Monday, November 8, 2010

Halo Reach Is No Halo 3

Halo Reach couldn’t have picked a better time to come out. After the Summer doldrums, where the only big games included StarCraft 2, Mafia II, and maybe even NHL 11, Halo Reach hits at the peak of summer/fall boredom just before the Christmas season storm.

But will it sell more than Halo 3? I initially said no… Am I wrong? Read on.

Halo 3 was a monster, selling over 11 million units through today’s date. It did most of its damage during the first four weeks out, selling more than 5.5 million units. It was a phenomenon.

Do Do, DoDoDo. Do, DoDoDo…


At the time of Halo 3′s launch, gamers were clamoring for the first new Halo on the next-gen system. There were Mountain Dew promotions, Master Chief was everywhere. I don’t feel that same vibe this time around. Sure, there’s a lot of Halo Reach commercials, but where are the Burger King tie ins? The Mountain Dew flavors? (the current promotion is very understated.) The prime time news stories?

It seems that this time around, things are different. Halo Reach seems much less marketable. There’s no Master Chief. Without the titular character from three of the previous games, people may not immediately identify with the new “Halo Game”. Furthermore, it’s a prequel to one of the most convoluted universes in gaming.

Reach is more Empire Strikes Back than Return of the Jedi. Kind of a downer in tone… Plus, it has to fight the brand fatigue of three Halo games in almost 4 years.

These are the reasons why I don’t think it will sell as well as Halo 3. On the other hand, Halo Reach couldn’t have come out at a better time. There’s really nothing to play right now. Mafia II didn’t live up to the hype and StarCraft 2 is for PC gamers… Sure Civ 5 comes out soon, but it’s more likely to cannibalize the SC2 players than the Halo Reach players. So, in the midst of essentially a quiet period of gaming, Halo Reach came out and BAM! Everybody is on it.

Another factor, in favor of Halo Reach selling more than Halo 3, is the simple fact that there’s a much larger install base of Xbox 360 owners. Plain and simple, there’s just more people to buy the product. Maybe because of that you don’t need the huge media blitz to sell consoles. I dunno, but it’s a powerful fact on the side of those that think Reach will sell more copies.

Of course what I’m saying is based on generalities. Anecdotal evidence. I’m not really basing it on anything real, other than a gut feelings…But…

First day Reach sales reported by Microsoft appear to be less than the sales for Halo 3. Read all about it.

My gut tells me that Reach won’t sell more than Halo 3. My head tells me that my heart is wrong. I just don’t see that Reach is as easily marketable, compelling or as well known of a story to drive 11 million people to purchase the game.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halo Reach Preluding Lower Sales For Black Ops

So now it’s official: Microsoft's first-person behemoth Halo: Reach is the year’s biggest entertainment event, generating $200 million in sales in just 24 hours in the United States alone.

That’s two-thirds of what Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 took in from the North American and U.K. markets in its first day last year, but it’s still a number that’s nothing to sneeze at. The one-day take already eclipses the three-day opening weekends of “Iron Man 2,” “Toy Story 3” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

While Microsoft is doing cartwheels, though, the rest of the gaming industry is nervously shuffling its feet. Despite a number of high profile releases, it hasn’t exactly been a banner year for game sales -- and the success of Reach might not help things.

The slump is due, in part, to the ongoing recession. But also deserving some of the credit is the lingering effect of Modern Warfare 2 – a game whose multiplayer component was so deep and so rich that it kept players hooked, reducing their need and desire to buy other titles.

Fatigue is finally starting to gradually set in for that game, but Halo: Reach may well pick up that mantle.

As much praise as the game’s single-player campaign is getting, it’s the rich multi-player mode that really has players excited. New armor abilities, new game modes and an impressive suite of creation tools have overwhelmed the Xbox Live user base with joy. And the game’s matchmaking service is working like a charm so far.

That’s a lot of reasons to play -- and could give buyers plenty of excuses to put off other purchases in the coming months.

“There’s always a worry that a game like that can take share and cannibalize other games,” says Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

To add to worries, Call of Duty: Black Ops will be hitting shelves in less than two months – a one-two punch to other game developers. That could put a number of seemingly big titles on the bubble, their sales in jeopardy.

None seems in a more perilous position than EA’s Medal of Honor. The battle that was shaping up between the rebooted military shooter and Call of Duty was already a tough one, but with Halo: Reach potentially impacting people’s buying decisions, the game could face an even tougher challenge. (The game's controversial decision to allow players to fight as Taliban forces in multiplayer might not help, either.)

Medal of Honor is actually scheduled to hit shelves well before Black Ops, but it has been three years since the last version – and Call of Duty has become the industry’s biggest seller in that time. The hope, in part, was that the Call of Duty fan base would buy Medal of Honor as a placeholder while waiting for the release of Black Ops – but they could be too busy with Reach to do so.

Meanwhile other titles like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Tron: Evolution, which all would normally appeal to the same general demographic, might be overlooked entirely.

“I see Halo: Reach creating a vacuum in multiplayer,” says Billy Pigeon of M2 Research. “I expect it will have an effect similar to ‘Modern Warfare 2’. People will be playing online and may not buy other games.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Remember Halo: Reach

Contrarian Corner is a feature meant to take a critical look at some recently-released games, a place for a more holistic discussion of titles which have been the recipient of either an abundance of single-minded praise, or an undue amount of criticism. Our intent is not to contradict or undercut our own reviews, but rather to expand the spectrum of discussion on some of the most important games of each year. If you're interested in joining that discussion, keep reading.

Make sure to read Erik Brudvig's Halo: Reach review for IGN's official thoughts on the game. And be forewarned -- if you haven't finished the game, massive spoilers will be discussed below.


I didn't play Halo in full until 2006. I'd just come back to Los Angeles after two years in Madagascar. I'd moved into a spare bedroom a friend from college had at his apartment in Hollywood. I'd just quit a job at a small movie company after three days because I realized my boss was full of shit, though well-intentioned shit. I was out of money and totally unsure of what I was supposed to do next. I had slowly depleted my savings with the occasional relief of working as an extra and reading scripts for IFC. I had downloaded the Halo demo on the used iMac I'd bought to send resumes and search for job listings. After playing through the demo three times I finally decided to get a full version to catch up with the game that had so dramatically moved shooters forward.

Halo reminded me of the The Wizard of Oz. I'd shot through the feco-viscera of Quake, DOOM, Hexen, and Heretic in college, but I wasn't expecting to start a first person shooter whose main enemy was a furry midget with a conch on it's head. I thought a musical sequence might be about to come to life the first time I heard one of these grunts put his hands up and wobble away from me screaming, "He's a monster!" It was a lovely compliment to the snortling baritone of the Elites' surprised exclamations, "What, what, whaaaaat?!" With a few coordinated pirouettes the game could just as naturally become The Wiz in Space. The sense of exaggeration extended to the gameplay, requiring a literal hosing of bullets to short an enemy's shield before you could do any bodily damage. Levels were built around arenas in which you'd go from hosing to hosing rather than headshot to headshot.

It's been nine years since Bungie released the first game, and in the interim they've worked on nothing else, refining this absurd world of munchkins, purple armor, and elastic bullet streams. Halo: Reach is the end of all that. The neon theatricality has become a memento mori set against a perpetual sunset lowering itself over hardscrabble mountains. There are still moments of wonder, like the sense of scale in the launch sequence preceding the space combat mission, or the moments of jet pack platforming around the white towers of New Alexandria. But the pleasures are put in the uncomfortably tight spaces between the colony's collapsing architecture. Most of the story missions pivot on a point of failure. The fighting in New Alexandria isn't to turn back the invaders, but stall them long enough to evacuate the innocents. Likewise, the extreme gamble of going into space and docking on a Covenant ship is a strategic hail mary that succeeds but the scale of its success is quickly put into minuscule context when a new armada of Covenant ships subsequently come into orbit.

