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Halo 3 PUBLIC free preview: IMAX screen, Seattle Pacific Science Center, August 21

D3VI0US

Member
Aug 19, 2005
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You jerks, shoulda made em squirm! I mean Ghaleon isn't gonna be posting until tomorrow late night. A missed opportunity fellas.

EDIT: Shoulda posted this before I made a sammitch!
 

GhaleonEB

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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One advantage of having a two and a half hour drive home is I had plenty of time to organize my thoughts. Whether I am too tired to actually translate that into coherent sentences has yet to be seen.

Travel and Audience (Skip to next section if you just want to read about what they showed.)

I'm in St. Helens, Oregon which makes for a pretty meaty drive to Seattle. But I'd stocked up on munchies and caffeinated beverages and a stack of CDs, and was able to blaze there in two and a half hours flat. I went a bit faster at the end because all those beverages wanted very much to bid me farewell after a couple hours, but I wasn't about to stop until I got there.

I arrived around 9:00 headed over to the back of the line - which was simply epic. It ran for a good 200 feet or so, three wide. I give Luke a call on cell and he directs me to a delightful young woman who hands me my Golden Ticket. I am pleased that the crowd did not tear me limb from limb as I step in through the front entrance just as they let people in.

We waited about 45 minutes in the hall outside the theater, and it was a party atmosphere. Two guys had paper signs around their necks that said, "Please help, my 360 RROD". The guy in front of me had a Mister Chief t-shirt on, the one behind one that said "I see dead people", and featured a Spartan holding a rocket launcher while looking at four player indicators with red X's under them. A boisterous round guy had brought in a couple cases of Game Fuel and was handing out cans to thirsty fans (I spotted someone from Bungie sign the case while in line - cool). I chatted up D3vious (I think that's how he spells it); nice guy. About half of everyone had some kind of Halo shirt (I was in the Halo 3 Beta one myself), and there was a wild energy to everyone. Whoops and hollers when up when they let us in.

The theater was even crazier. We walk in, and on screen is the Campaign lobby. The Chief and Arbiter are on the right, in an idle animation with the custom options set up - Tsavo Highway, Heroic. Luke was controlling the action via a dev kit hooked to a monitor inside the entrance. As people got settled, he would tinker with the options, which elicited various very loud crowd responses. Setting the difficulty to Easy = loud booing. (All I can remember from the descriptions was Heroic ended with, "This is how Halo is meant to be played.") He showed the Skulls selection screen and a few other options, all met with cheers. He played the crowd like a piano. :lol

Overview

They did three demos of about 10-12 minutes each: Two player co-op on Tsavo Highway, Forge on High Ground, and a Saved Film from the E3 build, set on Sandtrap. It looked like the Epsilon build, from the maps and options available.

I'll do this in two parts - some larger, sweeping observations, and then a list of cool details I noticed. I think that will be better than excess blocks of exposition (sorry, Voc!).

Tsavo Highway

My take on Tsavo Highway is that it's essentially Halo, but with of the best design elements of the series and none of the poor ones, and taken up several notches. Luke, Frank and a large pack of Marines pile into a convoy of Warthogs and head out of an underground bunker into a long cave, which transitions outside. What follows reminded me of a combination of the outdoor section of Assault on the Control Room from Halo 1 and the vehicle sections on the beach of Outskirts from Halo 2. The level design pushed you forward like AoTC, but was very wide and had lots of small splits and elevations to allow for different approaches to the various encounters. Vehicles abounded on both sides of the fighting, mixed with a lot of ground troops.

Simply put, the fighting in Halo 3 is on the kind of scale that I wanted in the first two games. Even in vehicles, there were enough ground troops to overwhelm if Luke and Frank got careless - easily more than a dozen at one point, and that's not including the guys hammering them from turrets, snipers taking pot shots and the multiple vehicles cruising around all at once. All of this takes place in some good sized battle fields (still enclosed a bit, ala AotCR) with some epic, sweeping views of mountains, plains and the Ark site from the announcement trailer. The sense of scale that Frank has talked up is there. I'll write about the cool details that I saw here at the end. Visually, the game is STUNNING. More importantly, smart design choices abound and the combat just kept throwing one cool thing after another out there. It was unpredictable and thrilling. Frank and Luke both died. Lots.

Brutes are formidable. They deploy equipment pretty frequently. The first was a Flare pitched at Frank from a good distance. I thought it was a Fuel Rod shot at first, then it arced over to him and he screen went white, except for the HUD. He avoided ownage by running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. It dissipated after about five seconds. Several times, he'd start to pepper a Brute from mid-range only to have them throw down personal shields and force a change in tactics. Once I saw a Brute throw down a Bubble Shield - but not for itself. It was protecting a pack of Grunts getting mauled by Luke. Really, really cool that they actually protect other troops from fire. Luke got booted off the gunner seat of a warthog by a Brute once, to my surprise. They're very aggressive. Oh, and they sound terrifying. Remember how the sounds in the Beta had that nice, deep oomph to them, like the frag grenade explosions? Take that kind of impact and add it to the snarling of a Brute - they're terrifying to hear charging you.

