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Halo 3




The Biggest Achievement Stumbling Block For Halo Fans: Halo Wars?

Not many people have earned all the achievements possible from Halo 3, Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST, as evidenced by the statistics Microsoft dug up while developing Halo Waypoint. "Significantly less" than 1% of players have unlocked all the achievements. Based on readers comments and e-mails I received, the biggest stumbling block for Halo fans is a top-tier achievement tucked away in Halo Wars, the non-Bungie developed real-time-strategy take on the Halo universe.

Specifically, several readers cited the "General" achievement as the most difficult to obtain. The "General" achievement is obtained by acquiring 2,400,000 experience points across multiplayer sessions. According to players, garnering that many points takes a long, long time.

"I am missing one single achievement in Halo Wars...the achievement for obtaining a General Rank over XBL," one reader wrote me over e-mail, echoing the feelings of several others I heard from. "So of all three games I have all but one single achievement. This won't put me into that 1%, but I should come darn close. Honestly I would have this achievement as well if the population for Halo Wars was not so small and the amount of XP needed to gain that rank so high. I am simply not a huge RTS fan, and while I enjoy Halo Wars I am a fangirl because of the FPS parts of the Halo universe. At the moment games of Halo Wars feel more like grinding than fun."

After my story was published, community manager Duncan “Aloysius” Stanley at Robot Entertainment, the studio that spun-off from the now-closed Halo Wars developer Ensemble Studios that assumed post-release Halo Ward duties, released some additional statistics to fans on the Halo Wars message boards. Not surprising, the "General" rank was listed.

"Less than half a of percent of players have the General rank on Xbox Live," said Stanley.

"So little [users] with General, yet so many threads about them...," remarked one user in response.

Some users estimated it could take hundreds of hours to unlock the "General" achievement. At that point, is such an achievement just for the hardcore or simply poorly designed?

Have something to share? Have a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.




Halo fans are notoriously hardcore, but even in the Halo community, there are only a hardened few who are willing to  attempt the seemingly impossible: unlocking every achievement in each Halo game (that has achievements and includes map packs) so far. That includes Halo 3, Halo Wars and the recently released Halo 3: ODST. According to Halo Waypoint creative director Jason Pace, the number of people who've achieved that feat is less than 1%. Significantly less, actually.

"When we did our high-level analysis…it's less than 1% of players who will come in with everything, it's actually significantly less than 1%," said Pace in a wide-ranging interview about the upcoming Halo hub for Xbox Live, Halo Waypoint, from a few weeks back.

This information was very important to Pace, as Halo Waypoint's meta ranking system is based on the achievements players have and haven't unlocked in the Halo games on Xbox 360. Eventually Halo Waypoint will include challenges not tied to existing achievements, but for the near future, that's the system in place, which makes the less-than-1% scenario a good one.

"There will certainly be some uber-hardcore players with pretty much everything maxed out," he said, "but the vast majority of the Halo audience, even the hardcore fanbase, will find themselves not maxed out in either the career milestones or the rewards."

Pace's analysis actually found Halo players falling into two camps: single-player or multiplayer.

"It's interesting when you take a look at the player profiles and distribution of achievements," he noted. "You would frequently assume that hardcore multiplayer folks wouldn't be the people who generally have the most achievements. That is not always the case. There are a lot of multiplayer folks who doesn't focus on, for example, on getting a lot of the single-player campaign achievements. The average person, the average sort of regular Halo player, should probably come in somewhere in the middle of the milestone range."

What kind of Halo player are you? If you're someone who actually has unlocked every possible achievement across Halo 3, Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST, get in touch with me.

Have something to share? Have a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Next month, Microsoft will launch Halo Waypoint, a hub for all things Halo accessed through the Xbox 360 itself. During a phone interview this week about the project, I asked Jason Pace, creative director behind Halo Waypoint, to summarize why people should care:

"Waypoint is a place where we want Halo fans, when they're sitting at the console and actually interacting with their Xbox, to go and be able to have an experience that transcends each individual game and sort of wraps together everything at the entire Halo experience level," said Pace. "It's a single point of contact where you can go to establish your player identity across all of the different Halo games and feel like you have a single identity in that universe and then also experience all different kinds of content, from fiction to community content to interesting stuff -- like strategy guides -- that some of our partners put up. I would describe it as a central hub for the Halo experience."

