Tagged "Halo"

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Nov 22
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

It’s easy to forget that there were four months between the American and European Xbox launches. US gamers gained their black beast on 15th November 2001, while we Europeans had to wait until 14th March 2002.

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The wait wasn’t an entirely bad thing – a few more games were added to the line-up, and it also gave something of an advance warning for the launch day stinkers.

The Xbox certainly did have more than its fair share. As we’ve noted numerous times before, Microsoft wanted the original Xbox line-up to feature games from every single genre. The bad thing about this is that quality wasn’t really an issue.

Nightcaster was called in to fill the RPG shaped slot, and was so poorly received that Microsoft was quite happy to let Jaleco handle the sequel. How Nightcaster gain a sequel is another matter entirely.

Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee fared far better. If your memory needs a jog, it was originally due out on PlayStation only to then become an Xbox-exclusive. Although arguably an adventure game, Microsoft intended it be the console’s premier platformer. Abe may not have been as well known as Sonic or Mario, but did – and still does – hold some creditability.

Like Nightcaster, Microsoft was seemingly happy to let another publisher take control of the sequel – the much celebrated Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. EA, in that case. The interesting thing about this is that according to a press release issued in October 2000, Microsoft originally planned to publish four Oddworld games in total.

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The Japanese launch featured another platformer – Nezmix, a game starring a Stuart Little-alike that showed off the Xbox’s ability to pull of fur effects and nothing more. Nezmix did eventually gain a US release under the name of Sneakers, where it was a Toys R Us exclusive. A sure sign of quality.

There was also Shrek, from TDK. This was another system exclusive that Microsoft used to show off the system’s visual prowess. Proving that looks will only get you so far, review scores were middling.

Fuzion Frenzy filled the slot of being the ‘family friendly party game’ – should such a genre actually exist – and simply seemed to have been developed to justify the Xbox’s four controller ports. It went on to gain a sequel on Xbox 360, developed not by British studio Blitz Games but rather well-established Japanese developer Hudson Soft. Incidentally, both of these studios are now defunct with Blitz closing their doors in September.

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Halo: Combat Evolved, Dead or Alive 3 and Project Gotham Racing were of course the big three launch titles. Halo had been in development for quite some time before Microsoft picked it up as an exclusive, going from RTS, to third-person shooter to eventually the first-person shooter than went on to turn the genre completely upside down. EDGE’s 10/10 review was a significant boon for Microsoft, particularly when taking into consideration that at the time the magazine had given very few other games a perfect score. We also gave it a 10/10. And yes, we have been around for that long.

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MSE3
Jun 11
By Matt Gander In Blog 3 Comments

Microsoft didn’t so much pull a rabbit out of the hat for their E3 conference, but rather a whole warren’s worth of them – the return of franchises new and old, and surprises galore.

Apart from a short SmartGlass demo, the conference was solely about software and began in the best possible fashion – in-game footage of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, which showed of Konami’s new FOX engine with style. Snake’s latest has been revealed to be an open world affair, set in a very sand environment presumed to be Afghanistan. Snake makes his appearance riding a horse – which thus lead to Red Dead Redemption comparisons – with other modes of travel including tanks and jeeps. The demo ended by revealing a line-up of new characters, including Skullface – a ghost sniper.

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The next announcement was rather unexpected – a new model of Xbox 360 is being released today across the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia. The sleeker new design is intended to resemble that of the Xbox One, but it won’t cost any less than the current model. Three different “editions” are being released – 4GB, 250GB, and a 4GB Kinect bundle.

Sticking with announcements for the current Xbox, Xbox Live gold members will receive two free full game downloads a month from 1st July until 31st December. This would appear to be a knee-jerk reaction to PlayStation Plus, which has proven to be more than slightly popular. The first two confirmed freebies have been aren’t exactly the freshest of faces – Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3 – but decent titles nevertheless.

