The iconic Halo 3 theme (more specifically the track titled Mjolnir Mix on the Halo 2 soundtrack) is now available as a playable track for Guitar Hero 3 on the Xbox Live Marketplace for the low low price of zero Microsoft Points (or zero dollars). So, if you like the theme (and my wife loves it), you can try it out and see how well you can “play” it yourself in the plastic musical instrument game. Hopefully they’ll add it to Rock Band as well.
Microsoft has announced the Heroic Map Pack for Halo 3, the first pack of multiplayer maps for the hit game. The map pack will cost you when it arrives December 11, 800 Microsoft Points or ten dollars, but if you’re patient enough to wait until Spring, you can get it for free. When the map pack goes free, a new pay map pack will be released, which should create a weird community dynamic between those who have been playing these maps for months and those who just got it, especially as the experienced players buy the second pack.
There are three maps, and here’s the description:
Standoffâ€™s symmetrical valley, with its entrenched bases and fields of boulders is ideal for mid-sized objective and Slayer game types, while Ratâ€™s Nestâ€™s vast, labyrinthine passages bring something new to the â€œHaloâ€ multiplayer experience: an indoor vehicle paradise, strongly influenced by the Campaign mode, ideal for big team battles. Finally, Foundry is the ultimate Forge map â€“ players can edit every single object in this voluminous industrial warehouse, place stairways, walls, bridges and tunnels to create an entirely new play space and build almost any kind of map they can think of.
The image above, as well as the two below, are provided by Microsoft. Click them and you can see on Zooomr the original 14-megapixel screenshots.
Proposing marriage is hard. I mean, it’s been done to death for so many years and by so many people, and you want to be original and romantic, that deciding on a method of proposing can be tough. One Halo 3 player decided that the best way to do so with his girlfriend of two years, also a Halo player, was to propose in the game itself.
Thanks to the Forge map editor, you can place objects on a map and then hold matches in your custom map. Moviesign set up a large weapons cache in the shape of “MARRY ME?” and led girlfriend furtive penguin to the spot, promising a powerful weapon was waiting there. Oh, there were weapons, but I think she was more than a bit surprised.
Me and the missus, we dated for over four years, so I proposed to her in a more traditional romantic way, showing up at her doorstep with flowers, champagne and the ring. I figured that she had been waiting so long that if I surprised her, she might have a heart attack, and I think I was right, since even as is she was overwhelmed. Guess I picked the right gal.
Halo players, there’s a special treat for you today in honor of Halloween. A new game type, called Infection, is available only today on Xbox Live through 3 am. In Infection, players are either humans or zombies, and whenever a human is killed, he becomes a member of the Zombie team. Check it out, because they’re not sure when or if they’ll bring it back (and it counts as a ranked game).
There’s even a variant where the zombies are a bit slower, but invisible, and another where the humans have very limited ammo and are destined to fail under the zombie onslaught.
There have been reports recently that October movie theater revenue is down 27%, and the movie industry is blaming Halo 3, Microsoft’s mega successful Xbox 360 title. On the other hand, BBSpot, a parody news website, has Microsoft “blaming” the movie industry for Halo’s high sales, saying higher ticket prices and a lack of originality forced consumers to put their money into the end of the Halo trilogy.
What’s the likely reason people are choosing Halo over films? Besides the fact that Halo has a huge fanbase, Hollywood most certainly is at fault. The fall season is always the dumping ground for bad films, with September starting the parade of crap, all the way through December, when a few Oscar-worthy films that no one wants to see are dropped into a small number of theatres.
While the entire world is loading up the fall season with their new products, new TV shows, new video games, new gadgets and such, the movie industry isn’t even trying to compete. When the biggest buzz is built, Hollywood stays on the sidelines, and they wonder why their customers become someone else’s customers. The holiday video game season is going to eat the movie industry for lunch in the coming years, and erode their customer base in ways that are going to ravage the bottom line.
The average movie ticket price is 50% higher than it was 12 years ago, while video games have cost $50 through most of that period. Some games are now $60, but used games are available, game prices plummet over time, you don’t have to buy a new game for every player and you get to keep the game, all things the movie industry lacks.
