Archive for the ‘ Gaming and Media ’ Category

Halo 4: The Awakening of a Hero

When the news first exclaimed of Halo 4, the entire world watched in awe. The continuation of Master Chief and the vast universe set centuries ahead of our time, but also hundreds of thousands of years before captivated our intrigue and skepticism. (Explained here.)
The information concerning plot, gameplay, features, perks, and audio between its reveal and now has overwhelmed the gaming world and Halo fanatics such as myself.

The story we know so far of the Reclaimer Trilogy is Master Chief awakening from Cryo-Sleep to find the floating half of Forward Unto Dawn being pulled into a titanic metal sphere with Forerunner glyphs strown across the surface. Later on the shield world is revealed to be inhabited by Prometheans, a forerunner species led by none other by The Didact (in which I believe is inhabiting that metal, glowing sphere we see in the campaign trailer).
Cortana, who is steadily becoming rampant due to her diminishing life-span, has a greater role in this trilogy than the last and from leaked (and speculated causes) may become the very thing that makes or breaks Master Chief.

The story concerning his armor change is also vaguely explained as Cortana crafting it while the spartan was sleeping due to reasons beyond our temporary comprehension. So far it looks good, but aesthetics are not enough in such a story-driven atmosphere.

Master Chief: Ready for Action

Master Chief: Ready for Action

Additional info for supporting characters will come in the form of a live-action miniseries called Forward Unto Dawn, that will explain Thomas Lasky’s story that will tie directly to Halo 4’s plot. From the official website:

“Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” tells an exciting story of heroism and sacrifice on a scale never before seen in the “Halo” universe, taking fans back to the beginning of the human and Covenant war and leading into the events of “Halo 4.” Set against the backdrop of a United Nations Space Command (UNSC) military academy, a group of highborn cadets are training to be the next generation of soldiers in the UNSC’s ongoing war with insurrectionists in the outer colonial planets. Among these cadets, Thomas Lasky struggles with his doubts about this war, and with the burden of expectations he may not be able to carry. As Lasky comes to terms with his potential as a military leader, the terrifying alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives and turns his world upside down. Inspired by the Master Chief, he must decide what it means to be a hero.”

 The story so far is only scratching the surface of what we’ll see on November 6th. A lot of people are speculating that the Forerunner planet Requiem is actually Onyx, the planet composed entirely of inactive Sentinels. The only reason in that conclusion is the fact Dr. Cathrine Halsey has a part in the investigation of Requiem. As stated in The Thursday War, Requiem was the final resting place of The Didact they claim as a living God and “must not be awoken”, surrounding himself in ancient weapons known as Promethians.
(Promethians as we know were advanced AI, but according to Kiki Wolfkill, they are nothing less than living organic matter.) It also reveals a weapon catche on Onyx that turns the tide of the war between the Humans and Sangheili, further proving Dr. Halsey’s role in the new trilogy.

Now not to say much about the ending, multiple reports have released that the climatic battle between the UNSC and the Didact fail to shed light on a tie into Halo 5. 343i has quite the plate to devour (bad analogy alert) when it comes to surprizing us with the next installment; the gracious donations of new features leaves it looking rather…dry.

343 Industries has surprized us with a lot, perhaps they will do the same again 3 years from now.

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I Watched: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Spider-Man franchise was in a desperate need for a reboot, we can all agree to this when it seemed like the sequels were spinning out of control until they ultimately slowed to a halt. Sam Rami took great care in the first Spider-man movies, but things just didn’t feel right. The same can be said for the new movie that was just released on the third of this month.

One word: Motivation.

The movie was great an I enjoyed it as much as the next guy or even more, but the other half of me (the self critical cynical self) must relay all the mistakes that will never be able to ignored. Partially because Peter Parker’s main quest is to figure out what happened to his parents, discovering a briefcase with secret information regarding a formula from his fathers and Curt Connor’s experiments. It leads him to Oscorp where he stumbles upon a room full of radioactive spiders, getting bit…in the neck. (*pulls out old Spider-man comic, reads it, then shakes head*) I understand Marc Webb’s reasoning in shapeshifting events to differ from the comics because it was already replicated in the Sam Rami editions, but I felt like the difference couldn’t shed enough light to show Peter Parker as a powerless young man finding power and having no idea what to do with it, using it for the wrong reasons. The new Peter simply becomes somewhat of a bully, humiliating those who humiliated him.