Forge

From the Campaign Lobby is an option to Change Lobby, so the party can move to Custom Games, Forge, the film theater and matchmaking all from there together. Forge on High Ground was next. They start as a Spartan and with the click of a button turn into a Monitor, which you control from first person with a unique HUD. While a Monitor you can pick up the objects that are on the map and drag them around through the air - rocket launcher, turret, Mongoose.

Frank pulled up the objects menu that appeared on the right hand side of the screen (small enough that it only took up about 1/5 of the view) and there was a budget in dollars, which started around $170. There were seven categories of objects to place, the first of which were weapons, which cost $2 each. Next up was vehicles, which had higher costs - a Scorpion was $20 (which Frank dropped on Luke, who was busy building a pile of fusion cores), smaller vehicles cost less. He spawned a large box (Urk's dream) and demonstrated the physics of it by having Luke stand on top, and then lifting them both into the air. Luke was dumped off it when Frank rotated the box forward.

After that they screwed around a little - Luke destroyed Frank's Monitor with a Spartan Laser, blew up a big pile of fusion cores (the sound was simply thunderous), and then Frank grabbed the Gravity Hammer.

Ho. Ly. SHIT.

Frank demonstrated it by swatting a parked Mongoose, which blew up and flew 20 feet away, crashing into the rock wall. One smart, subtle design decision: the explosion came a moment after it was swatted, so he wasn't harmed by it. If it blew right away, you could kill yourself by swatting vehicles. It was simply awesome, and will change multiplayer quite a bit - you'll have to look to see if that guy you're about to run down is toting one before heading their way.

After that, it was on to Saved Films. AKA, my new favorite feature in Halo 3 (sorry, online co-op!).

Saved Film

It's one of those things I thought would be okay until I saw it. Frank replayed a fight on Sandtrap (probably the one they showed at E3, since it was the now-ancient E3 build). A few great moments captured:

1) Freeze-frame the moment a lone gunner on a warthog had the 'hog blown out from under him by a Spartan Laser. The 'hog few out from underneath, and he flew back from the explosion. Catching the contorting corpse and zooming in on the explosion Matrix-like was simply awesome.

2) Following a group of vehicles chase-cam style as they raced around the map towards an intersection - then pausing and swinging the camera around to spot three other vehicles coming in from the other side. Demolition derby ensues. (Red team = owned.)

3) The sound effects pause. So zooming in on a rocket flying through the air brings the whoosh of the rocket to the fore. Ditto the energy drain, an explosion, and more. It's a subtle and brilliant touch.

I will probably spend at least as much time on Saved Films as actual multiplayer. So. Awesome.

Okay, that's the overview. Probably not very well written. Lots of bullet points to come - all the cool details I can remember.
 

GhaleonEB

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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Tsavo Highway random notes

--Frank had to hit a switch to open the gate at the start of the level. The way light starts pouring in was gorgeous.

--There's a LOT of territory to cover. The spacing of encounters to territory is similar to the second level of the first game - a very good thing. Lots of detailed, varied terrain to cross between encounters.

--Twice they drove under wreckage from the space tether, and there was a long, looped wire dangling down. Jumping over a ledge going fast enough, they tapped it and it swings back and forth.

--Approaching the entrance to the cave, the outside was saturated in light, just like in life when you leave a dark place for a bright one. The "eyes" adjusted right before they exit into daylight. It was all over in a second or so but a very cool touch.

--The rear bumper of their warthog was hanging on by a thread, bumping along the ground for a while.

--At one point, they exit a tunnel and a Covenant capital ship flys right by over head - the entire sky is covered in it. Super detailed, loud, fast and awesome.

--Towards the end of the section they showed, the Ark site came into view. There were several capital ships using plasma cannons (like in the E3 trailer) far in the distance to excavate. The Forerunner ship that Truth flew from High Charity at the end of Halo 2 was parked in the middle of the site. A squadron of about a dozen Banshees flew by. Lots more appeared to be in the distance. It was epic and foreboding.

--Frank rammed a Grunt up against wall with a Warthog, and it crunched.

--The different voices for the Grunts are cool. When there's lots of chatter it sounds like a crowd of individuals, not a bunch of clones.

--The entrance to a tunnel was blocked by a giant shield door - like the ones on Snowbound. Frank had to fight his way to it, then poke his head inside and toss a grenade at the generator to bring it down. It was very well defended; he was owned by a swarm of Drones once.