Transformers, the top DVD of the year, made in its first day on sale close to $100 million in sales, forty million dollars more than the top single day for any movie in theatres, despite costing more. People want to own movies, not pay to see them once in an uncomfortable seat in a dirty room with loud idiots sitting around them. If movies were sold more like video games, and targetted the holiday season better, they might actually have a shot, but for now, Halo deserved to win, and that’s fine with me.
Amazon.com has the Legendary Edition of Halo 3 (complete with Master Cheif helmet and many disks of extra material) for $110, twenty dollars off retail. If you’ve been looking to get this, here’s how you save a few bucks. The deal supposedly ends at midnight, so jump on it.
The Halo 3 soundtrack has been announced, and it is coming November 20. Amazon has revealed it will be selling the game for the nicely low price of $12.99 for a 2-disk set, performed by a full orchestra. Considering that all day yesterday as I played Halo 3, my wife kept talking about how amazing the music was, I pretty much have to get this thing.
So, turns out this Halo 3 thing can move some units. Who knew?
Yeah, Halo 3 sales have been nice, as expected (and possible better than expected), so here’s what we know:
Estimates are that Halo 3 sold 2.48 million units on its first day, totalling $170 million in money earned. It is believed that translates to 1.6 million copies of the $60 standard edition, 694,000 copies of the $70 Limited Edition and 187,000 copies of the $130 Legendary Edition. Expect going forward, most sales to be of the cheaper edition, as the people apt to drop extra money on this game got theirs on day one.
Go on eBay if you want to buy the Legendary Edition’s bonus materials without the game.
Total sales for the first week were $300 million, giving Halo 3 the most profitable first day in the history of all media releases, as well as the most profitable first week. Sales of the Xbox 360 console itself doubled the week the game was released (to about 277,000), a nice jump that helps Micrososft further extend its lead on Sony.
In Australia, 70,000 copies of the game were sold in the first week, 50,000 sold on launch day.
Halo 3 was actually number one in Japan its first week, selling a respectable 58,672 copies in that country, better than any other game. Looks like the few people who actually bought the console in that country knew it was worth picking up the big game as well. Microsoft also sold a lot of new 360s, about 11,000.
Apparently, you get to unlock different armor for your character through certain in-game achievements, decking out your character however you’d like, if you unlock the cool stuff. This website has an armor generator you can use to see all the combinations, like this one:
To get everything you see there, you’d have to earn 1000 Gamerscore in Halo 3, unlock the “Mongoose Mowdown” Achievement for splatter an enemy with a Mongoose in a ranked free for all playlist, complete The Ark level on Legendary and collect 5 gold skulls.
Finally, in big news, Microsoft announced it was splitting off Bungie, the developers of all the Halo games, as an independant company. Microsoft was setting Bungie free, despite its success, because if it kept Bungie and made them make Halo games into eternity, the most talented employees would have just left, so Microsoft unleashed them instead.
Microsoft owns Halo, Bungie gets to make whatever games it chooses. Bungie will partner with Microsoft (and Microsoft still owns an equity stake), so you can be assured that almost anything they make will be on the Xbox 360, though not necessarily exclusively.
Just shy of eight hours, I finished playing Halo 3. I took some breaks, taking ten hours for my eight hours of gameplay, but mostly I played it as straight as I could, and the whole game was completely worth it.
All in all, Halo 3 was a fitting end to the trilogy. More movie than game in some ways, the story, the cinematics, the characters, the dialogue are all the star of this game. The graphics, while spectacular, are not what you will be talking about later.
All through the last third of the game, I kept feeling that it could have ended, and when it didn’t, I was sort of dissapointed that I still wasn’t finished. And yet, as soon as I reached the end of the next story part, that dissapointed was turned into amazement, as the story sucked me right back in and made me realize that I just wanted to see more.
How does it end? Obviously, that’s a SPOILER, so if you don’t want to know, get the hell out of here.
