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    • Belated Review of Halo: 4

      5 years ago


      "I'm aware that it's been a month, but I've been very busy."
      The term renaissance means "rebirth', and is usually a word reserved for museums and classrooms, but on November sixth, a rebirth of a beloved franchise emerged from the ashes of stagnation with the work of 343 Industries, who just a year ago, promised that their new Halo game would blend time honored methods with their own spin on innovation to ensure that Microsoft's cash cow would not end up relegated to the depths of obscurity, and on that fateful day of tearing apart that pesky shrink-wrap, 343 Industries delivered on the hype they created, and managed to stamp out many lingering controversies over the passing of the torch. With their Halo comes a story that doesn't withhold details to be discovered in novels or rummaging about in wikipedia, and seamless gameplay that brilliantly blends old and new concepts for an intensely fast paced and exciting game with incredible variety, topped off with an incredible visual overhaul with a sound design to mach.
      Halo: 4 takes place four years after the events of Halo: 3 with the main protagonist, the Master Chief, shaken awake in the aft section of a broken warship by his long time A.I. friend, Cortana, fast approaching unknown territory. From here the pace picks up familiarly enough as players don the olive green armor once more, and face off against a decade old foe, the Covenant. In these first encounters with the Covenant, the player may take notice of the fact that these aliens are outfitted in a more drab armor, and every species from the lowly Grunt to the venerable Elite seems fiercer, more rugged than in previous titles, for reasons yet to be explained. Of course, familiar faces in recycled armor can only keep the eye for so long, and that's the moment that 343 feeds the Master Chief into the white blue maw of a silvery metal planet, alive with never before seen Forerunner technology that is in no way good for the player's life expectancy.
      Other than the inexplicable return of the Covenant, the story of Halo: 4 is the deepest, most concise in the history of the series with a compelling new story arc surrounding the ongoing tale of Master Chief and Cortana as the two once more save the world with Cortana emerging as an even stronger character following in the Master Chief's risk it all to win it all policy, but as a much more human figure- one that finds herself questioning the nature of her existence and the nature of the Chief's existence all while she fruitlessly battles her rampancy, a condition where A.I.'s like herself think themselves to death. From here the story continues to expand, answering lingering questions about the Forerunners and their long-running relationship with humanity, and while the player shouldn't expect novel like depth in the campaign, the story is still a riveting step in the right direction that seeks to fill as many gaps as possible. Usually at the end of a campaign such as this, players are forced to "hug it out' with multiplayer and repeated revisits to the campaign for the next three years, but bundled with the main campaign is a new story driven replacement for the beloved "Firefight' called "Spartan Ops'. These episodic missions take place six months after the end of the main campaign, and feature new episodes, and five missions each week, exploring yet more new territory within the story, and enlightening the player as to why what's left of the covenant lingers on. This dynamic new model could pave the way for a new type of campaign expansion that doesn't involve costly Downloads, or a flashy advertisement campaign.
      Of course, what is a well-organized story without the bacon wrapping that is gameplay? That being said, with 343 Industry's freedom to flex its creative muscles, they've added a plethora of new features surrounding Bungie's tried and true Golden Triangle' of shooting, melee, and grenade throwing by first gathering weapons from all corners of the Halo universe, and housing them in fully customizable load outs available to all game types. Along with better prior outfitting, the Spartans' municipal military lends a hand by raining down the player's choice of one of three random ordinance drops as an occasional reward for the points that each player puts toward their respective teams. Other than collecting and rebalancing older weapons to fit into Halo: 4, 343 brings about its own creations to the table such as the precise Light rifle and the flesh melting incineration cannon along with humanity's new chicken-legged tank, the Mantis. However, if the sheer amount of weaponry and ease of access to particularly lethal ones raise eyebrows and reservations, players will be relieved to experience the terrific balance of the game where no matter who has the advantage, the speed and intensity of gameplay never slows enough for stagnation, but won't climb to stupid fast and infuriating speeds. Matchmaking, unlike in previous titles, is open now, allowing empty slots to be refilled by incoming players in the middle of the game. However this system sometimes causes problems with initial matchmaking, sometimes starting with odd numbers of players rather than waiting until the lobby is slotted out for even teams. Of course, improvements to gameplay don't stop at just core gameplay, and this handy work makes itself apparent in the once more reinvented "Forge Mode', Halo's signature map editor. This time around, the player can lock objects in place, connect them magnetically like Bucky Balls, and even copy and paste forge objects at coordinates corresponding to the original piece, shrinking the learning curve of forge exponentially.
      Now, the Master Chief may have been left to stew in the subpar visuals of two-thousand and seven, as with everything else in this game, the visuals received an extreme overhaul with crisp details, and fluid animation throughout. Facial rendering also takes a leap forward, with very detailed facial ex

    • Midterm War Cry

      5 years ago


      To more effectively study for my college midterms, I've taken up yelling like a seargent to recite my studyguides.

    • Songs of the Synthetics

      5 years ago


      "A brief history of Vocaloid, and their teal haired flagship."

