Thursday, May 20, 2010

Off Topic: Halo Reach Multiplayer Beta

Halo. The game that single handedly changed the first-person shooter genre and contributed to Microsoft’s Xbox becoming one of the most popular gaming consoles. A hit phenomena, the Halo franchise has “evolved” from video games to books, movies, action figures, and a fan following of epic proportions. After 9 years and 5 game releases, Bungie is close to completing a new game, Halo: Reach, which serves as a prequel to the series. Set on the fictional planet Reach, a testing facility for new weapons and the birthplace of the Spartan super-soldiers, the game depicts the account of Noble Team (a six man squad of Spartan-IIIs), on the day that the hostile alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives for the sole purpose of exterminating every human on the planet. You play as Noble Six, a last minute addition to Noble, and a “lone wolf”.

The Halo games are know primarily for their multiplayer, and to further produce a perfect product, Bungie has released a multiplayer beta for fans to test Reach’s new features and hunt for bugs and glitches to fix. The beta was accessible exclusively for fans who purchased Halo 3: ODST, and seeing as today is its final day, I decided to do a review and commemorate a job well done and get you guys syked for the game’s release in September.

The Beta was released on May 3, and after two and a half hours (damn internets) I finally downloaded it, launched it, and joined my first game.

The play lists consisted of Arena, Free For All, Grab Bag, Network Test 1 (more commonly known as Generator Defense), and Invasion.

-Grab Bag consists of Slayer and Objective game types designed for a four man team. Same old same old.
-Free For All is pretty much a clone of Lone Wolves from Halo 3. Included is Headhunter (Or Sperm Bank as I like to call it); every kill you get earns you a skull, which you deposit at the various territories across the map. Fantastic to play with a group.
-Generator Defense is a new game type, where a team of Spartans defends three generators against a team of Elites who are trying to destroy them. Didn’t play a lot of this, but the few times I did were certainly enjoyable.
-Invasion is another new game type, again where Spartans are defending against the Elites- this time, the Elites have to unlock a Data Core and carry it to a designated spot on the map. After time passes, new Tiers- loadouts (see below) and weapons- become available for both teams. The slayer version of this game is similar to Big Team Slayer, but with the concept of Tiers integrated into it.
-Arena is Bungie’s answer to excessive competitive multiplayer gamers (try saying that three times fast). It’s hard for me to explain it, but it’s almost like playing in a month-long tournament with global rankings and prizes for winners.

New features include Armor Abilities, all of which are extremely well-balanced-
Scout allows you to Sprint
Guardian allows your suit to Lockdown, and you essentially become untouchable for a few seconds;
Stalker turns your suit invisible, but your HUD displays enemies on everyone’s screen;
Airborne gives you a Jetpack.
Elites can Evade instead of sprinting.

Some awesome new weapons include:
The DMR- Battle Rifle without the three round bursts.
The Grenade Launcher- Hold down left trigger to delay the round’s detonation.
The Needle Cannon- Covenant version on the DMR with Needle rounds that don’t seek.
The Plasma Repeater- Plasma Rifle with a higher rate of fire.
The Plasma Cannon- fires plasma grenades that seek your opponent.
The Pulse Rifle- what would happen if you spliced a Sentinel Beam with a Beam Rifle.

Gameplay changes include:
-the return of the Health Pack. Elites health now regenerates.
-the ability to block swords (which can come in handy, believe me).
-more realistic grenade throwing.
-improved physics engine.

Character Customization allows you to purchase new armor upgrades with points you receive after each match, and some new emblems are available to slap on your shoulders. A greater selection will be available in the full game.

All in all, I was very impressed with what the unfinished product looked like already. The experience I was granted makes me glad to be a part of a tight nit community, and I applaud Bungie in all of their efforts to continuously raise the bar in videogame standards.

And, as to no surprise to those who know me, I have already preordered the Legendary Edition of the game. All $150 of it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mini Review: Incognito

Unfortunately, it's hard to find a graphic novel that isn't part of a compilation or anthology. The majority of comics usually have to do with a superhero (or his super buddies) running around saving people and preaching their philosophy of "doing good".

Which, lucky for writers of that genre, I'm a sucker for.

But "Incognito" is different. The main character is an ex supervillan hiding out in Witness Protection, dealing with monotonous life and yearning for the old days of destruction and law-breaking.

Zach Overkill was once a member of a criminal organization known as Black Death, alongside other villains with unnatural abilities. After the death of his twin brother Xander, Zach is picked up by S.O.S (kinda like the super-hero-police-squad) and forced to live a normal life with a job in an office. But after a while, ordinary, boring life begins to drag him down and eventually he begins to return to his roots, meeting many old and villainous acquaintances along the way.

The artwork (done by Sean Phillips) has a 50's noir feel to them, similar to "Watchmen", but doesn't feel like it was taken from the days of "Spider Man" in the Sunday morning cartoons in the paper because the colors aren't as bright. Props go to the plot (by Ed Brubaker) for extremely maintained creative originality and unpredictability.

I found reading "Incognito" very fun, and seeing the world through a sarcastic, disgruntled ex- villain isn't something you do everyday.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

SAT: The Aftermath

I was really glad on posting my two newest reviews in such a short time span. I love reading books that way. The hat trick I was hoping for didn't come into fruition, since I'm currently working on an essay for my English III class concerning the Victorian Period. Haven't had much time to read.

On a more interesting note (because I know Timmy doesn't find the idea of an essay very interesting), I took the SAT for my first time yesterday. The essay prompt was perfect- can't tell you what it was (some sort of gag order by the College Board), but I used "Thirteen Reasons Why" as an example to support my thesis. Granted, I ended up only writing 232 words and filling up only one of the two pages provided, but I felt good about it.

So tomorrow, as a few of my followers know, is the commencement of the Halo Reach Multiplayer Beta. Most likely I will be spending all of the spare time I can gather playing this, so if you guys don't hear from me in three weeks time, you'll know why. This may sounds silly, but I am eager to be a part of something as special and monumental as this (it is NOT just a video game. Haters).

The forecast in store for you guys is the eventual reading and reviewing (R&Ring) of "Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Goodlooking) Hero" by Maureen Fergus. Looks promising, but I've learned not to judge a book by its cover.

Hahaha...Ok, enough of my lame book jokes.

Look for my sign...