix and match archaeology, technology, cutting-edge science, extreme architecture – and the requirements of the story. Nothing the Forerunners come up with can really surprise me anymore! But there were many moments in Halo 4 that knocked my socks off. It’s one thing to imagine and describe in words, quite another to see those visions come roaring to vibrant life.

How do you feel about the way the Didact is portrayed between book and game?

The fierceness of the original Didact is absolutely appropriate to Halo 4. Halo: Silentium documents the reasons both historical and immediate for his transformation.

Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide to be released

Created in collaboration with DK Publishing, we are proud to announce Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, a companion to the world of Halo 4.

Featuring detailed, annotated artwork, Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide fleshes out this broad universe with a vast collection of facts from the first installment of Halo’s Reclaimer Saga. Fiction fans will love immersing themselves in the perilous world of Halo 4 with detailed sections about the characters, factions, weapons, vehicles, equipment, armor, ships and locations.

Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide engrosses readers in the rich lore with in-depth profiles focusing on the roles and significance of the many things which inhabit the vast, mysterious and dangerous Halo Universe.

Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide will be available to purchase on 9/24/2013 for $16.99.

Tuesday, March 5

Halo Mythbusters 7 is all ready to rock

When is a Gears of War prequel not a prequel?

When is a Gears of War prequel not a prequel? When Judgment ships with a second, unlockable mini campaign set in the GOW3 time period.

Maybe People Can Fly realised that having a prequel was not exactly the coolest thing to do for a franchise 3 games in. They mixed up the Judgement campaign with optional missions, flash backs to give the campaign a bit of novelty. One thing they kept secret until the game’s release was that having completed the campaign, a second campaign called 'Aftermath' is playable if the player has done enough diligence during the first campaign.

That’s a nice way of mixing it up.

Aftermath takes place the end of GoW 3 when Baird, Cole, and Carmine set out to track down reinforcements before the COG invade Azura. Aftermath is set at a two game play length.

Aftermath can be unlocked by completing each level of Judgement with style and panache. More head shots or fancier execution finishers will grant players ‘stars’ and the more stars you get, the more of Aftermath becomes available.

Gears of War: Judgment’s lead level designer Jim Brown said “We wanted to do something that added context to the game, so you had that beginning part, but then this ties everything together with the main trilogy as well.”

“So you’ll see when you go in there some people you recognize, some places, maybe even some enemies and then see how the two storylines weave together in the context of the whole. Obviously we don’t want to give away too many spoilers in how it’s going to end or what you’re going to see.

“But the basic gist of it is that when they’re at the fort, Marcus sends Barrett and Cole off to find supplies and reinforcements, and then he goes off to Azura. Then at the very end they show up with helicopters. This is where they went and what they did on that mission.”

I gotta admit, I was fairly worried about GOWJ being a prequel but it looks like a lot of work has gone into making it a great game.

Can’t wait to get my hands on it. 

Monday, March 4

Halo 4 Requiem concept art by Sparth

Sparth (known as Nicolas Bouvier by his mum) has released three pictures of conceptual artwork that he did for Requiem i.e Halo 4