Then comes The Lizard. Transformed when trying to regrow his lost arm, Curt Connors instantly becomes an enemy bent of turning the rest of the city into his own kind and preventing Spider-man from getting in his way. When he discovers Spider-man’s alter ego, who stampedes into the school to end the threat. The character of Dr. Connors is filled with emotion, but when The Lizard comes into play, he turns dull and motivated only to kill. The same exact thing happened with the Green Goblin, but I would act like that too if I had to wear that costume. *shudder*

Then we get to what made it so great and that can be said with two words: Gwen Stacy.
Staying true to that part of the story was the smartest thing one could do and I give kudos to Marc Webb. In the comics Peter fell in love with Gwen at the start of his web swinging, not Mary Jane which upset me most dearly being a fan of the comics. The character is not the typical damsel in distress; Gwen is smart and knows what needs to be done to not only protect herself, but to protect Spider-man. Her father gets in the picture too and ultimately saves everyone by helping the one person he swore to retain in custody.

Overall the movie was entertaining and had a great story to tell. I anticipate the sequel to be better than the first and to up to par to the true nature of the comics.

I Suck at Halo

Now not to look like a hypocrite, but even though I said I was moving everything related to gaming to Gaming the System, I thought that perhaps I need to promote the brother blog a bit more than it has. This is mostly for those who still visit my blog wondering where the Halo content went. 

“I suck!!!” has probably been said more times then I can successfully count, and with more than 10 years of experience on my belt, losing was a pathetic  event to witness. The frustration that followed was unnerving, and I couldn’t resist throwing my bedding into the air as if I was ripping the flesh off of some unfortunate individual, yelling things that would make the Chinese blush, harming myself via the controller (which has left weird, four-circle marks on my head, legs, and chest–yes, chest), and biting my pillow.

Then when I lose…
funny gifs

Yeah.

 The mystery surrounding why I suck so badly at matchmaking is trying to figure out why we have an appendix. Or why men have nipples. Honestly I began playing online about 3 months ago under the assumption that It would be similar to playing campaign and never again did I think anything like that again. I was so bad I was ready to implode from my suckage and if God willing I could create my own Fails of the Week parody in a day. Wait, let me rephrase that: *clears throat* I still suck! Every match–instead of counting kills–I count deaths; death sprees, double deaths, triple deaths, deathamonjarros, death frenzies, and basically any other medal that is part to my demise.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been given plenty of tips from good friends who want to see me get better (for their own benefit and of the team) to avoid such depression. Regardless of how much I have been taught it seems that I still remain the weakest link. I used to get 1-3 kills on a good day, but now I get 10-20 on most. (Thanks to the contributions guys. Now, here’s a cookie.) So aside from my poisonous loser aura, I found out some things that might actually get my K/D ratio higher than .03:

  1. Play on a smaller screen– Who would have thought that perhaps getting the biggest, baddest flat screen was not the best decision for matchmaking (or for your bank account?) Apparently not me.
  2. Don’t run down the middle of the flippin’ hallways– For the love of Robin Hood and the merry men, when someone is trying to snipe down the horde of enemies coming your way, photobombing the scope view isn’t the most kodak worthy moment when you get betrayed. Crouching is the way to go.
  3. Watch the radar– How much of an idiot do you have to be to forget that it actually has some importance in the game. Not paying attention to it is like wearing an Elmo costume with a sign that says “I want someone to kick my ass”.
  4. Movement is key– If you want to play sitting ducks during a firefight, you’re paying the wrong flippin’ game.
  5. Learn you’re surroundings– You don’t have to major in geology, just take time to learn the maps you play on for the best results for you, your team, and your sanity.
  6. Take a chance– If anyone knew what it takes to get your foot in the door of a possible significant other’s life, you would know that any chance could be the last; same principle can be applied at the art of killing your friends and fellow relatives in the virtual realm of Halo.
  7. Stop spamming– No spamming the trigger, no spamming grenades, no spamming armor abilities, no spamming is good. Even spam in a can is bad, so don’t spam! Think, strategies, and remember that the turtle wins the race. (Figuratively.)

