No, we don't know why he's wearing a daft cloak either.
343 Industries confirmed that a Halo FPS is in production for the Xbox One, running at a consistent 60 FPS. That's effectively all we know for now, but in the meantime, enjoy the great big mech.Click here to read more...
Last week saw this year's Gadget Show Live being held in Birmingham, and while we sent Carl along to see what was on offer we didn't send him alone...
... that's right folks! It's the return of Dealspwn's very own mascot, Toby The Dealspwny, who has taken up a plush toy form! Unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, it was only a matter of time before the Caped One would come face to face with some well known industry figures, such as a certain humanity-saving Spartan.Click here to read more...
Platforms: Xbox 360
Developers: 343 Industries
Publishers: Microsoft Studios
Halo 4 is a little bit like Casino Royale. It's a more muscular reboot, everything from the sound design to the way Master Chief handles feels a little weightier, a little more impactful. It packs a somewhat surprising emotional punch towards the end, and there's a backstory to the bad guys that's a little hard to follow and ultimately easy to ignore. Like Casino Royale, you'll find that Halo 4 takes you on a wild ride, constantly teasing you with memories of what came before, but never quite giving you the musical payoff that you deserve, at least not until the credits roll.
And just like Casino Royale, this is a return upon which much rests.
The Master Chief is back, four years after the events of Halo 3, and he's woken from his deep sleep to find the ship he's on - the Forward Unto Dawn - about to disintegrate around him. Cortana has spent much of that time slowly going mad; being an AI, she has an expiration date, where she increasingly begins to split personalities, becoming a splintered artificial mind via a process called Rampancy that would invariably lead her to actively thinking herself to death. The only recourse is to locate Dr. Halsey, in whose neural image Cortana was made, in the hopes of restoring the latter to her former capable self.
Of course, things aren't quite that simple. The Covenant are abroad, and mean again, and the Master Chief has a new enemy to face in the form of the Prometheans. We might have been a little concerned at just how much fun fighting against the Prometheans might prove, but the fact of the matter is that Halo 4 absolutely nails the empowering-yet-challenging moment-to-moment gameplay that has made this franchise such an enduring prospect.Click here to read more...
The fourth episode in the live action Halo series - Forward Unto Dawn - is now live, and you can watch it above, courtesy of Machinima. This episode sees Sierra 117 stand shoulder to shoulder with the series' earnest cadets in the fight against the Covenant.
Platform: Xbox 360
Developers: 343 Industries
Publishers: Microsoft Studios
Having 343 take the reins for Halo: Anniversary Edition was frankly a brilliant idea - a warm-up test for one of the biggest development challenges ever. For better or worse, Halo is a series that attracts a certain amount of fanaticism, and therefore stepping into the large boots that Bungie left behind when they parted ways from Microsoft has led to an extraordinary amount of scrutiny from the community for 343, and rightly so. But the Halo 1 reboot at least showcased no small amount of technical prowess, and a strong eye for detail. It was an engaging experience, with one or two very nifty aesthetics tricks up its sleeves, and it formed a nice prelude to the main event.
But whenever the shining star for a console platform finds itself under new management, there are going to be worries. And make no mistake about it, Master Chief is the biggest (only?) icon that the Xbox 30 has got.
So it is that we've had deluge after deluge of assets, shots, explanatory videos, and detail dumps. We questioned whether or not 343 had revealed too much; we debated the form and features of the Prometheans; we ummed-and-aaahed at video footage from E3. It looked like Halo, but would it play like Halo. Now, having gotten some hands on time with Halo 4, we can answer that question.
And the answer is...yes.Click here to read more...
Can we expect to see Halo 2 given the anniversary treatment in the same fashion as it's predecessor? Well, a new report would suggest that's very much on the cards.
It makes sense. If you only have about three franchise cash cows that you own, you've got to milk them for all that they're worth.Click here to read more...
Missed the England-France game last night? If so, you'd probably have missed out on the extended live-action Halo 4 trailer that aired at half time.No worries folks, click here to watch it...