But Halo Waypoint is a little more nuanced than that.

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Halo Waypoint Is Actually Part Of  Halo Story…But It's A Secret (For Now)

I spent a little time this afternoon on the phone with Jason Pace, the talkative creative director on the upcoming Halo Waypoint, a hub for all things Halo being added to Xbox Live as part of the next update. Pace told me about his grand ambitions for Halo Waypoint -- which you'll hear about soon -- but one part of our conversation stuck out. "Waypoint" is not the name of a new initiative for Xbox Live, with Halo Waypoint leading the way for a series of game-specific hubs.

"Waypoint is very much part of the Halo universe," said Pace, carefully choosing his next words, "and so as time goes on, we'll reveal a little bit more of the back story of what Waypoint is and where it fits into the canon."

Pace had to stop talking about what that means just as soon as it came up. Since I know very little about the Halo story outside of what's been revealed in the games, I did ask for some clarity.

"The only think I can tell you is that it's a secret," he said, laughing. "You'll find out more about it in the future, that's what I can say."

I could pretty much visualize him smiling over the phone.

You guys probably know more than me. What's "Waypoint"?


Dear Games Industry, We Need More Games Like Halo 3 ODST

I don't know what your expectations were for Halo 3 ODST, but I wasn't expecting much. Bungie seems to have been playing down the significance of its latest entry in the Halo series, following year-long back-and-forth contradictions about what exactly Halo 3 ODST even is. Such issues didn't inspire much confidence, but it's a new Halo game, right? Of course I'm going to play it.

But while I'm sure to have any number of memorable gaming experiences before this year is up, I'm convinced Halo 3 ODST will stick with me. Halo 3 ODST is important. It's a game worth putting on a pedestal, pointing to the rest of the industry and demanding many more games like this.

Read More »

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Bungie Veterans Forming Downloadable Games Studio Moonshot GamesHalo developer Bungie Studios has talked about developing downloadable games over the years, but Halo 3 ODST's the closest it's come to creating something small. Perhaps that approach is why Bungie veterans Michel Bastien, Damian Isla and Rob Stokes (alongside Seattle artist Mike McCain) have formed Moonshot Games, a studio strictly focused on "high-quality downloadable games," according to the company.

"The details of Moonshot's first mission will remain top secret until the craft makes moonfall," reads a note on Moonshot's website. "However, all the necessary research, planning, and prototyping are already well underway. Stand by for mission updates."

At Bungie, Bastien was a producer on Halo PC, producer on Halo 2 and lead producer on Halo 3. Isla was the AI and gameplay engineering lead, which had him crafting the enemy AI Halo's so known for. Stokes was a designer and writer on Halo, Halo 2 before becoming design lead for Halo 3.

"The Moonshot team firmly believes that the stars need not be limited to multimillion-dollar projects supported by armies of ground crew," reads the company's announcement release. "There is a place in history for that small, nimble craft, built smartly on a modest budget, and piloted by expert hands."

Sounds very different from Bungie.

I know you're all busy playing Firefight right now, but it's that time of week to sit down and take a minute to listen to the pearls of wisdom spit by The Sess. Adam sits down to discuss Halo 3: ODST and its strangely muted presence in this year's list of big game releases. Does ODST not need a bit marketing push because it's a part of the Halo franchise that always sells well? Or is there another reason? Find out what Sessler thinks, and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Sessler's Soapbox: Does ODST Have The Halo Effect? »



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Halo 3: ODST Review

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Posted September 19, 2009 - By Dana Leahy











The G4 offices have been a buzz the past few days with anticipation...anticipation for the release of Halo 3: ODST. To pay homage to this awesome title, we put our best Halo man, Mr Sark, on the review. From his review:

