Master Chief is back. Yes everyone’s favourite hero in a tin has returned to Earth to finish off what he started. Halo and Halo 2 basically defined the Xbox, becoming two of the best selling games for the console. Halo truly launched the original Xbox with a bang, a wallop and finally a smash. Containing some of the most original enemies, storylines and environments it was one of the greatest launch games ever. Halo 2 followed and was the driving force behind Xbox Live, offering matchmaking, new game styles and the ability to customise your character to your preference. But back to Halo 3.
The whole world got excited when Master Chief walked out of the debris in the announcement trailer at E3, and then almost wet themselves when the TV trailer was released. We then had the release of the multiplayer screenshots, the only gameplay screenshots released so far. Let us turn our focus to the two trailers that got the whole world screaming for Master Chief. Firstly we have the announcement trailer at E3. This little baby was left till the very end of Microsoft’s immense conference. The music during the trailer possibly means a totally original score, just for this “Final Fight”. This trailer caused the roof over the Microsoft conference to head out into orbit.
It started with Master Chief walking out of a pile of debris, possibly the ship that was used at the end of Halo 2. Then a distorted message comes through, flickering on and off, from Cortana. It has been under much speculation as to what she actually says here. It is in fact, “I have defied gods and demons. I am your shield; I am your sword. I know you; your past, your future. This is the way the world ends.”. The last line is from a poem by T.S Elliot called The Hollow Men, which goes, “This is the way the world ends . Not with a bang but a whimper.” These lines have a significance to the Halo universe as it is a reference to how the Covenant destroy planets. Over Cortana’s message there is an echo which seems to be the Gravemind from Halo 2. As you may know Cortana was taken by the Gravemind right at the end of Halo 2. Throughout this trailer the Master Chief appears to be holding a modified version of the Assault Rifle used in Halo. Towards the end of the trailer a fleet of Covenant ships rumbles over head and the camera pans over towards an immense structure. This is possibly the reason why the Covenant invaded Earth in the first place. A little Easter Egg is featured here. In the lights on the Strutcture there is the Marathon symbol, which is one of the available symbols you can choose to place on your character on Multiplayer for Halo 2. The trailer ends with the structure exploding in light. The trailer was made entirely using the 360’s hardware in real time. You could definitely see the detail that Bungie had put into it.
Moving onto the TV trailer. This was originally shown on ESPN, then later on the Xbox website and on Xbox Live Marketplace. It begins with two children laying in a grassy field, looking up into the night sky. The boy is said to be Master Chief, or John as he was known as a boy, during his time in the Spartan project as he is wearing the grey uniform mentioned in the Halo books. The girl is unknown, but is thought to be another of the children used for the Spartan project and is possibly Linda or Kelly whom Master Chief was close to during the Spartan project and throughout the books. A massive explosion brings us forward in time to Master Chiefs helmet lying on a battle torn landscape. Master Chief regains consciousness and puts on his helmet. As usual Bungie have refused us a shot of Master Chief’s face as this bit is shown through his eyes. As he places on his helmet we hear lots of radio chatter, with a voice which sounds like Cortana saying either “Chief, leave me”, which has something to do with Master Chief leaving Cortana with Gravemind at the end of Halo 2 or,”Chief, believe me”, which may mean that Cortana has been taken over by the Gravemind and Master Chief no longer trusts her. Master Chief then picks up his assault rifle and slaps it on his back, which made people think that maybe Master Chief has new ways of storing weapons. He then pulls out a grenade like object (Bungie would not confirm whether it is a grenade) , presses the top and slams it into the ground. A spherical shield then surrounds surrounds Master Chief just as a shot of plasma, from what is possibly a Wraith tank, hits the ground in front of the Chief. A Mongoose ATV is flipped over by the explosion. The Mongoose is the new vehicle for Halo 3. It was meant to be featured in Halo 2 but was dropped due to technical reasons. The explosion and everything looks jaw droppingly beautiful. As the shield disappears, Chief holsters a pistol similar to the scoped one from Halo, and starts to run…very very fast. Could this be a possible use for the secretive X button? A sprint feature? Unlikely, but it would be amazing if it was. The Chief then grabs his Assault Rifle and leaps off of a cliff edge into a sea of Brutes with Spikers (a new weapon) and a Brute with red armour holding a large hammer, similar to that of Tautarus’ from Halo 2. The trailer then, unfortunately, ends. The Brutes near the end are the replacement for the Elite, who left the Covenant, and are the main enemy for Master Chief.