Well, that’s all I have for now. Perhaps one day I will look back on this post and realize that not only did I really, really suck, but that I only needed to apply simple strategies in order to become better. So, if I may ask: what helped you?

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo

E3 Logo

The much anticipated E3 season erupted explosively this year, showcasing the best-of-the-best (Microsoft, Nintendo, and…that other one) and what they have to offer us for the upcoming months. Among those of course is the ultimate reveal of Halo 4 and the delightful return of Master Chief, which gave us a first hand look of the Spartan Ops gameplay and other Multiplayer action. The campaign was scripted from what I could tell only because at the end when the Promethean Knights surrounded the  hero, it cut to a black screen and rolled out the other goodies. (Not that I minded.)

The first day was an eye-opener for many when they realized the potential Microsoft had to rule the game industry, with the upcoming Smart Glass multimedia interface I certainly knew that neither Nintendo or Sony could ever match up to that stature.
(Yes: before you say it, Apple already came up with the idea…just not in the same way.)

Nintendo stole the show on Tuesday with their complete unveil of the Wii U, showcasing games such as ZombieU and New Super Mario Bros U which will include features that prove the unique take on gaming that Nintendo reached for. I have to say; I might just get one. (It depends really, but that ZombieU games has grabbed my interest.)

For Sony…
Wonderbook and The Last of Us. …That is all.

The array of newly revealed releases include Halo 4, Dead Space 3, Assassins Creed 3, Ninja Gaiden 3, Pikmin 3, LEGO City: Undercover, Halo 4, Resident Evil 6, Star Wars 1313, HAWKEN,  Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, God of War Ascension, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Halo 4.

For the moment Microsoft is leading in innovation and with the console that has been the top seller worldwide, all they can do is go upwards. It’s been their show and it will be for the years to come. Nintendo is almost there, but has a long way to go still even though the release of the Wii U is expected to be significantly more impressive than the first Wii since–from the mouth of Satoru–it will be the first “actual” console they have to offer.

We will have to wait to see how the end of this year will turn out and perhaps it will mark the best year of gaming so far. Keep on the look for updates and other news as the E3 season continues.

I Watched: The Avengers

Ticket

As good as any golden one.

Holding the ticket to the biggest movie of 2012 quite exhilarating, with all the excitement that brewed in the theater and the long line that threatened the integrity of my dry pants, it was exactly what awaiting for the screening of The Avengers should feel like. While my wait I contemplated the lack of the special edition 3D glasses that Hollywood Theaters had and what it would’ve been like if I had the opportunity to grab a pair of the for the one-in-a-lifetime event, regardless Ebay has a prolific supply of them.

I’d hate to say anything about what I saw on the 4th other than that it was single-handedly the best movie I have seen.

Better than the Dark Knight you say?

The Avengers

Yes.

Hard to say, but the movie debuted in 2008 and there was no warning of The Avengers at that time. I can still say it’s in second place however, but will more than likely move to third once The Dark Knight Rises sails off.
Joss Whedon directs the amazing presentation of what all superhuman or Marvel movies in general should be like. The story follows Loki as he continues his mischief by making a deal with an alien known as the Other to capture the Tesseract (a bluish, magical cube that is recognizable in Captain America: The First Avenger) in exchange to unleash the horde of Chitauri on the earth all in Loki’s control. Nick Fury who then becomes aware of the plan must unite a team to prevent the ultimate destruction of the Earth, contacting Tony Stark, Thor, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff (I had the most terrible time trying to remember that), and Clint Barton…well, sort of…

The interaction between them was something that brought something fresh to the genre even though the characters have been in existence for decades; Tom Hiddleston’s representation of Loki gave me Hannibal Lector esque chills, Chris Evans reminded us that Captain America has an internal conflict deeper than Bruce Banner–and speaking of the Hulk–Mark Ruffalo surpassed the expectations of a wannabe Edward Norton and instead created a humble, interesting person who has successfully controlled the monster inside, ready to unleash it when duty calls.

