Nothing feels better than to see your loved ones getting a gift they’ve longed for all year long. Just watching this video was enough to put tears in my eyes.
Surprising their son Nik with an Xbox 360 Elite and The Halo 3 Legendary Edition on his birthday, these parents were certainly able to surprise their kids with something special.
Having spent part of the year with a broken collar bone playing soccer, it must have been a dream come true for little Nik to get an Xbox 360 in his hands!!
Alright, time for another award winning comic!
I’ve been busy warping up Metroid Prime Trilogy and have spent close to 90 hours on the entire set. Well worth it if you ask me so expect my review to go up shortly after this comic!
We all know ODST hit stores nationwide so it’s obvious that I had to do a Halo comic.
Seems like no matter how bungie tries to promote the game, it just isn’t the same without ol’ 117. Not to say it’s a bad game just … we miss Master Chief.
As always click on the image for the full screen glory!
Today I do not come to you as mild mannered gaming journalist Josh Salem, but rather, ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) Private Salem. Yes, that’s right, last night in the Fermenting Cellar at the historic Distillery District in beautiful Toronto (although it was raining) I completed (with fly colours) my ODST training from Sgt. Swaggard and his troops and got dropped into the pandemonium of Firefight.
Perhaps I should Explain. Read more…
Incoming message from… Xbox Canada.
Xbox Canada is searching for Canada’s Biggest Halo Fan!
Think you’re the biggest Halo fan in the country? Prove it! Become a fan
of Xbox Canada on Facebook and post your proof on the Xbox Canada wall
for your chance to win an amazing grand prize that includes a trip for
two to Toronto, the ultimate Halo prize pack and VIP access to the
biggest Halo event ever held in Canada. Read more…
High Score: Music in Video Games
Dah-dah-dah doo dah-da – duh. If you totally called that as the beginning of the Mario theme, then you’re one step ahead of this article. If you didn’t, prepare to be schooled baby.
Music has always been a part of video games, with a few minor exceptions (Pong, anyone?). From the classic themes of the Mario franchise to the epic scores of Halo and Metal Gear Solid, music has provided a strong influence on the tone and theme of the game in question. By the way, Guitar Hero doesn’t count. Read more…
Microsoft has announced in tandem with top anime studios that they will be creating a set of new original short films taking place in the Halo universe. This new project, called “Halo Legends”, will bring the Sci-Fi hit into a whole new world of beautiful moving art and crisp animations.
Officially debuting at Comic-Con today in San Diego, Halo Legends is being produced by Microsoft’s 343 Industries (which explains why they patented the name 343 Industries recently) and will have anime legend Shinji Aramaki on board for creative direction as well as Mamoru Oshii. Read more…
Whether you’re part of the UNSC or the Covenant, it’s time to shape up and ship out with this new downloadable add-on for the ever popular (best selling RTS game of current consoles) Halo Wars real-time strategy game. Microsoft and Robot Entertainment are expanding the battlefield this coming July 21st by adding four new multiplayer maps that highlight key turning points in the UNSC / Covenant war.
The “Historic Battle” add on will run you 800 MS points on Xbox Live and as mentioned above, will be available July 21st. Continue after the break for details of the four new maps as well as four new achievements. Read more…
Almost two years ago, I wrote a review for this site. It was a little review about a little expansion for a little game. That game was Halo 2 and it carried me through my first year of university. Without Halo in my life, my post-secondary education would have been empty and meaningless, which is why I am pleased to announce the conclusion of my undergrad career with the review of Halo 3. That’s right, Master Chief is back to finish the fight, and so am I. Released September 25th, 2007 exclusively for the Xbox 360, the exciting conclusion to the Halo trilogy made history with first-day sales reaching over $170 million in the U.S., setting the record for highest gross of an entertainment product within 24-hours of its release. Impressive to say the least, but in the end, once the fight is over and the clouds of plasma mist disappear, was it really all that special?