"Is Halo 3: ODST an overpriced expansion or is it Bungie's “Call of Duty Killer,” as many gamers have presumed? It's neither. The excitement surrounding the release of ODST is characteristic of past Halo releases, but the confusion surrounding the package (and what exactly you're getting) is a franchise first. That’s partly due to the game’s evolution during development, and the variety of content in the box. One of the gents at Bungie mentioned to me that ODST was initially a much smaller affair.  But as the game progressed, the campaign became more than just a bunch of shootouts in New Mombasa; it became a story that stood on its own. Once the confusion subsides and gamers sit down with a controller, they’ll see that ODST is indisputably one of the year’s finest shooters."

Click here to read the rest of Mr Sark's review, watch the X-Play video review and see the game's score.


Halo 3: ODST Soundtrack Review - Music for Repelling the CovenantMuch like the game's namesake soldiers, the soundtrack album for "Halo 3: ODST" performed a surprise, precision insertion onto my desk last week. Even though I had exactly zero hands-on time with ODST yet, all of about 0.7 seconds passed before I spun up the CD to hear what Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori had created for the game's audio ammunition. The big question I had was, since ODST is a different take on the Halo-verse, how would this translate into the music? We've even got samples prepared to drop, in this spoiler free review.

 

There's no spoiler warning needed here because I am not going to list any track names that might give any of the story away, though I will say that there doesn't seem to be much that can be gleaned from them anyway. Since you aren't playing as Master Chief this time, it goes without saying that Halo 3: ODST will be a different yet familiar game play experience, so it should come as no surprise that ODST's music is different yet familiar. Don't worry though, O'Donnell and Salvatori have not gone and created an Auto-Tuned Halo Choir monstrosity. This is most definitely Halo music, just in a different mode.

 

Halo 3: ODST Soundtrack - 'ODST Theme' »


 

To hear more clips and see the rest of my Halo 3: ODST soundtrack review, click the cut below.

Read More »


Continuing the media train towards the next week's launch, Bungie developers preview the details of how the player will explore the moody city of New Mombasa in Halo 3: ODST.

No Master Chief buffs? No problem, hand me the Halo 1 pistol and I'll make due.

Halo 3: ODST Vidoc Terra Incognita »




If you're a huge Halo fan but couldn't make it up, over, or down to Seattle last weekend for PAX, do not fret:  the good people at Penny Arcade teamed up with the good people at Bungie and allowed us to sneak in our camera crew to record their "Prepare to Drop" panel in its entirety. This was an entertaining discussion of Halo 3: ODST from beginning to end, including bits about the voice actors (a sizeable chunk of the Firefly cast), concept art, when they're willing to talk about Halo: Reach (not anytime soon), and a rousing debate over the merits of the Battle Rifle. Presented for your viewing pleasure: 

PAX 2009 Panel: Halo 3: ODST Prepare to Drop »


 

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What Did Bungie Think Of District 9?

There might be a Halo movie eventually, but what was supposed to be the Halo movie helmed by Peter Jackson protégé Neill Blomkamp became District 9. While interviewing Bungie community manager Brian Jarrard at Penny Arcade Expo last weekend, Jarrard admitted that while he hadn't personally seen District 9 yet, much of the Bungie staff had.

"I know a lot of the guys [at Bungie] obviously have seen it. I'm in the minority," he said. "Pretty much universally at Bungie people love it. We're really just happy with how it turned out. We've always thought Neill Blomkamp had a lot of talent and it's just awesome that he got this chance. In a lot of ways, I mean, like Joe was saying yesterday, it's kind of cool that it isn't the Halo movie, that he [Blomkamp] got a chance to -- this is Joe's [Staten, creative director] line -- kind of give sci-fi a kick in the nuts and do something totally different."

If the Halo movie had been made, it's likely District 9 wouldn't exist. It's not often science fiction is delivered something that isn't based on an existing franchise. Plus, as Jarrard points out, maybe District 9 was what Blomkamp was destined to make all along.

