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Halo 4 Play Event, Bryant Park Hotel, 25 April 2012

Mig's TakeClaude's writeup about last week's Halo 4 MP event is here

Halo 4 Game Night, Bryant Park Hotel

...and I definitely suggest you read his first before you read mine. You should actually read these two articles by the mainstream press as well.

New York Daily News: Halo 4 Preview
Gamespot: How 343 Is Reinventing Halo

They all provide important details about what has been shown, where things are going, etc. I thought I'd provide a more macro view of things, which is a little self-defeating since it will be stated over and over again that what I got to play with was far from finished. Still, I think that macro view is kinda missing.

It was damn exciting to be there, and I give utmost thanks to Frankie, Alison and all the folks at 343i/Microsoft and Edelman who put this shindig together and then decided it was OK to invite little ol' me. Also cool to have Claude and Chris from TSL to hang with as well. It helped to have fellow veterans to share insights with. It was of course very unusual to be surrounded with top NFL draft picks. When I told a friend about who I was hanging out with he said not to worry if you pounded him on the virtual battlefield, the guy just signed a multi-million dollar deal - he'll get over it! It was just so much fun.

Early on I asked Frankie what we could divulge about event and he, paraphrasing, said "Write whatever you want. Just be honest."

And so I will be.

Folks, can we finally put this damn thing to bed and acknowledge that 343i is not Bungie? Hell, was the Bungie of 2003 the same as the Bungie of 2008? We've reached a point where Halo is like anime's Lupin. A property that other's can re-create with their own ambitious vision. Notice that there's no judgement passed in the previous statements. That is up to you to deduce for yourself when you get to buy/demo/sample the game when it's released in a few months.

If you're a Halo fan beyond the games then there should be nothing shocking about the previous paragraph. We've already seen re-interpretations of Halo through the eyes of different programmers, novelists, artists, etc. And yet the forums and comment sections are overflowing with teeth-gnashing over how this ain't going to be no Halo we're used to.

Well, I think that's very true now after playing it for a few hours.

I started off slow when I picked up the sticks and jumped into a MP game. Everything is just different. The graphics are crisper, the sounds are different, the movement is 'off'. It doesn't help that due to my carpal tunnel problems I haven't played a serious game of MP in a while, but hey, I've been playing the damn game for over 10 years, so cut me some slack - I'm no n00b.

But as I told Claude, by the time I was 3 games in I was comfortable. The game was Halo and no matter all the enhancements, changes, etc., it had a familiar feel to it. But here's the thing, all of you are going to have the same initial reaction. It's just *different*. Grenades bounce different. Explosion radii seems to be different. The DMR feels like the BFG (once you master it) you never saw in Halo before. Can the beta aspect of the game I played complicate things? Of course. I confirmed that the build we were playing was really from about 2-3 months ago, and even the first level of the campaign that we got to see is much more polished now at the studio. But beta or not, you can still tell the direction the game is going and it is a *doozy* of a change. Remember when you first saw MW2 and the snow level? The ice picks? Think that - exactly that - in campaign. To call back another game experience... remember when you first saw the Doom 3 previews? It was that much of a shift from the previous games - in a good way! But then seeing Cortana now pull up holo-screens to monitor the Chief? That's a bit of a slap in how things have been depicted before. And it proves that you *have* to be willing to accept that things are going to change. Ergo those two articles I referenced at the beginning.

So that's really it. There's not much more to say. Hopefully you'll get a chance to play a more current version of the game at E3 and PAX and can let us all know how it feels to you. But what I would implore is to just accept that it's going to be different.

After all, it's just a game. :-)

- M