There's no better way to open the biggest gaming event on the planet than by blowing the doors off with your biggest title, and that's exactly what Microsoft did. Just watch it, then tell us what you thought. Then watch it again.
Psyched doesn't even begin to describe it.
Halo 4 has received its first in-game screenshots ahead of an official embargo thanks to a NeoGAF whistleblower. The in-engine images are described as "100% untouched," and show off Master Chief's new armour as well as some impressive textures and lighting effects.
Check them out after the break, and click to enlarge.Click here for the Halo 4 screenshots >>
As one competition closes, our #WinMW3Returns is no finished, another opens! That's right, now it's all about #WinHalo! We've got a brand, spanking new copy of Halo: Combat Evolved - Anniversary Edition to give away, along with a year's Gold membership to Xbox LIVE. Check out Jon's Halo review here.
In order to get in on this little giveaway, all you need to do is post a comment in the box below completing the following sentence:
I love Halo because...
NB. Don't worry if your comments get put aside for moderation, we'll be checking it periodically. Just the cyber sentinel being cautious.
And that's it. Do make sure that you use a valid email address - we can't contact you if you don't. Winners will be chosen at random as they have been throughout the Twitter parties. Do take note of a few points below:
Halo is a Bungie game no longer. The beloved studio has parted ways with its greatest achievement, setting sail with Activision for a new adventure. As such, Halo has taken up residence with step-father Microsoft, who've set up a brand new home for it, 343 Studios. Made up of some of the industry's sharpest tools, it's a fitting place to begin an all new trilogy and take Halo to the next level.
But with a new home comes a new beginning for John-117. The story picks up two years following the climactic events of Halo 3, but should the fourth game follow in the footsteps of its predecessors, or a forge a path all its own?
While a select few weapons in the Halo armory - the original Magnum, Battle Rifle and Sniper Rifle, among others - feature a scoped reticule, Halo is predominantly a hip-fire shooter. It's no bad thing, and Halo has built its ever-evolving, adaptable gameplay style on the ability to wade into the fray, firing in each and every direction while leaping in the air or strafing right and left.Click here to read more...
343 Industries has released a piece of high-resolution teaser art that shows off John 117's new look that he might be sporting in Halo 4. The design apparently hasn't been finalised yet, but it's an interesting picture to pore over nonethtless.
Have you been eating properly, Spartan?Click here for the artwork >>
We've long hoped for a Gears of War/Halo crossover, and it turns out so has Epic's design director, Cliff 'Cliffy B' Bleszinski. The celebrity developer approached Microsoft over including John 117, aka Master Chief, in Gears of War 3 as an unlockable character, but Microsoft declined Epic's offer, pertaining to Halo's soft M rating, which would be literally torn apart when a downed Chief has his arm ripped off and battered with by a gleeful Locust Drone.
"I'll let you in on a secret," Bleszinski told Complex, "I actually approached Microsoft on getting Master Chief into the game, but those guys are kind of squeamish". It's sad but understandable; Microsoft is very protective over Halo. Bleszinski did admit they might do some unofficial modelling and animation tests and release them online for fans to enjoy, however. There's much more to pore over in the interview; give it a go. [Complex]
At Dealspwn, we're dreading the release of Halo Reach. Fearful of the day Bungie's time in the Halo universe comes to a close. We shudder at our desks, clutching our beloved Master Chief doll, Marty O'Donnell on repeat. Well, at least I am responding in this manner, and as such have devised a list of the Top 10 Halo missions, from first crash-landing on a mysterious alien ring, to battling Elites in zero-G. Read on, Halo lovers, and rejoice in the nostalgia!
Appropriately, the first Halo mission begins our list. Introduced to key players, Captain Keyes, Cortana and, of course, the Master Chief, on-board the frigate Pillar of Autumn, having mind a blind slipspace-jump to flee Covenant forces, buoyed by their recent capture of UNSC stronghold planet, Reach. It's a terrific opening scene, the Pillar of Autumn's vast bulk sliding past a sea of stars, as inside, its crew hurry to and fro, and one occupant in particular is roused from an ice-cold slumber.
