Halo 3 IMAX Show in Seattle on 8/21/2007Halo 3
Posted 22 August 2007 - 12:23 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 01:06 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 01:19 AM
Cheers for writing up your impressions, am very jealous!
I heard that showed a save-vid of Sand Trap, from that were you able to guage what sort of size it was in relation to other maps? And also what the scenery is like on that map - rocks, trees, mounds etc..?
Oh man. Sandtrap is HUGE. They aren't lying when they say it's the biggest Halo map ever. There's large ruins everywhere, and I mean LARGE. These things are hundreds of feet tall. And you can actually get on them and jump off down to the desert below. There are a couple of Grav Lifts, which appear to boost people up to the rooftops of said ruins. I'll draw a small diagram of the map later, but basically it's bisected by a large gorge in the middle, with a base on either side and large "side canyons" where lots of vehicular mishaps occur. More impressions soon.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 01:52 AM
Edited by Cuckooo, 22 August 2007 - 01:53 AM.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 02:56 AM
Drew is spot on with all of his comments. Sandtrap is wonderful.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 03:09 AM
It was a great experience, easily some of the most fun I've had in my life. I missed out on going to PAX for this, and let me say, it was worth every bit of it. There's nothing like oohing and ahhing with hundreds of your fellow fans. We got into the theater and the Campaign lobby was up on the screen (holy wow I want one), and it looked fantastic. After the initial shock of how awesome it was, I noticed that the difficulty was set at easy. A few others did as well, apparently, because it wasn't long until jokes about skill at Luke's expense were being thrown around the theater. The campaign lobby is really cool, with the Chief and Arbiter standing on the edge of the Ark, just breathing. It's amazing how something so simple can be so impressive. After some shouting and laughs, the difficulty menu was brought up and we got to see what I thought was one of the biggest things in the demo. At the top there's a box to select difficulty, and then right below that there were skulls. Lots and lots of skulls. I wasn't able to count them all, but there are way more than 9 skulls. We're in for a real treat come launch. You can also set the way the metagame scores (if at all) before the match. You can have a combined total, where everyone's points go toward a single pool, team (?) which I'm assuming is when Team Elite and Team Heroes work against each other (2v2), and then there was FFA scoring, where it was each man for his own. I didn't pay attention to point totals when the game was playing (sorry), but there was just too much happening and I was far too awestruck to take note. Anyway, onto the gameplay.
The demo started in a small armory in a run down UNSC base, with the Chief's visor flashing those awesome lines followed by him pulling out his Assault Rifle (the way it was done, in such a cinematic manner with the motion blur and the screen moving was so cool - insert tons of cheering and whoops here). There's a brief exchange between Miranda and a pinned Sergeant, and you're given orders to get out of the base and assist said Sergeant. The dialog was cut short by Luke, who was playing as the Arbiter on a separate screen, cut down Frankie's shields and crouched rapidly up and down in an all-to-familiar manner. Laughs all around. Frankie then ran over to a weapon rack and swapped his Assault Rifle for a Shotgun. He then proceeded to run out into a large hangar of sorts, which was quite dark. He flipped on his flashlight and ran over to a switch on the wall, which opened the large doors. Turning around, he and Luke jumped into two separate Warthogs, which were quickly filled out by marines. This is where it got interesting. Starting down a long tunnel for the first time, I noticed the PHENOMENAL framerate. It was certainly higher than 30FPS, but just how much higher I can't. It was extremely disorienting at first, seeing as how I'd been acclimated to a pretty standard 30FPS for the game. Everything moved so quick and smooth-like, it was very impressive. There was also motion-blur present, and it looked amazing. Anyway, after a short drive and some marine banter they arrived at the exit of the cave, guarded by several Jackals, a few Grunts, and a Brute or two. The duo made short work of them and they plowed straight through, crushing everything in their path. Outside, the pair of 'Hogs crested a small hill and we got to see the scale of the game for the first time. Everyone gasped, myself included. Our eyes met a gorgeous expanse of canyon, with the huge skeleton of the space elevator towering over the rest of the land. At this point, Frankie hopes out of his 'Hog and dives into a small group of enemies. He quickly disposes of them, picks up a FRG, and gets into Luke's 'Hog as a gunner. I should probably mention that there were no signs of jaggies anywhere, throughout the entire duration of the singleplayer demo. They definitely bumped up the level of AA. Now we're onto part two of the campaign demo.