For those who have managed to avoid the hype all of these years, let me break down the storyline. You play as Master Chief (Spartan 117), one of many cybernetically enhanced human soldiers called Spartans. Armed with technologically-advanced battle armor and a spunky female cyber partner named Cortana, you are the earth’s secret weapon against the alien race known as the Covenant and the spore-like Flood threatening the entire universe. Halo 3 is the final title in the Halo Trilogy of First Person Shooters (FPS) in which the story comes to an end the only way Bungie Studios knows how – with a bang. This game starts a bit after where Halo 2 leaves off. To be more specific, Halo 3 begins where the comic mini-series Halo: Uprising ends. You begin as Master Chief who crash lands on earth leaving his cyber-pal Cortana on the ship he falls out of. Your first mission is to stop the Prophet of Truth from uncovering a new weapon and find Cortana in the process, from here the havoc multiplies.
The game mechanics are somewhat different than past Halo games. Most of the controls and physics are very similar, however now you can finish the fight online with up to four players at the same time. The first player takes control of Master Chief, while player two controls the Arbiter (your rival in Halo 2) and the last two players take the role of two Covenant Elites who apparently have their own personal background stories. When you play with more then one player, the difficulty increases slightly but it feels as though it is not hard enough to warrant the extra firepower. If you’re going to play through the campaign online, I suggest playing on a harder difficulty level then you would normally attempt. The AI in this title has been revamped as well and actually feels more like a group fighting together than a bunch of scripts doing what they are told. For example if you are fighting 4 brutes, and three of them are killed, the last might fall back and wait for reinforcements or make a kamikaze run. As well, in the campaign mode, along with secret skulls you find to unlock ‘cheats’, there are 7 terminals you can access to gain background story information, and a campaign meta-game that tallies scores for either every player or the team as a whole, gaining multipliers for beating missions faster, on harder difficulties and with more cheats activated. All in all there are 9 missions in the campaign mode to complete and end the story of Spartan 117.
For those hopping into Halo 3 before playing the first two titles, story-wise you may be a little confused… actually even if you played the first two, you still may be a little confused as to what’s going on. Admittedly the story and progression to the climax of this title are quite epic, but compared to Halo 2, it just doesn’t seem up to snuff (come on – battling in a building falling from the sky!). Everything needed in the story was there and nearly everything was neatly sorted out by the end of the game, but it still felt like it missed that one big battle that makes a great game memorable.
The graphics in Halo 3 are nice, but compared to those in Halo 2, it feels as though they have just improved certain aspects without introducing much original content. I guess it’s as they say – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What has been improved upon is easy to see, including a much further view, global lighting and depth of field effects, real time shadows, increased terrain, model and weapon detail, and real time reflections in water. While the game was rendered in 1152×640 resolution instead of 1280×720 as most fans expected, it was a deliberate choice by Bungie to maintain frame rates. The Xbox 360 also has the capability to upscale Halo 3 to 1080p anyways.
While the graphics were only a small step up from past Halo titles, the audio was more of a giant leap from Halo 2. To put this into perspective, Halo 2 had roughly 15,000 audio clips; Halo 3 contains over 50,000 audio clips, most of those belonging to dialogue between characters. Distance also plays a factor as certain cut scene recordings were taken at different distances to create a more realistic audial experience. The past title’s composer has taken the helm again for an epic and original score but again, on a much larger scale. If the orchestra isn’t your idea of Flood busting beats, Halo 3 features a custom sound track feature, allowing players to replace the in game music with their own. While playing online, the headsets work perfectly. Teammates and their comments are crystal clear. If near an opponent while they shout a command to their buddies, you can actually hear them with the volume being based on the distance from the opponent to you (think the enemy hiding around a corner letting their teammates know when they’re going to jump out and blast you, and you hear every word of it).
All in all this reviewer and fan of the Halo franchise feels that it may be the story that brings people to the game, but it’s the online play that makes them stay. Either online with up to three friends split-screen, or offline using LAN capabilities for more players, you can compete in a large number of play modes. Xbox live and Halo again uses a mix of their Trueskill ranking system and overall experience for setting up online battles, so you will almost never be matched up with people too easy or too hard to fight against or with. Playing either ranked, or unranked with guests in battles ranging from two to sixteen players in a plethora of choices, from social double battles to free for all oddball (carry around a skull for as long as possible) to big team gravity hammer battles, the options are endless.