Reach likewise plays a game of Six Little Spartans with Noble Team, fingering each squad member for death as the story sinks downward. You don't play as Master Chief, but you might as well be. Noble Six isn't quite as dexterous as Johnny Halo, but the differences are marginal. You might be able to absorb one less bullet or not jump quite as high, but you've still basically wearing a super hero armor suit. Six isn't outspoken either, which is a vapid choice for the story being told. Gordon Freeman can get away with not talking because he's surrounded with spastics who react to him in such identifiable ways that you can at least begin to read personality traits into him. When Master Chief played the strong and quiet type it felt like a tactical dodge, not wanting to tempt audience disbelief by giving him the wrong voice.

Reach is specifically focused on squad personality, and appropriately so. Killing off six main characters is an utter waste if there aren't any personality traits through which their losses can be measured. Lose the funny guy and suddenly the group doesn't laugh so much any more. Lose the fearless leader and everyone squabbles about what to do next. The gang in Noble Team isn't as dramatically fanned out as that, they're more variations on the self-assured alpha gunner. And at their center is another mute. In the real world stoicism is a bad sign. Sociability is a sign of self-confidence and recognition of how vital close friendships can be. The quiet ones are, we fear, the sociopaths. The brooding poops who one day snap and go on a stabbing spree when someone says "margarine" one time too many. I suppose it's apt that you play a silent lurker given the volume of killing you'll have to do, but it still feels unnecessarily dull. Bungie had the courage to introduce lustrous purples and greens into the video game color palate, I don't understand why giving a character a powerful voice both in and out of combat remains such a risk.

It's especially conspicuous after ODST so effectively used its colorful characterizations and coupled with subtle links to gameplay. Gone is the labored wheeze that signaled damage in ODST. I'd think a subtle reinforcement of genuine pain running beneath the gunfights would enhance the power of the story and its myriad sacrifices. After a decade working on the same essential game concept, Bungie might have done more to intensify its themes in gameplay, rather than leaving them marooned to the cutscenes and the smoky orange sadness of the skybox.

There are a lot of fantastically dramatic moments in the story. Scenes of someone realizing hope is lost but deciding to stay behind and die so the group can continue a little further occur again and again. The ending scene after the credits is great as far as it goes, the game finally leaves players in an arena they won't be able to get out of. The Pillar of Autumn has Cortana's AI kernel safely cruising towards Halo and Noble Six is now officially expendable. You get control of her for another few minutes as waves of Covenant come for you. There's only enough ammo and health to prolong death, but not prevent it. Before you're completely overrun the game shows your visor cracked permanently, giving you a literally shattered view of the world as you scramble for just another few minutes.

A few missions earlier, one of your squadmates dies in a nearly identical scenario on a covenant ship. Later another character takes a plane on a suicide run into a Scarab to create a small opening. One teammate is sniped just at the moment where everything seemed like it might have been okay. If you're interested in emotional gameplay these scenarios are over-ripe. And in Reach they're all cutscenes. The lone example of theme and feeling trumping competitive interest happens after the end credits have finished. The only way this could have been a bigger cop out is if they'd reserved that five minute section for DLC. If a game is supposed to be about tragedy and loss, it ought to be about that in the moment to moment gameplay. Reach should have been built around 30 seconds of failure and pain instead of 30 seconds of fun. It's still the same 30 seconds of fun but the art team has been given a huskier color palate, which is somehow intended to transform the system into something it's not.

Reach is the most feature-rich and varied Halo game, but it's hard not to wonder if the difference between it and the original is enough to merit a decade of tinkering. There's Forge, Firefight, 4 person co-op, a leveling system that ties to character customization, and a big array of multiplayer maps and options. It makes the small list of bullet points from the first game seem tragically incomplete. Reach is as much a perpetual environment as it is an individual experience. It's not an escapist story, but an escapist world that aims to be habitable in perpetuity. It's a magical fishbowl that's always rearranging itself, rewarding loyal players with a simultaneous sense of familiarity and newness.

I finished Reach in two sittings, led from one compulsive pleasure-puzzle to the next. There were no easy places to step away, each lull put some suggestive variation of shooting just over the next ridge. When I thought about starting the game again the next day, trying a harder difficulty of dipping into one of the other modes I couldn't imagine what else there would be to get from the game. I've circle-straffed, tossed grenades and rushed enemies for a finishing melee attack, hidden nervously behind boxes waiting for my shields to regenerate. Thinking of doing it all again, in a slightly different order, and with slightly different objectives and rewards didn't seem like much of an escape. It was starting to feel constrictive, discovery was becoming repetition. Experimentation with new ideas was instead becoming confirmation that most of the old ideas still work.

More Halo: Reach Opinions

Optimism is at the heart of escapism. All great works of escapism are about self-affirmation, which is central to Halo and the idea of Master Chief. It's a big, gaudy, interactive "Yes we can." This was hypnotic when I was broke, out of work, and had no idea what I would do next in my life. It was an irresistible experience, being cut off on a strange planet, with its indifferent sprawl and inscrutable alien architecture, fighting against enemies who seemed genuinely alive and unpredictable. I knew I'd win in the end, but I didn't know how. So I kept coming back, chipping away at the story, learning a new tactic with each arena and its different arrangement of enemies, weapons, and vehicles.

I often think about what I get in return for my time with video games. I've found the most compulsively playable games are also the ones that leave me feeling the most used and hollow afterward. When I think back on what I did in Reach, it's hard to know why I did any of it. Nothing connects, the patterns that emerge from one arena to the next don't build towards a grand confrontation. Nor do they truthfully connect to an emotional idea other than the laughing gas giggle of winning at something for 30 seconds and then repeating it again in a slightly different context. The alien wonder and elastic heroism of the original have become rote, a formula of Greek symbols without a hypothesis to prove.

I hate playing games with other people. Board games, card games, word games--they all seem like a waste of time, an exploitation of our competitive distractibility. It's built into the names we have for them, they're pastimes categorized by their efficiency in distracting us. When this ethos comes in video game form, built as a persistent playroom that continually refreshes itself, it feels uncomfortably like jumping into oblivion. There's something sinister about Reach and its repetition of the now wheezing theme of heroism and self-sacrifice. It's become an elaborate delusion that makes it possible for an excitable and creative group of millions to yoke themselves into a virtual community for the primary purpose of accelerating the passage of time. It's a neon prison so perfectly constructed its prisoners come to their cells with pleasure and don't need to be locked in. And make no mistake, this prison is getting hungrier. It wants you too. One more round. One more mission. One more imperative to play the hero in a fishbowl, so you won't think about how much oxygen is left in the water. They might change the water and add a castle, but you'll eventually notice you're still swimming in circles.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halo Reach Sales Top Out At 358 Million

Sales of console up 38 percent year-over-year, cited as a factor in company's record first fiscal quarter performance; Entertainment and Devices Division sales tally $1.8 billion.

Microsoft has been banking on the motion-sensing Kinect peripheral to boost sales of the Xbox 360 this holiday season, but it turns out the system has had no trouble selling in advance of the camera system's November 4 launch. The company today announced a record performance for its first fiscal quarter (the three months ended September 30), with Xbox 360 sales up 38 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft's revenues Reach-ed for the stars.