So now let’s take a look at what is going on within Bungie HQ in the beautiful Seattle. The campaign is moving along well. As of the middle of last month, they were putting in the layers for the levels. Basically making the walls and floors seem more real, with drainpipes, potholes and the occasional lake here and there. Bungie’s Webmaster, Frankie, has said that, “Artists are checking in such amazing stuff, at such an amazing rate, that something you get at 6pm might be markedly different than something you picked up at 8am.” If they get the Campaign done quite early on in production, and it looks magnificent, it will give Bungie a lot more time to focus on the multiplayer aspect of the game, which will be most important to gamers. Frankie also went on to say, “Hao and co. are still messing with water, and it’s getting better every day. They’re going to be dropping it into the areas where our (perfectly attractive) placeholder water is right now. You’ve actually seen one of those areas in the pre-alpha shots of Valhalla.” Judging by the shots of the Valhalla multiplayer map, if the water there is anything to go by, the finished stuff will be absolutely gorgeous. So good, you’ll want to don your little Spartan swimming trunks and dive into it.
Bungie are currently testing the length and the difficulty (yes, including legendary. Ah the many hours I spent being ambushed by a group of Elites in one level on Legendary). They are also moving onto the dialogue and combat dialogue. They wouldn’t tell us who was doing the voice for whom. (We do know however that Julie Benz, who did the voice for Miranda Keyes, will not be reprising her role). They did say however that the Grunts would still be as funny as ever, so expect more screaming from them.
As most people have seen, the Brutes are to become the new problem for Master Chief in his quest to save the world. Bungie released a VidDoc about it on the Marketplace and their website. The AI for the Brutes has improved dramatically. Instead of them just lumbering about, shoulder barging you at every corner (this, after a while become very tedious) they now work as a team. If one Brute throws a grenade, his team mate will throw a grenade with him, and if one Brute needs to reload his team mate will cover him. Bungie have been working on new animation for the Brutes, judging by the video the Brutes will now be able to rip whole limbs off of Marines, throw vehicles at its enemies and crush them with any object near by. This will lead to more realistic and exciting game play, giving you a sense of being on the battlefield with some intelligent enemies.
Most recently, soldiers in Iraq have been given a chance to test out Halo 3, much to the annoyance of the public, who are tearing at the seams with excitement of playing the game. Judging by their reactions, Halo 3 is coming along swimmingly and as far as we’ve read there is a complete playable version of the game ready, which could possibly be available for play at this year’s revamped E3 event, so fingers crossed.
Little information is being released about the multiplayer, but what information we have heard is magnificent! First of all is the new matchmaking system. Halo 3 will be keeping the matchmaking system from Halo 2, giving each player a level between 0 and 50 based on their skill. The revised system, consisting of actual military ranks with novice players starting off as recruits and working their way up, is based on experience and time played overall. This would make online matches a lot better and more interesting. A new hosting option called “Xbox Live Public” allows hosts to change the room from public to private, giving random players the ability to hop into a private match to fill up the gaps made due to absence of people playing in your friends list (although I doubt that would happen, as most people will be playing it).
Most people have heard of a little series known as Red vs. Blue, made by Rooster Teeth Productions. A series based around the antics of the Blue Team and Red team who are at a stalemate in Blood Gulch. Well, to show how devoted Bungie are to their loyal fans, Bungie have given normal players the chance to record when they play, and play it back. This will enable players to create their own machinima series or just record an awesome trick you have discovered then show it to the world. Gone are the days when you can lie about how well you did, when in fact you did really badly. Now the whole world can see you getting beaten!
During online matches, instead of having rubbish symbols, each player will have a service number. So instead of someone shouting, “Hey, eagle on diagonal blue background cover me.”(By the time you’ve said that you’ve probably been shot and some guy is standing over you laughing) you can shout,”Hey, 117, cover me.” This will make gameplay a lot faster and more fun too. People are getting very excited about multiplayer because of the BETA test this Spring. It will let Bungie see what the public thinks of the new features and maps. Since the BETA test is in Spring, and that Halo 3 will be released this winter, this gives Bungie a good few months to sort out and digest the public’s feedback. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the myths and facts behind one the most eagerly awaited game of 2007. Check back at 360 Monster in the Spring for our opinions on the BETA test!