We’re working on review events right now. From all over the world. Letting the press get their hands on Halo 3 and tell you whether it’s worth $60 or not. Luke was in New York, François (one of our designers) was in France and I was here in Kirkland with the gaming press. So we’re crazy busy, but there’s still some time for this penultimate update before the game launches on the 25th. Next week I am in Mexico City and then heading to NY for the launch festivities there.
Some of the Bungie boys are in New Zealand this week, working with Peter Jackson on the Halo project. For fun, they got to drive around in a real, functioning Warthog. At the wheel, Curtis Creamer, producer extraordinaire –on the turret, Mr. CJ Cowan our cinematics director, and Harold Ryan, studio head rides shotgun. The powerful, four-wheel steering and almost perfect replica of the Hog is fast and agile. Amazing then that Curtis uses these abilities to smash it into what he describes as “the illogical wall section” at a parking lot near Weta.
Right click to save the madness:
This is the type of grin you have when you are an eater of...
SPOILERS AHEAD (next week)
BE CAREFUL ON BUNGIE.NET next week.
Hi-res screenshot galleries allow folks to take shots from any moment in Saved Films. Since Saved Films can be made of Campaign moments and uploaded to Bungie.net instantly, player profiles CAN AND WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS - so don't surf random Gamertags until you've completed the game. They could LITERALLY have the final frame of the game as a screenshot on their file share.
Campaign shots will generally be replaced with a SPOILER gif in more publicly facing areas - but individual player profiles ARE NOT SAFE and never will be! Use careful judgment.
Next week Bungie.net will be relaunched with a lot of this new functionality – and it is AWESOME stuff. Truly mindblowing. Everything we did for Halo 3 has been turned up to 11. But starting late next week, the game is going to start escaping from retailers, showing up on reviewers desks and even Bungie employees will be playing just before the launch. So steer clear if you don’t want to see spoilers. Got it?
The Legend of Wolfie’z Jerky
Readers and players often send us stuff. Cards, emails, death threats, so when a player sends us three hundred pounds of gourmet Jerky, it puts a shine on our day. That’s precisely what Wofie did. A member of the Seasoned Gamers clan, he sent us a huge box of delicious jerky to celebrate the completion of the game. He asked for no recognition, nor shout out, nor mad props, but he gets them anyway. We ate all of the Jerky. As something of a gourmand, I can definitively state that the “Hot Sauce Jerky” available (along with many others, at www.wolfiez.net, is the greatest I have ever chewed.
It was especially welcome, since, post-crunch, we don’t get free food anymore. It was devoured.
Across the entire nation in New York City a bunch of reviewers, reporters and folks who sometimes write about games for their jobs came by the Westin Hotel in Times Square to spend some time with a reviewable build of Halo 3. The conference room where folks played is a low-lit room full of white couches and comfortable chairs and the usual armament of slick TVs and surround sound headsets for maximum Marty pleasing. A lot of the folks coming by will end up penning quick blurbs for their respective outlet, the guys from a famous Men’s mag spent the better part of an afternoon playing the Campaign together -- did they finish? No, definitely not, but they probably aren't planning on writing in-depth reviews of the game like the enthusiast publications Frankie at Bungie entertained on the West Coast this week.
A couple of VERY high profile journalists teamed up on Monday first thing in the morning to march through the game on Heroic, co-operatively. The competitive banter between the two as they made their way--sometimes stumbling, sometimes struggling and sometimes giggling--through Halo 3. After the third mission, I suggested that they turn on Campaign scoring and the claims of “who was owning who” evaporated as cold, hard, proof appeared on the lower right hand screen of their respective UIs.
Only a handful of other journalists on the East Coast were in it for the long haul, but we also had the distinct pleasure of welcoming HBO’s Claude and Miguel into the fold for what would become an epic playthrough of Halo’s campaign. I jumped in for a few levels of co-op with Claude near 11 p.m. on his epic adventure (these events were scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday-Wednesday) and after finishing the fight Miguel said the ending was “perfect.” As exciting as it is to get to see folks play through the game, Bungie is pretty excited to see all of you get to begin making your way though the various parts of Halo 3.
On Thursday night, Joe Tung and I met up at the Lincoln Center AMC IMAX for the Pontiac-sponsored Halo 3 First to Play event. On display was the Halo 3 Street Edition Pontiac, and of course, some Halo 3. Similar to the IMAX Seattle event and IMAX San Francisco event earlier this week, Joe and I did a campaign demo, a Saved Films presentation and did a brief introduction to the Forge. Where other demos have seen Tsavo Highway played, Joe and I decided to play a segment from the next mission in the game – The Storm.
