Halo 4: First Impressions

First I want to discuss another important event: the finale of Red vs Blue Season 10. It was amazing, and tied up a lot of the story lines. The connection between the present and past storylines was flawless; I don’t think anybody saw it coming that the blue ODST from a few episodes back was Butch Flowers. However, there are still some loose ends for Season 11 to pick up on, the Sarcophagus and the Councilor being two.

I guess I should also discuss the promotional web movie Forward Unto Dawn. It was about as close to a Halo movie as anyone could wish for, and seeing the game universe expanded was great. Despite some cinematographic errors, the story was top-notch and the movie contained numerous nods to the books. Plus, they had a space elevator collapse! Actually, the lack of destruction following the collapse was disappointing. Other than that, the only failure was the massive gaping plot hole: why would the Covenant stage a ground invasion rather than just glass the planet? I would have forgiven them if even a slight mention was in that regard, but zilch was explained.

But on to the actual game. I’ll admit, I don’t actually own the game. I’ve played it for maybe 7 hours total. But being an avid fan of the franchise in general, I definitely have some thoughts.

I played about a quarter of the singleplayer campaign. It upheld the themes and style of the previous games, but expanded into awesome new areas. I’m not sure how I feel about the introduction of living Forerunners, or the new story with the Mantle and the war between humans and Forerunners, with humans being devolved at the end. Still, I loved the gravitation towards background lore: from AI rampancy to Dr Halsey to Forerunner shield worlds (Ghosts of Onyx, anyone?), the book references were awesome. Even little details, like the decompression sequences at the very beginning or the zero-gravity on the outside of the ship, were exquisite. I don’t get Promethean weapons, though. Why do they pop apart?

The multiplayer aspect was pretty similar to Reach’s, although I was bummed at the removal of multi-seat flyers. The falcon and hornet were some of my favorite vehicles. However, the ability to fly a pelican pretty much makes up for the loss. I remember in Halo Custom Edition playing maps like Coldsnap and Extinction. Getting your entire team in a scarab, or longsword, or pelican was an absolute blast. As for the Mantis, it seems a little gimmicky and unbalanced; it doesn’t really fit with the Halo theme.

Forge was better than ever with item duplication, locking, and magnet snapping. I’m not sure how I feel about the new “forgeworld” map. In any case, by far the most interesting addition was that of Dominion. This game type is basically a dumbed down version of Power Struggle from Crysis 1. You capture bases by securing their terminal, and then stick around to reinforce the base with energy shields. You can construct auto-turrets and pop-up cover around the base, and build new vehicles. Every 15 or 30 seconds a new power weapon drops at the base. In order to win, you must accrue points by keeping control of bases.

I can’t wait to see what gets done by people regarding Dominion, and the new Forge tools in general. Still waiting for the ability to add AI, though.

As brought up by Penny Arcade, 343 Studios not only had to make a game as good as its predecessor; Halo 4 had to be the best game of the franchise. I think they came pretty close to doing so. So, if I believed in giving number ratings, which I don’t…

9/10

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Strategic Idea Reserves

I’ve noticed recently that my behavior has become a bit blander. I am more content to just sit and think rather than share my ideas with others. I doodle less, and when I do it is only about a few select things. This stems, I believe, from this blog. As I write down the ideas stirring around in my brain, I share them definitively. Rather than telling snippets of an idea (or at least its current iteration) to whoever happens to be around me, I can tell the whole idea to the Internet. Thus, there is no reason to discuss it or think about it anymore.

By posting almost everyday this month, I’ve burned through my idea reserves quickly. It’s as if I went straight for the gold nuggets at first and now I’m left to sifting for flakes. Ideas don’t form as rapidly as I’m posting them (although maybe that’s because before now I’ve had enough ideas as it were), and pretty soon I’ll burn through even my strategic idea reserves. Sure, I have interesting little tidbits, but nothing to make a substantial post. Maybe I’ll make an anthology post someday.

My interests balance between three points it seems. The main two are Writing and Coding (which includes the technical side of level design). The third, Drawing (also the creative part of level design), is less influential than it used to be, but I still have an interest in it and upkeep my residual skill often enough through doodling. Right now it seems to be heading from Coding to Drawing and a little bit of Writing. We’ll see where this blog will go as my interests change.

What I wanted to talk about today was circuits and mechanisms in Minecraft, but that can wait. What’s been on my mind this weekend has been a Crysis map I’ve been working on. That’s why I haven’t posted in the past two days; I’ve been up late working on the map. Of course, there’s not much to talk about on that thread. The best way to share it would be a video of the gameplay once the map is finished.

Today is going to have to be a work day. I need to catch up on schoolwork, etc. Tomorrow I will post a legitimate idea. Today I am left thinking about doing a series of tutorials or the Source SDK and finishing the Crysis map (which makes me keep thinking about the game itself, which gets more and more epic every time I think about it). Maybe I should read more and start posting book reviews.

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