The Entertainment and Devices division, which handles Microsoft's gaming business, as well as projects like the Zune and ill-fated Kin phone, posted nearly $1.8 billion in sales. Microsoft claims that number is up 27 percent year-over-year, but only since it has "recast" previous results "to conform to the way [Microsoft] internally managed and monitored segment performance during the current fiscal year." In last year's first fiscal quarter results, Microsoft reported Entertainment and Devices division revenues of nearly $1.9 billion, essentially flat from the prior year.

The Xbox division's operating profits were also affected by the aforementioned recasting. For the recently concluded quarter, Microsoft posted a divisional operating profit of $382 million, claiming that was up from the previous year's $260 million operating profit. The original number Microsoft reported for its first quarter last year was $312 million.

Companywide, Microsoft touted its all-time best first fiscal quarter performance. Every business unit in the company showed sales growth, and revenues for the three months ended September 30 totaled $16.2 billion, up 25 percent from the prior year. Net income surged even more, jumping 51 percent to $5.41 billion.

Microsoft cited strong consumer demand for the Xbox 360 and its games, as well as Office 2010 and Windows 7, as contributing factors to the growth. While Microsoft didn't break down the numbers, it bears noting that the quarter saw the debut of Halo: Reach, which was credited with bringing in $200 million in sales in its first day on sale. According to the industry-tracking NPD Group, Halo: Reach was also the top game for the month of September, selling 3.3 million units at US retailers.

[UPDATE]: In a post-earnings conference call, Microsoft revealed that Halo: Reach had totaled approximately $350 million in revenues to date and helped drive strong growth in the Xbox Live service.

The company expects to retain its momentum with the help of Kinect. Microsoft is projecting roughly 30 percent year-over-year revenue growth for the current quarter, with a jump of about 20 percent for the full year ending June 30, 2011.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Over 70 Million Halo: Reach Games Played

Bungie's released updated stats for Halo: Reach's launch week, confirming the prequel has already clocked up more than 70 million games played.

Everything about the game is tracked, right down to shots fired.

- On Tuesday, September 14 at approximately 1:30pm PST, just a few hours after launch, Halo: Reach's online unique user count had already completely eclipsed Halo 3's total tally for the entirety of the week (09/13 through 09/20).

- To account for the same number of online players found in Halo: Reach during that same window (just six days), we had to run the numbers for Halo 3 going all the way back to 8/6/2010, encompassing a full 45 days of Halo 3 play!

- Ultimately, Halo: Reach's online population for the first week dwarfed Halo 3's by comparison, snagging four times the number of total unique users and decimating Halo 3's all time high of concurrent users by more than 65 per cent.

And a few more stats:

- 70 Million+ Games have been played

- 235 Million+ Player-Games have been played

- 2 Million+ Files have been uploaded to File Shares

- 5,901 man-years have been spent in online Reach games

- 20 Million Daily challenges have been completed

- 709,840 Weekly challenges have been completed

- 165 Billion Credits have been earned

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Halo Reach Achievements Revealed

Halo Insider  here, writing for Halo Reach Game News to provide you with the latest info and news about Reach, Bungie's progress, trivia, vidocs, speculation, what the fans are up to and 'The tr7th about how The Fight Began!' in Full Halo Glory (TM).

There will be spoilers! If you don't want to know NE thing about Halo: Reach, slowly back away from the internet now - though, from the beginning, you know the end....

Friday, October 29Noble Map Pack Achievements Revealed

Urk tells all in the Bungie update about Noble Maps Pack Achievements:

Dave Candland tells me that some of you were asking about DLC achievements this week. In an act of selfless generosity, he sent the latest artwork my way so you could thoroughly ogle it.

Totally Worth It

50 Points

Earn a Double Kill from the Grave in multiplayer Matchmaking.

Both Barrels

50 Points

Earn a Double Kill with the shotgun in multiplayer Matchmaking.


50 Points

Kill a player at long range with the DMR in a matchmade Slayer game.

You Ate All the Chips

42 Points

Collect all of the flags in a matchmade Stockpile game.

You Blew It Up!

13 Points

Blow up the research facility in a matchmade Invasion game on Breakpoint.

Poppin' & Lockin'

25 Points

Destroy a vehicle using Armor Lock in a matchmade game.

Offensive Driver

20 Points

Earn a kill in a matchmade Rocket Race game.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack releases November 30

Halo Reach The Best Game of 2010
A new map pack for Halo: Reach deploys November 30. The Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack releases on Xbox Live and at retail outlets nationwide featuring new multiplayer locations for various modes such as Free for All, Team Slayer, Team Objective and Big Team Battle.

The pack contains three new maps: Tempest, Anchor 9, and Breakpoint.

Tempest offers players an abandoned shoreline facility divided between two symmetrical bases and an open sky above. Each base contains a makeshift shelter and access to strategic routes for small and large-scale skirmishes. Tempest supports 8 – 16 players and game modes such as Free for All, Team Slayer, Team Objective, and Big Team Battle. Tempest also contains a Forge palette for creating new custom maps.

Anchor 9 is set in orbital dockyards with mirrored interior hallways and an open central hangar bay. The map features close quarters combat for 2 - 8 players, and supports Free for All, Team Slayer, and Team Objective multiplayer modes.

Breakpoint is set in modular archaeological labs designed for air and ground combat. Breakpoint offers multiplayer for 8-16 players, and supports the Invasion and Big Team Battle game modes.

Developed by Bungie, the Noble Map Pack includes new Achievements worth a total of 250 Gamerscore points. It will be available for purchase for 800 Microsoft Points ($10) directly from Xbox Live or with a Microsoft Points card sold at retail locations worldwide.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

There Are many lelemts about Halo Reach that I give a thumbs up to and a lot of elents that have been added that degrade the gamers enjoyability and increases your gaming anguish!! Here's A Little of Both.....:

My Pros:

1) Voting sytem - This is my favorite addition. The Veto system in 3 was so awful. None of the above will become very awesome when the full game is out.

2) Weapon Diversity - Is it completely even? No. But it is already a lot better than 3 and keep in mind this is what the beta is for. You see everyone using a cluster*expletive deleted* of weapons. A good example was my first beta game when I went +23 using Plasma Rifle for most of my kills. Its no longer BR or bust.

3) Classes - Definitely adds spice to the game. The fact that you can switch with each respawn is great. Sprinting up to someone with a Hammer, turning invis with a Sniper, and Armor Lock when Rockets come after you, make me happy.

4) Maps - The fight seems to be everywhere. One thing I haven't seen, is someone always camping one spot. This game seems to promote staying on the move. No one spot is completely easy to hold down.

5) Active Roster - Just a fun little tweek to make it easy to get a group together.

6) Playlists - They added some new challenges to the game. Headhunter can piss you off sometimes. I tend to die before I get to the goal even though I've done most of the killing. Invasion and Generator Defense are the 2 I play the most, though.

My Cons:

1) Grenades - My biggest aggravation with the game. They are completely overpowered. Something needs to be turned down. Either the radius or damage. If you see a grenade fly ANYWHERE near you, go ahead and be ready to respawn. If they want to make grenades realisitic, then guns need to be also.

2) Pistol - They paraded this as the CE pistol. Its not. Its rate of fire is great, but the damage seems to be toned down a little too much. I don't want a 2-shot, but I can unload a full clip without killing them.

3) Jetpack - Its a fun class, but it doesn't tie in with Halo at all. Where was Master Chief's jetpack? Did they forget how to build them during the times of Halo 1-3?

4) Invisibility - I don't like how it scrambles the radars of you and your teammates.

5) Voting - Reward the people that take the time to vote. If you don't vote, you don't get counted as voting option 1. If NO ONE votes, then go ahead and let it do option 1.