      For a long time, the music industry has prided itself on producing exclusively human singers with computers relegated to the rather custodial tasks of producing echoes, flanging, and more notoriously, auto tuning the singer’s voice. Very recently however, computers are becoming host to more prominent applications in the industry by taking up the task of producing melodies unobtainable by even the most outlandish of hand held instruments, and more recently still- synthesizing the human voice. The technology concerned with the task, known as Vocaloid, is capable of reproducing the human voice to a much greater effect than that of iPhone’s Siri, but instead of directing the user to the nearest coffee shop, Vocaloids are incapable of performing any task other than singing.

      Beginning in the year two-thousand, several Japanese companies, including Yamaha and Zero-G, started working on a project to turn speech synthesis from the gimmicky computer assistant to a software program capable of reproducing the human voice with enough clarity and tone differentiation to be used as an actual singer. In its fledgling stages, the software found itself as a relatively unmarketable product because much unlike actual singers, Vocaloids lacked face, and all the hype in the world could not distract from the glaring issue that Vocaloid was nothing more than a box embezzled with a massive V. This however, would soon change when the digital music company, Crypton Future Media, was given the green light to produce more marketable Vocaloids. With that in mind, Crypton first attempted the idea of giving face to the virtual singers through nothing more than box art for their first two Vocaloids, Meiko and Kaito. While Crypton’s new practice produced healthier quarterly incomes, the enterprise of “voice in a box” didn’t truly flourish until the release of Vocaloid 2 in two- thousand seven. With the advent of Vocaloid’s sequel came a more powerful synthesis engine, capable of producing sound with shining clarity, and frighteningly realistic vocal effects such as breathing in before and between notes, and a mild sultriness at lower octaves. Along with vastly improved sound quality, Vocaloid 2 introduced an additional four voices to the cast of synthetic singers- each with a unique avatar which include Megurine Luka, Kagamine Len and Rin, and the flagship Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku.

      Hatsune Miku is the first, and by far the most popular of the Japanese Vocaloid 2 series, due in part to her highly appealing voice, and an uncanny resemblance to a teal-haired Sailor Moon with ever more massive pigtails, topped off with the typical pop culture garb of a school girl outfit, retrofitted with assorted diodes, and bell shaped sleeves. The reason for being, according to Crypton Future Media, was to appeal more to general audiences as a means of increasing revenue. This marketing strategy was, as far as Japan is concerned, a roaring success, culminating into the development of Hatsune Miku into the world’s first digital diva.

      The cyan celebrity at first found her venue to be the internet, with hundreds of thousands of independent artists posting their works to Japan’s YouTube; Nico Nico Douga as well as YouTube itself, leading to the formation of Karen-T, which is an independent music label owned by Crypton Future Media. Karen-T did what any music label would do, and sold Miku’s music through popular MP3 formats such as the infinitely famous i-Tunes market, Amazon MP3, Hear Japan, and several others. As the growth of the digital diva grew so too did Crypton’s promotional efforts, effectively putting Miku’s face on whatever medium available, from rally cars to snack products. Of course, such a popular face demands to be seen live on stage, as is the case with most pop culture icon’s, and with a sprinkle of collaboration from Sony Entertainment, Hatsune Miku would grace the stage of the Saitama Super Arena as the first holographic idol. Since then, Miku and her protégé treated their fans to five live performances- each in a different country, with the most recent of shows being held in Singapore.

      With Hatsune Miku in the apparent spotlight, she’s become a spearhead for almost all of Crypton Future Media’s current escapades, such as their social network, MikuBook, as well as the project to revitalize the Vocaloid and Vocaloid2 programs titled “Append.” Beyond using Miku for advancement projects, Crypton finds themselves working foremost with the digital diva in an effort to teach their Vocaloids fluent English, and expand horizons to Vocaloid’s second largest fan base; the United States. However, Crypton’s latest ambition to haul said Vocaloids stateside proves to be far more difficult than anticipated, with many English speaking variants cursed with a heavy Japanese accent, and extreme difficulty in correctly annunciating the more challenging of English words. In spite of the hurdle that is English, Crypton strives to put their best foot forward in effort to cater to as much of Miku’s almost religious following as possible. With that in mind, there will soon be an era in America, it seems, where Tupac won’t be the only one appearing before an audience as a twelve foot tall hologram.

    • Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review

      6 years ago


      “That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”

      Ten years ago, a fledgling gaming company turned Microsoft into a gaming giant, made the X-box a household name, and had college students lugging heavy televisions to each other’s dorms for nights of soda drowned space marine combat and malicious T-baggings the world over. They loosened Japan’s grip on console gaming and helped unite their fan base into a community. That company was Bungie, and they called their billion-dollar doughnut Halo. Ten years later, 343 Industries takes control of the Halo juggernaut, and recreates the experience of a decade for fans new and old to enjoy, bridging the gap between modern-day visuals and the classic gameplay of the first Halo.

