The TBoD Podcast – 89 – Fallout of Halovember

Halovember is over teabaggers and you know what that means… a return to our usual musings and ramblings about games and gaming. This week we’re talking Fallout, Hearthstone, Halo vs Destiny and the everlasting importance of solo gaming expeiriences.

Be sure to give us your thoughts on all of the topics discusses in the usual places as always.

Right Click and hit ‘save link as..’ to download.

The TBoD Podcast – Teabag The Truth – Season 2

We’re back on the Halovember trail, this time we’re belatedly discussing the second season of the hunt the truth saga, be warned this cast is spoilery.

Teabag The Truth Season 2

We’re joined once again by The Woaf to lend his expert analysis over what turned out to be an excellent piece of entertainment and marketing from the minds at 343.

Do let us know what your thoughts on the second season were and what kind of things you think may carry over into the continuation of the Halo saga.

TBoD Extra Points – 7 – Halo 5 Trailers

Halo 5

Good day Tebaggers of Teabagginton, eremenko here. In a break from the regular Q&A format of TBoD exp Quim and I kick back to have a chat about Halo 5 today. We’re talking Hunt the Truth, the two new trailers that were recently released featuring Spartan Locke and the man the legend John-117 the Master Chief Himself.

We don’t talk Halo often because we know so many other casts do it better but since it’s our main gaming squeeze we couldn’t resist. Long Live The Chief.

Audio <—- Right click ‘save link as’ … yadayadayada...

Video – Check out our smiling Halo loving mugs below

The TBoD Podcast – 57 – Wanted, on Xbox Live

Whaddup?

We’re back again to talk the latest gaming news.

This week: starting out with the XBone Zone, we look at the unbundling of Kinect, as well as the Netflix and Hulu Gold requirement being lifted, and Games with Gold – officially no longer shit! Moving on, we talk new Halo news.

Our Indie game this week is beautiful looking The Forest, go check it out.

Right-click here and select ‘Save As’ to download

As ever, get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment below.

Spartans IV hire

ready_spartan_ops_by_giovannimicarelli-d56y8cl

Spartan Ops Season 1.5

In the build up to Halo 4 one of the things that excited me most was Spartan Ops. Something that promised to combine the excitement of multiplayer and the simple thrills of firefight with the deep and immersive story elements of campaign was riviting to a cannon head like myself.

Having been somewhat underwhelmed by the first half of season one, I was beginning to long for ODST’s firefight, but still held tight to the thin glimmer of hope that the return of Palmer, Dalton, Thorne and co would prove to be more engaging and exciting… luckily it was just that.

UNSC_Infinity_SpartanMarsInfinity, underused in the campaign gets shown off to a greater degree here

Despite my misgivings for the first five episodes I still always looked forward to the opening cut scene each week, the beautifully rendered, the short but always impressive bites of story we were treated to were brilliant, not least because of the characters. Thomas Laskey captain of the UNSC Infinity would already be familiar to most of you from the campaign and probably from the live action web series Forward Unto Dawn and for me he was the real star of show here. Palmer however seemed to be a little psychologically unhinged and somewhat unfit to command the legions of Spartan IVs, Infinity AI Roland is a great character and it’s nice to finally see another smart AI other than Cortana getting some screen time, the addition of a couple of characters recognisable from the main story and the extended fiction in Jul M’dama, leader of the covenant splinter faction composed mainly of the ‘Storm Sangheili‘, along with none other than Dr Catherine Halsey only served to further the excitement and the way that story develops through the second set of five episodes and serves to heighten the Spartan Ops experience.

spartan palmerSpartan Plamer, The poster Spartan for crazy

The main thrill of the second half of Spops is the feeling that your characters “Fire Team Crimson” are really making an impact on the story and garnering more respect from the key players in the story of the Forerunner shield world Requiem. Where in the first half it felt as though it was all about Majestic in the latter stages it is Crimson who take center stage. This is good because this bunch of arrogant and annoying Spartans really were starting to get old (with the exception of Thorne), luckily Majestic take a back seat from episode five and onward. As the story plays out the episodes begin to gather pace and it really starts to feel like a Halo campaign rather than a set of boring “go here, press this, defend this, leave” errands, yes there are still elements of that but the maps and the way they are used in the second half, breathe a new life into the beast that is Spartan Ops and finally start to make it look like a worthy successor to FireFight. I won’t go into detail about the missions because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are yet to live out the experience which builds to an unexpected, exciting climax.