6) Divisions - Way too easy to get into the high ones. I'm pretty good, but I'm nowhere near pro. I made Onyx for some reason. I thought that class was supposed to be the unicorn of slayer? And you very rarely see someone in the lower 2 ranks, even when doing the other playlists.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halo Reach Launches Three New Maps

.Want to see more of the new maps in the first DLC pack for Halo: Reach? Look no further, as Bungie has just released a new teaser for the Noble Map Pack, which takes you on a whirlwind tour through the three new multiplayer maps that will be included in the pack.

Above: A teaser for the Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack

Here are the official descriptions and multiplayer details for each map from Bungie:

Tempest – “Though we may never fully understand these devices, it is not our nature to leave ancient stones unturned.” This abandoned shoreline facility bends both sea and sky to an unnatural purpose, but the ground itself has quickly become another all too familiar battlefield. Though the two opposing symmetrical bases may never reveal their ancient purpose, both now offer makeshift shelter and access to strategic routes perfectly suited for small and large scale skirmishes alike. Tempest supports 8 – 16 players and offers a variety of modes including Free for All, Team Slayer, Team Objective and Big Team Battle. Tempest also provides players with a huge Forge palette, allowing them to create new custom map variants that can be shared with the community-at-large.

Anchor 9 – “Orbital dockyards provide rapid refuelling and repairs for a variety of UNSC vessels.” Within the confines of this low orbit dry-dock, UNSC craft undergo rapid repair and rearmament in support of the enduring war effort. But for the small squads of infantry who now fight over the mirrored interior hallways and open central hangar bay, this platform no longer provides any safe harbour – whether the close quarters combat is occurring inside or out of its artificial gravitational field. Anchor 9 allows 2-8 players to face off in game variants including Free for All, Team Slayer and Team Objective.

Breakpoint – “ONI officials believe the data buried within this artefact is key to our survival.” Atop this icy precipice, the Invasion continues. These modular archaeological labs were never intended to withstand such a large scale onslaught of Covenant military power, but the information being extracted here may prove vital to humanity’s survival. In response to the imminent Covenant threat, UNSC ground and air assets have been deployed to bolster entrenched Spartan countermeasures. This dig site must yield salvation, or it will become a grave. Breakpoint offers multiplayer mayhem for 8-16 players, and supports the Invasion and Big Team Battle game variants.

The Noble Map Pack, which will include Tempest, Anchor 9, and Breakpoint, is scheduled to release on November 30 for 800 Microsoft Points on XBLA. However, the new multiplayer content will also be sold at retail outlets.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Maps And Playlists Coming Out For Halo Reach

New Maps And Playlists Will Be Available For Play On November 12, 2010

As multiplayer-gamers look toward the impending release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, it’s easy to imagine that millions of Halo: Reach players on Xbox Live could become bored with Bungie’s offering. In a time of the year where triple A titles are released every other week it’s best to keep your multiplayer experience feeling as fresh as possible.

That’s why Bungie has dropped a new update to the Halo: Reach playlists that address a few balance issues, move some game variants into their own playlists, and even adds two new ForgeWorld created maps.

"Undead Nighmare" PackNew DLC for Red Dead Redemption. The Zombie Apocalypse is Here! by Google

Read on for the complete run down.


New Playlist: Team Snipers

New Playlist: Living Dead

Rumble Pit

•Lineup rebalanced to offer more kill, less frill.

•Removed Infection, Safe Havens, Race, Rally, Headhunter Pro

•Removed “Classic” gametypes

Team Slayer

•Removed all Snipers gametypes

Team Objective

•Removed 1 Flag Classic

•Removed Headhunter Pro

•Removed the following gametypes from Hemorrhage due to the size of the map with only 8 players: Multiflag Classic, 1 Flag CTF, 1 Flag Pro, 1 Bomb Assault

•Removed Oddball and Hot Potato from Boardwalk

Multi Team

•Removed SWAT

•Removed Classic gametypes

•Removed The Cage

•Changed wighting for Rocket Race so it does not have a 100% chance to appear in Slot 3

Big Team Battle

•Removed Multiflag from Boneyard and Spire


•This playlist now offers 3 voting options


•Updated Firefight playlist gametypes to be a full set instead of 1 round. Adjusted skull progression.

•Removed Friendly Fire

Score Attack

•Removed Crash Site

•Added Mythic Score Attack

•You can no longer pickup other weapons in Sniper Attack


Zealot/Arena Zealot

•Arena Zealot is now used for all Slayer gametypes

•Players can no longer stand on the edge of the generators in space and crouch to shoot below the shield


•Softkill zones added to the tops of the Sniper buildings


•Modified respawn zones for Slayer gametypes


•Modified respawn zones for both bases

•Respawn timers for all Warthogs on Hemorrhage should now be 120 seconds



•All CTF gametypes should now have a player respawn of 10 seconds

•All Classic CTF gametypes now feature Flag At Home To Score and Touch Return

•Flag At Home To Score disabled for non-Classic CTF gametypes

•Modified Flag Return and Flag Reset times: 1 Flag on Small maps use 10 second return and 30 second reset. All other gametypes use 30 second return and 45 second reset.


•Assault gametypes now have a player respawn time of 10 or 15 seconds depending on the map.

In addition to the Playlist changes, we’re also introducing two new Forge Map Variants with this update, Cliffhanger and Atom. Atom will be on display in the Team Slayer, Team Snipers, Team Objective, Multi Team, and Big Team Battle Playlists. Cliffhanger will be found in Rumble Pit, Team Slayer, Team SWAT, and Team Objective.

The two standouts for me are the removal of Team Snipers from the Team Slayer playlist (Finally!) for its own dedicated playlist and the new infection-only playlist entitled “Living Dead,” seems very appropriate with Halloween just around the corner. Obviously the element most players will be interested in are the two new maps. They might not have as much depth as what we are getting with the Noble Map Pack, but who doesn’t appreciate a change of scenery every now and again.

Bungie has been very diligent about providing content to their fan base – by way of these monthly or bi-monthly updates. The developer has acknowledged that, while they will be trying to stay active in the community, there will come a time when these updates will be fewer and far between. The hope is that by this time, they will have done enough to make the multiplayer a solid and long lasting experience.

What do you think of this newest Halo: Reach update? What are the particular standout changes made to your favorite playlists?

Halo: Reach is out now for the Xbox 360.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halo: Reach level cap going up

Halo: Reach is all set to get a level cap increase, Bungie has announced.

The developer will lift the limit above its current Lt Colonel Grade Three high-point once 117 million daily and weekly million challenges have been completed.

Bungie reckons that should be some time in November.

The post on read, "When you do cross the 117 Million mark, we'll celebrate by blowing the lid off the level cap! In the immediate aftermath, new ranks and armor will be made magically available for you inside The Armory, provided you have the rank and credits required. Time to get to work!"

"Oh, and no, we won't be counting boosted challenges," the post added.

The update also announced that 16,445 years of play had been logged so far, constituting 784 million player-games. In summary, it's quite popular.

Last week Bungie announced that new DLC - the Noble Map Pack - will be out on 30th November

Sunday, October 24, 2010

.Second Halo Reach Playlist Update is Live

As we mentioned recently, a second playlist update would be coming to Halo Reach in October. That playlist update is now live, including many playlist changes, the most notable of which are a new Team Snipers playlist and a couple new Forge map variants.

Here is the full list of updates.

Playlist Changes

•Team Snipers playlist added

•Living Dead (Infection) playlist added

•Infection, Safe Havens, Race, Rally, Headhunter Pro, and all Classic gametypes removed from Rumble Pit playlist

•All Snipers gametypes removed from Team Slayer playlist

•1 Flag Classic and Headhunter Pro removed from Team Objective playlist

•Multiflag Classic, 1 Flag CTF, 1 Flag Pro, and 1 Bomb Assault will no longer be playable on Hemorrhage in the 8 player Team Objective playlists due to the size of the map.