Xbox Live gold members will receive two free full game downloads a month from 1st July

Fable III is also available for free, this month only. Eagle-eyed gamers spotted this early this morning, where upon first glance it was understandably thought to be a glitch. It’s about time Microsoft gave gamers a little bit back in return for their subscriptions, especially seeing that countless adverts are creeping onto the Xbox dashboard.

The freebies don’t end there – global hit World of Tanks is coming to Xbox 360 as a free to play title, albeit for gold members only. We very much doubt this is because Tank! Tank! Tank! is now a free download over on the Wii U eShop.

Next IP was revealed next. Well, kind of – it was kept very quiet that 2D platformer Max and the Cursed Brotherhood is sequel of sorts to the not very popular Wii/DS game Max and the Magic Marker. The next game on show couldn’t be any more different – Dark Souls II. Production values look significantly higher than the last Dark Souls, although we’re still slightly anxious about the new casual approach.

The next demo bore resemblance to Saving Private Ryan’s famous beech landing scene. Quite amazing seeing that Ryse is set in ancient Rome, without even a rife or gun in sight. When Crytek’s Ryse was first unveiled it was destined for the Kinect, but with Kinect sales on the decline it has now been shifted over to Xbox One and gained joypad controls along the way. Visually it looks impressive, with a very cinematic look to the presentation, but the amount of button-bashing QTEs was rather worrying.

Panzer Dragoon’s spiritual successor Crimson Dragon has made a jump from Kinect to Kinect 2.0 also, making an appearance much later on in the conference.

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Jun 06
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

One of the more amusing things from Microsoft to be spotted at E3 was this Halo-influenced bar menu:

Apparently the food menu consisted of just two types of onion ring – battered or bread-crumbed.

May 06
By Matt Gander In Blog 2 Comments

A quiet Saturday night resulted in having a look around various online retailers’ pre-order sections to see what’s coming out soon. With summer almost here the answer was ‘not much’ but we did find some unannounced games.

If Play.com are to be believed, 1st June will see the release of Worms Collection on Xbox 360, which they’ve got priced up at £24.99. There have been three Worms games on XBLA so far with a fourth – Worms: Revolution – due in Q3 2012. £25 for three Worms games doesn’t sound very good value for money, but we’ll reserve our final judgment for when we know what it fully entails.

It looks like Kalypso are taking a break from publishing a new Tropico game this year, instead relying on Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants to bring home the bacon. The PC version is out in two weeks but Play.com also lists Xbox 360 and PS3 versions for release in September. In this sea-faring adventure you’re presented with two paths – either that of an adventurer, with all the bounty hunting and plundering you can imagine, or that of a trader which involves setting up new cities and trade routes.

Then we have the most curious of things – a new PSP game. Well, Blazing Souls: Accelate isn’t exactly new – it was released in the US back in 2010. Presumably to make up for its tardiness it’s not going to cost a great deal. Play.com are selling it for £14.99.

Microsoft are prepping another two double packs too. The Halo: Anniversary and Halo: Reach double pack is due on 18th May while the Kinect Disneyland and Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure double pack is out on 25th May. Kinect Rush was only released a couple of months ago so to see it in a double pack so soon is quite unexpected. Perhaps it hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft hoped?

Apr 02
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Bungie has been keeping tally of the amount of Halo games played online since September 2004 – two months before the release of Halo 2.

With the franchise now in the hands of Microsoft’s 343 Industries, Bungie’s stat tracking has come to an end.

31st March was their final update and as a special farewell to fans they’ve released one final ‘infographic’ just to illustrate how insanely dedicated and loyal the Halo hardcore are.

As you can see by clicking on the thumbnail to the right, the figures really are quite astonishing. A combined 20 billion games played. That’s over two billion hours of playtime – 235,000 years.

“We have followed your careers with great interest here on Bungie.net, and you have gifted us a mountain of heroic moments to memorialize,” said community manager DeeJ.

“It is with a sense of awe that we step back and admire the impact that you have had on our games, and upon our studio. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.”

