HALO 4: Can 343 Industries Restart The Fight?
*Update Nov. 11, 2012* Well, I’m happy to say that 343 Industries has indeed created one of the best HALO games since Reach. HALO 4 is well made, perfectly paced, and has some of the best graphics seen on the Xbox 360 this year.
Microsoft and 343 Industries finally announced that Halo 4 will indeed be released November 6th this year. Those who thought they had finished Master Chief’s fight in HALO 3 can breathe a sigh of relief as the Chief will be the protagonist of the new game.
The first HALO trilogy ended with Master Chief going into cryogenic sleep after numerous battles against the Covenant and the Flood. Master Chief is awakened from his cryo-sleep by Cortana after their ship is attacked by a mysterious spaceship, thus begins the new HALO trilogy.
It all sounds mighty exciting except for the fact that Bungie Studios (the developer who made the first three games) is not developing the game. HALO 4 will be developed exclusively by Microsoft’s own 343 Industries (343i). You see, after they finished working on HALO 3, Bungie separated from Microsoft and became an independent company. (Then later signed a ten-year publishing agreement with Activision/Blizzard, but that’s another story.)
The question on a lot of gamers minds is “can 343 Industries develop a HALO game as well Bungie?”
Sure 343i has had experience with the HALO franchise, but except for co-developing the “Defiant” Map Pack – with developer Certain Affinity – for HALO: Reach, 343i has mostly been working on the non-game development side of things; and they usually work with other developers on such projects. For example, HALO Waypoint was initially developed by Certain Affinity, then passed off to 343i for updates and such.
I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t 343i make HALO: Anniversary? ” That’s the common misconception. HALO: Anniversary was actually developed by Saber Interactive, with 343i overseeing the project. You see, HALO: Anniversary rendering engine (called Saber 3D) was developed by Saber Interactive. They then took HALO: Reach’s engine (developed by Bungie) and applied it to Halo: Anniversary’s multiplayer.
Knowing these facts, can we HALO fans not be skeptical about 343 Industries’ development of HALO 4? Since 343i is working exclusively on HALO 4 without help from Certain Affinity or Saber Interactive, can this untested developer bring the award-winning quality gameplay, storytelling, and multiplayer as benchmarked by Bungie Studios?
Another thing to note is that 343i has said in interviews that they plan to explore Master Chief’s character and background in more depth. For this writer, this is a GIANT risk because one of the most important and most attractive facets to the Chief’s character is his mysterious nature. (Unless you read the HALO novels) I think exploring this even further may remove the air of mystery that attracts many a gamer to the almost silent protagonist.
And again, since HALO 4 is the first game in a brand new trilogy, are gamers going to have to suffer more HALO 2-style. “Sir… Finishing this fight,” cliffhanger endings until the story is finished in HALO 6?
I’m certainly not bashing the game nor 343 Industries, I’m actually really excited to try out the new HALO once it arrives on November 6th. I’m just airing out my trepidation of Microsoft’s insistence on having a new developer work on what’s basically a modern-classic franchise.
Microsoft has a big chance to make even more money off of this new HALO Trilogy; with fans willing to give this new game a chance even without their beloved Bungie Studios behind the wheel. Here’s hoping that 343’s experience working with Certain Affinity, Saber Interactive, and of course Bungie Studios have given them the tools, creativity, and care needed to handle a franchise loved and revered by millions.
Now I would like to direct a question towards you, the reader.
Would you get HALO 4 even if it’s not developed by Bungie? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.