The story itself can last anywhere from 10-30 hours depending on your difficulty, skill or playing style, but with all the unlockable extras and multiplayer game modes this game has the ability to keep players interested and on the edge of their seats for months. Heck, the MLG (Major League Gaming) still has their extremely successful Halo 2 championships every year. From skulls giving you the ability to unlock ‘cheats’ in the story mode to special unlockable armor pieces to use in multiplayer battles, there are plenty of things to do after the fight is finished. There are also the Xbox 360 achievements (getting all the achievements unlock the samurai sword for online play). Since this Halo is also the first to be on Xbox 360, Bungie has promised the public downloadable content including new maps and modes of play in the future as they tweak their matchmaking options to the public’s approval. Bored of the maps used in online play or replaying the story? Why not head over to the Forge, new to Halo 3 and use the extensive map editor to create your own levels, or record your own videos of your favourite Halo moments, or snap pictures of you decimating your friends and send them over the Live service for extra gloat-appeal. With all this at your finger tips and more to come in the future, the possibilities for Halo’s replay value are virtually endless!
Graphics: 4.5 / 5.0
Gameplay 5.0 / 5.0
Sound 5.0 / 5.0
Replay value 5.0 / 5.0
It’s the game most of us bought an XBOX 360 for…
As we speak a select few (hundred) people are playing Halo 3 right now as we wait for 8 AM on May 16th when those who were selected randomly, or those who shelled out the money for Crackdown will be downloading the beta.
The beta will be available for online multiplayer for 3 weeks before it disappears till November 2007, when the game comes out. However, I was privileged enough to play the most hyped up game of 2007 on Friday May 11th, five days before the beta was released.
The first thing you notice about the game is of course the graphics. It still looks like Halo, but it has that next-gen feel. It’s no Gears Of War, but I wasn’t expecting that at all. The HUD now has a curved appearance much like Metroid Prime for Gamecube and the GUI of the menu is vastly more intensive than Halo 2, with achievements, rankings, and even a save game film option.
The game controls just like Halo 2, aside from the inclusion of the Right Bumper, now used for picking up weapons, reloading, and getting into/out of vehicles and LB switching grenades and switching your left weapon. The newest feature is the X button, which now uses equipment such as:
- Portable grav lifts (which I never had a chance to use)
- Power drain – a short burst of energy, which drains anyone’s shield that encounters it
- Trip mine – a mine you can place taking out a vehicle or a person when they come near it
- Bubble Shield – a protective shield you can deploy which disallows any damage from outside fire (subsequently you cannot fire from inside out)
I was only able to play two new levels and one of two new game types, but rest assured this game is a blast to play and I don’t foresee myself leaving my house very much when it comes out at 8 AM tomorrow.
Both Fox and Universal Studios have pulled funding for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the popular video game “Halo,” casting doubt on the future of the project.
The studios were reportedly upset with the movie’s growing budget (said to be at around $200 million U.S.), reports The Star Online. Apparently, Jackson (as executive producer) and computer game producer Microsoft refused to agree to a request from the studios for their profit margins to be reduced.
Additionally, reports say that the studios were concerned that the project is being helmed by a first-time director, Neill Blomkamp.
For his part, Jackson had his spokesman disagree with the studios’ financial claims.
“The only budget the film-makers every spoke about was $145 million less the 12.5 per cent rebate that you get from shooting in New Zealand, which would put it at about $128 million,” said Ken Kamins. “That was the only number that was ever discussed.”
If you play video games, chances are you’ve heard of this. If you own an X-box, chances are you have this. If you are thinking about buying an x-box, chances are it’s because of this. The Halo franchise nearly single-handedly put Microsoft and the X-box ahead in the console war, and with good reason. Nothing beats a genetically altered super soldier blasting his way though an onslaught of prophetic aliens and plague like jellyfish in a last ditch attempt to save humanity from oblivion on a Sunday afternoon in your boxers with Cheeto dust on your face.
