Wednesday, 15 August 2012

More Halo 4

Continuing on the theme of not trusting 343i

A while ago, I wrote a post here describing what I would like to see in Halo 4 (and in a theoretical Halo 2 Anniversary). You can look it up in the archive if you like, it's called "Of TUs and Halo 4". In this post, I'm kind of following on from that, but with more info available to me, and a lot more skepticism about what 343i is doing with Halo.

343i claims to be made up of diehard Halo fans. Why, then, do they have such blatant disregard for continuity, aesthetics, and the core Halo gameplay they're supposedly returning to? Let's take a look at some of the more frustrating changes.

1. The Chief's new armour.
In one of the latest Halo 4 trailers, the Chief is shown being surprised by the arrival of UNSC Infinity on Requiem. This is fine on its own, but what makes the difference is that the Chief is already wearing the new MJOLNIR - which is bullshit, because the new MJOLNIR is clearly a close relation of the new GEN2 MJOLNIR (worn by the Infinity's SPARTAN-IVs), but he hasn't been near the Infinity to acquire it. So the Mark VI is apparently being retconned out of existence.

2. Weapons
First up, the DMR. Where the fuck did that come from? It's in Reach, sure, but Reach is years earlier than Halo 4 in-continuity, and the DMR is only used by the UNSC Army - other UNSC branches replaced it with the BR55 battle rifle. The Infinity is obviously Navy/Marines, and as such should not be carrying any DMRs - the BR is their marksman weapon.

Second, weapon aesthetics. Why is everything square? UNSC weapons are supposedly designed to resemble modern weapons - why, then, do they all look like Star Wars, Tribes, or Mass Effect weapons? Hell, at least in those other games the scopes are round. Know why? Because the human eye is round. "But,"  you say, "the MJOLNIR HUD is squared!"
True, but these weapons aren't designed for MJOLNIR. They're designed for Marines, ODSTs, and Army troopers, who, while they do have HUDs, use weapons much more traditionally.
"But," you say again, "the sniper's scope is square!"
True, but that's actually an anti-tank rifle. You wouldn't put your face against that unless you wanted a broken skull.

Third, why make something different if it functions exactly the same? Case in point, the new BR. It has a new name, and new look, but otherwise is identical to its previous version. Why would the UNSC commission a new rifle that works exactly the same as the old rifle? Sure, small upgrades for comfort and such that aren't apparent in-game, but they'd come under version letters: BR55HB-A SR, or perhaps BR55HB-B SR. Not a whole new weapon. Besides, weapons have longer service lifetimes than the few years since Halo 3.

3. Carrying on from Reach
Why the fuck is this happening? Armour design, weapons, the Covenant, music, EVERYTHING should be based on Halo 3, not Reach. Reach is set maybe a year before Halo 3, and most of the equipment shown there was clearly phased out by Halo 3, or Army-exclusive, or ONI spec ops on Reach-exclusive.

4. MP armour is shit
It is. Aesthetically and functionally. The old MJOLNIR was sleek, smooth, streamlined, and looked like it actually could protect you against stuff. The new crap is cluttered, lumpy, has gaping holes in it (the sensible Mark VI waist armour? replaced by one huge codpiece that's not attached to anything else, and no armour around the sides) and is just plain ugly. That codpiece I mentioned actually doesn't have anything to hold it up, unlike previous MJOLNIR versions which looked like they might actually work.
Worse, some of this design clusterfuck has carried over to the Chief's armour.

Here's how I imagine this came about. The scene is 343i HQ, early 2011.

FRANKIE: Okay guys, we need new armour for Halo 4. What have we got to go on?
INTERN JACE: Sleek, functional, high-tech, unique armour. [shows a slide]
FRANKIE: Right, we need to shake that up some, update it. Let's throw some Tribes in there, maybe some Crysis too. Those are popular, right?
KIKI WOLFKILL*: Yeah, oh and Mass Effect too!
INTERN JACE: B-but...won't that make a jumbled clusterfuck of design incompetence with no aesthetic appeal or functionality?
FRANKIE: SILENCE! I've been a Halo fan since FOREVER. I think I know what looks good and makes sense a little better than you! [force chokes INTERN JACE]
KIKI WOLFKILL: Oh Frankie, we got a call from Karen Traviss earlier. She says she's happy to accept the job, but wants freedom to write without researching the Haloverse, be a bitch to the fans, and write badly.
FRANKIE: Sounds good! Man, we're doing a great job of keeping true to Halo's core ideals!

5. MP is looking dubious
"Core Halo gameplay" my arse. They're removing the previously fixed (custom gametypes aside) respawn timer, adding loadouts (full loadouts, not Reach's acceptable compromise), adding unlocks, fucking around with armour abilities, nerfing melee and grenades (you can't pick up fallen grenades without a special perk, which, guess what, you have to unlock), tying special abilities to armour, adding in-game weapon drops which you unlock through winning...a muddle of ideas that worked mostly fine in their own games but don't necessarily work well together, or in Halo at all.
Oh, and the animations in MP are stiff and jerky, not smooth and fluid like SPARTAN movements should be.

Final note: what the fuck is that armour on the non-SPARTAN in that one teaser image? It looks like a modern bulletproof vest, not Halo armour.

ABOVE POST IS JUST MY OPINION. Feel free to have your own.

*best name ever FYI

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