imagesThorne, he may have Hollywood looks but he’s got Spartan skills

Playing through with a group on Legendary is already very tough but I can’t help but feel that the addition of a FireFight-esque lives system would hike the tension levels and make the whole thing a little more interesting and challenging, 343 are promising to re-run the episodes though and hopefully this is one of a number of things they could and should add, skulls would be nice, as would a theater mode and having your medals show up as you earn them ala multiplayer and FF would be a nice touch, that said I wouldn’t have too many complaints if they didn’t add any of these features because this method of story enhancement has now proven itself as a more than worthwhile escapade. Plus it was free, all ten episodes of season one for not a penny is a complete bargain.

It’s a smart move from Halo’s new grand overseers at 343 because not only was it an excellent way to increase the games longevity and keep the fanboys happy between map packs, it could also prove to be a nice cash cow in the coming months should they decide to release what would most likely be a pay to play second series. We saw the success that Tell Tale gamesThe Walking Dead‘ game garnered with this kind of episodic content winning praise from all corners, including a game of the year award, this kind of game shows developers exactly what gamers are willing to pay (in time and money) if you put out quality even in small doses.

images (1)“Just let me figure out what you have to do next Crimson”

“Is it push this button?”

“…… Yes”

So what does the future hold for Spartan Ops, well it seems that the overall reception has been positive with most of the folks I have spoken to admitting they would be more than happy to pay up to 1200 Microsoft per season, I don’t think they could quite get away with charging 400 msp per episode without seriously increasing the number of chapters contained in each weekly release but who’s to say they won’t try.

468px-Spartan_OpsLets open a can of whoop-ass Spartans

eremenko

Destiny Awaits

The day is finally here. Since Bungie were forced to release details pertaining to their latest IP Destiny due to a legal issue way back in November, gamers around the globe have been eagerly waiting to see more concrete evidence of the latest title from the creators of the Marathon and Halo franchises today we were treated to just that.

Bungie_-_Destiny_(logo)

Is this your Destiny?

Friday saw a behind closed doors press conference in which Bungie unveiled the latest sci-fi shooter they and publishers Activision hope will take the world by storm, little was known about the project ….. until now. A short five minute vid-doc has been released which shows not only a lot of concept art but also gives us a glimpse at a tiny amount of the games engine. The focus of this short video seems to be to get the idea behind Destiny across and set the community talking about the game. Many of us will be salivating  at the idea of an open world, massively multi-player shooter from a studio already established as game changers in the field, however with Activision now firmly at the helm how will this new offering stack up against our beloved Halo? Well at present it’s hard to Judge it’s difficult in fact to even tell what Destiny is yet. Bungie is calling it a living world, persistent in a way that players of MMoRpgs will be more than familiar with, what they seem to be striving to create here is a World of Warcraft for the CoD generation. This is an idea that both appeals to and terrifies me in equal measure, the current popularity of free to play MMo’s is a little disturbing as it signifies (to me) a movement away from quality stand alone titles to games which are driven by the principle of “pay-to-win” where the more you spend the better you are, now I’m not a penny pincher I’m happy to pay for expansions and special editions should the rewards be significant however I have no desire to splash the cash in order to get a minimal advantage over my friends or opponents. Anyhow back to Destiny.

bungie_thumb

Never forgotten

So the trailer (for want of a better word) opens with some intriguing insight into the future setting of the game, an Earth ravaged by war and brought to the brink of destruction by alien forces thus far unknown. Enough humans have survived (thanks to the appearance of the mysterious giant floating globe known only as “The Traveler“) to found a new city and begin the rebuilding process. This city it seems will be the base of operations for the elite of the survivors (us the players) to go out and re-take what we can of our planet and the others that were once under our control, unfortunately it seems the alien aggressors are wise to our plan and want to make things as difficult as possible for our rag tag bunch of re-claimers.

2377624-bungie2

“The Traveler” Mysterious and massive (nobody say anything about forunners!)