Halo 2 has been the top choice of gamers around the world for its beautiful texture detail, amazing lighting effects, solid responsive, simple controls, and fast paced action. This is just the tip of the ice berg, any gamer can play a single player game over and over, learn where the simple AI bad guys appear and blast away, but the real challenge, fun, and sporadic-ness is had online, playing against other gamers around the world, just like you. Halo 2′s multiplayer action is so sweet that it is known in the gaming culture as the all time best online multiplayer game out there, utilizing Microsoft?s X-box Live service, playing online has never been easier or more widely used. At any point during any day in any part of the world one can always find hundreds of online gamers going at it, head to head in X-box Live land. From the massive array of weaponry to choose from, to the many options to change the game up from team slayer with shotguns only (my personal favourite) to deathball mode (like capture the flag, but with a human skull) and the many maps available to battle upon, no two games are ever alike… and the deal just got sweeter.
With Microsoft’s new Halo 2 multiplayer map pack, Master Chief?s social life just got a little more interesting. This expansion pack consists of nine new maps made specifically for online play, a plethora of bug and cheat fixes, a short film using the same graphics engine Halo uses, and a documentary about the creation of the expansion pack including interviews with some of the development team. This expansion can be downloaded over x-box live, but Microsoft didn?t want to isolate their majority offline community, so they offered everything that one could download with an X-box Live subscription in this handy CD.
With this new expansion, not only have nine new well balanced terrains been added but a sense of interactivity in the world has been created, a great example is on one of the new maps (Terminal) there is a pathway with a beefy plasma sword out in the open, however, if you stay on this pathway to long, a massive train flies through and crushes you and whoever else is in it’s way instantly, just like real life!
considering Bungie’s (Halo’s development team) tight schedule while working on Halo 2, most of their time and effort was put into making sure the single player story was up to snuff, and believe me it was, imagine how amazing the multiplayer mode would be if Bungie had focused all of their talents on that portion of the game. With this expansion pack, that?s exactly what they did.
Me and my friends spent countless hours in front of the TV with 4 controllers and thousands of people around the world for hours on end. Now with this expansion pack, those hours may very well multiply quickly.
There are some downfalls however, some of the maps, while working astonishingly with some game modes, are horrible with other game modes. There are a couple of smaller quarter maps that are great for one on one or 4 player team slayer, but when you have a full house free for all it?s a button masher?s wet dream. On the flip side, if you?re playing 2 on 2 death ball or capture the flag, and you?re on such a large map that it takes you 5 minutes to actually reach the opponent, you may get frustrated or bored very quickly. If you try out the maps, find out what works well with how many people and what type of game to play, this game will surely entertain for hours on end.
Graphics: 10. Beautiful texture and scenery, amazing lighting effects and mad crazy animations make this a trademark X-box title.
Control: 9. I admit, at first I wasn?t the best at controlling the master and got my fair share of beatings, but after a little but of a learning curve, it felt like second nature to blast my shotgun and follow it up with a jumping gun butt. The controls are well placed and very responsive, and you can customize your controls to an extent, which is always welcome.
Sound: 9. Even though I only played this on my monaural 20? (think what you want). I felt like I could tell where shots were coming from, and jumped up in surprise on more than one occasion.
Fun: 10. It?s Halo. Nuff said.
Lasting appeal: 10. That?s the best part of this map pack, it was made almost entirely to enhance the online experience. It never gets old, never gets boring, and is NEVER EVER the same game twice? if your playing offline however, take a point off of lasting appeal. The AI in this game can only do so much.
Extras: 8. The short video is entertaining, and if you liked it, I suggest checking out Red Vs Blue. The documentary about how this disc came to be is interesting enough, but if I wanted a documentary, I would go to the Discovery channel.
Overall: Overall I would rate this game a 10 out of 10. Halo 2 is the first game anyone with an X-box should buy, and in my opinion, it?s the feel good hit of the decade.
