Thursday, November 16, 2006

Halo 3 News

Halo 3, you know you want it - Yeah, yeah I know. The title of this post says Halo 3 news but there's a picture of Halo Wars. Sorry, but I couldn't upload the Halo 3 screenshots my Microsoft contact sent me. I promise you'll get your money back. Anyway, here's the latest on Halo 3 and again (because I'm incredibly lazy and hate paraphrasing long press releases) its straight from the horses mouth.

On the fifth anniversary of the release of the landmark Xbox video game Halo, Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie Studios celebrated the milestone by announcing an exclusive hands-on experience with Halo 3, one of the industry’s most anticipated sequels. The Xbox Live multiplayer public beta, which is a pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of Halo 3, is scheduled for availability in spring 2007 exclusively on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

In addition, Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie confirmed today that consumers will be able to experience the Halo universe this holiday season through a one-time airing of a stirring, 60-second Halo 3 teaser ad (Thank you for quenching my Halo lust with a trailer, please just release the damn game already) . Finally, it was announced that new, premium downloadable content for Halo 2, exclusive to Xbox 360, is scheduled for release in spring 2007.

"The ‘Halo’ Nation has a nearly insatiable desire (For Funyons, hot pockets and living with their parents) ,” said Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of global marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Corp. “We hope a taste of advance Halo 3 gameplay satisfies some of their appetite ( pockets) as we count down to the game’s launch later in 2007.”

Expanding on everything that has made the “Halo” franchise so widely recognized, the final version of “Halo 3” will provide a wealth of technical and gameplay advancements, available only through Xbox 360, the leading next-generation video game entertainment system. Via the Xbox Live multiplayer public beta (okay, this is very cool), a first of its kind for the “Halo” franchise, gamers will be able to play online via Microsoft’s premier online entertainment network and participate in a pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of “Halo 3.” This beta also represents an opportunity for gamers worldwide to participate in the development of “Halo 3.” Through the resulting feedback, Bungie Studios will be able to further refine and hone the end result of “Halo 3.”

Unveiled earlier this year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, “Halo 3” represents the third chapter in the “Halo” trilogy, an international award-winning action series that grew into a global entertainment phenomenon, selling more than 14.7 million units worldwide, which equals nearly $700 million in sales (add another $20 for that Halo 3 faceplate I just bought), and logging in excess of 800 million hours of multiplayer action on Xbox Live.

On Dec. 4, the special 60-second “Halo 3” advertising spot will be broadcast, one time only, on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football (Carolina at Philly, should be a good game).” The ad, created by advertising agency McCann Erickson (blatant plub for some ad firm I never heard of, does Heather Locklear work there?), will provide viewers with a unique and compelling look at Master Chief and the world of “Halo 3.” It is easily one of the most anticipated ads of the year and promises to be the biggest event in appointment advertising this year. It underscores the innovative approach and driving influence the “Halo” franchise has commanded. The television spot will also be available for download exclusively for Xbox 360 users via Xbox Live Marketplace (so if I'm not a Panthers or Eagles fan, I don't have to waste my time).

In addition, gamers who have jumped in to Xbox 360 will be able to join legions of Xbox fans next spring in all-new multiplayer maps for “Halo 2” available for download through Xbox Live Marketplace (now you're talking!). The exclusive “Halo 2” content will bring new experiences and excitement to the seminal sequel that made entertainment retail history in its first 24 hours — with $125 million in sales (Bill Gates Jr.'s college fund) — and that boasts more than four billion online matches since its release in November 2004.

“Since its original release, ‘Halo 2’ has redefined online play, delivering superior multiplayer capabilities in addition to an incredible social experience, and nurturing a constantly growing community through Xbox Live,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “After five years of rabid fan interest in the ‘Halo’ franchise and with more than 4 million users and counting on Xbox Live worldwide, this is the perfect time to invite fans to join the global ‘Halo’ phenomenon (Do Do Da Do Do).”

Next-generation high-definition visuals; enhanced artificial intelligence; an advanced real-time lighting engine; and new weapons, characters and challenges are just a few examples of the evolution of design and technology in “Halo 3.” These improvements are designed to give gamers an unparalleled experience and tell an even more compelling and engrossing story. Working in concert with Xbox Live on Xbox 360, “Halo 3” builds on the unique social multiplayer experience of “Halo 2” and promises to expand the innovative and evolving online gameplay and community of “Halo 2” on Xbox Live. In this third chapter of the “Halo” trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax (Snicker!).

Okay, I'm excited just bring out the game already. A public beta is a great idea and to be honest, not that unexpected. This announcement along with a steady stream of teasers from now until Halo 3 comes out is certain to keep the title on gamers minds. This, combined with the downloadable TV and movies on Xbox Live starting November 22, is a pretty slick move by Microsoft to steal some of the PS3's thunder.

No Live for the PS3 - I got an email from my buddy Angela at 2K the other day who was almost gloating (almost but not quite) at the news that EA will not be releasing NBA Live '07 on the PS3. This of course leaves 2K7 an upper hand (well, except for Madden and NHL Live) on the PS3 sports market. Why would EA do this? I'm not quite sure but I'm sure next year EA will be coming after a much larger PS3 market than the one that exists this Christmas.

Oh, yeah...about that ship - The pic above is of a UNSC Shortsword bomber. A ground based atmospheric bomber that is used primarily for short range, heavy payload, runs against ground targets. Or so I'm told. Primarily developed as a low altitude bomber, the Shortsword has proven to be very effective against Covenant installations. I'm not sure if gamers will be able to control this vehicle (which looks an awful lot like a Klingon Bird of Prey) in Halo Wars, but it sure would be sweet if we do.

And finally... - Last night I went to my favorite gaming store (Game Crazy on Academy between Palmer Park and Constitution) and tried out the Nintendo Wii. They had a Wii set up and an Excite Bike demo was running. I got a hold of the controller and all I can say is...WOW! It was incredibly fun. The buttons were easy to reach, the controls were simple yet engaging and the motion control felt very intuitive. It was a blast! I highly recommend you get over there and try it out.

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