•Oddball and Hot Potato will no longer be played on Boardwalk in Team Objective playlist

•SWAT, all classic gametypes, and The Cage map will no longer appear in Multi Team playlist

•Rocket Race will no longer appear only in slot 3 of map voting

•Multiflag removed from Boneyard and Spire in Big Team Battle playlist

•Invasion playlist now has 3 voting options

•Friendly Fire removed from Firefight

•Firefight playlist gametypes will be a full set rather than just 1 round.

•Crash Site removed from Score Attack

•Mythic Score Attack added

•Other weapons can no longer be picked up in Sniper Attack

Map Changes

•Glitch on Zealot that would allow you to shoot from space and back down into the map has been fixed

•Softkill zones added to top of sniper buildings on Asylum

•Respawn zones reworked for slayer on Boneyard

•Respawn zones reworked on Hemorrhage

•Warthog respawn timer changed to 120 seconds on Hemorrhage

Gametype Changes

•Respawn timer in CTF is now 10 seconds

•Classic CTF gametypes now require the flag at base to score, and flag returns happen with just a touch

•Flag no longer required to be at base to score in non-classic CTF gametypes

•Flag return time changed to 10 seconds (with 30 second reset) on small maps for 1 Flag gametypes

•Flag return time changed to 30 seconds (with 45 second reset) on all other CTF gametypes

•Respawn timer in Assault is now 10 or 15 seconds depending on the size of the map

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This is one of those weeks. We're not exactly dark, but we're definitely more dimly lit than you’ve become accustomed to. I'm sure you understand.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of coal being shoveled into the studio engine this week. The Noble Map Pack has been powering through the requisite polish and bug fixing phases and the team is ultra close to sealing the deal and shipping the new maps out the door. Right now, we’re prepping a trailer and small batch of multimedia aimed at getting you acclimated to the new spaces before you're forced to fight for purchase. The trailer is scheduled to arrive early next week. (Like really early next week if all goes to plan.)

Outside of the sweet visuals the Noble Map Pack puts on display, the trailer also contains a unique piece of music that seamlessly blends tracks from Halo: CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach into one beautifully orchestrated score. Marty, Jay, and C Paul have been hinting that they’d like to make it available as a standalone download soon after the trailer drops. Keep your fingers crossed for a Friday deployment next week.

No promises.

Take a Synthy Tour of Tempest!

Okay, so maybe I was totally wrong about this week's update. Bam! Hopefully, this Photosynth of Tempest ties you over until next week. Now, let's get some housekeeping out of the way.

Arena Alterations

On the playlist front, we’re currently testing out some totally radar-less Arena action. Aside from the obvious impact this will have on the playlist as a whole, it will also sound the death knell for the Active Camo Armor Ability in this particular playlist format, as there’s literally no downside to getting your cloak on when radar isn’t in play.

If all goes to plan, expect to see this change hit the Arena at the beginning of next month, just in time for Season Numero 3. We’ll supply you with some more fleshed out bullet points as the November playlist update becomes more and more solidified in the days ahead. As with all early news, details are always subject to change.

Forging Ahead

This week we’re also neck deep in Forge Map Variant submissions for our official Forgetacular contest. Though DLC testing has slowed the pace of our official evaluation process, it moves ever onward, and even outside of the auspices of Forgetacular’s winning entries, we’re still looking to deploy more community variants into matchmaking.

More Like Forgecrapular!

To aid you in your quest, Carney tells me he’s nearly finished hammering out the curriculum for the first semester of his official Design 101 correspondence course. Personally, I’ve been hammering through some of the hundreds of Forgetacular submissions we’ve already been blessed with, and I have some words of wisdom I’d love to hammer home myself. While we wait for Carney to deliver the real goods, check out my crash course!

Mo Money, Mo Problems

First things first, you are not required to utilize the entire budget when you set out to build your sweet new map. This is not how you win Forge. In fact, if you’ve whittled down all the credits in your Forge wallet to make an amazing Race map, and you don’t have enough bucks left to splurge on a single solitary Mongoose, you just might have yourself a little bit of a problem. If I can’t race on your race map, you lose! You should resolve this minor error before you submit your map, speed racer.

Objectify My Love

On a related note, you should also be paying close attention to “object density” as you build your masterpiece. Though the Forge will allow you to phase several objects into one another, it is not recommended that you stack as many objects as possible into a small amount of real estate simply for aesthetic effect. You can and will go overboard.

In these shots, there are 100 blocks piled into one single floating heap. Players tend to phase a lot of objects together in order to create fine details not possible with the available set of Forge pieces. I’ve seen a player merge more than a dozen objects into a single light to create a rather ornate and spectacular chandelier. While it may look visually impressive, functionally it operates more like a Forge black hole, requiring players to render an absurd amount of objects for what amounts to a small piece of visual flair. When I removed all of the superfluous pieces from the beautiful fixture in question, the base map was left largely unchanged and the overall performance increased dramatically.

Eye of the Beholder

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pay no mind to how your map looks, especially when thinking about how players will orient themselves. It’s a good idea to use existing visual cues to allow players to ground themselves quickly on your map. Atom is a great example. Each side features distinct “Team” colors, both red and blue, to help your eye pick up on your spawning location instantly. It also uses colors in other key spaces to highlight areas of interest to great and inexpensive effect. The map itself is nestled in the Quarry, giving Atom a rock face on three sides and a distinct open view on the fourth.

None of these design cues required any additional objects. And it’s a certified fact that each and every one of you loves Atom.

And the Sky is Grey

One sure fire way to keep your players dazed and confused is to stuff them inside a giant grey box that offers little in the way of visual distinction.

The walls are in my face.

While the Forge palette relies heavily on the metallic Forerunner aesthetic, Forge World itself offers plenty of scenery that stands in stark contrast. Utilize it free of charge.

…performance is not a concern and you should feel free to place objects wherever you damn well please.

Nobody Puts Baby in a Box!

But maybe you should. The Coliseum might seem small, but trust me, it’s really big! And the walls each feature distinct elements that make them stand out from one another.

It also gives you six planes to work from right from the start. While it might not make for a great Big Team Battle space unless you extend the playable space out over the water, it’s easily big enough to contain some expertly crafted Slayer and Objective spaces, especially if you build in layers.

Spartometer Challenge Tracker

And we’re off! As of right now, the front page has been updated to display your current community Challenge progress. Keep on keepin’ on and the carnage will automatically update until we blow the top off, unlocking access to new ranks and armor.

It's gonna be a blood bath!

Oh, and nope, we're not at zero. The circular reservoir at the bottom of the thermometer represents the millions of challenges you've already completed.

Pimp My Spartan…Now!

Of course, we’re aware that the version of your Spartan armor isn’t currently updating. We don’t have an ETA for a resolution, but rest assured that we’ll deploy the fix as soon as we can. The backend systems that power your Spartan’s online presentation are linked to other critical systems related to our online and matchmaking experiences, and we are, as you would expect, incredibly thorough with any testing and deployments that could impact those systems.

Crying Face

We’ll update you when we’re ready for you to ogle your online persona again. Until then, you’ll have to make do with your in game model. Please pardon our dust.

Blame Stosh

Stosh spent a good amount of time this week building the aforementioned Spartometer to track your challenges, but he also dedicated some spare cycles to dig up this sweet clip.

When good Rod goes wrong.