The one thing that kept me planted firmy to the cushion was the barrage of humor and cultural references, something that is rarely seen in such an action-packed and dramatized type of movie, but surprisingly fit in with only a few minor mishaps (such as Loki’s comment at the end which-I-cannot-say-due-to-the-mass-of-people-who-have-not-watched-the-amazing-movie-that-I-cannot-begin-to-proclaim-how-much-they-need-to). Among the action you will begin to see some odd maneuvers and then suddenly realize that they are preforming moves from Ultimate Alliance, which surprized me in more than one way. He’s a gamer and knows exactly what he’s doing.

The Avengers has many jaw-dropping moments throughout the 140 minute motion-picture, but the post-credits scene left me in a paralyzed state of shock. I have read many Marvel comics in my 19 year lifespan and from what was beheld unto me, it left the biggest clue to what the sequel’s plot will revolve around. I would guess that it is in the good hands of Mr. Whedon and perhaps knows how to turn our opinion of sequels in general inside out.

The Avengers

I watched The Avengers. Did you?

Remember The Date

November 6th.
The official date when millions of gamers will squeal with unprecedented happiness. Below is some classified intel on the multiplayer that comes from some-gaming-site-that-I-cannot-access-anymore-and-does-not-belong-to-me-to-prevent-any-kind-of-plaigerism (Halo Waypoint) that we will have to become proficient in for the next generation.

• Weapon Drops

“Traditionally, power weapons spawn at set locations on a map. After looking at what has worked in the past and what we wanted to change for the future, we decided to build a new weapon spawning system from the ground up for Halo 4. Our primary goal was to make the system accessible to both new and returning Halo players, and also to make it fit within the context of Infinity–a massive vessel that is the new home of Halo multiplayer.
Initial weapon drops happen at the beginning of a match. After that, timers are set for when they drop in, and subtle UI elements communicate the time and destination of their impending arrival. Drops will be appropriate for each map; for instance, long-range weapon drops (i.e., sniper rifles) are likely to occur on large maps while close-range weapon drops (i.e., shotguns) are likely to occur on tight quarter maps.

There are two important things to note about weapon drops: you’ll have the ability to customize ordinance in custom games, and not-at-all-random is a more accurate descriptor than random.

• Player Spawn System

Evaluating the average number of living players on a map at a time, how long it takes to see an opponent, how quickly you can get back into action after dying, the length of time you’re dead versus the length of time you’re alive, and overall expected life spans were all things we considered when determining the player spawn system in Halo 4. Ultimately, we opted to give players freedom over this feature.
So, in certain modes (not all), players can control the timing for when they spawn. That means that, when you die, you can choose to spawn immediately, take a short breather to select your loadout, or plan your next strategy based on how the game is going. Objective game types use specially-tuned spawn timers that are designed to suit game length, object respawn times, and scoring.

Just like weapon drops, you’ll be able to tweak (or turn off) these settings in custom games.

• Sprint

The decisions people make in matchmaking give us an invaluable amount of information about both the game and various gameplay elements. The information we gleaned from Reach allowed us to learn a lot of lessons from Armor Abilities. That and the balancing we’ve done within the sandbox led us to make the decision that everyone will have Sprint in Halo 4–meaning you will no longer have to choose between base mobility and an extra ability.
The levels in Halo 4 are designed for this faster mobility. You’re continually driven right back into action, not away from it. You can try to use Sprint to flee combat, but you’re not likely to be successful because everyone else will have it, too, thus ensuring someone will be right on your tail, shooting your back while you attempt to escape, and probably causing your untimely demise.