If you want a comprehensive description of the story, Wikipedia’s got you covered. If you’re a regular reader of this blog and not a Halo player, and you just want the short version so you understand what’s going on, here goes:
Halo, the titular word, refers to a space installation that murders everything in the galaxy, in order to prevent the spread of the Flood, a parasitic infection. Similar to cutting out a tumor, except in this case, to prevent the cancer, you shoot the patient in the head. Naturally, this is bad, so in the first two games, the hero, known as Master Chief, fights to prevent Halo from being activated.
In Halo 3, the Covenant, an alliance of alien races that has a religious tradition to activate Halo, discovers a portal on Earth that leads to the Ark, an installation outside the galaxy, where Halo can be activated remotely, killing everyone in the galaxy except those in the Ark. It’s a lot like Noah’s Ark in that sense. Master Chief, along with allies who have defected from the Covenant, and even the Flood itself, fight and ultimately prevent Halo from being activated.
At this point, the Flood infection is mostly contained at the Ark itself, and they discover that the Ark installation has built a new Halo ring, to replace the one destroyed in the first Halo game. The heroes realize that they can activate this new Halo and it will wipe out the Flood and destroy the Ark, but it will not kill anyone in the galaxy, since the Ark is outside the galaxy.
They activate Halo, and before it does its thing, they attempt to escape back through the portal to Earth, thus surviving Halo while the Flood dies. Turns out that the activation of Halo messes with the ship as it is halfway through the portal, cutting the ship in half, with the front half making it back to Earth and the back half being stranded, years away from any civilization, in the dead of space.
Master Chief is stranded on this broken ship. On Earth, they hold a memorial for him, believing him to be dead. In space, he goes into suspended animation, content to wait until someone finds him. If you don’t sit through the credits and watch the scene after the credits, you never learn this.
If you complete the game on Legendary, the hardest difficulty, you see an expanded version of the scene, where we see that the ship is drifting towards a planet with life on it.
And here’s the last three minutes you’d see if you were on Legendary (the last thirty seconds are the only exclusive footage):
Is this game worth it? Without having touched multiplayer, or the map editor, or the saved videos, or the community features, or really played co-op, I’d still say it’s worth $60. If you think I’m only half right, well, add the half of the game I haven’t touched and its still worth your money. Of course you should buy it, it’s Halo, and it’s worth playing if only for that.
If you want an entertaining game, a uniquely exciting and fulfilling experience, you should pick this up. Even if it isn’t the greatest game ever, there is no experience like it in any game on any console, making it a worthwhile addition to any collection.
Holy, holy, holy cow. I’m up to what I am certain is the final, climactic battle. The cutscene leading into this could be the most powerful in any video game I’ve ever seen. The sacrifice the two were going to make. The shock of failure. The shock of the new alliance.
I can’t explain how much I am getting into the story. It’s really coming together beautifully.
An hour later, the game still isn’t over. That wasn’t the ending, it just felt like it. I can’t believe that whatever winds up being the ending, it beats what happened with the Prophet of Truth on the Ark.
Where are we? (SPOILERS, maybe) We’re inside the portal, or outside the galaxy, or something, working our way to stop the Prophet of Truth, along with old friends like The Arbiter and Spark. I’m getting way too much enjoyment out of the Gravity Hammer.
At the end of this hour, I reach the climax. More on that in the next post.
Master Chief woke up on the surface of the planet. Cortana is flashing in every once in a while. You fought your way out of the jungle, now we’ve got to get out of a military base. I’m presently working on evacuating a barracks.
Also, the Xbox 360 is very loud and YOU CAN DETACH TURRETS!
Seeing Master Chief in third person is very cool, though he’s slow carrying the turret.
Wife’s home. She better not try to stop me.
Thank god for those little indicators that show you the way if you stand around too long.
Gotta wait around, listen to those conversations some characters are having as you walk into a room.
I don’t like that I walked into an elevator holding one weapon, then when I exited it in the next level I had a different weapon.
Here we go, Warthogs!
Don’t worry, I know how to drive one of these.
Guys must have seen the bad driving in the last game.