      Halo: Combat Evolved takes place immediately after the events of Halo: Reach. From there, players fight their way through metal corridors teaming with the boiling fizzle of plasma fire as it rains upon the hapless marines, struggling to defend it. As we board the life pod, the Pillar of Autumn speeds towards the ring. Almost immediately after the life pods fall to atmosphere, the players are given a vast expanse of lush temperate greenery to romp through while exploring truly alien artifacts. Just as quickly as you are dropped on this desolate world, the combat picks up to series of intense fire-fights that’ll have players clambering for the high ground, and testing every new weapon they can get their metallic green hands on. As the game continues, players will be frequently placed in new environments from the rolling hills of Valhalla to the overly purple, blue lit interior of a covenant capital ship.

      The story of Halo: CE was one of the richest ever seen in a first person shooter for its time, and even in a sea of modern games, the plot will still have audiences new and old consistently enthralled by the near perfect story-telling. Long-time fans of the game will find the terminals scattered throughout Halo as a welcome addition to the overall story. Beyond terminals, nothing has changed story-wise. The visuals ,on the other hand, received an extreme over hall, filling once dark purple blobs of covenant technology with the sleek amphibious design in which our would-be alien overlords are famous for, and Forerunner artifacts are alive with glistening ambient blue light, and sharp textures that appear to be almost as one with the surrounding landscapes. However, I couldn’t help but notice that it was only the texture overlay. Nearly every element has the exact same animation as they did ten years ago. The banshees’ flaps remain frozen even in the sharpest of turns, ghosts don’t lean into their turns, and scorpions don’t eject shells. Even the character animations remain almost unchanged, so at times, human hands look more like the fleshy claws of so many grunts as they make crude gestures on the ends of stiff arms, and unexpressionate faces. Even when this stark reminder of Halo’s true age reared its head, I was always forgot such minor transgressions as I was absorbed into the breathtaking environments, so beautiful, it was as if I was on the ring itself. The sound design has been artfully remastered down to the sound of plasma bolts speeding past your head. Any complaints players have over stiff animations will be completely washed away as they are fully immersed into the ring’s beautifully remastered landscape while Martin O’Donnell sets the mood with his legendary symphonies.

      Combat is fast paced and intense, flowing almost seamlessly from one battle to the next, and the open environments left plenty of options fight or even avoid combat. The damage system remains intact as well, forcing players to experiment with different weapon combinations in order to match the vast array of enemies from covenant to flood to Forerunners and one traumatized Private Mendoza. Most of the time I found myself building strategies around the delightfully overpowered magnum, capable of dropping an elite’s shields in five shots on heroic difficulty. The decade-old A.I. will still prove to be quite a challenge, as enemies rush your position, take cover, and hurl grenades, doing what Halo: 2 and Halo: 3 couldn’t do; keep the player on his toes.
      The fact that gameplay hasn’t changed at all did prove to be a problem at times. Sparsely place nav points had me combing Forerunner artifacts as I repeatedly failed to find the exit (especially on 343 Guilty Spark). The near-broken checkpoint system at times will have the player backtracking through particularly long segments of the game which will try the patience of players who are unfamiliar with the first Halo and will frustrate hardened veterans who have since experienced much smoother systems in modern shooters.

      Despite all that 343 Industries did to resurrect the glory of the original Halo, they left out one glaring detail; the original multiplayer. This castaway feature is used instead to enhance the Halo: Reach experience with six maps spanning Halos one and two. Despite the lack of the original Halo: CE multiplayer, the new maps coupled with the balance, leveling system and deep customization of Halo: Reach almost whole-heartedly makes up for it.

      Despite the problems Halo: CE Anniversary kept with it from nearly a decade ago, it’s still well worth it be once again immersed into the alien landscape that we all know and love. Fans of Halo finally get to relive the experience of a decade, and be frightened by the flood once more.

    • So many zombies...

      6 years ago


      You ever wonder why there is such a ridiculous amount of zombies in gaming. In halo CE alone there are thousands of them, and they have rocket launchers. You'd think the UNSC would have better control over their weapons. Then there is left 4 dead which is epic, but you'd think that with 6 billion people in the world, there would be more people to fight mindless freaks with.

    • The only achievement left in Reach

      in Forums > The only achievement left in Reach | Follow this topic


      It is candy from a baby! I have not taken the candy, but for anyone who has you must be decent.

      2 replies

    • My awsome cigar

      6 years ago


      I got a cigar in my top drawer. I have to figure out what occasion I should smoke it for. Maybe when I get my own apartment. Well a cigar and a fifth of jack, but that;s beside the point. The point is uuh... I'll have to get back to you on that one.

    • So uh... this is the part where I write?

      7 years ago


      I've had a passion for gaming since before I could walk, and all other objects came later. The trouble is that I'm still 17, in a house that strongly dislikes videogames, which could just come from them being newbs. Well, here I am looking into the mouth of a toothed rooster with clear eyes and a full heart, and a dire need for caffine.

    • 7 years ago

    • 2018 years ago

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