Friday, July 13, 2012

My 7 Minutes With Halo 4

I bet you’re all waiting for me to talk about Halo 4 since I posted last week that I would get a chance to play it before anyone else.

I think I’ll make you sit on your hands for a little bit longer. :)

Nah I’m not that mean. I spent this past weekend at RTX, an expo for RoosterTeeth fans where “gaming meets the internet.” That’s their tagline. Not mine. You know you’ve made it big when you can have a convention about your business. I remember when RT was just starting out as this crazy little web series for Red vs. Blue. And it wasn’t RoosterTeeth but CockBite. Ok it was still RT but they always joked that it was CB. 10 years later and look at the success if has become. Even Elijah Wood (Frodo himself) jumped into a panel with the RT crew. Madness ensued.

From a convention aspect, these guys really didn’t anticipate their popularity. Even with our special passes, we had to wait in line upwards of 3 hours to get into a panel. And needless to say, if you didn’t line up within that first hour of 3, you weren’t getting in. I think they realized that and next year they’re going to take advantage of the larger rooms. (They were in the smaller section of the convention; the area that not even SXSW uses because it’s tiny. Good call!) As Gus said, 4,000 people seemed smaller on paper. They learned their lesson and I’m sure they had a ton of complaints to make their panel rooms ridiculously large next year.

No convention is complete with a StormTrooper.
Playing a Kinect game of course.

Other than that, it was a fun weekend. The exhibit hall was filled with new, unreleased games from Xbox to PC, and there was still plenty of walking room. There were lines for…everything. Even the RT booth for merchandise had a line that was 1-2 hours long. Seriously. A line to buy stuff. I missed out on getting a Grifball because of that. :/ BTW, if anyone is going to SDCC or Pax East I’ll pay you to buy me a GrifBall from the RT booth. It’s a convention only item. And I want one. They run for $20 and I’ll throw in a 50% finder’s fee. (Someone was kind enough to get me one. Thank you Clement!!!!)

Back on topic, I got a chance to play LoadOut, a third person shooter that looks a lot like Team Fortress. But with more cartoonish violence. And you can shoot off body parts but still keep trucking (I ran around without a head for a good minute while still being able to play). The game is currently in beta test if you’d like to try it out. It’s very much about customizing your weapons and online, multiplayer play. There is no single player campaign.

A kid kept asking us if we were fans of the game. How can you be a fan of something that hasn’t released yet? It may not even come out before 2013. And then they have the “beat the devs and get a cool prize” contest. Sure. People who have never played the game would stand a chance against the developers that work/play this on a daily basis. Needless to say, no one ever won during the weekend.

There was a vintage game booth that had a lot of old stystem…most of them beat up, but hey. They were there! Ataris. Calicovisions. Nostalgia away! They guys at the booth loved my costume so much that they asked me to pose in the “museum”. Ah the good old days.

Of course I went in costume. I may not have any Halo armor, but it was a gaming convention afterall.
Target practice at your favorite RT employees.

And as RT is always about giving back to their fans, one of the surprises of the final panels on Sunday during their podcast recording was they gave out 2 replica weapons (each at $500-$800 apiece) from Gears of War and Mass Effect. Apparently they had a staff member walk down the line talking to people, but I didn’t see that happen, but whatever. Very generous of them. Lots of free stuff to be had during the weekend, and quite possibly the best swag bag ever. Just look at this thing! No plastic BS that you have to lug around all day. It’s a nice bag to sling over your shoulders.

Ok that’s enough stalling. Onto Halo 4 talk.

A number of staff members from 343 were there to facilitate demos and rattle off information. For playing the demo you got a card for free Master Chief armor for your 360 avatar. Freebe for playing. Cool.

The booth was set up for multiplayer matches: first to a set # of kills or highest kill count after 5 minutes wins. Of course the teams were red vs blue (4v4).

On the graphics end of it, it was really shiny. Armor was shiny. Walls were shiny. Floors were shiny. Even the sky was shiny. It was nice not to see so much bloom, but man. Shiny!

Gameplay-wise the controls are what you would come to expect from a Halo game. Anyone who has played will be able to dive right into it without any trouble. But for newcomers there are some slight tweaks to the control setup that will allow you to ease into the game. As for the story, well no clue. We were only able to test out the multiplayer so gameplay and immersion wasn’t really an aspect that I could review. It was a simple “shoot the enemy” demo. Ok then. Shoot the enemy I shall do!

For the Halo fan you’ll notice little bits here and there that look improved, but really it’s the same game we already know. 343 couldn’t reveal too much about the story, just to expect some surprises and that it’s the Halo game that they’ve always wanted to make (didn’t they say that about the last 3 games?). They were looking to improve the multiplayer matchmaking process so that newer players won’t get immediately grouped with those who have experience and have their butts kicked.

While there wasn’t a demo of this, 343 did announce that they are bringing back the Foundry system with creating maps and allowing more customization, ease of use, and variety of content.

And yep…it’s Halo. I mean, I don’t know what to say about it anymore. The multiplayer is everything you already know. I’d love to talk about the story, but they didn’t show us squat. And everyone kept asking about Grifball in Halo 4 at the Grifball Panel. Which would have been fine, however creator’s of the Grifball League (yes there is one) kept saying they didn’t know a thing about Halo 4 other then it looked pretty on the exhibit floor. And yet people kept asking questions! Way to listen fanboys. Go sit down and stop hogging the mic.

I feel like there should be more I should contribute to the post, but there’s really little I can say. So if you are heading to SDCC this weekend, expect to play a multiplayer game that you have been playing for years. That’s your demo. Enjoy it or not. Your call.

I’m going to leave you all with clips of a 4 team match from Halo 4:
(Here's the footage direct from Twitch TV.)

And then this round where an 11 year old girl kicked ass at this round of Mortal Kombat. She claims she never played before, but I think she’s a ringer. :D

Next year I’m making Halo armor in some fashion or another.

Full photo set can be found here.


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