Nov 28
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Last week’s chart was the busiest for a while. This week? Not so much, although a few of the titles that entered highly last week are on the fall already.

Halo: Anniversary is one of these, which is surprising. It entered at #6 last week but has dropped to #21. Zelda: Skyward Sword is doing the opposite of going skyward too, down from #7 to #16.

Super Mario 3D Land has managed to stay in the top 10 though – the portly plumber clings in at #10, even with two new arrivals – WWE ’12 at #6 and Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call at #7. You can probably guess what game remains at #1.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North makes #38 while Rayman Origins fails to make the top 40. Seeing GAME, HMV and Blockbuster were all asking £42.99 for it, it’s not surprising. This does mean though that nobody can use the phrase “Bored of the Rings” ever again.

Kirby’s Adventure Wii hasn’t got off to a very good start either – it’s in at a lowly #25 in the Wii chart, beaten by the likes of ABBA: You Can Dance.

Nov 17
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s another good week for gamers. That’s providing you have healthy bank balance, at least – there are half a dozen big name titles out this week.

The old-age question if whether Mario can blow stripy balloons up with his arse has finally been answered. As the image to the right shows, he can indeed. We can also tell you that Super Mario 3D Land has been worth the wait. Scores so far include an 8 from EDGE and a 9 from Eurogamer. NGamer said it’s trying a little too hard to be “all things to all people” – “too throwaway for the Galaxy crowd and too soft for the New Super Mario Bros. Wii lot”. They still gave it 90% though.

And what’s this? Another big game from Nintendo? Amazingly, yes. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword reinvents the franchise and then some. It doesn’t even feature Gannon as the last boss. We hope that doesn’t count as a spoiler. Praise has been universal, with a few even calling it the best Zelda yet. EDGE has given it a 10; NGamer handed out 98%.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is another that NGamer reviewed this month. They gave the Wii version 84% – “As far as party games go, this is gold standard”. The 3DS version isn’t due out until next year.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is one that we’ve reviewed ourselves and very much enjoyed. Amazon are selling it for £27, as are Tesco.

The last Need for Speed was heavily hyped as the developers behind Burnout were at the helm. Need for Speed: The Run hasn’t had the same attention from the press. Games Radar gave it an 8 even though they found it a little short and to have some unfair difficulty spikes. On the flipside Eurogamer really didn’t like it very much, giving it a 5. The PlayStation 3 version contains vehicles not found in the Xbox 360 version, while the 3DS version should be worth a look – it’s from the guys behind Trackmania on Wii and DS, which were well received.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations doesn’t quite live up to its name it would seem. That’s to say, it isn’t a revelation. EDGE has given it a 7, as has Eurogamer, but there has been a few 8/10 scores. If you aren’t expecting anything more than more of the same, then you won’t be disappointed.

Medieval Moves and Carnival Island are Sony’s newest PlayStation Move offerings. Carnival Island is a mini-game collection while Medieval Moves is by the Sports Champions developers and is a first person adventure. Both are £14.99 on Play.

The big names keep coming. Saints Row: The Third has had some heavy promotion which has already paid off – pre-orders are four times higher than Saints Row 2. Games Radar handed out a perfect 10 but CVG wasn’t quite so positive, giving it a 7. “Some amazing moments… and some truly abysmal ones. Saints Row: The Third is wildly imaginative and frequently entertaining, but a lack of technical polish and weak combat overshadow its achievements.”

Activision are unleashing four games onto the public as well – the Xbox 360-exclusive Rapala Kinect Fishing, Cabela’s Adventure Camp (for the kids), Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai (for the adults) and DreamWorks Super Star Kartz (for people who really can’t wait until Mario Kart 7). All of these are budget games – the two Cabela titles can be found for £25 online while Super Star Kartz is a mere £14.99 on Play. Play says that Rapala Kinect Fishing comes with a rod, but Amazon doesn’t mention this. There’s a chance Play are mistaken.

While those games above may be of questionable quality we least we can count on LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 being good. It’s out on just about everything – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, Wii, DS, 3DS and PC.

