Please 343. Don’t *BLAM!* up my Halo.

So, here we are less than two-weeks until Halo 4 hits store shelves like a crisp pimp slap with baby powder.  It’s been five long years since we last linked up with Spartan 117 and delivered our collective teabags to those split chin sons of bitches, the covenant.

Now, before we get any further cat’s and kitties – I must illustrate that I came into this series as not only a Halo fan, but a Bungie fan.  Bungie was not only the forefather of Halo, but also a slew of other games I had truly enjoyed beforehand, especially Myth.

I watched as this small studio came into their own, and nearly needed a new pair of pants when I saw the initial gameplay demos of Halo from Macworld ’99.  Nobody had ever seen anything like it, and it was an ambitious, and revolutionary spin on shooters.  With half joy, half trepidation I witnessed Bungie lock hands with Bill Gates & Co, and perhaps subsequently lose their innocence as a studio.

By the time Halo 2 hit shelves, and I had burned an entire week of college saving the known universe – it became abundantly clear that Bungie’s amalgamation into Microsoft did not come without it’s pains and pressures.  Missing/broken features like a fragmented story, graphics pops, and most annoyingly a non-functional online co-op option – were telltale signs that they did not have the luxury of putting the time into developing it, as they would have liked.  They even came out and illustrated how difficult it was to finish the game with Microsoft breathing down their necks from concept to crunch time.

I was overjoyed when Bungie reclaimed their independence as a studio, but also grief-stricken to learn that it came at such a heavy price.  In securing their freedom, they had to sacrifice their greatest creation.  Now, with 343 Industries, MGS has constructed a “dream team” Halo studio complete with familiar faces from Bungie, and fresh faces to bring a new level of passion, and dedication to the series…  Or so they say.  From some of the tom-foolery with Halo Legends, and the over-saturation of Halo merchandise these new wardens seem like some kids who stole their dad’s shiny new Porsche. And I’m afraid they’re going to eventually wrap it around a light post.  Or maybe 343 is more like Icarus, and as Halo 4 draws ever closer so to does their proximity to the sun.

My new found compatriot here at TBOD: Eremenko has already written a reassuring post which details that “behind the wheel” Halo 4 PLAYS great.  That brings a sigh of relief.  My fear, and concerns however, pertain specifically with the story.  For me, Halo’s story, and universe is what really pulled me into the series.  It was, and still is the perfect amalgamation of my favorite Sci-Fi elements, with a healthy helping of originality to make it stand out, and resonate with me in a way no other series has.

Without key players like Joe Staten, the Mclees, and others I’m afraid that in trying so hard to make Halo 4 awesome, and pay homage to the true forerunners of Halo, that this brash young studio will accidentally drop the bottle of win-sauce into the simmering pot that is this entire franchise.

Time will only tell, and with 12 days until H4 makes landfall, I’ve got the jitters like a green ODST on his first drop.  Am I merely a rampant old bastard with irrational and misplaced fears?  Chime in, and leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter, and PLEASE talk me down from this.




11 thoughts on “Please 343. Don’t *BLAM!* up my Halo.

  1. I quess there is no chance but wait until we experience the game when it comes out. There has been a lot of impressions from players wich have been lucky enough to get their hands on Halo 4. Impressions have been mostly positive. But there is just too many new things and only time will answer.

    But about the story. That is actually thing i am not afraid of. 343i is claiming they are trying to conect all the halo media in one ultimate Halo story. And u know what? They are doing it. They not only greatly expanded universe with Greg Bear´s Forerunner trilogy, but they are tying it together with all the existing fiction. How long have we been waiting for other members of Blue team to come on the scene ? Fred already made it in the FUD series. It is only a small blink, but jet very pleasing one. Another nice example is Lasky. We get to know him closer from FUD, and then his role in Halo 4 is gonna have much more impact for players.

    It just all nicely comes together, everything makes sense. It is not like i am all posittive about what is 343 doing, but somewhere deep, i feel that they gonna nail it and bring another 10 great years for us, halo fans.

    Sorry about my english 🙂

    Your listener Hemlax from Slovakia.

    • Hey, thanks for listening/reading!

      You *and others in this thread* raise a good point about how 343 is integrating the expanded fiction with the games, and that is indeed awesome. I like to play devils advocate.

  2. I have to say you are entitled to your opinion, but I’m personally getting a bit tired of articles like these. So many people are expecting 343i to fail in one aspect or another that it is now nearly impossible for them to have success in those individuals’ eyes. Please reserve judgment until November 6th. Give them the benefit of the doubt and be happy to return to the universe we’ve all loved for the last 11 years. If, after playing the game, you’re still disappointed, you can rant all you like, but until then, please stop looking for things to worry or complain about. Let’s all just be excited together.

    • I never said I’m not excited. In fact, I think this post was fueled by my excitement for Halo 4. And some of my peers from the community have indicated I need to get up to speed with the more recent books – (I haven’t read the Bear books, nor Karens). I think it’s only natural have the spidey sense tingling a mere week prior to launch.

      Don’t get me wrong. I like *most* of what 343 has produced. I like them. I truly want them to succeed. I want to see them not only carry the torch Bungie passed to them, but Frankie & the crew to set the industry on fire with it like their predecessor.

