November 29, 2011

Newest Halo 4 "trailer" deemed fake

       If you were checking for Halo 4 updates this week, you might have come across a video on YouTube boasting to be the newest trailer for Halo 4. Well, it's not. I don't see why so many fell for it, because, simply put, it's terrible. But anyway, the video has been officially labeled as a fake.

November 27, 2011

Review: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary

       Ten years. Ten years since we first laid eyes on a vast alien ringworld, and we knew. We knew this was to be the start of somthing big. We stepped into the boots of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, and onto the dirt of Halo, even though we knew nothing about it. But we were going to change that. We fought off the Covenant, found the Silent Cartographer, breached the Control Room, discovered the Flood, stopped Halo from firing, and ultimately destroyed the Flood. We spent thousands of hours slaying Spartans, activating bombs, and capturing flags. And now, here we are. Ten years later, and Halo is still going strong. To celebrate Halo's Tenth Anniversary, 343 Industries released Halo: Combat Evolved - Anniversary. Here's my review.

       I suppose the first thing to talk about is the graphics. Simply put, they're stunning. One neat feature is that you can switch back and forth between the old and new graphics with a push of a button. Before CEA was released, 343i described the feature as "seamlessly". I was dissappointed to find that it is'nt. You push the button, and yeah, there may not be any load times, but the screen goes black for about 1-3 seconds. Not bad, but I'd like it better if it was instant, so you can notice how massive of a change the graphics went through. Sound/audio effects are great, with noticable difference. In the cutscenes, the graphics are great, but the animation is still the same. For example, not much mouth movement during someone talking. While playing, you forget it's a decade-old game, but during the cutscenes, you are reminded of that fact.

       The actual gameplay has held up well. It's still fun, but it really does still feel like you're playing the original Halo. The addition of skulls, easter eggs, achievments, and terminals help add more to the game, and keep it fresh. I like the way the Terminals are creatively placed. The Terminal on the bridge of the Pillar of Autumn has a message from 343 Guilty Spark to the humans, and the Terminal inside the Truth and Reconciliation has a message from 343 GS to the Covenant. There are thirteen Gold skulls (14 including Grunt Funeral) in all, 10 Gold, and 3 Silver. There are ten campaign Terminals, as well as one Terminal that can only be accessed via a secret function in Halo Waypoint. I'll have an article on it later this week. There are 37 campaign achievments, three Terminal achievments, and four Skull achievments, totaling 44 achievments in all, and earning the standard 1000 G.

       And now, on to the maps. There are six in total, with two
variants each.

First, there's Battle Canyon/Beaver Creek. It is a remake of Halo CE's Battle Creek, and Halo 2's Beaver Creek, located on Installation 04. As you can see, it's quite symetrical, which is good for team games. There are two bases, with a large rock formation in the middle. On top of the rock is a Rocket Launcher, and to the side is a Sniper's Roost and an SRS99-AM. It's a moderately small map, good for 2-6 players, I'd say.

Then you have Breakneck/Headlong, my personal favorite. It's a remake of Halo 2's Headlong, located in New Mombassa. It's a pretty large map, with several vehicles, including a Banshee, Ghosts, and others. Weapons include Rocket Launcher, SRS99-AM, DMR, Magnum, MA5B, Shotgun, Plasma Launcher, Energy Sword, Needler, Plasma Rifle, and Needle Rifle. There are probably a couple others I forgot about. There are several sniper spots, the best in my opinion being on the top floor of either building, on the "balcony" looking out over the map. There's plenty of room for vehicular warfare, but I dont think they should've included the Banshee, as there is barely enough room to maneuver it. Even though it's such a big map, I had tons of fun on it just me and one friend. I think it's good for 2-12 players.