We are treated in the video to a lot of stunning concept art work, a touch of the atmospheric music and even small moments from the game engine. A few soldiers running, some others gathering in the last bastion of humankind, not exactly something you can sink your hungry teeth into true, but given that the title is rumoured to work with both current and next gen consoles, I wouldn’t read too much into that and I would expect that we will be seeing a lot more actually gameplay footage in the coming months. At the moment we are aware that there will be three classes in the game but I get the feeling Bungie are holding out on us here too and extra classes will be unveiled all in good time (hopefully we wont have to pay for each one individually). We are also privy to a couple of quick shots of spacecraft and what appears to be a customization feature for our own space faring vessels. Fair enough this vid-doc doesn’t reveal much we couldn’t have already surmised for ourselves but what it does serve to do is increase excitement levels and makes sure that we haven’t forgotten about our old friends Bungie in the wake of 343’s Halo 4.

– eremenko

Bungie have rightly earned a place among the titans of the gaming world thanks to the consistent quality they have produced over their history, most notably the Halo series, so the hype surrounding their latest title, Destiny, has been more than tangible this last week with a reveal promised and delivered to us this Sunday just gone. So now the info is out there, how does it stack up? Will Bungie preserve a perfect legacy?
du4Ge73
Firstly let me say, for me, the actual trailer for Destiny itself was 85% an anti-climax made up mostly of, albeit very pretty, concept art and ‘this game is going sweet’ talk whilst revealing fuck all. Bit of a fail in my book. The idea sounds cool, an open world shooter does sound pretty epic, the fact it’s set in a post-apocolyptic / sci-fi type of timeline which again I’m sure I will love and the 3 seconds of actual gameplay footage looked pretty nice too. However my bungie fanboy glasses are certainly still in their case, sure the graphics looked great, but also quite familiar in respect that you could spot other franchises such as Star Wars and of course their own Halo as blatant influences,   I guess I was expecting a little more of a radical shift in design style although I’m not sure why.
df51188019f803f7b86fff2c15f7868d
I think George Lucas is gonna sue somebody 
The Traveller concept is probably the most intriguing thing to me, but again sounds almost exactly like a Forerunner type of affair, ultimately from what little I’ve seen I wouldn’t call Destiny a game-changer but more of a game-blender. Personally I expect that much from Bungie that I guess I was bound to be a little let down by the trailer.
Oh one more thing, the whole idea of Destiny content coming on an annual basis, whether you say it’s by choice of Bungie or Activision, ultimately is not beneficial to quality, can anyone say Call of Duty. Sure IGN said that Activision wouldn’t push Bungie for yearly releases but is that reflected in their track record? I’m not saying I think Bungie will become the next Treyarch I just fear it could happen.
original
 In summary I’m not going to judge Destiny until I’ve seen more or even better played a little, so far it looks pretty great, but not the expected amazing. I’m sure future info will prove me wrong but colour me underwhelmed for now, oh and wait for me to eat my words in the future.
– The Quim Ninja

Hey, 343. You’re alright.

After a little over a month’s hiatus I’m now ready to write about Halo 4.  I’ve had plenty of time to fully immerse myself in 343’s franchise debut.  Sip it like a fine glass of Scotch, and inhale it like a finely rolled…cigar…  I’ve also taken in what others have had to say, from the mainstream gaming journalists on high, to my fellow plebeian scribes here in the underverse.

I have chimed in and discussed the game in great detail on my (shameless bump) podcast: PGCR.  In that particular episode I joined my rapier wit, with that of my co-host Evander, laying waste to Halo 4’s campaign in true “Devils Advocacy”.  But as many listeners are aware I simply enjoy frazzling another certain co-host who shall remain un-named but obvious.  So without further delay allow me to offer my true Impressions on Halo 4.

I should start by saying that this is not a review.  I find myself despising game reviews these days finding them more of a smarmy pissing contest, offering plenty of douchey commentary, but little constructive feedback about a game.  And at the end of the day, after the hype is pulled away, and the fanboy giddiness subsides Halo 4 is merely another game.  It’s only fair that I keep this in mind when critiquing any title.

Multiplayer

Leading up to the games release I had always predicted that there would be little to no problems with Halo 4’s multiplayer.  I (along with many community members) collectively agreed that it was time for change, and 343 delivered in a way that couldn’t have been better executed, nor at a better time in the franchises lifeline.