Introducing you to the mechanics that'll soon become second-nature and an industry standard, 'Pillar of Autumn' sees Master Chief navigating the eponymous ship's corridors, overrun with Covenant forces. As far as introductions go, it's a thrilling welcome, blue and green plasma bolts searing the screen, marines barking orders and venting their fears in unison, all amongst the alien tongue of the Covenant themselves.
We jump from the very beginning to the final third now, with Master Chief's vehicle-laden romp across African terrain cementing the no. 9 spot. 'Tsavo Highway' is quintessential Halo, set-piece after set-piece, from mopping up fleeing Covenant troops aboard a Warthog, to engaging a trio of Wraiths with nothing but your wits and a full-clip.
Halo's vehicle-heavy sections avoid the pitfalls of such missions by simply allowing the player to hop out and proceed on-foot, should they wish. But the pitch-perfect controls, somewhat competent AI and wonderful co-op potential mean driving a Warthog across rugged terrain, balancing it out as it fishtails into a turn, bullets spraying from its mounted turret, splattering slow-moving Grunts and Jackals, is unforgettable.
Halo 2 was marketed as the defense of Earth, but we all knew we'd return to a Halo ring at some point. And we did, piggybacking the Prophet of Regret's slipspace-jump, and finding Master Chief and co, on-board In Amber Clad, marveling at the sight of yet another ring. What follows is a simply epic cutscene, as Master Chief and a squad of ODST pile into drop-pods, and plummet to the alien land below.
'Delta Halo' is a varied level, as you progress through Covenant infested ruins on foot, before hopping in a Warthog and dispatching Ghosts and Wraiths, all the while in pursuit of Regret, who draws ever closer to activating the Halo ring and purging the galaxy of organic life.
Halo's quintessential 'sniper' mission has yet to be bested, and the overall tone of 'Truth and Reconciliation' is excellent, segueing from the tense, nigh-time crawl spent peering down a sniper-scope, to the epic assault on a docked Covenant cruiser, your first introduction to the innards of the enemy, as you rescue Captain Keyes and his crew from imprisonment and stage one hell of a jail-break.
What I remember most fondly of this mission is the opening encounter, where you climb a rocky outcrop and observe a Covenant force, unaware of your presence. The night-vision mode on your Sniper Rifle is vital, as you scan your targets, deliberating on whether to drop the marching Elite generals first, or deal with the mounted Shade turrets.
With the third Halo game, Bungie faced a dilemma. Fans had witnessed a Halo ring not once, but twice. How do you top that? Well, you magic them to an even more alien and wondrous place; the Ark. A Forerunner station designed to activate and rebuild Halo rings, the Ark was shaped like a celestial flower, floating in space, its petals painted with swathes of desert and countryside, mountainous terrain and flooded rivers.
'The Ark' is very reminiscent of 'Truth and Reconciliation', but it lacks the overall atmosphere and mood. However, it more than makes up for it in bombastic action, as you hop aboard a Mongoose and careen across the sand-dunes and hills, facing a battery of Anti-AA Wraiths and, eventually, another Scarab, clambering over a Forerunner facility jutting from the mountainside.
As far as vehicle-heavy missions go, 'Assault on the Control Room' has yet to be beat. Emerging from the depths of a Forerunner station, you emerge on the wind-swept tundra as UNSC and Covenant forces attempt to blast each other into oblivion. You'll tumble across the snow in a Warthog, before finding an abandoned Scorpion tank and laughing wildly as its cannon obliterates oncoming Wraiths, scattered Patrols, and even a pair of menacing Hunters.
'Assault on the Control Room' is memorably not just for its rollicking action and set-pieces, but for the discovery Cortana makes at the end of the level, as she unearths the purpose of the Halo rings, and the deadly secret they possess...
"343 Guilty Spark" proved Halo, and Bungie, could do horror. As you crawl through a Forerunner swamp, listening to distant cries of, can you believe it, Covenant in peril, stumbling on corpses of Grunts, blue blood everywhere. You follow the trail of destruction to a Forerunner station, deserted, but for the abandoned weaponry and occasional body. You find a UNSC helmet, screen the film stored on its on-board memory chip and camera.