The 'Hog made a short trip through some wreckage and small encampments of enemies (Brute packs**, which were supported by nearby sniper towers) and over a large hill nearby to the next section, which was comprised of a large canyon with a small oasis in the middle. There were a few shenanigans as Frankie and Luke rode around the canyon for a little while. It wasn't long until the Brutes fought back, however, filling the air with Fuel Rods and covering the ground in deployed equipment. We got our first taste of the flare shortly after, which is very interesting. It deploys and starts floating in the air, and I would best describe it as a small miniature sun. Extremely bright, and it burned images into the "retinas" of the player, kind of like a ghosting effect. Frankie's shields were dropped by a near-headshot from a Jackal Sniper, and they hid behind a large rock at the entrance of the area, above the Oasis. Getting out of the 'Hog, Frankie and Luke started whittling away at the enemy forces (of which there were many). A Phantom dropped in and started unloading troops into the water. Frankie took a few potshots at it with the FRG, failing to take it down. It fires a lot faster now, and it's shots are devastating, taking out about 2/3rds of the shield with a single hit. It sprayed the duo before zooming off. Frankie was walking around the rock and Luke's head was blown off right in front of him by Jackal sniper. Think Last Resort leak and the Spartan Laser at Camp Froman, much to the entertainment of Frankie and the crowd. After respawning, Luke and Frankie worked by moving from cover to cover, picking off Jackal Snipers and taking out small packs of Brutes. Frankie also demonstrates the Plasma Turret here, picking it up and dropped into third person. Tons of cheers from the crowd. After the area was cleared, they moved up to the left of a large gate-like structure. The foliage system is amazing, and has improved a ton since we last saw it. I mean, wow. It sways in the winds and responds by getting pushed aside when you walk through it. The draw distance for it has also significantly improved. As far as I can tell, it goes as far as the eye can see. There's a couple Shade turrets on the aforementioned gate structure, which Frankie makes short work of with the FRG. He then narrowly escapes from a plasma tossed by one of the new, and still lovable (despite the change in appearance) grunts. After killing him, they moved on to the next section. The hill sloped down and past the gate. A friendly Warthog arrived, and trapped the two-dozen or so enemies that were entrenched behind the gate, upon which Frankie and Luke descended, raining Battle Rifle death on all those who dared oppose them. The animations and AI for the Brutes are incredible, by the way. They dive, roll, and weave in and out of cover, taking potshots and throwing grenades, calling out combat banter and really adding to the chaos with their squad tactics. There was one part where Frankie tossed a grenade, and Brute dived out of the way, rolling, and while diving out the roll, tossed a grenade and followed it with a volley of spikes at Frank. Again, people cheered. Another Flare was dropped, completely blinding Frankie, who quickly retreated back up onto the gate. After regaining his vision, Frank and Luke commandeered the Warthog and rode off. Que next section.