I’ve always been more of a campaign geek, but suffice to say that for the first time since H2 I have been deeply drawn into the online landscape and its various playlists, and modes and keep going back for more.  It still has that classic Halo feel, but it’s almost as though 343 locked Halo, Call of Duty, Crysis, and Battlefield in a honeymoon suite with unlimited champagne and other FPS aphrodisiacs.  Halo 4 is the streamlined love child of these other industry giants, resulting in a refreshed and revitalized online presence.

Spartan Ops:

The new co-operative frag-fest which has kicked the beloved game-mode firefight to the curb like a used up hooker is ironically my biggest disappointment with Halo 4.  Don’t get me wrong, it tells a fairly well delivered story with plenty of intrigue…via the cutscenes.  In game play application it’s little more than a rehash of campaign moments, lightly dotted with some nods to multiplayer, and RVB.

I would have liked to see more diversity in gaming environments.  Requiem is a massive artificial world, so it makes little sense to use copy/paste play-spaces from the campaign.  It feels like a continuation of the campaign, but many of the scenarios play like redundant encounters like:  “flip this switch, or destroy this objective.”  in a cramped arcade-ish locale.  In fact, it kind of contradicts 343’s supposed development formula of not re-using campaign play-spaces in Multiplayer…  Too bad it never carried over to Spartan Ops.  I  can only hope that 343 pour some more creativity and tailor some new and exciting level designs into S-Ops.

Campaign:

Halo 4’s campaign was a roller-coaster ride for a long time fan like myself.  Chock full of shocking revelations, hard truths, honestly emotional twists, and turns.  But like any intense thrill ride, Halo 4 definitely has its ups AND downs.

Take Halo 4’s audio design for example.  Lead composer Neil Davidge has created a lovely soundtrack that stands apart independently from the work of Marty O’Donnell.  Sometimes H4’s musical background is recognizable as Halo, and at times it’s like Mass Effect and Tron had a sexy baby.  (As awkward as that may read.)  But this is a good thing.  The MUSIC, is a triumph.

The sound effects on the other hand are an entirely new “Up and Down” all their own.  The guns primarily sound absolutely succulent.  The warthog on the other-hand is an alienating mess.  When I first hammered down on the Warthog I literally slammed on the brakes as the horrid sound of a late 90’s racing game, or monster truck rally filled my ears.  I can say with confidence that, it there’s one thing I hate about Halo 4, it is the sound of the Warthog.

Even the covenant seem to suffer.  The grunts sound like nasally Steve Urkel ghouls, and without the ever classic “FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW” dialogue they feel odd.  The covies do however play well, and on Heroic or Legendary show their true ravenous and oft devious nature on the battlefield.

The story itself, starts off great, the characters are easily at their best.  The facial animations, and voice acting are top-notch.  I won’t bother going into great detail on Halo 4’s graphical delivery – but suffice to say it is the best looking 360 game I’ve seen since Crysis 2/3.

Where the story really hits snags for me, is gaps that may have been better left void, and newly opened gaps that simply leave me scratching my head.  For instance, let’s just segue right into the new kids on the chief’s galactic block:  The Prometheans.

The story behind them is definitely intriguing, and at the same time tragic.  The terminals do a stellar job (no pun intended) of delivering a juicy new slice of Halo’s Forerunner story which began with Greg Bear’s recent literature.  But fighting them at times felt like a Spray & Pray gong show which turned Halo’s original 30 seconds of fun formula into 4-5 minutes of pure monotonous bullshit.  

Maybe it’s because I (admittedly) have not read Mr. Bear’s series yet, that I am so baffled…if not OVERWHELMED with the flood (pun intended) of information the player gets literally water-boarded with during the campaign, and terminals.

343 did take something away from Halo which I loved, and replaced it with a complex and sometimes baffling saga.  For me, the feeling of humility, and humbling mystery behind the forerunners is what made them so interesting.  A vanished and superior race which created ring-worlds, dyson spheres, and shield worlds, and there was nothing left of them.  We didn’t even know they had six fingers on each hand yet.  (wtf?)