  3. SK1LLZ!

    I understand your concerns. It is with a mix of excitement and trepidation that we ‘Old Schoolers’ face our first ever Full numbered Halo sequel that is not helmed by Bungie.

    I’m with Hemlax on the Stroy front though. It’s one area where 343 has already proved itself in my mind. Both the Greg Bear and Karen Traviss novels have confidently moved on with the extended fiction that embraces Halo’s past while forging ahead in bold new directions. We got a nod to Linda 058 in Halo CEA and a deeper understanding of Keyes, Spark, the Flood and Covenant AI’s from it’s terminals. We had a brief glimpse of Fred 104 in Forward Unto Dawn and Chief talking to Kelly 087 on the Radio at Corbulo Academy of Military Science.

    From the view of a Hardcore story nut… we’re safe. On the flipside I also feel that people who are less familiar with the fiction are being thought about to. All the nods I’ve mentioned are very ‘Take or Leave’. It doesn’t stop you enjoying the story if you don’t know who Fred is when you see him in Forward Unto Dawn. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t know what a Spartan is!

    So all in all, Storywise… I’m confident.

    I’m also lucky enough to have had a taste of multiplayer Halo 4 and that was delicious. It’s Halo. Somehow, magically I really felt that!

    The thing I’m waiting to see is if anyone other than Bungie can create the totally Immersive emergent, cunning and deeply satisfying Campaign AI that addicts me…

    My all to brief time with Spartan Ops is yet to convince me but EVERYTHING else that 343 have done fills me with confidence.

    Roll on Nov 6! I can’t wait to find out!

    9 DAYS!!!!!


  4. Yes, Halo Legends was a bit odd. But I think that’s what you get when Japanese studios play around in an American story. I liked some of Halo Legends, I didn’t like some, but overall I think it did ok.

    But look beyond Legends to two things:

    1. Halo Evolutions. Most of the stories in Evolutions came from the people who are making Halo 4. And they were excellent. This book, to me, what the first thing that said 343i gets it and knows what it is doing.

    2. 343i is doing something that Bungie never really did. They are trying hard to interconnect the series. Starting with Legends and Evolutions and running all the way through the Forerunner Saga novels and Karen Traviss novels to Forward Unto Dawn to Halo 4 we are getting a mostly consistent and meaningful connection between the game and all its supporting content. Halo 1, 2, 3, ODST, and Reach barely even admitted the external material existed. Especially Reach which pretty much ignored an entire book! Even the Mantis, which seems very strange to me, has connections to the extended fiction. Based on the concept art it was originally going to be the power suit from Halo Legends. I guess the concept didn’t quite work in game or something, but the fact that they went that far out of their way to connect things makes me hopeful for Halo 4 and the future.

    I can’t wait to play Halo 4 and see if they’re able to pull it off. They may stumble, but part of me thinks they may bring together all the elements of a Halo game BETTER than Bungie ever did. Actually touching on the implications of Cortana unraveling was something that should have been in Halo 3 but was mostly ignored. Looking more in depth into the Forerunners was barely in Bungie Halo games. Same with the Covenant. I hope Halo 4 is a success, for the game’s sake of course, but also because if it is we will likely get another entire round of awesome books and videos and who knows what.

    Bungie is a great studio. Like you I know them from Myth, and Oni, and Halo. I can’t wait for Destiny, but I always wished they’d go deeper into Halo and they never really did. Based on all the above I am hopeful that 343i can do better.

    • I think that at it’s core – 343i understands the responsibility they have by moving the storytelling forward, and evolving it. From what I’m reading in the comments I’m coming down from this sketchy: “OMFG trip” and back down to the giddy fanboy level.

  5. I really did not think halo legends was all that bad. There were a few that were wierd, but none that I couldn’t tolerate. Besides that was a japanese spin on halo not really a 343 industries spin.

    When I first heard of bungie’s seperation I was worried as you are now. But after Halo CEA my fears left (for the most part). There is still a slight chance that halo 4 ends up to be a hollywood type of storyline with no real depth, but I doubt it. And the forerunner trilogy and the hce terminals were great so the story is doing well so far.

    Something that does bother me quite a bit is the amount of game spoilers that 343 industries has been spilling. One of the trailers for halo 4 was 30 mins long. And most of us already know who the enemies in the game are going to be. Not because we assume from what we read from the books but because they told us. I wish they would have kept it a mystery. This game is very anticipated (at least I think it is). They do not need to tell us what happens for us to buy it. And bungie never released major game spoilers like that.

    I am also very worried about the music. I’ve heard only a few songs on youtube and they did not seem to live up to the music of Marty O’Donnell. It was not hip-hop thankfully, but it was very bland in my opinion. I also heard of DJ SKEEZ or something like that also working on remixing the halo music. I hope those remixes are only on the album and not the actual game.

    Happy gaming! Hope all of our worries dissapear after halo 4!

  6. Hey Sk1lls. Welcome to the team. Really good read this. I can totally understand where you are coming from here I was initially devastated by the news that Bungie would not be holding the reins for this installment but over time 343 have won me over with the love they have shown to the franchise. With Frankie at the helm the team seem to be creating something that will continue to delight in terms of gameplay whilst at the same time providing something a little more meaty in terms of cannon for us fiction heads.
    From the small amount of time I had hands on with the multiplayer it seems that Bungie are gone but not forgotten.

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