Can 343 Spark the Next Generation of Halo?
Tommy Blashaw / Nov 5th, 2012 No Comments
It’s not every day that an IP like Halo would willingly be handed over to a new studio. Most AAA gaming titles are secured under lock and key to their respective developers, who in turn hold the incredibly profitable IP rights to said merchandise for as long as they can make millions of dollars off of it. Now when it came to Bungie Studios and Microsoft, it seems the price was right for Bungie to let go of their golden goose (technically Microsoft’s golden goose) in order to barter their “creative freedom” back from the global computer giant. After Bungie and Microsoft had originally teamed up to launch one of the most lucrative gaming franchises known to date, Halo, the developer was in the Halo business. Regardless of anyone’s preferred train of thought in terms of whether or not Bungie was shortchanged by having to give up the rights to the billion dollar gaming franchise they themselves created, it is hard to blame Microsoft for making sure they did everything in their power to maintain property rights over the game that is essentially the livelihood of the entire Xbox platform. Not many gaming gurus in the world would argue with the assessment that without Halo: Combat Evolved, there would be no Xbox 360.The overall success from that game alone was a primary driving force for the eventual advancement of the Xbox gaming console and subsequently a boat load of cash for Microsoft. For those that have not read them already, check out Halo 4: Expectations from the Plot, Halo 4 Multiplayer Preview and Halo 4 Preview.
[adsense250itp]Come Nov. 6, Microsoft’s newly created gaming studio, 343 Industries (343i) will launch the next generation of the critically acclaimed series with the highly anticipated title Halo 4. Now with such a prodigious event rapidly approaching, it only stands to reason that anyone invested in the series will at one point ask themselves the question, “Is this sequel going to be better, or at least just as good as what we have seen so far?” This leads to the next question of “Can 343i take this franchise to the next level of gaming greatness?” There are a lot of differing thought in the gaming community in regards to these questions; some say Halo 4 has the potential to carry this franchise well into the next generation of the Xbox, while other more cynical views hold that this will be nothing but an empty shell of a great legacy packed full of haphazard attempts of mimicry and dated game play/scripting. Halo 4 looks poised to be one of the best in the series so far and blow the doors off of anything gamers have seen thus far. In order to avoid such faux pas set by America’s current political nominees, here are the reasons why this is bold prediction is safe to make.
It is no big secret. Microsoft has money. Lots and lots of money. Now don’t be mistaken, no fortune does a good game make. Just ask Curt Schilling about it… That is not to imply that simply having limitless funds will guarantee a developer success in creating a game. However, if anyone was to ask most game developers today, they will all tell you the same thing; it certainly doesn’t hurt though! Having the cash flow does not only properly staff and outfit the studio with the necessary personnel and resources to do whatever it takes to give development of Halo 4 the best chance possible. In addition, it allows them to take all the adequate steps in marketing and advertising to get the public worked up in a frenzy for the big release is a major advantage. Again, having the money is not going to guarantee that this game is going to be a major success, but it creates an atmosphere in which it has every opportunity to become just that.
GOOD TO THE CORE
Even though Bungie is no longer apart of the equation in the creative process for Halo titles, it is also not as if they packed all of their stuff, grabbed all the programming and software for Halo, and wished Microsoft the best of luck. 343i reserved all rights to every little bit of Halo property Bungie ever owned or worked on. So pretty much the creative team may be a bit different, but they are picking up exactly where Bungie left off, game engines and all. The big question here is whether or not they are going to try and radically change what they have done so far, or if they are going to roll with what has been working. However, it is usually this category that most core fans are going to focus their scrutiny on. (Does Modern Warfare 3 ring any bells?)
NEW CREW, NEW IDEAS
Aside from a few key people that hung around through the transition, 343i went out of their way to acquire plenty of new talent throughout the industry that had a very specific passion for the Halo series. Now that may sound like a scary proposition for those that have the thought that new people will only end up messing with the game design, or will try to “advance” the game in such a way it radically alters what made it great in the first place.The key to this new recruitment process was for the aforementioned underlying qualification, a very specific passion for Halo. These are people who are not only great at what they do, but also have a desire to work on a game they share the same excitement for as the rest of the fans. Doesn’t it stand to reason that those designers who share a similar love for the game as the rest of Halo fans would go out of their way to make sure they preserve the game play they have all come to enjoy?
It’s a mech! In Halo! Fully mechanized vehicle armed to the teeth with rockets on one arm and a very formidable looking heavy machine gun on the other, ready to unleash a barrage of chaos and destruction on the battle field. Bonus: Comes with ability to teabag downed opponents…nuff’ said!
Having been one of many fortunate people to attend E3 this year, I was able to get a first-hand look at Halo 4. Aside from a more personal viewing of the Halo 4 demo broadcasted around the world, attendees were given a chance to go head to head via Big Team Battle on one of the game’s new maps. Throughout the entire match, not once did it feel like playing some sort of Halo spin-off wrought with confusing gameplay and unfamiliar dynamics. It was Halo. True to its core. Yes there are going to be a lot of different bells and whistles that come along with this installment as is the case with most any sequel. In addition, they are completely revamping tons of dynamics from the previous games such as customizable player loadouts and upgradeable weapons and abilities. However, from what I have seen, these new features will only enhance the phenomenal game play fans have all come to expect from a Halo game.
Bottom line is fans are going to be getting a Halo game with this latest release. For better or for worse, I like most Xbox gamers, am going to buy this game the first day it comes out. Now whether or not this will be the harbinger to the next generation of incredibly mind-blowing First-Person Shooters is something only time and a multitude of play throughs will tell. What can be guaranteed is that Halo 4 is going to be everything gamers have come to expect from a quality FPS. When all of the reviewers and game critics have had their say, after every blogger, vlogger, and media-logger have picked apart and dissected every last pixel that 343i is serving up with their latest addition to the Halo legacy, come Nov. 6 and beyond, Halo 4 will be one of the most highly played video games of our time. And with all certainty…it won’t be due to some cosmic accident. The work has been done. Let’s all go out and reap the rewards.
tags: 343i , bungie , fps , halo , halo 4 , Mantis , microsoft