The Storm takes place in the ruined port city of Voi and features a delicious mix of vehicular combat in sprawling bowls full of Brutes, Ghosts, trouble and mayhem as well as some intense interior battles, we showed attendees the first bit of the mission and reactions ranged from “OMG” to “POPCORN” except for when Joe and I died, and we did, often.
After our demo was over and our big mouths had the microphones taken away from them, attendees got to do what they really came for, play Halo 3. We had two separate games set up, one in the IMAX theater and one outside of it playing 8 player multiplayer on a variety of announced maps (speaking of unannounced maps, it sure would make sense to learn more about those in the coming week, wouldn’t it?). Over the course of several hours, tons of games were played, Overkills were earned, hilarity and soda were sprayed all over the monitors and copious amounts of trash were talked.
Joe Tung and I played in a couple of games, the first was a 2v2v2v2 on Guardian where we narrowly escaped defeat – the map was a little zany with desperate newb grenades killing us at every turn, but we hung on and stuck around to play another 2v2v2v2 on Last Resort. If Guardian is Lukeout, Last Resort was Tung Town. From the Long Rifle, to masterfully deployed equipments, the baritone-y exclamations of “OH MY GOD” were spitting from Joe’s mouth like the bullets from dual SMGs. The spittle of his trash talk dotted the foreheads of the Halo faithful on site.
Later in the night we headed back into the IMAX theater to play a couple of other games in 4v4 Team Slayer. We remained firmly unbeaten, crushing the will and soul of a kid who claimed to have “never lost in Halo 2” – ninjas are looking at his Internet connection now and some kid who bet me $50 that he could beat me in Halo 3 failed completely to pay up after I beat him in front of his friends. No worries, though, I would’ve given the $50 to some kid in the stands Johnny Damon style. The event was well-run and a blast and we really appreciate folks getting in line at 6 p.m. the night before to come check out Halo 3.
I was here in Kirkland running the West Coast review events, with a couple of dozen video game press luminaries and the odd newspaper filling up our lab. Our main role was simply to provide support – explain controls and deliver snacks. We mostly left the journalists to themselves and let them play through at their own pace, undisturbed.
We started at 9am and went through to 2am for four days straight. Our PR guys from MS and Edelman were true heroes, sticking through the entire event and helping arrange food for the starving journos. It’s obviously vital that we can’t interfere with them while they play and it was kind of eerie. In our lab they were playing on 1080p Sharp Aquos sets, with surround headphones on brand new Elite consoles, running the finished retail game.
The only sounds (during Campaign playthroughs) were the occasional curse as a Jackal sniper ended a battle. Otherwise it was eerie silence. It’s scary for us because we can’t tell what they’re thinking. The groups of journalists got on very well, in spite of working for rival publications –and played a ton of co-op, multiplayer and Forge. Campaign scoring seemed very popular and I can say that some of the press are total achievement whores. A small group came back after they were theoretically done, to go through co-op on Legendary because they were missing one scoring item they felt they could unlock.
We were able to show them all the features and more importantly, let them play around at their own pace. The stuff being made in Forge was incredible. Will Tuttle’s baseball variant – VIP checkpoints for bases, Gravity Hammers for bats and Rockets for baseballs was a real eye opener. A well struck rocket will corkscrew out of the park (Valhalla) like a failed NASA launch, complete with contrail.
Another group built a kind of GeeBee air rally – flying Hornets through aerial checkpoints in a race against time on Sandtrap. Watching these guys put together Forge maps, both subtle and crazy, reminds us that we really have no good way to predict what kind of content that you guys are going to produce.
We also showed off the Making of documentary from the Limited Edition, the Bungie AV Calibrator, all of the extras from the two discs as well as some locked armor perms that require a lot of Live play to find. Including the most secret one of all….
A one-off Halo-themed NASCAR will tsake to the tracks in the Dover Nextel Cup series on Sunday the 23rd – a couple of days before launch. It’s going to be driven by David Stremme for Chip Ganassi Racing is covered in Halo 3 livery, as well as the usual plethora of sponsors. The cool part is that David Stremme is allegedly a real Halo fan. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that he wins.
I like to go fast.
Somebody asked me if Halo 3 had a built in brightness setting, like Bioshock. The short answer is yes, and it is found in the Settings menu, accessible at any time from the start menu. Subtitles can also be turned on from here at any time.
Our TV commercial also aired this week, and caused lots of noise and fuss. You can check out more of the commercial and the amazing Diorama (including the chance to fly around in it in a 3D Flash environment) here:
Your history project scores an "A," young Stanley.
OK, we know they hype is getting intense, but this is just funny: