UPDATE: 343 Industries Posted a huge job listing for all sorts of positions check them out: 343 Industries – Jobs
By now you may have heard of a little game franchise that started as a real time strategy for the Apple Macintosh but was converted into a first person shooter when Microsoft bought the developer Bungie Studios. The first game in the trilogy Halo: Combat Evolved was released on November 15, 2001 and was a massive hit even though the multiplayer aspect of the game which have become a core part of the experience of Halo wasn’t available because there was no Xbox Live. The Halo franchise was instrumental in building the popularity of Xbox Live in the coming years and remains one of the largest draws to the service. Halo: Combat Evolved was eventually released again with multiplayer support and a PC version was made available. Bungie/Microsoft didn’t stop there they released Halo 2 for the Xbox on November 9, 2004 and shortly afterward a PC version for Windows Vista. Halo 2 was an even larger hit than the original probably due to the multiplayer support from the get-go and the foundation already built from Combat Evolved. When Halo 3 –the final part of the main story arc – was released on on September 25, 2007 it broke sales records for largest ever product launch beating out even the Harry Potter books. After Halo 3 Ensemble Studios released a spin off R.T.S. for the Xbox set 21 years before the events in Halo: Combat Evlolved which was released in early 2009 and was Ensemble Studios last project. After Halo 3 Bungie split into two teams one to develop Halo 3: ODST, and one to begin development on Halo: Reach, the last Halo game for Bungie as they have since separated from Microsoft, the rights for Halo are still in Microsoft’s hands and any further development will be done by 343 Industries, possibly in partnership with Bungie.
To me Halo: Reach is very much the last hurrah as far as the series is concerned I didn’t much care for Halo 3: ODST not because it was terrible or anything I just didn’t enjoy it as much. Reach is set for release on September 14, 2010 and once again I am nervous about another mediocre game, I have played the multiplayer beta and thoroughly enjoyed it although I found the weapon designs toned down and generic compared to the ones found in the original series also the armour that the Spartans are wearing should be the Mark IV which is the same variety that John 117 was wearing in Halo: Combat Evolved, but to me seems much more like the armour an ODST would be wearing. These are quite small complaints overall I suppose but when this game is your last project I wouldn’t want to disappoint players that have followed you since the beginning. That’s the bad news, the good news is that judging by the beta Halo: Reach has a very fast and well balanced combat system with new things like loadouts that allow you to choose your starting weapon and a special ability for your character, abilities include: stealth, armour lock, sprint, hologram, and jetpacks. The combat also seems faster and more hectic even with the return of the energy shield/ health combo from the fist game. Also returning as the primary enemies are the Elites which after Halo 2 were allies to the UNSC due to the civil war started by the brutes, but because this takes place much earlier before the events of Combat Evolved. I always liked fighting the Elites in the first game, their recharging energy shields and ability to dodge grenades made them a very challenging enemy the Brutes I found were rather dull and not nearly as expressive as their predecessors. Another nice addition is the assassination kill whereby holding down the melee button while assassinating an enemy the camera zooms out into third person while you bash/stab your victim to a dramatic death (looks very cool) it does take more time though and someone can get you in the same way if you’re not careful.
One final gripe: for me Eric Nylund’s book Halo: The Fall of Reach is essential to the Halo franchise it really adds to the series giving backgrounds and events that lead to the first game. I usually refer to it as the base plot along with the first game because it meshes so well with Combat Evolved. However not once in any book or game has the NOBLE team been mentioned the original Spartans separated into teams named by colour red, blue, ect slightly annoying to this fan.
Halo: Reach was put up on the Xbox Live marketplace for critics to access but modders gained access to it before it was released to the public, a similar event occurred when the ending to Halo 3 was released early.
“In Halo: Reach, players experience the fateful moments that forged the Halo legend. It’s the story of Noble Team, a squad of heroic Spartan soldiers, and their final stand on the planet Reach, humanity’s last line of defense between the terrifying Covenant and Earth. This darker story is echoed by grittier visuals amid a backdrop of massive, awe-inspiring environments. Characters, enemies and environments are rendered in amazing detail by an all-new engine designed to deliver epic-scale encounters against the cunning and ruthless Covenant”
Official blurb from the website
Halo: Reach – From the beginning, you know the end