If you have halo 2 and you play online, you probably already have most of what’s on this CD, I would not recommend going out and purchasing the disc just for the short film and documentary unless you?re a true hardcore halo fan with everything from the 2d side scroller Halo game to every action figure built in your possession. If you have halo 2 and you don?t play online I would highly recommend going out right now and picking this disc up to truly get the most out of your multiplayer experience (even if it is with just you and a few friends). If you don?t have halo 2 I suggest you finish reading this article, go out pick up this game and on your way home pick up some red bull and pixie sticks because it’s gonna be a great sleepless night.
This disc gets the Salem seal of approval.
November. Students have settled into their classes and can procrastinate reading and assignments no further. Flurries start appearing on the streets and people begin to brave thoughts of a cold, bitter, winter. NBC shows live coverage of the Macy?s Thanksgiving parade and Canadians everywhere, simply, couldn?t care less. Plastic decorations of Santa are pinned up in Wal-Mart stores and employees walk around with huge smiles, smiles of being pushed to the brink of insanity, as Christmas jingles are played over and over.
But this November is going to be different ? Microsoft is counting on it.
The Xbox 360 is the first of the fresh batch of video game consoles poised at blowing us away. Indeed, gamers both young and old have high standards so it?s no wonder the games will run in at least 720p with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. That technical jargon means to truly take advantage of the Xbox 360?s graphics capabilities you will need a High Definition (HD) television. Fortunately the Xbox 360 will operate just fine on your standard analog 4:3 TV ? the television most people own ? but it still goes to show which market consolegame developers have their sights truly aimed at nowadays.
Gone are the days when consoles are comparable to powerhouse computers. Microsoft has ensured that the Xbox 360 is a technological juggernaut; the CPU consists of three 3.2GHz processors, each able to run two threads at the same time. If you do the math, the CPU can actually process six threads simultaneously, in turn, this is sure to grant game developers an unprecedented amount of freedom.
Expect the typical compatibility with DVD-Video, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, and JPEG Photo CD just to name a few, but the fun doesn?t stop there, it?s called 360 for a reason. This time around there?s a huge push to expand into more markets hence try not to think of the Xbox 360 as a partner for your entertainment theatre or PC but rather the nucleus of the two.
With a built in Ethernet port and compatibility with broadband getting things rolling with an internet service provider will be effortless.
Two USB ports at the front of the system make it so that toys like an MP3 player can be plugged in to transfer songs to the 20GB hard drive, which comes with the system, and vice-versa, or maybe hook up a digital camera and have a slide show of favourite pics for an online profile.
Current Xbox Live subscribers will be transferred over but it will be divided into two levels, Gold and Silver. Silver will be free and will provide gamer profiles, access to Marketplace (where demos, new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins are available for download), voice and text messaging, video messages, and of course, massive multiplayer online games. The Gold level is paid and is basically Silver with more features such as access to Live special events.
Also worthy of mention is the sleek, silver and very sexy looking system has made wireless controllers as its standard.
As I discussed in a previous column, Microsoft has been the only developer so far who has provided gamers a complete online-gaming experience, this has attributed to the current success of the Xbox. In an attempt to carry over that success, every game to be made for the 360 will have online compatibility.
It?s evident that Microsoft is out for blood because not only will 360 be released just in time for Christmas, but the next instalment of Halo ?the best game for Xbox, I have argued ? will be released this fall as well.
I hate to sound like all I?ve done so far is help Microsoft rake in even more money but it really does seem to me that the next generation of systems, especially this one, is going to completely reform the way we play games. I would almost deem it the upcoming gaming renaissance but I?ll save such a bold statement for when we all start jacking into the matrix?or jack out?whatever.
At any rate, Microsoft hasn?t hinted as to how much the 360 will cost but it seems to me that a consensus between gaming magazines, sites and blogs alike estimate it will cost roughly $400 Canadian. What with the success of bundles these days I?d be ready to spend $500 but hopefully not a penny more.
One thing the 360 doesn?t have in common with the two competitors is a portable device out there right now compatible with the consoles of the future. Nintendo has the DS, and Sony has its PSP ? the newcomer. Coupled with PS2?s current domination what can we expect from the PS3 scheduled for release next year? Find out next week.