On the note of another desperate call from the pinned Sergeant, you're ordered to continue pressing forward. There's a very scenic trip through some wreckage of the elevator, and we get our best look yet at just how huge this game is. Frankie and Luke pause for a moment, and look up at the wreckage, gleaming in the setting sun. It's absolutely massive, eclipsing everything else and making the player look like an ant. It was one of the defining moments of the demo, for me. The entire crowd gasped, I just kind of let out a muffled grunt, too awestruck to even make a sound. It was incredible. You don't know it until you see it in person. Holy wow it was fucking incredible. Anyway, after the break, they continued through a tunnel that's been blown to all hell, with holes in the ceiling and such. It also happens to be a great place to showcase the incredible HDR, with blaring sunlight streaking in through the holes and bathing the floor of the cave in an eerie glow. The guys emerge from the tunnel into another huge area, and after a short interlude from the pinned Sergeant stating his location on Tsavo Highway we get our first glimpse of another real battle. Dozens of enemies and at least seven vehicles (enemy, mind you) are out in this large area where the road falls off into the giant crater of the Ark to your right, and to your left there's a large cavern with a giant shield door which blocked all projectiles and vehicles from passing through. Situated directly across from the player, past the road and in-between the crater and the shield door was a large cliff, which had a sharp incline on either side, each with a sniper tower. The low area by the road is the location of the "roadblock" screenshots we saw in EGM and Edge, with large cargo trucks busted up and turned into some cover by the Brutes. Before you got to the road there were several bunkers and wrecked cars. Frankie and Luke moved into the area, killing two Choppers and a gaggle of Brutes right off the bat. This is when Frankie gets the bright idea of getting out of the Warthog and commandeering a Chopper. The Chopper, by the way, is incredible. The way it works is hard to explain, but basically the big wheels in the front are the main part of it, and actually the part that turns, dragging the rest of the vehicle with it. Again, hard to describe, but it looked perfect. Frankie whips around after mowing down a couple enemies and heads to the top of the cliff. He promptly jams the chopper up against a sniper tower, and flails about wildly as he attempts to get it unstuck. Much to his dismay, a Brute pack is quick approaching and before he gets a chance to get out of the Chopper and into cover, he's blown away by a hail of Brute Shots and Spikes. Painful looking stuff, I'm telling you. Cut to the follow camera for the Arbiter, who also happens to be getting owned by the fifteen or so Drones who emerged from behind the Shield Door. These things are serious business now, and their new look and sounds really convey that well. I don't know if any of you have ever seen a swarm of locusts in person, but that's what it sounded like. This terrible buzzing blazed through the speakers, followed by these earsplitting and seriously frightening shrieks and screeches. You do NOT want to fuck with a lot of these guys at once. Luke desperately runs for cover as they pour plasma down on him. Long story short, he's cut down fairly unceremoniously, prompting a short pause as the game loaded the last checkpoint and a thunderous applause and tons of cheering from the crowd. After they get dropped back into the game, Frank and Luke get to work on the masses of enemies again. This time, there's less stupid mistakes and more pwnage. Some more magic with the Chopper, some backup ownage by Luke on the Warthog's chaingun, and a another dead Frankie the duo is ready to get past the shield door. Luke holds off the incoming reinforcements as Frank plows through a bunch of Grunts with the Chopper, gets it stuck in a small dug-out area next to the door, and hops out. He proceeds to toss a grenade onto the shield generator, and the two surprised Grunts guarding the thing had just enough time to scream in terror before the went off, with a very satisfying "THUMP" and an echo through the cavernous tunnel beyond. Once again, the Drones descend on the (slightly) better prepared group, and after several trips between scattered cover and a demonstration of the impressive dual-cannons on the Chopper, the group gets into a Warthog and they start the trip down Tsavo Highway.
We thought we'd seen it all when it came to scale, but boy we couldn't be MORE wrong. The crowd collectively gasped as the Warthog moved out of the cool, dark tunnel into the blaring sunlight (HDR in full effect here, and wow, just... wow) on the highway. Here we get our first good glimpse of the Ark crater and the Forerunner ship popped down right smack in the middle of it. The highway winds around and another HUGE part of the demo ensues. The screen starts to shake and we here this crazy rumbling coming from the speakers. All of a sudden, the entire highway is cast into shadow as a Covenant Cruiser passes so close overhead that I swear you could almost reach out and touch it. The roar of the engines, the shaking of the screen, the SCALE of it all was mind-blowing. My thoughts were apparently echoed by many because the crowd once again burst out into impressed shouts and cheers. The ship glides over and heads toward the center of the crater, toward the Forerunner ship. Shortly after, the group comes to a broken section in the highway (which is elevated a hundred feet or so above the the ground below it). Frankie does some shenanigans with the Warthog, and his attempt to blast it over the concrete barriers and the hole in the highway goes terribly awry as it slams into him, nearly rocketing him off of the highway and sending him plummeting to his death. Team Heroes jumps out onto some of the protruding steel reinforcements and scale the gap in the highway as they move onto the final, and by far, most impressive part of the demo.