Then comes High Noon/Hang 'Em High. High Noon is a remake of Hang 'Em High from Halo CE. I didnt really care for this one, because is was basically one level. The highest point was maybe 20 feet, and the lowest was about -15 feet. There are plenty of cover-spots, but no good sniping point. There was a sniper rifle, though, and this confused me. There arent any vehicles, or aircraft. There's one Rocket Launcher, and plenty of DMRs to go around. This map was obviously built for large Free-for-all, on-foot games. There's also tons of grenades, and many other weapons. It doesnt look that good for any team matches, because there isnt any definite base. I think it would be good for 4-16 players.

Now we move on to Penance, a remake of Damnation from Halo CE. Penance has good depth to it. It's devided up into a lot of rooms, with a couple good sniper spots. Weapons include Energy Sword, DMR, Shotgun, Needler, Needle Rifle, MA5B, SRS99-AM, and others. There are no vehicles. The map could support CTF and Assault Matches, although it wouldnt be ideal. Recommended for small to medium Team or FFA matches, 2-8 players.

Which brings us to Ridgeline. Being a remake of the Halo PC's Timberland, not many Halo fans know about it. It's really a pretty good map. It has two definite well-protected bases, with a creek/brook in between. Each base has a main building, with an area above for "sniping" even though there are no Sniper Rifles on the map. A few feet in front of the base is a Machine Gun Turret, and to the side is another "sniper" spot. But with the presence of Mongeese, Warthogs, and especially Ghosts, the Turret is basically moot. This is a great map for CTF and Assault, and even Free-for-All matches. 4-12 players.

And finally, we have Solitary. A remake of Halo CE's Prisoner, Solitary is one of my favorite Anniversary maps, and the first Anniversary map I played on. It has good depth/hight, and has a good sniper spot. The map is semi-symetrical. Weapons include Shotgun, Rocket Launcher (in the very middle), Sniper Rifle, DMR, Pistol, Needle Rifle, Energy Sword (I think), Needler, and Plasma Pistol. Even though the map is symetrical, it's not a good map for CTF or Assault, as there is no definite Red or Blue base. I'd say the map is good for 2-8 players.

       I, and many other Halo fans were disappointed that there was no Blood Gulch remake. This is arguably one of the best Halo maps. Ever. I was also disappointed that there was only one Firefight map, Installation-04, and that the game didnt come with all the Reach maps, like 3: ODST. That would have been awesome.      

       But, all in all, Halo Anniversary is a great game, and the skulls, easter eggs, achievments, Terminals, maps, and of course, updated graphics/sound make it well worth the $40. 5 out of 5, 9 out of 10.

November 23, 2011

Review: Halo The Fall of Reach - Bootcamp

       Halo: The Fall of Reach - Bootcamp is basically a retelling of Halo: The Fall of Reach, but in comic format.

       Bootcamp is about the very beginning of the Spartan-II project, including the abduction, training, and augmentation of the 75 children, including John-117. It also shows their first mission - capturing Colonel Robert Watts, leader of the Insurrection.

       I liked the art (which is a big thing for me. If I dont like the art in a comic book, I wont read it), and it was an interesting look at the start of the S-II project. If you wanted to know more about the Spartan-II project, but dont have time to read The Fall of Reach novel, I suggest reading this. 4 out of 5, 8 out of 10.

November 21, 2011

November 19, 2011

Halo 3 for $4.99?


       Because of the release of Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, pre-owned copies of Halo 3 at Gamestop has just dipped under $5. Halo Reach has also dropped to $29.99. Halo 3: ODST, as well as Halo 2 remain at $12.99. Anyone who - for some reason - hasnt player Halo 3 yet should pick this us, it's too good to pass up!

November 18, 2011

Star Wars and Halo

       The other day, while standing in line for the Halo CEA launch party, I was thinking about all the Halo Media and merchandise. And then, I realized something. Halo is approaching Star Wars status.