Lastly, THQ are releasing their uDraw tablet on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It comes with Instant Artist and two other games are being launched alongside it – Marvel Super Hero Squad Comic Combat and Pictionary Ultimate Edition. Marvel Super Hero Squad Comic Combat is also out on Wii this week, as is the uDraw compatible Disney Princess Enchanting Storybooks, much to the delight of pre-teen girls everywhere.

Next week: Rayman Origins (360, PS3, Wii), Winter Stars (PS3, 360, Wii), WWE ’12 (PS3, 360, Wii), Zumba Fitness 2 (Wii), The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PS3, 360, PC), F1 2011 (3DS), King of Fighters XIII (PS3, 360), Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call (DS), Move Fitness (PS3), ABBA: You Can Dance (Wii), Ben 10 Galactic Racing (PS3, 360, Wii, DS), Cooking Mama 4 (3DS), Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures (DS), Dino Strike (Wii), Happy Feet Two (PS3, 360, Wii, DS, 3DS), Horrid Henry: The Good, The Bad and The Bugly (3DS), Imagine Fashion Designer (3DS), James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes (3DS), Mahjong 3DS: Warriors of the Emperor (3DS), Now! That’s What I Call Music: Dance and Sing (Wii), Sonic Generations (3DS) and Tales of the Abyss (3DS).

Nov 15
By Matt Gander In Reviews 3 Comments


Revisiting the past can be a dangerous thing to do. Watching clips of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon on YouTube recently sullied fond memories of our youth due to the shoddy animation, lame jokes and predictable storylines. Did we really think the Ninja Turtles were cool? The fact that whole carrier bags full of action figures are slowly decomposing in the loft suggests so.

However, going back to Halo – in celebration of its 10th birthday – is like catching up with an old pal. One that introduced you to new things. We are of course metaphorically talking about the wealth of new ideas Halo bought to the first person genre – the two weapon limit, the rechargeable shield and those massive sprawling levels that still impress in size even now. Also remaining impressive are the both the enemy AI and the incredible amount of speech samples.

Predictably, the good bits are still good. We love mowing down grunts with Master Chief’s ridiculously over-powered pistol, sticking plasma grenades onto enemies and shooting banshees out of the sky and watching the pilots fall to the ground. But just as the good bits are still good, the bad bits are still bad. The Library level remains tedious while the amount of backtracking near the end of the game stands out more than ever.

While the visuals have been improved, mostly with recycled textures from Halo: Reach, it remains the same old Halo underneath. Quite literally – press the back button on the controller and you can see the game in 2001-o-vision. The amount of work that 343 Industries has put into bringing the visuals up to the current standard is commendable. The guns are more detailed with paint chips and scratches now visible while the outdoor levels have more vegetation. The Silent Cartographer level is a notable highlight with redrawn sandy beaches and a bright blue sky that’s seldom seen in games of this ilk. The music has also been re-mastered and the option is there to change it back to the OST if you wish.

Those hoping for new things to look out for will be pleased – there are skulls to find, which are used to alter settings such as making explosions twice as deadly, and also terminals to discover. The terminals unlock CGI clips narrated by Installation 04′s Monitor and help to elaborate on elements from the storyline.

Multi-player is taken care of by the Halo: Reach engine. The menus and options are identical; it’s intended to be a means of extending your Halo: Reach online experience, carrying over your previously created character, XP and playlists. There’s a new Firefight map, which features a segment of the second level of the campaign, and you can still access the Forge level designer.

If you’ve finished the original Halo on Legendary countless times before and are worried about a lack of challenge then the achievements will cater for your need to have your combat skills tested. They’re for things like finishing certain levels on Legendary without picking up any health packs or without picking up any new weapons.

Some may not agree with paying out almost full price for a 10 year old game with a new lick of polygon paint, but there’s no denying that it’s still a brilliant experience. In a perfect world all videogame remakes would have this amount of love and attention lavished onto them.

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