It’s also worth mentioning that just because everybody has Sprint, base movement is not slow. If you’re familiar with previous Halo games, we looked at the speed and mobility of Halo 3 as the inspiration for Halo 4.

• Forerunner Vision

Forerunner vision, one of the Armor Abilities that will debut in Halo 4, is still being tweaked, so I’m going to keep the details light today. While it’s being described as letting you see through walls, it’s more accurate to refer to it as sonar, where it sweeps out from its origin point to detect surrounding objects.
As with all Armor Abilities, it has tradeoffs: there is a delay before you get the knowledge of where other players are located, situational awareness is affected by the visual treatment of that mode (in its current iteration, it can best be described as shimmery), and other players within the range receive auditory cues when you activate it. So they will know when you’re peeking.

We’ll share more about this Armor Ability, and others, in the months leading up to launch.

• Spartan Ops

One of the biggest changes we’ve made to multiplayer is making story an integral part of the experience. Our new Halo 4 cooperative mode, called Spartan Ops, is an ambitious example of that. If you’re a fan of Firefight, we anticipate you’ll enjoy this objective-based multiplayer mode.
Along with introducing an ongoing CG series that will tell a story over the course of a season, Spartan Ops will also give you the opportunity to play weekly missions that relate to that fiction. This mode will provide an outlet once you complete the Campaign to further the story past the game’s end.

[Spartan Ops is part of the Halo 4 package, not paid DLC.]

Our vision for the Halo 4 multiplayer experience is to continue the tradition of giving you the tools to craft your own custom experience. A lot of these settings can be tweaked, and, right out of the box, you can put the disc in and have the experience you want in system link games, tournaments, etc. Giving players choices, and empowering them to make choices for how they want to play, is a priority for us.”

Halo 4 Theme

Interactable floating debris? Hoo-rah!

       *SPOILER ALERT-SPOILER ALERT-SPOILER ALERT-SPOILER ALERT-SPOILER ALERT*

Also some other information has surfaced on the story elements as well. The Spartan IV program was developed on the UNSC Infinity (from my opinion it was done in that manner after receiving a disstress signal from Forward unto Dawn or from the home planet of the Sangheili after a civil war with a religous sect threatens the peace that the two races established. On their way to the planet they get raided by a squad of enemy ships and crash-land onto the shield world of Requiem where they face a bigger threat than the Sangheili could ever be. <insert Mantle doctrine>)

A Picture Worth A Thousand Gamerscore

Waiting for the debut of Halo 4 can be unnerving for some (Okay, perhaps all of us.) and the amount of info we have been granted to see makes it even worse.
Now, courtesy of leak site AllGamesBeta, our eyes can once again feast on more conceptual screenshots that make us delve into this mystery that Halo 4 has hidden itself behind. The first one shows Master Chief talking to his AI Cortana; a few others gives us some contemporary idea of how the multiplayer will be like with some sweet action shots while the rest show concept art and early game footage.

20120420-100336.jpg

Crisp, clean HUD. Nice.

Forerunner?

Imma' kick ya'...in the butt.

The Covenant is definitely going to appear again; their role: Unknown

It’s absolutely beautiful I must say, the game has some potential to become the best looking Halo anything ever crafted (except when they make Halo 5 for the “Durango”), even though graphics play a large part of the game we seem to be more concerned about how we will play the same. New features are in the talks and some of us are worried. Now don’t get me wrong, we have been playing what is seems like the same game over and over again with new engines and armor pieces (mind that I am excluding Halo: Reach from this), perhaps it would be a good idea to mix things around a bit; not totally stripping it and disregarding the original, but add the new features in (and make it work) to make it feel new and fresh.
343 Industries is doing a heck of a job to give us what we want and many people believe it or not would be absolutely surprised if they messed it up. We have faith in you Frank O’Connor–make us proud.

*Pictures courtesy of AllGamesBeta, EGM, and Google Images.