       Just think. Halo may not have any movies out, (except for Halo Legends) but it's sure made up for that in video games. There are currently seven (nine, if you count Halo Custom Edition, and 2 Vista) games on the market, along with a couple cancelled projects. Then, at least three are on the way, as well as rumors of a Halo Wars 2. Then, there are nine novels out, with at least three on the way. There are six comics out, along with two on the way. There are seven official game guides, as well as five reference books, including The Art of Halo 3, which has become outstandingly collectible, going for anywhere from $200-over $1000. Halo 2, 3, and Reach all have Limited Editons, with 3 and Reach having a Legendary Edition as well, being even more collectible. There's soundtracks, numerous behind-the-scenes videos, and the famous Halo comedy, Red vs Blue. There are Mega Blocks, action figures, costumes, Limited Edition statues, Xbox consoles, controllers, as well as tons of little things including stickers, magnets, skins, computer wallpapers, posters, shirts, stuffed Grunts, etc.

       Give Halo a few year's time, and I think it will reach Star Wars status, if it hasn't already. So keep it up, all you Master Chiefs, Arbiters, Noble-Sixes, Rookies, and Cortanas out there. Keep playing, reading, watching, laughing, building, collecting, looking, waiting in line, modding, and forging. Because it isn't always the merchandise that makes up a franchise, it's the ones who buy it.

November 15, 2011

Halo CEA launch party

I went to the Halo CEA launch party at Microsoft Store. It was awesome! The first 100 in the door got a red (or blue) wristband, and a special CEA poster. 1st 100 to pre order the game got $5 off, a $25 Microsoft Store gift card, and a plush Grunt! It started at 10pm, and went through to 1am. Monster Energy came, and handed out free Monster, Pizza My Heart delivered pizza.

Kid trying out Halo CEA.

The line.

They're just missing in action....


Halo reaches all age groups!

You can see more pictures on (then click on "photos"). And more pictures and video on the facebook page.

November 14, 2011

"Good" News! (for Reach players)

343 Industries announced last week that an Anniversary Map Pack will be available for Halo Reach. This means that Reach players wont have to buy Halo CEA to get the remastered maps. The pack will include six classic Halo maps, and one new Firefight map. It will release same-day as Halo CEA, for 1200 Microsoft Points. But anyone who buys Halo CEA will get a download code to add the map pack to Halo Reach.

November 11, 2011

Review: Halo Glasslands (mild-moderate spoilers)

       Halo Glasslands follows several different groups or characters. You follow Dr. Halsey, the remainder of the Spartan-IIIs and Spartan-IIs from Onyx, and SCPO Franklin Mendez. Then there is Kilo-Five, which is made up of a S-II "dropout" Captain Serin Osman, Spartan-II Naomi-010, ODSTs Vasily Beloi, Malcom Geffen, and Lian Devereaux, and a "smart" AI Black Box, AKA BB. And Finally, there is Avu Med 'Telcam, and Jul 'Mdama.

       Halsey, Mendez, and the Spartans are still in the Forerunner Shield World, and are looking for food, shelter, etc. While investigating something she saw move, Lucy-B091 wanders off from the team, and accidentally walks through a wall. You may remember from the beginning of Ghosts of Onyx, that Lucy was traumatized during a mission (OPERATION: TORPEDO) where her entire team, except her and and Tom-B292 died. After that, she never talked again. So Lucy couldn't radio Halsey and the rest of the Spartans for assistance. She explores this new area for a while, and comes across several Forerunner, not Covenant, Huragok (Engineers). She begins communicating with the Huragok via a large touchscreen. Eventually, the Huragok help her out of the "room" and meet up with the rest of her team. Halsey has a field-day communicating and asking the Huragok questions. They later convince the Huragok to let them send a distress signal out. After they get a reply from Parangosky, the Huragok are convinced that it is safe to bring the Shield world back to normal space.