And that’s a wrap for this week. Stop back next week. We'll make it worth your while.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beyond the Ring: Bungie's Renegade Development of Halo's Fiction

An auditorium full of people sit at the Microsoft E3 press conference in 2006, all waiting for the same thing. It's just seven months since the Xbox 360 successfully launched, but Microsoft's big gun has yet to show for the new system. The audience expects that to change, and they're right. The giant screen goes white, and a single piano note signals the debut of Halo 3. As the camera pans across a blasted desert road, the AI Cortana speaks.

"I am your shield. I am your sword."

While everyone else is hanging on the edge of their seat to see what happens next, some hardcore fans of the Halo series hear something familiar in Cortana's cryptic message.

"I know you. Your past. Your future."

"This is the way the world ends."

The audience applauds and gaming sites report on the expected release date, but elsewhere, on forums, Bungie devotees are buzzing about something else. Conversations spring up about a series of letters seven years old, letters largely forgotten from a time before the 24-hour gaming news cycle. Why? Because by now, Halo fans know that they're as likely to learn about Halo's sweeping fiction outside of the game as they are in it. After a number of New York Times bestselling novels and arguably the first massive, mainstream Alternate Reality Game in the form of the "I <3 bees" campaign they're well trained.

Over the course of its 10-year lifespan, Halo has managed to build up a wealth of story spanning hundreds of thousands of years and numerous star systems, a story of politics and civil unrest in addition to a genocidal war waged by an interstellar religious armada against the human race. Halo's fiction is arguably among the most expansive that gaming has ever seen -- impressive, given the perceived limitations of first-person shooters.

Where shooters like Half-Life 2 have found success through an incidental, found story peppered throughout their world as well as direct narrative, Bungie has taken a different path, going outside of their games in ways both traditional and radically different. In the process, Bungie and their now former partners at Microsoft created a uniquely successful combination of merchandising, marketing, and storytelling to explore the world of Halo in a deeper way than they originally thought possible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Campaign Matchmaking goes live, level cap being raised next month.

Halo: Reach's multiplayer is getting another fresh lick of paint as campaign matchmaking finally goes live and Bungie announces the level cap is to be raised in November.

Alongside the launch of campaign matchmaking Bungie announced (via its comprehensive weekly update) a slew of tweaks in its weekly update with Team Snipers and Living Dead being added to the playlists while Rumble Pit has been streamlined.

The long-awaited raising of the level cap was also given a date of sorts, and it's due to be unlocked once the community has completed 117 million daily and weekly challenges – a feat that's due to be achieved sometime in November according to Bungie's estimates.

Halo: Reach has proved quite popular since its September release – we certainly liked it, and so it seems did some 3.3 million people in the US at last count.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halo: Reach gets campaign matchmaking

Bungie adding series-first online ability next week; service lets players enlist help of random strangers in the fight against Covenant; MLG, Grifball playlists coming by the holidays.

The Halo series has had cooperative campaign play from the start, but it's only allowed gamers to play with friends (either offline or online). That's going to change later this month.

Bungie announced in its latest Bungie Weekly Update that a campaign matchmaking playlist--a series first--will be added to Halo: Reach on October 19 (pending final testing and review). That falls in line with what the developer announced last week when it said the online ability would be added on Oct. 12 or Oct. 19.

Halo: Reach's online capabilities grow next week.

Campaign matchmaking will afford players the luxury of being able to play through the campaign with Xbox Live users who aren't on their friends lists.

Bungie also dished details on standard matchmaking in this week's update. The developer said it plans to add MLG (Major League Gaming) and Grifball playlists in the coming months. Bungie doesn't foresee these playlists arriving by November, but said they will likely be added to the mix in time for the holidays.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halo: Reach Tops 3 Million in Sales

According to the latest data provided by market research group NPD, sales for Halo: Reach it its launch month hit 3.3 million copies sold in the United States.

Halo: Reach was first released on September 14 in North America. The game generated over $200 million in sales in the U.S. and Europe combined in the first two days of release alone.

It's just the third game this generation to sell over three million copies in its launch month. Halo 3 was the first title to do so back in 2007. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was second in 2009.

Bungie announced this morning the Noble Map Pack, which includes three new multiplayer maps, Anchor 9, Tempest, and Breakpoint. The pack is set for release on November 30 for 800 Microsoft points.

Microsoft also said pre-orders for its Kinect motion camera coming November 4 are "selling out" at retailers nationwide. The company did not provide specific pre-order numbers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Halo: Reach Review – “It’s Time To ‘Reach’ Reach”


I’ve played Halo for years and I can safely say that the series has had a huge effect on my life. I’ll never forget the LAN parties me and my friends had on half days in high school – these were truly awesome times. When I think back about Halo 2 and 3 I wonder if I was caught up in Microsoft’s hype machine. I’m not saying they we’re bad games, they we’re actually great games but like I’ve said before I feel like that with each subsequent Halo release Bungie slowly took away what made the franchise so special – Simplicity.

With Reach Bungie has changed all this, they’ve removed most of the features that over complicated the series and added new features that make the tried and true Halo formula feel fresh. Halo: Reach is the result of Bungie spending ten years perfecting the Halo franchise.

The single player campaign’s plot line is very simple, you follow Noble Team as they deal with the Covenant assault on one of the UNSC’s most important outposts, the planet Reach. The story is engaging and it is caped off by one of the best endings I have ever experienced in a video game – the final chapter is a truly moving experience and I’m very pleased that Bungie chose to keep it in the game. I’ve read interviews where Bungie’s creative director, Marcus Lehto, explained how including the ending was a subject of debate among the development team. I’m glad it wasn’t left on the cutting room floor.

The more linear plot line keeps the game focused and moving a long at a break neck pace. Every single player level is engaging and exciting, none of them cause the game to drag or get boring unlike other iterations in the Halo franchise. One particular level and my personal favorite Halo level ever, The Long Night Of Solace, is perhaps the single best level I have ever played in a first person shooter. I was quick to criticize the space combat Bungie showed off at this years E3 but it was great and definitely didn’t feel tacked on at all. Bungie managed to integrate this mini-game like feature in such a seamless fashion that it fit perfectly into the games overall feel. The anti-gravity space portion of the levels were also ridiculously fun and fresh.

The campaign is dark, realistic, fresh and most importantly a whole lot of fun – it’s an experience no Halo fan or gamer for that matter should miss.

Bungie made the right decision by creating an entirely new graphics engine for Reach, Halo 3′s was starting to look seriously dated. The result is possibly one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360. Reach does lag occasional when there are multiple enemies and vehicles on the screen, especially when your playing with multiple people on one Xbox. This is disappointing but it doesn’t really damage the game’s overall experience and it doesn’t occur that often. It would have been nice if Bungie spent a few more months polishing the game off but I imagine that’s difficult when Microsoft is probably breathing down your neck to get the game out the door. Overall the graphics have a much more realistic feel when compared to Halo 3 and this perfectly compliments the game’s darker tone.

The inclusion of new vehicles that are actually fun to drive, the Falcon, Sabre, and Revenant are also welcome additions to the franchise. Unlike past new weapons each new inclusion fits perfectly into the Halo universe and is expertly balanced.

The new armor abilities also simplify Halo 3′s item system and make the game generally much more balanced than past Halo games. The hologram ability, the only ability not included in the Reach Beta, seems rather stupid at first but it is extremely useful in sniper matches. Even though I’m a seasoned Halo veteran I often fall for this silly ploy – sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s the actual player and who’s the hologram. Fall damage has also been drastically toned down from the beta, it was difficult to avoid killing your self when jet packing across maps – I died numerous times because of this.

