This generation has been chock full of changes for both hardware and software manufacturers. We've now lived through the metamorphosis of console pricing, with a number of different flavors (a.k.a. SKU's) to choose from. On the software side, we see a persistence among developers to keep iterating on a working engine, rather than rebuild with each new title in development. This recent shift has also led developers to experiment with the episodic model - smaller, focused game releases promising high quality entertainment at lower prices.
This generation we've seen Burnout Paradise and Half Life 2 (and the perfect model this gen: Tell Tale Games) embrace this new theory in AAA design, with a number of studios following suit.
As the title already suggest, yes, this is a fan post about my favorite franchise, Halo 3. The Tokyo Game Show may have been the most awkward place for the announcement, but both Bungie Studios and Microsoft have decided its time too reveal the biggest secret since E3.
Some of us could guess this standalone model was coming, but what can we expect from the new Halo project, subtitled Recon? Here's a small list of thing's that has stood out to me amongst all the coverage we've seen and the trailer debut:
* This is an entirely new campaign experience in Halo 3 that focuses on a much more fragile hero, the ODST (Orbital Drop Shop Trooper). These high caliber marines fought next to the Chief briefly in Halo 2, and then again in Halo 3. But Bungie has teased that this hero won't be identical to a certain super-powered Spartan. If the gameplay of Halo 3 is any indication, these super bad marines have been just as disposable as the regular marines, their only visible advantage being ultra cool black garb. So with Halo 3: Recon, we'll finally see the ODST at work, proving once and for all why they represent Robin compared to Master Chief's Batman.
*Bungie has already cleared the air (and quickly) that this is not Ghost Recon: Halo, or Gears of Halo, or Halo Gear Solid. And they were quick to point out that the weapons of Halo 3 won't receive any major changes (so don't go hoping for that original Halo pistol to make a reappearance in Halo 3: Recon). Instead, fans can expect the same weapons currently found in the Halo 3 sandbox (for better or worse).
However, the ODST that emerges from the drop pod in the trailer is carrying what appears to be a silenced variation of the SMG. Can we expect more slight variations added to the marine class weapons of the original?
*The multiplayer component of Halo 3: Recon will be an exact copy of the multiplayer that shipped with Halo 3, last year. That means no ODST will substitute the familiar deadly hallways pf Halo 3 multiplayer. Instead, we'll see the retail disc version carry the same (and some currently unreleased) maps, with the same outcomes. There will be no separate multiplayer component added to Halo 3: Recon.
*But many websites have all agreed that this campaign could be the content players unanimously felt was missing from Halo 2 - the bulk of which was expected to take place on Earth. As such, Halo 3: Recon could plug a familiar gripe of the design team since Halo 2. And the presence of a mysterious A.I. only reinforces that we'll some interesting level design and navigation queues (hopefully, anyway).
I've been a major fan of this series, despite my gripes with Halo 2, so this announcement is huge for someone like me (and like you, if you're still reading this). It might be cool to hate on Halo these days, but one thing is certain: Halo is still one of the largest IP's this generation, and a brand extension like Recon could potentially be another blockbuster notch on Bungie's belt.