       Meanwhile, Kilo-Five is on a mission to spark an insurrection within Sanghelios. Captain Osman, under the orders of Margaret Parangosky, is supplying Avu Med 'Telcam with weapons. 'Telcam wishes to remove Arbiter Thel 'Vadam from power, and (unbeknownst to the UNSC) defeat the humans before they can regain power. But don't think too low about him, because that is exactly what Parangosky is trying to do to the Sangheili. Later in the story, the UNSC picks up readings coming from where Onyx used to be. Kilo-Five is sent to investigate. Eventually, the Shield World is brought back to normal space. In normal space, it grew to the size of an entire solar system. Not just empty space though, land, and lots of it. They find Forerunner ships capable of pin-point slipspace accuracy, and even though the Huragok wont allow themselves, or the ships to be removed from the Shield world, they create several new Huragok special for the humans. It is later requested that the shield world be named Trevelyan, after Kurt-051, who sacrificed his life for Halsey and the S-IIs and S-IIIs.

       Jul 'Mdama is a former Covenant Shipmaster, who thinks the humans should be finished off. He joins forces with Avu Med 'Telcam, who is part of Servants of Abiding Truth. They try to assassinate Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. Towards the end of the story, 'Telcam sends a note to Prof. Phillips, telling him to meet him at the SoAT's "headquarters". Then, after talking with Telcam a few minutes, there was an explosion. And all Osman could hear on Phillip's microphone was Telcam, shouting, "It's not us. It's not us! What in the name of the gods is happening?" I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it could either be residual Covenant forces, or humans. Or could it be Forerunners? I wouldn't bet on it, but there's always the possibility. We'll just have to wait for the sequel.

All in all, Glasslands would have to go in my Top 3 favorite Halo novels. I really enjoyed the exploration of Forerunner technology, as well as going deeper into Sanghelios than ever before. I'm not sure I like the fact that humanity's "alliance" with the Sangheili might not last. I kind of liked the idea of rebuilding society side by side. And in Halo 2 and 3, I felt 10 times more awesome fighting alongside Spec-Ops Sangheili. It wasn't 100% what I expected, but it is definitely a must-read for any Halo fan.

November 10, 2011

Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary launch party!

Yes, it's true. Microsoft will be throwing launch parties for CEA at 13 of their stores across the US. It will be at 10 pm on Nov 14th. The 1st 100 will get a bunch of Halo goodies, and the 1st 100 to buy the game will get a stuffed Grunt. (No, not a real one... v.v).

Halo Anniversary Launch Party on Halo Waypoint (bottom)

CEA Launch Party on Facebook

Review: Halo Uprising (spoilers)

       Halo Uprising follows Master Chief on the Forerunner Dreadnought, as well as Ruwan Ackerson, and Myras Tyla.

       It follows Master Chief's activities on his way to earth, as well as how he gets off of the Dreadnought.

       It also tells the story of when the Covenant attacks Cleveland, and why they didn't destroy it. They had captured Colonel James Ackerson, and told him that they were going to destroy Earth. And in an attempt to save his brother, Ruwan, he lied to the Brutes, and said there was something in Cleveland, Ohio that they couldn't fire the Halo Array without. The "Key of Osanalan", he called it. Of course, the Key was fake. Him and Ruwan made it up when playing together. When the Covenant invaded Cleveland, demanding the location of the Key from it's citizens, Ruwan heard the name, and knew it was James. Ruwan eventually makes it to a UNSC outpost, and meets with the Covenant, saying he was the Key. He was then sent to the Minister of Inquisition. Before meeting with the Covenant, he was injected with a tracking substance. The plan was that he would become a target. Once he was on the CCS-class Battlecruiser, the Orbital Defense Platform Nassau used its MAC to destroy it. Ruwan, and everyone else on it died.

       Uprising wasn't my favorite comic. So far, I've only read Uprising, Helljumper, and Halo Graphic Novel. Helljumper is my favorite at this point. The story was ok, but I didn't care for the drawings. I really liked Helljumper's art. I wouldn't recommend anyone to buy this for more than $2, unless they're a hardcore Halo/comic fan. I just checked it out of the library, and that's what I recommend you do, if not, borrow it from a friend.

November 1, 2011

Coming soon: Halo Glasslands review!

Ok, as some of you may remember, I went to Barnes and Noble to get Halo Glasslands, but they didn't have any in yet. I went over today as soon as it opened, and now I have it. I'll have my review up sometime early next week.