The group arrives at the Sergeant's location, and is ready to kick some ass when suddenly the situation becomes all too clear. Dozens and dozens of characters roam the canyon below, with a marine encampment up and to the left of the highway, completely surrounded by four or five Brute packs. To the right, there's a massive structure of some sort which gives a good overview of the entire area. Frankie and Luke begin working their way toward this large structure (kind of like a retaining wall, now that I think about it) and pick off Brutes antagonizing the marines on their way. There's tons of fire raining down upon the poor blokes, with no less than four or five fuel rods in the air at time, in addition to the obligatory hailstorm of spikes, Brute Shots, and Plasma/Spike grenades. There were so many marines it was hard to take a good count, but I'm going to guess around 20 of them were entrenched, lobbing grenades and desperately spraying AR and BR fire into the crowd of attackers. Luke tore off in a different direction than Frank. He must've been throwing himself into the crowds of enemies, because I noticed he was respawning a lot. Pretty humorous, really. Frank moved up onto the large wall structure (on which we met the rather depressing and bloody scene of what was obviously the scene of a massacre, with dead marines everywhere) and picked up a sniper rifle, sliding in a new clip into place (with that oh-so-awesome clinking sound). Before he began picking off the Brutes, who had since turned their attention away from the marines and toward this new, larger threat, we could clearly observe the way that equipment really changes up the campaign. There were at least four bubble shields deployed, a couple of flares going off, and I thought I saw a power drainer or two in action. Mind you, this is all at the same time Anyway, back to our Brute friends. They began advancing in droves, as Frank tried to pick as many off as he could. He's hilariously bad with the sniper, actually. After pissing a few off, a gaggle of Rangers took to the skies, flying through the air and returning fire on Frank, who missed every single shot aimed toward the flying foes. The crowd found this pretty amusing. Anyway, the Brutes landed opposite of the marine encampment at the far end of the canyon, where the road winded off to the next area. Luke was nearby and engaged the Brutes as they tried to cope with the two targets. One of the Rangers spooked and took off, he didn't get far though, as Frankie finally landed a headshot, knocking the sucker out of the sky. The crowd cheered him on as he moved in to regroup with the marines. There were about a dozen or so left alive. After a short breather, Miranda tells the group that Pelicans with heavy weapons are on their way and they should hold tight while they wait. BAD CHOICE. Literally moments afterword three or four Phantoms come swooping in from the horizon, and begin raining death down on the poor bastards stuck below. Frankie and Luke quickly take cover, heading for some weapons stashed nearby. Of all the things in world, Luke DUAL WIELDS PLASMA WEAPONS as Frank gets on a nearby turret. The Phantom's extremely powerful turrets once again become a factor here as Frankie quickly has his shields knocked down, and he yanks the turret off, trying his damnedest to scramble deeper into the bunker to seek cover. After the Phantom is done dropping it's troops off, Frankie heads out of the bunker and engages the enemy forces in earnest. Wave after wave, they approach, quickly running Frank out of ammo and pushing the marines and Team Heroes back. Frank's shields drop again, as Luke drops a Bubble Shield. After recuperating his shields, Frankie tries to remove himself from the battle and instead finds himself in the middle of a Brute pack, staring face-to-face with a Chieftain. It didn't take long for him to high-tail it out of there, grabbing and tossing a trip mine into the midst of another pack of Brutes, and running off, his shields being cut through like butter once again. He doesn't make it far, and is made short work, as he lie face-down in the dirt only ten feet from a nearby bunker. After respawning, we get to see Luke tagging the mine Frankie dropped, and the ensuing hilarity as the flying of the bodies began. This was short-lived, however, as three more Phantoms arrived and, literally, there were Brutes flowing out of them, as if someone had just turned on a giant fountain of hurt and pain. When all was said and done, there must've been at least another 30 Brutes added to the fray. More desperate fighting, and before we know it, the marines are shouting to look out for the Wraith. At this point, everything has gone to hell. Battle cries, screams of pain, explosions going of everywhere, spikes, grenades, and lead making the air so thick with hurt that you could practically take a knife to it. So then a Wraith comes down the highway, and Frankie desperately engages it, tossing grenade and trying to get close enough to board. It losses its mortar onto a group of hapless Brutes and marines, all being blown to pieces indiscriminately. The gunner opens up on Frank, nearly killing him, as Luke moves in to engage the sleek purple tank. After the gunner is offed, a couple well-placed grenades make short work of the now helpless Wraith. Some mop-up work, and finally a reprise from the relentless fighting. The group is informed that the Pelicans have almost arrived, and sure enough, they soar in from over the hills and swoop down, delivering some fresh Warthogs in an extremely epic manner. But way, it just isn't meant to be. Luke makes short work of the Warthogs with an FRG, and Frankie begins engaging him. It degrades into a massive friendly-fire of hilarity, as everyone starts shooting everyone. It's there they end the single-player portion to a standing ovation and much cheers and happiness all about.
