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.

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.

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

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.

The guide is cool and all but this list of 501 bits of Star Wars trivia is way cool.

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 realized 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 at 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