It's like a mini-horror movie in itself, as the UNSC platoon finds what you found, enters the facility and is then overrun by parasitic growths, floating on the floor. You return to your situation, find the door closed and you're locked in a room. Other doors begin to rumble, quake, until finally a swarm of parasites floods from the doors. You escape the station with your life, just. But now you've met the Flood. And they're hungry.
Perhaps the most set-piece heavy and intense level in the trilogy, "The Covenant" is like a montage of the best moments in Halo. Crash-landing on a beach, driving a Warthog, manning a Falcon for the first time and raining fiery destruction on those below. Then you hop in a Scorpion tank, until finally encountering not one, but two Scarabs, along with a battalion of vehicle-mounted Brutes and Banshees.
It's easily the high point in Bungie's schizophrenic end to the series, a monument to why we love Halo and what makes Halo what it is. Try it on Legendary by yourself. It's nigh-impossible!
I love "The Silent Cartographer" not just for its explosive intro scene where you're dropped off in the middle of a war-zone, before circling the Forerunner island via Warthog, infiltrating a Covenant-claimed station and finding the ring's map-room. I loved "The Silent Cartographer" for the fact that I could go approach each section at my leisure.
Fancy swimming in the sea? Go ahead, but you'll die. Why not go the opposite way and muck with the AI-scripting? Finally, try and bounce a Warthog onto the top of the island with grenades. Go on. It's fun.
It's fitting that Halo's best mission is its first foray on a Halo ring. Stranded on alien land, his crew splattered across the verdant countryside, the Chief must rendezvous with UNSC patrols scattered across the terrain, avoiding Covenant forces and discovering just where in the hell he is.
For me, it's one of my favourite gaming moments, an indelible sight as I emerged, vision swimming, from the crashed drop-ship and laid eyes on the grassy hills, the beautiful waterfall and, impossibly, the rest of the Halo ring looping over me.
Why not tell us what were your favourite missions in Halo? What levels did we overlook, and why did they deserve to be on the list? Also, fill us in on your worst Halo experiences! The tense crawl through the library, or finishing Halo 2, not as the Master Chief, but as the enemy.
Slight spoiler alert. Master Chief has finished the fight, saved the galaxy, broken a Covenant, accidentally roadkilled dozens of loyal marines and settled down for a well-deserved cryosleep... but apparently, there'll be no rest for the wicked. Frank O' Connor, the ex-Bungie dev in charge of the fledgling 343 Industries (the new custodians of the Halo universe), has stated that our favourite cyborg/pop culture figure will star in future Halo games. In fact, they'd be "the world's biggest assholes" if the Chief didn't make a triumphant return. Their words.
“We’d have to be the world’s biggest assholes not to follow through,” said O’Connor. "We certainly haven’t seen the last of Master Chief."
This will come as a great relief to many Halo fans... but 343 have a long road ahead of them. Currently they've only got a dashboard portal and some nifty anime shorts under their belt- and it's important that they prove themselves to their loyal fanbase. With any luck, they'll be able to take over Halo Reach's server maintenance and community support from Bungie sooner rather than later in order to prove their mettle.
This story follows in the wake of last week's quiet Linkedin revelation that 343 Industries are working on a new IP (now removed). [via VG247]
Sucker Punch have been hard at work developing inFamous 2 (the upcoming sequel to last year's electrifying sandbox+ hit)- and from what we've seen, it's coming along nicely. However, Cole's new redesign was universally panned by fans and pundits alike, with even diehard inFamous veterans queuing up to rag on the smug, hairy and thoroughly hateful reincarnation. As we reported last week, Sucker Punch have decided to renege on the decision- and a new vidoc confirms that they've gone back to the drawing board.