As for some general things, there was a lot of combat banter. The Grunts were always screaming about the Arbiter, telling him to "get away while he still could" and to "save himself" (shaky loyalties... a sign of things to come, maybe?), and going on about "How could the Demon be here?!" "The Demon is alive?", and all around Grunt banter. The Brutes were quick to anger and were constantly shouting taunts, orders, and just making quite the racket. Jackals were still (from what I could tell), illegible. Drones were downright fucking scary, their shrieks are still burned into my head. The graphics were, again, this bears repeating, amazing. The best looking game I've ever laid eyes on. Even when I take my Halo blinders off, the game is a technical masterpiece. The HDR, scale, and attention to detail is phenomenal. There's tons of objects littering the environment. From what little we saw of it, the water looks incredible. The framerate is as smooth as butter and most probably above 30FPS. The motion blur is incredible, and does wonders for the game. The foliage system is even better than it was in the Beta, with the draw distance bumped up significantly and the overall lushness and plentifulness of it a thousand fold what we saw before. It swayed in the wind, and actually moved as the player traversed through it. The same applied to the bigger foliage, which has reached Crysis-levels of interactivity, gently brushing aside as players moved through it, or violently snapping around as vehicles traversed nearby. Leaves and such now respond as well, moving out the way to make way for characters. It should also be noted that throughout the entire level, there were tons of Banshees and Phantoms removed from the fight streaking toward the Ark. The sense of scale you get from this game is unprecedented. It's truly a masterpiece. Sounds were another huge thing, vastly improved from what I could tell (even through the terrible speakers they had set up). It loud and abundant, really adding to the experience. This game is going to be INCREDIBLE on a good surround sound system. I really need to invest in a new one, because really, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not having only the best setup to run this baby on.
All in all, it was INCREDIBLE. This was hands-down the most fun I've ever had with Halo, and I wasn't even playing. I don't know what's going to happen to me on the 25th, because I think that my head my damn well explode when I boot it up for the first time. Fucking incredible atmosphere, graphics, combat, flow, everything was perfect. Everything was a thousand times better than I was expecting. I really don't know what to say other then, Bungie, you are fucking Gods. All of the people shouting for you guys to have their babies were right on, because, seriously, I want you guys to have my manbabies. Holy shit. Well, that about sums up my single player impressions. It's 4AM in the morning, and I've got to go to work in two hours, so I'll save the Forge and Save Films impressions for tomorrow. Hoped you guys enjoyed this fairly in-depth rundown, as I know a lot of guys were looking for detail. Bah, whatever. I've decided I'm skipping work tomorrow. Time to write Forge/Save Film impressions.
Edited by Drew, 22 August 2007 - 03:28 AM.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 03:51 AM
Edited by Cuckooo, 22 August 2007 - 03:53 AM.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:10 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:28 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:48 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 07:24 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 07:31 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:03 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:07 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:56 AM
Posted 22 August 2007 - 09:30 AM
Very nice coverage. Forge and Saved Films are going to give Halo 3 some very long, very sexy legs. Really nice to see that the visual fidelity and sound design have been improved. I was impressed by both in the Beta, so if they've been significantly ramped up, then it's going from jaw-dropping to jaw-something that's more than dropping. I wanted to say breaking or removing, but that just sounds painful. Whatever. 9/25. BELIEVE.
Oh, and hello.
Posted 22 August 2007 - 10:15 AM
'Sup. Any word on when Ghaleon's going to be leaking the contents of his super secret, slip it in the pocket, Seattle-scented disc of Infinite Win? I've been waiting all day.
Can't wait to see the Saved Film from this event. Hopefully, they let the campaign stuff out there for the Weekly Update.
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