Not knowing, for me was what made Halo so amazing.  And in my opinion, shedding light on all these things so suddenly has taken that mystery, and sense of awe, and replaced it with a sensation akin to:  “Oh.  So that’s what that is…”

It felt…perhaps not “bad”..but after learning all this, the big mystery felt sullied and unfulfilled.  Is it wrong that I’m not compelled to delve into Bear’s series?  A big part of me didn’t want to know every last detail behind the forerunners.

Cortana really did steal the show, the ever lovely Mrs. Taylor really delivering her best material yet in this series.  Her long developed on-mic interaction with Steve Downes was apparent, and pairing them in the same studio was a superb move for 343.  Their performance was epic.

To wrap things up, I can safely say that Halo 4 was a great game.  It is also a firm handshake from 343 ensuring their confidence, and dedication to developing a new and exciting direction for this series.  It simply begs the question:  Where are we headed now?

Bungie’s contributions to Halo are in a league of their own, but 343’s product is solid and obviously is a labor of love.  From here on its their baby.  Let’s all hope they can handle the lil’ tyke because it’s a handful.

-SK1LLZ

The power of 4

Red Guy – “Oh Shit!”

After our too long absence Quim has talked about his enjoyment of the Master Chiefs fourth outing so what I have to say is hardly going to be surprising but since we love Halo so much I thought I’d mutter on about it for a bit.

It’s a mammoth task 343/Certain Affinity have taken on. In attempting to recreate an experience which defined the console multiplayer fps experience, it was never going to be easy. So how close have Microsoft’s in house design company come to taking forth the mantle from Halo’s original creators? Damn close, so close in fact that Bungie would feel the clamy breath of the new wave Spartan IV’s on the back of thier necks, were it not for the Mjolnir armours visor being in the way.

For me this is the stand out new weapon, it was hard to believe any pistol could top the magnum or the plasma but if anything can this is it.

The pace and flow of the game is perfectly measured and all of our fears about ordinance, weapon waypoints and instant respawns were completely unfounded. What 343 have achieved here is nothing short of spectacular dragging the most possible from the 360’s ageing hardware but more importantly making sure Halo once again feels special and different to the other fps offerings out there.

As a Spartan the idea is that you are a super soldier, gun fire, explosions and vehicle warfare hold no fear for you and your mastery over any weapon you lay your armoured hands on. This is the essence of Halo and it shines through once again. The rush you get from scoring multikills, headshots and vehicle takedowns is something that just can’t be matched by other shooters. We’ve played it half to death now and each match is still insanely enjoyable and leaves you gasping for breath and wrestling with the familiar Halo shakes.

New game mode Dominion is certainly the pick of the bunch, taking elements from Battlefields Conquest mode but creating an altogether original monster that creates some really tense and exciting moments.

There are clearly still some teething issues with the matchmaking system and the servers (all of which could probably have been identified and abolished with a brief beta). The strain was way too much on the opening week rendering the multiplayer pretty much unplayable at peak times and more recently problems have been appearing that are at times game breaking, lag, glitches even mini Covies have all been well documented. However all of this can be forgiven because of the love and dedication that has gone into crafting the maps and the game types.

Personally I was never on board with the idea of loadouts and weapon unlocks for Halo as it does detract somewhat from the purity of Spartan combat but I have to say they have implemented them well here. Progress is much slower than it is in some games of this type but that’s to be expected when 343 have worked so hard to maintain the balance of the the previous games in order to make sure no one ever really feels as if they are at a disadvantage simply due to their lack of unlocks. This in itself is testament to the amount of thought that has gone into overhauling a game without destroying it’s core. I don’t think I have come across a single player online who had any problems with the way the game plays the only issues seem to be about the networking. Joining games in progress is never fun especially when you are dropping in so close to the end of a fight but that should mean you get into the game quicker….. it doesn’t work however, the whole matchmaking just seems broken especially when playing in a larger party. Many times we have had to resort to playing custom games which is actually pretty fun, especially game types like hog wars and 8vs8 Griffball which are epic.

All this said weekly playlist updates are working well to keep things fresh thus far and with more game types like griffball and assault on the horizon along with new maps and stacks of forge efforts already kicking about things look good for the future of Halo.

Spartan IV’s ….. they ain’t no Master Chief … but they’ll do.

Also the campaign is pretty damn sweet.

Thanks 343

eremenko