I’m also a fan of the new health pack system, maybe it’s just nostalgia speaking but it reminds me of Halo: CE and ads a sense of urgency to the single player. I don’t bother rushing in to a swarm of elites because I know that my health won’t fully regenerate unless I find a health kit. Martin O’Donnell’s music is once again amazing, he manages to capture the monk like Halo theme of older games but also still gives Reach’s music a fresh and engaging sound. The title music is particularly breath taking.

One of my main complaints about Reach’s multiplayer mode is the lack of map variety. A few of the multiplayer maps are remakes from Halo 3 and Halo 2 which is great for gamers looking to replay them but it’s also lazy on Bungie’s part. I would have liked to see these remakes included in the game but also a lot more new maps. A few of the remakes from matchmaking are Forge World maps so they all look very similar, this is also somewhat disappointing. I’m sure Bungie will release multiple map packs during the games life span and I can almost guarantee that one will appear on the Xbox Live marketplace very soon.

Another complaint I have about multiplayer is the game’s matchmaking mode. The removal a visible ranking system and social playlists irks me quite a bit. Rankings gave me something to work towards every time I played Halo 3 and social playlists we’re perfect for when I wanted to play games with my girlfriend who isn’t that great at Halo. I realize why bungie did this, to try to keep the community in one single playlist and decrease the amount of time it takes to find games, but that doesn’t mean I really like it. The new arena is Bungie’s new playlist for competitive ranked gaming but it’s a somewhat confusing method and is rather time consuming. Apparently you need to play three games a day for six days until you are assigned a division. Then after that you play other gamers in your division and are given the opportunity to move to a higher level. It sounds cool and gives you something to work towards on a monthly basis because it resets every season.

The inclusion of Halo: ODST’s firefight mode is also great, there’s nothing like jumping into a game with a few friends and blindly blasting away at the Covenant. The fact that it supports matchmaking now to is also great, if your down one friend you can still create a four person team. I still wish Bungie included a server list in Reach, Forge World is an amazing tool and the ability to share maps with other users is a great feature but without a server or game list you can only play your creations with people on your friends list. With all the content included in Reach I find it strange that Bungie still didn’t add this feature in their swan song to the Halo franchise.

As soon as you start playing it’s very easy to tell that Halo: Reach is culmination of 10 years of game design. As someone who’s been playing Halo since the franchise began I can safely say that this is by far the best game in the series. It even surpassed Halo: Combat evolved – for a nostalgic person like my self this is not an easy feat for a game developer to accomplish.

Game Judgment’s Christopher Goodchild will also be reviewing Reach so be on the look out for his opinion on Bungie’s latest epic over the next few days.


-Great single player experience

-Possibly one of the most content rich games ever released on the Xbox

-Great multiplayer experience


-The game lags when there are too many enemies on the screen

-Lack of multiplayer map variety

- No game or server list for custom games

Overall Rating 9.5/10

Reccomendation: Buy it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack Announced

Microsoft announced the Noble Map Pack will arrive on Xbox Live starting November 30, 2010. The pack includes three all-new multiplayer maps, Anchor 9, Tempest, and Breakpoint. Additional achievements totaling 250 gamerscore points are also being added.

The pack will cost 800 Microsoft Points ($10).

Here's a detailed list of the maps per Microsoft:

Tempest – "Though we may never fully understand these devices, it is not our nature to leave ancient stones unturned." This abandoned shoreline facility bends both sea and sky to an unnatural purpose, but the ground itself has quickly become another all too familiar battlefield. Though the two opposing symmetrical bases may never reveal their ancient purpose, both now offer makeshift shelter and access to strategic routes perfectly suited for small and large scale skirmishes alike. Tempest supports 8 – 16 players and offers a variety of modes including Free for All, Team Slayer, Team Objective and Big Team Battle. Tempest also provides players with a huge Forge palette, allowing them to create new custom map variants that can be shared with the community-at-large.


Anchor 9 – "Orbital dockyards provide rapid refueling and repairs for a variety of UNSC vessels." Within the confines of this low orbit dry-dock, UNSC craft undergo rapid repair and rearmament in support of the enduring war effort. But for the small squads of infantry who now fight over the mirrored interior hallways and open central hangar bay, this platform no longer provides any safe harbor – whether the close quarters combat is occurring inside or out of its artificial gravitational field. Anchor 9 allows 2-8 players to face off in game variants including Free for All, Team Slayer and Team Objective.

Anchor 9

Breakpoint – "ONI officials believe the data buried within this artifact is key to our survival." Atop this icy precipice, the Invasion continues. These modular archaeological labs were never intended to withstand such a large scale onslaught of Covenant military power, but the information being extracted here may prove vital to humanity's survival. In response to the imminent Covenant threat, UNSC ground and air assets have been deployed to bolster entrenched Spartan countermeasures. This dig site must yield salvation, or it will become a grave. Breakpoint offers multiplayer mayhem for 8-16 players, and supports the Invasion and Big Team Battle game variants.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halo Reach Ten Times Better Than Black Ops

October 12, 2010 - This game is probably the best game i've ever played. Bungie does an excellent job with this game, they add so much, constantly update to meet most players needs, add new features, and my favorite, has probably the best anti-hack system for xbox360. A week or two ago, they reset 15,000 people's ranks and credits because they would have evrything bought and already the credit limit, and if you've played before, you know how impossible this is. The new ranking system is 10x better then Halo 3, you can now matchmake campaign on the 15th of October this update will happen, single player is probably the best campaign i've ever played, matchmaking gets better every day, and ranking up has a point to unlock new items and buy them too. This game is extraordinarily good, in a month or two, all the good custom games will come out and thus the halo experience will be complete. The graphics are phenominal for a Halo game, the sound is better then ever with the music and sound effects, Single Player is one of the best, Multiplayer makes the wrap itself up in a snuggie it's so good, Firefight Forge and Custom Games could be improved slightly but most fun custom games havent come out yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reach Campaign Matchmaking Incoming

Campaign Matchmaking is scheduled to arrive in Halo: Reach in an update that's due next week, and it's due to come with a slew of new tweaks too.

The update – pencilled in for a release on October 19 – will finally allow players to tackle the campaign with strangers online, and it will also bring with it dedicated Snipers and Infection playlists. It's the second major update for Halo: Reach, which launched to wide acclaim last month.

News comes via Bungie's weekly update, which also includes some other interesting morsels – including the revelation that although less than 1% of players have reached the level cap Bungie is looking to increase it soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halo: Reach Will Be Biggest Game Of 2010, Microsoft Says

"I feel confident that there's nothing that will compare in size," says Aaron Greenberg.

With 2009 nearly finished and a huge year for gaming on the horizon, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Microsoft product management director Aaron Greenberg is staking his claim early. Speaking with Gamasutra, he said Halo Reach will be "the biggest game of 2010."

Greenberg began by wondering aloud whether Gran Turismo 5 has a chance of launching in 2010, "Is it launching next year? I've seen years and years of minigames, but I haven't seen that the game's done. They just released the PSP version -- maybe that's what they've been working on."

He continued, "I feel confident that there's nothing that will compare in size. Halo Reach will be the biggest game of 2010."

The Game Certainly Has The Explive elements to be Game of 2010

Assuming it does arrive in 2010, Halo Reach will indeed be a huge release for Microsoft. However, it faces major competition, including StarCraft II, God of War III, and Final Fantasy XIII. All three are highly-anticipated releases, with Final Fantasy XIII being a multi-platform release.

Halo Reach isn't due for almost a year yet, but it's never too early to start speculating. Do you think Reach will make good on Greenberg's prediction?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Decade of Writing Halo

Halo Reach Has Energized The Gaming Community For Over 15 years.