The Warthog turret seems more capable this time. The other ships, when you shoot them, explode nicely.
Verdict: He doesn’t drive much better.
Driving the Warthog myself? Much smoother and easier than the last game.
I love how when you arrive in some areas, the marines get excited to see you and start cheering.
I just died for the first time. Got run over by a tank.
Almost two hours in, and they finally use music that reminds me of Halo 2. That’s how subtle and complex the music is.
Instead of shooting the enemy ships until they explode, you can just shoot the guy driving it. That makes sense.
Looks like my driver died. He sucked anyway.
Rule 1: Driving off cliffs is bad. Rule 2: Master Chief screams like a girl when he drives off a cliff. That’s two deaths.
On the plus side, the driver didn’t flip the Warthog and die this time around.
Driver wasn’t getting me a good angle to destroy a tank, so I’m doing it on foot.
Looks like that wasn’t the greatest idea. I lost my ride.
Hooked me right from the befinning, with the music actually making me nervous with anticipation. Love the animation behind the menu screen.
God, even the loading animation is cool.
The game starts up with a pretty amazing-looking animation with Cortana talking about the Chief, showing the soldiers locating him. The plot is dramatic, right from the start, with tension and some humor.
The lighting is so bright, out in the jungles during the day. Also, you really feel like you are wearing a helmet, with the visor curving around your vision. It’s really amazing.
Rather then just assaulting you with dramatic music at pre-determined times, the game is creating tension with the audio right up front, pumping a little bass and very, very low music. You feel fear, or at least anticipation.
It’s strange, running around with the Arbiter, hearing him conduct conversations with the other soldiers. There’s a lot of plot going on, if you pay attention. Unlike the previous games, you know exactly why everything is happening, as the events clearly unfold around you.
The enemy has personality. At times, the battle feels like war, not just running and shooting in a typical video game. The enemy has tactics. You know why he’s using them.
The first time you enter a bubble shield, it’s almost hypnotic. I love seeing flies in the air. It lends so much atmosphere.
I love how the Arbiter keeps taking the high ground, while infantry takes the low path.
Wow, I love the Gravity Hammer. Screw the Energy Sword, I’m sticking with this thing.
The marines really have personality.
Everything feels bigger, more real.
There are mice crawling around the base! You can’t shoot them (I tried).
Just had a swarm of enemies enter an enclosed space. The bodies don’t fade away, leaving a huge pile after they’ve been wiped out. Wow.
Halo 3 just arrived from Microsoft, after a curious two-week delay was quickly resolved, and I am resolving to finish the game, hopefully without any interruption. WIth any luck, I’m told it can take 8-12 hours, though I will be breaking once per hour to post here about my progress and write a regular blog post.
Oh, boy, am I excited. I had to hook up all 5.1 speakers, hook back up the Xbox 360 (it was all packed away from a bachelor party I took it to over the weekend), ready my environment (popcorn and soda) and plug in the rechargeable batteries so there won’t be any unnecessary interruptions.
First impressions: Manual looks nice, high quality printing. Big, seperate controls diagram, so you know the buttons? Very convenient. Time to hop in…
The Xbox.com forums has a guide for looking inside your new Xbox 360 console with a flashlight to see if you’ve been blessed with the newer, stable-er, cooler “Falcon” Xbox 360s with 65-nanometer chips. They’ve got instructions and photos, so if you’ve just bought a console, this is how you find out if you’ve won the lucky lottery.
For the moment, it seems that the only consoles confirmed with the new Falcon chips are Halo Edition 360s, but as inventory cycles out, all new consoles should have it. At the least, you can look inside to tell the rest of the forums what’s in the new boxes.
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)
Microsoft sponsored the number 40 car driven by David Stremme at the Dover 400, giving it a nice Halo 3 paint scheme. Problem is, the car suffered mechanical failure, blowing its engine on the 306th lap, something that’s happened six times this year to Stremme. Meanwhile, the Wii car almost won the race, finishing second.
At least Halo 3 itself was successful, but you have to appreciate the irony. Something Xbox 360-related suffering mechanical failure? Who’s shocked?