"Maybe he couldn't have done that with Halo with all the cooks in the kitchen and all the creative sort of shackles that would've gone with that," he said. "Not to say there won't be a movie someday -- who knows? I would like to see one, but I think this actually worked out for the best."

Would you have traded District 9 for a Blomkamp-helmed Halo movie?









I've never been so close to a pandemic before than this week at the G4 offices. See, some guy or gal thought it would be a great idea to come to PAX sick as a dog, roll around in some of the bean bag chairs strewn about in the convention center, wipe their nose with a Wii controller jacket and call it a day. Though a few of us (which I have dubbed "The Chosen") have managed to escape with no symptoms of "H1Nerd1," many on the X-Play and G4tv.com staff are down for the count. It's like The friggin' Stand here.

Billy and Morgan are among the casualties, but that didn't stop them from trying to infect Matt Keil and myself during this week's episode of Feedback, wherein between hacking and wheezing, we discussed the following:

  • Final Fantasy XIII had its Premiere Party this week in Japan, and once again they failed to provide the real public with the new trailer. So we just yakked about the eventual U.S. release and our current feelings toward the franchise.
  • Patrick interviewed Bungie's Brian Jarrard, who gave a little bit of insight at what the Bungie teams have been working on this year, outside of Halo 3: ODST. That includes Halo: Reach, and something that they're not quite ready to talk about yet.
  • Ten years ago this week, Sega released the Dreamcast -- which many now consider to be one of the industry's great final stands. Matt and Morgan spent quite a bit of time with Crazy Taxi and Seaman, while I call for the re-release of Chu Chu Rocket.
  • A reader asks why developers are so keen on including multiplayer modes when it's debateable if the game needs it in the first place. Our response? "Wait and see for BioShock 2."
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade is our Game of the Week, and while it looks gorgeous and the combat system is fast and fluid, it still left the panel a little empty. Read Matt's review for some background.
  • Then Morgan and I develop G4's new mono-syllabic, grunt-based reviewing system. "Meh?" out of "Whee!!!"

M-O-O-N, that spells "Feedback."

G4tv.com's Feedback -- Week of September 7th, 2009 »



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Halo 3: ODST

Our Halo 3: ODST Launch Center is now live and you can find 18 awesome videos to watch as you count the days until the game is released on September 22nd!

You'll be able to watch (and re-watch) segments from the X-Play special, an extended discussion of the game's singleplayer campaign between myself and Mr Sark, an extended interview with Bungie senior designer Lars Bakken on Firefight, and tons of direct-feed gameplay footage.

Head on over to G4tv.com/ODST ASAP!




Halo: Reach Will Probably Bungie's Biggest Game Ever

We don't know much about Halo: Reach yet. Microsoft and Bungie showed off a teaser for the possibly final collaboration between the two companies at E3, which chronicles the fall of the planet Reach, a major part of Halo lore. At the Penny Arcade Expo, I had a chance to ask Bungie community manager Brian Jarrard about Halo: Reach.

"Reach is going to be a tough project for us to wrap just because the scope is really big -- it's up there," said Jarrard. "It'll probably be our biggest game ever just in terms of the amount of people working on it and the expectations for it. I mean, it's a big deal for us."

To be honest, I thought it was a small, focused spin-off, ala Halo 3: ODST. It's not. Halo: Reach sounds much bigger than I'd ever imagined, the way Jarrard puts it.

"I know just for at least the next year our hardcore focus is going to be on getting Reach done and awesome and hopefully getting people excited about it," he said.

Halo: Reach will also represent Bungie's next major step forward in engine technology. Whereas Halo 3: ODST was mostly built on Halo 3's base technology, Halo: Reach is a complete reinvention.

"Reach will be a full three-year cycle -- it's got all-new tech, akin to the change from Halo 2 to Halo 3," he said.

Am I the only one who didn't realize how ambitious Halo: Reach actually was? Based on the few new tidbits here from Jarrard, I'm already more excited about what the studio has planned for its possibly final Halo adventure. For more on Halo 3: ODST, what might come after Halo: Reach and plenty more on Halo in general, check out my full interview with Jarrard.

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