Bungie knew they were on the right track with Halo when, in developing the original game, a tester looked at art of the ringworld arcing over a lush jungle scene and told the developer: "I don't know what this game is about, but I want to be there right now." This is because Bungie realized early on that narrative success hinged on the creation of place, not plot. That was one of the many points made this morning at "Writing the Whirlwind," a discussion of ten years crafting the Halo narrative by Joseph Staten, writer and design director at Bungie.

What Staten means by valuing place over plot, is that Bungie understood that if you create a proper playground, you can get any number of stories out of it. You can see the success of that in the simple fact that the Halo universe has been a decade-long phenomenon that spans multiple games, from the original Halo to the ODST side story to Bungie's final Halo adventure, Reach. If Bungie had sat down to create the exact narrative of Halo, they may have very easily painted themselves into a corner.

The second part of the equation is giving the player an accessible window into that place. That window is the Master Chief. When crafting the Master Chief, Staten made sure to set up the iconic hero as the ultimate "straight man." If you think about it, can you really describe the Master Chief in more than a sentence or two? No, unless you do something Bungie is quite happy about – you start filling in the blanks with your own interpretation of the Master Chief. That hooks you right into the soul of the narrative. Yes, there is a story. Yes, there are key events. But do you care more about those things, or do you care about a great way to experience the Halo universe?

Halo in Five Minutes

But lest folks think that Bungie deals wholly in high-minded discussions of narrative, Staten said that Bungie understood the core of Halo is, as he put it, "shooting stuff." And he knew that as he was writing the Halo universe. Staten understood that – and this was his estimation – 95-percent of Halo players don't care about much of the narrative. They don't explore it at all. And the best game writers understand that.

But it sounds like Staten understands Bungie itself forgot it when they built Halo 2. Staten said despite its success, Halo 2 was indeed Bungie's "dreaded sophomore slump." He recognized that Bungie never should have ended that game on a cliffhanger because it put narrative over the base desire to get in, shoot stuff, and have a great time.

According to Staten, Halo 2 also suffered from a "technical overreach" that also hampered the delivery of a good story. He likened it to "watching a cathedral self-assemble in a hurricane." Amazing how success loosens the tongue (after all, Halo 2 is a few games back and if I recall, didn't do too shabby at retail), but it is always refreshing to see even a giant like Bungie admit failings.

But things got better as Bungie swung toward Halo 3 and the later Halo projects. Staten credits Halo's flirtation with Hollywood as a major positive because it exposed the team to different talents and storytelling techniques. Was it frustrating to have the movie and the Peter Jackson Halo projects fall apart? Sure, but without that experience, Staten says ODST and Reach would have not been written so well. However, Staten didn't move on from his brief discussion of Halo and Hollywood without taking a swipe at the studios. "I dunno if games will crush movies in ten years, but g-----n we're throwing some punches," said Staten with a smile. (And speaking of the Halo movie, the latest rumor is that Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks are hungry for Halo.)

Ranking the Best Halo Campaigns

As everybody knows, Reach was Bungie's last Halo. Staten says that Bungie is at peace with the decision to move on to its new game – which Bungie loosely teased during the session. When crafting Reach, Bungie returned to its original thrust: place over plot. "Planet Reach was a strong compelling place," said Staten. It was a place where Bungie could close the circle of the Halo canon, which was very important to them. And if you have questions over various parts of the canon after Reach, well, that was intended. Instead of just leaving strings dangling, Bungie cut them. Staten says the decision not to go overboard and tie up every loose thread of the Halo story should be emulated by more writers. That kind of obsession over the plot can get in the way of creating a good video game experience.

Staten's discussion wound down with a series of questions from the audience, which touched on things like how Bungie kept the canon straight while expanding the Halo universe over ten years and what inspired Cortana ("Smart women are extremely sexy," said Staten). But one thing stuck with me as I left the room and walked to my next panel. According to Staten, Bungie "wrote Halo as if it would be the only game they ever made." Obviously, that didn't happen. But by not treating the first Halo as a commodity that it could hopefully spin into a mega-franchise, Bungie created not just a great one-time video game, but also a seed of a place that gamers forced open into a universe they wanted to experience again and again in different ways.

And it will be exciting to see if Bungie can do it again.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Halo: Reach's Commendations, Credits & Your Concerns Explained

Halo: Reach's Commendations, Credits & Your Concerns Explained
Credits=Cool Armor

Bungie is mixing up Halo: Reach multiplayer with all new rules, adding the concepts of Credits, Rank, and Commendations; it's all part of the Xbox 360 game's new "Player Investment" system, which sounds way more exciting than the name implies.

In Halo: Reach, Bungie is throwing out much of the old way of doing things, revamping the game's ranking system that's now based on the accumulation of Credits. And how does one acquire Credits? By completing daily and weekly Challenges—tasks like killing a set number of opponents in a matchmaking game, for the basic stuff—and racking up Commendations, smaller accomplishments like accumulating headshots.

Halo: Reach players will also score Credits by winning and finishing games in matchmaking. That's right, finishing. The majority of these changes look to address the persistent problems with leveling up in multiplayer games, like the mad rush to unlock virtual crap in the name of scoring more Credits.

The whole system, which Bungie notes is divorced from the actual Trueskill ranking that evens out matchmaking, looks pretty smart.

Oh, and what do you do with all these credits? Buy stuff, of course. New armor, new helmets, total Spartan customization. It's "purely cosmetic," Bungie says, keeping the playfield level. Extra details at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bungie Drops Hint at Post-Halo Game

There was no way around it. Sometime at Joseph Staten's talk this morning at GDC Online, titled "Writing the Whirlwind," somebody would ask a question about Bungie's next project. Bungie's writer and design director knew it was coming, too, and had already warned the audience at the beginning of the session that he wouldn't say word one about the developer's plans for its first post-Halo game.

But Staten just couldn't help himself.

After lamenting that Bungie spent ten years creating a mega-universe that players only experienced for six to eight hours at a time (he's only talking about the single-player campaign here, of course), he dropped this wonderfully cryptic springboard for debate: "Wouldn't it be great if we could make a world that was always there for you?"

So, what does that mean? It sounds like Bungie wants to make sure that after it does the heavy lifting with world building, the player then gets the keys to the proverbial kingdom. Could this be a persistent universe without a set beginning and end, where players control the course of the narrative rather than following a set story with a three act structure? Staten offered nothing else, but it was enough to set the speculation machine in motion.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Matchmaking Gets Tweaked And Adds A Few Gametypes

Halo: Reach, Bungie’s final Halo effort, hit shelves almost a month ago. The title won rapt reviews across the board and did over $200 million in sales in its first 24 hours of availability. While the developer is currently working on a new universe with Activision, next on the docket for the studio is continuing to support Reach's matchmaking mode.

The first Halo: Reach matchmaking update has been sent to Xbox Live. The playlist update addresses a plethora of multiplayer issues, tweaks some core game types, and is just the first step in what Bungie is calling a continuing effort to support Reach.

Playlist update addresses numerous issues, tweaks some core game types; second update, which adds matchmaking for the game's campaign, coming Oct. 12 or 19.

Halo: Reach's multiplayer component just got overhauled.

Specifically, Team SWAT--a game mode where players have no shields or sensor, and headshots reign supreme--now has a dedicated playlist like it did in Halo 3. Previously, Team SWAT appeared as just one of many game types in the Team Slayer playlist.

For a full rundown of the tweaks now live in Halo: Reach, check out the playlist update page at

Bungie also said it will release the next update for Reach on October 12 or 19. That update will bring matchmaking support to the game's campaign, which is a first for the series. With campaign matchmaking, players won't ever have to fight alone, as they will be able to enlist the help of another through Xbox Live.