Review: Halo Reach

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Everyone might know how many of the battles in WW2 ended, but that didn’t matter to gamers seeing it through the lens of countless RTS titles re-enacting famous confrontations to the glut of first-person shooters taking them to the beaches of Europe and the Pacific. The same can also be said for the story behind the prequel of Halo: Reach – at least to the fans that read the books.

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Bungie and Activision: The Alliance

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Do you hear that? If you listen very closely, it’s the sound of Bobby Kotick rubbing his hands together with glee.

Halo developer, Bungie, has announced via its blog that they’ve just signed a ten year alliance with Activision. It might not be as astounding to some as the NFL’s deal with EA over Madden, but to Halo fans, it’s just as huge.

It’s certainly a bold step considering the exodus bleeding Infinity Ward’s ranks at the moment, but the announcement makes it sound as if they will remain as independent as they are by making it clear that they will own their own IPs. There’s also no mention of Activision buying a stake in the development house, although the announcement did also mention that there were undisclosed terms.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the details were hammered out over seeing what is going on with Infinity Ward, but there you have it. Halo’s developers have found a new port for their fleet of ideas to depart from. The next few years will tell us the rest of the story.

UPDATED: Kotaku has the scoop on just what Bungie has planned with Activision and not surprisingly, leaves us wanting for more. Some highlights:

  • brand new IP will be an action game set in a new universe
  • will leverage their experience with Halo, but the game won’t be based on any of their past properties
  • Bungie’s alliance with Activision will allow them to reach multiple platforms
  • probably won’t hear anything on just what the game will be about or what genre it will take place in until AFTER 2010. Ouch.

Kotaku also has a few other speculative guesses, one of which suggests that Bungie’s next big thing might have a subscription. Activision acknowledges that an online component “should be expected to be a big part of their next game.”.

Bungie’s work with Halo Waypoint had given their fans a closer connection to Halo’s world, so their next game may already have something similar planned to bring players closer together, or in how they intend to share content, short of making it an MMO.

Let the waiting begin.

Xbox Live online support ending for Xbox originals

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“Originals” as in the games that were made for the first Xbox according to this open letter from Xbox Live’s general manager, Marc Whitten. From the announcement, it sounds like this is being done in order to pave the way for more positive changes in moving forward with Xbox Live as a whole on the Xbox 360 and those changes simply weren’t compatible with what was leftover from the old Xbox.

You’ll still be able to play a majority of your old Xbox games on the Xbox 360, but forget about any multiplayer support that you might have enjoyed with them particularly if you’re still hooked on Halo 2. On April 15th, it all ends, so get in as many of those online match ups as you can with your favorite classics before it’s over.

And as big as Halo 2 is, Bungie’s also planning to mourn the passing of an era in their own way with plenty of gaming goodness on April 14th, so be sure to keep an eye on their site for the latest news on how that’s going to go down.

Halo ODST unexpectedly shows up on the internets…

I just caught this browsing around on the ‘net for news and can only think that 2009 is turning out to be the Year of the Leaked Game.

Halo ODST is a standalone expansion to the Halo series casting the player as an ODST trooper sent in to back up Master Chief with their own mission. The leak was already reported earlier as having come from France with Microsoft making the magnanimous decision NOT to ban early recruits, especially when they claimed that only about a hundred copies had actually gone out.

You can catch some of the footage below (which is all in French with English subs). It probably goes without saying that if you don’t want to be spoiled before the September 22nd release date, don’t watch it.

But now it looks like there’s an actual distro out on the ‘net as reported by several sites such as fan-based halo.bungie.org. It was only a matter of time before this happened, but you can bet that Microsoft won’t be looking at this particular incident in the same way as the accidental release of legit copies above.

Review: Halo Wars

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Ensemble Studios helped to lead the RTS revolution since their first game, Age of Empires, in 1997, and the following entries into the series would continue transforming the often arcane rules of tactical warfare into a language that spoke to every level of player with a healthy dose of history. It would become one of the most influential approaches to the genre in recent times. Unfortunately, history also tends to repeat itself in the worst way possible.
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