--When Frank started using the plasma turret, it was cool. When he ripped it from the foundation with a shower of sparks and carried it around as a support weapon, it was badass beyond belief.

--The level feels like a war-zone. Downed Phantoms and other vehicles are everywhere, along with the constant space tether chunks and wires. It feels like a battlefield that has been fought and conquered, not a place where enemies are just waiting for you to show up. Overall, it was the most convincing rendition of a place that felt real - not just a level - in the series.
 

armubaba

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Sep 26, 2006
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I knew Ghaleon would come through.

Essay-esque detailed descriptions of a night of pure awesome FTW!
 

GhaleonEB

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Jun 7, 2004
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My personal highlight - meeting Luke and Lars.

Luke - thanks for the Kubricks. They somehow made the Chief look cute, no small feat.

Frank/Luke - thanks for getting me in. It was five hours of driving, an hour of waiting and 45 minutes of awesome that made it all worth while. My apologies to the pack of guys I cut in front of. Thank you for not killing me.

It was an honor to meet Lars (he asked if I was Ghaleon - I was speechless). He's one of the best game designers working today. I saw Marty inside, and then walked next to him for a while outside (but left him alone - he probably has too many stalker-ish fans as it is). Frank was leading the demo for the most part. It occurred to me that these guys are all brilliant at what they do - multiplayer design, sound and composition, writing. Bungie is packed with incredibly talented people, and it looks like with Halo 3 they have really made something special. The feature set and how the features integrate together; the scale of the combat coupled with the small, loving details; the way every facet of the game felt polished and beautiful. This is Bungie at the top of their game, and it was overwhelming. Halo 3 is possibly the most hyped game ever, but from what I saw, it delivers. (Did I mention the music? As good if not better than anything in the series so far.)

It was quintessentially Bungie to have the first public showing of their game directly to the fans, for free, in an IMAX theater. It was grand and silly and fun.

Also, I didn't bring my camera.

I think I'm going to "work from home" tomorrow. And by that, I mean stay home and sleep between meetings. :lol
 

GhaleonEB

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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Instigator said:
How does Tsavo Highway compare to the 2006 E3 trailer?
In that trailer, there was a smattering of wreckage and a wide open plain, with the Ark and about two dozen ships flying around. At the end of the section we saw, that same scene was visible - the Ark site was there, and you could see all of the way across it. Capital ships and Banshees were flying everywhere, even more wreakage, objects, and details like grass scattered around. The difference was, you could see all of that and there was combat with ~20-30 participants simultaneously. The visual fidelity looks about the same, but there was a lot more going on.

FunkyMunkey said:
but...but...

the disc...

:(

*plays bioshock and waits for mp3 and halo3*


http://www.ebgames.com/product.asp?product_id=322286

:p
 

zam

Member
Apr 15, 2007
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GhaleonEB said:
Saved Film

It's one of those things I thought would be okay until I saw it. Frank replayed a fight on Sandtrap (probably the one they showed at E3, since it was the now-ancient E3 build). A few great moments captured:

1) Freeze-frame the moment a lone gunner on a warthog had the 'hog blown out from under him by a Spartan Laser. The 'hog few out from underneath, and he flew back from the explosion. Catching the contorting corpse and zooming in on the explosion Matrix-like was simply awesome.

2) Following a group of vehicles chase-cam style as they raced around the map towards an intersection - then pausing and swinging the camera around to spot three other vehicles coming in from the other side. Demolition derby ensues. (Red team = owned.)

3) The sound effects pause. So zooming in on a rocket flying through the air brings the whoosh of the rocket to the fore. Ditto the energy drain, an explosion, and more. It's a subtle and brilliant touch.

I will probably spend at least as much time on Saved Films as actual multiplayer. So. Awesome.

Okay, that's the overview. Probably not very well written. Lots of bullet points to come - all the cool details I can remember.
Wow, sounds like I'll be investing in Bungie Pro
 

Sean

Banned
Jun 14, 2004
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Cmon Bungie... there is only a little over a month left until release, start the media blitz already.

We are overdue for another vidoc.
 

Tieno

Member
May 6, 2006
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Sean said:
Cmon Bungie... there is only a little over a month left until release, start the media blitz already.

We are overdue for another vidoc.
IF the 1upshow is going to do a preview on halo 3...maybe...
 

Stahsky

A passionate embrace, a beautiful memory lingers.
May 6, 2006
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Really awesome bits of info you have there, Ghaleon.

Sounds like you had a good time.
 

SCULLIBUNDO

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Dec 28, 2005
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GhaleonEB said:
Tsavo Highway random notes

--At one point, they exit a tunnel and a Foreruner capital ship flys right by over head - the entire sky is covered in it. Super detailed, loud, fast and awesome.
I'm sure it's just you being tired. I wouldn't expect you to make a mistake like that, unless that's what it is?