Here's the video in question- be sure to look out for the 'new' art design at around 2:45. As we said last week, we're glad that's sorted out... now let's get back to explosive gameplay trailers already! [Examiner]
Remember The Darkness? No, not the delightfully silly band. Sunbreeze Studios delivered an gothic, gory and glorious (goryous?) FPS back in 2007... and hardly anyone played it. However, a leaked resume from Digital Extremes developer Emmanuel Pappas mentions that texture work, prop design and environmental modelling is already underway for a sequel.
This is still just a rumour at this stage- and it's possible that this resume listing simply chronicles a cancelled collaboration between Digital Extremes and Sunbreeze. Watch this space. [Superannuation]
As we predicted, EA Maxis recently revealed a hack 'n' slash RPG set in the Spore universe. Darkspore is based around the concept of "making cool characters with the Spore creator and [beating] each other in the face," with a range of classes, loads of loot and a rock/paper/scissors battle mechanic. More excitingly, however, is that EA have leveraged RPG giant Bioware into helping out.
Put simply, Bioware have never made a bad game... or anything even remotely resembling a bad game (though it's reasonable to argue that this is due to the fact that they continually release the same game in different settings)... and the fact that they're collaborating on the project is great news for Maxis, the franchise and us. We don't yet know exactly what Bioware are bringing to the table, but we'll keep you posted. With any luck, it'll be a cynical, sarcastic robot character. Bioware's great at those. [Gamespot]
Bungie's Twitter feed has been promising us that "something big" is heading our way, and a mysterious picture of a Mjolnir armour helmet has sent the community into fevered speculation. Specifically, a familiar green Mjonlnir helmet. Could Master Chief be coming to Halo Reach? It's plausible; after all, the Chief was stationed at Reach during the game's timeframe (according to the official canon).
This is still a rumour until Bungie confirms it, but I'm excited nonetheless. However, it's perfectly possible that they'll simply be giving away some armour as a Beta reward and just want to drum up some extra publicity. My personal guess would be that our favourite Spartan will be playable in certain missions to document the Sigma Octanus campaign. Yeah, I'm a Halo geek. [Bungietweets]
Update: April Fool! You got me, Bungie.
Bioware has finally unveiled the purpose behind the mysterious "epic" countdown that has been whipping their global fanbase into a frenzy. A sequel announcement, perhaps? A brand new IP? A new singleplayer KOTOR? No such luck, folks.
It's just a competition that's only open to American audiences. Called the "Bazaar", this event resembles an online auction that offers a range of prizes from laptops to collectible figurines... but we can't get involved. Naturally, Bioware's European fans are more than a little peeved about getting excited over nothing; especially from a traditionally classy company like Bioware. Their bosses have been quick to apologise.
"We recognize that BioWare has a global community, and the Bazaar this week was originally intended to be an international event to reflect our truly global fanbase. Unfortunately, we encountered some last-minute legal complications." - Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
"Where we went wrong is in how we marketed it to you and for that I apologise. We used the word 'Epic' before we had proven that it was. Sorry. We also used the Countdown timer to generate interest. In hindsight, this allowed rampant speculation which caused disappointment." Bioware Community forum post
Apparently Bioware will be holding a similar competition just for the excluded regions. [via Joystiq]
Activision announced their proposed restructuring during the West/Zampella debacle, and it's finally been put into motion. Unfortunately, it's going to cost a fair few British jobs. Activision UK is currently culling their marketing and IT departments; and we'll bring you the exact numbers as soon as we know.
Here's the condescending corporate bullsh*t official line:
"We are realigning our structure to better reflect our slate and the market opportunities in Europe as well as directing our resources against the largest and most profitable business segments. Like any successful business, Activision Publishing consistently works to align its costs with its revenues - this is on ongoing process."
Looks like a fair few employees are going to be aligned with the exit door, but I'm a little worried by the phrase "ongoing process." We wish these former employees the best of luck finding new opportunities.
Activision's reorganisation has split the company into four distinct units, each responsible for a single key Activision product. CEO Mike Griffith has been promoted to Vice Chairman, and CFO Thomas Tippl to Chief Operating Officer. [Gamesindustry.biz]