Microsoft just announced their virtual assistant software for Windows Phones, and the connection to Halo isn’t just her name:
Cortana is named after a virtual character in Halo, Microsoft’s science-fiction video game series, that uses her encyclopedic knowledge about the universe to help the game’s protagonist, Master Chief. The actress, Jen Taylor, who does the voice for the character, also provided recordings for the phone assistant’s voice.
The above Ode to Garry’s Mod is a hilarious, silly and kind of moving tribute to one of the goofiest games in existence. Just watching it made me think of all the hours I’ve spent in the Source engine’s multiple iterations, from Garry’s Mod to Left4Dead and Counter-Strike. Without Garry’s Mod, we dudes at Smooth Few Films would have been unable to produce some of The Leet World’s stupider effects. It’s hard not to be grateful for that engine, and all the time I’ve spent exploring it for glitches, physics and lighting experiments.
So it got me thinking: what gaming experiences are you guys thankful for? From multiplayer to singleplayer, what experiences do you feel went beyond a hobby to something that actually played a big part in your life? Beyond Garry’s Mod, I’d have to say Mass Effect inspired my imagination more than almost any game in the last few years, and Halo gifted me with a way to stay in touch with all of my long distance friends.
What about you guys? What gaming experiences are you thankful for?
One of the most exciting things about the Halo series are the varied enemies. Each enemy is unique in appearance and behavior, from the cannon fodder of the Grunts to the charging ferocity of the Brutes. It’s a trademark of the franchise and something other games just can’t quite nail. When 343 Studios took over the reins, some fans were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to live up to the strong legacy set by Bungie.
Well, this gallery of Promethean enemy classes, brought you by All Games Beta, shows those concerns just might be unfounded. The different classes and behaviors, not to mention weapons that are showcased in the gallery, lead me to believe that 343 is on point with Halo 4. The Knight alone sounds scary enough, but the Knight Commander seems like an uber-powerful version that might make me wet my pants the first time we meet. Hopefully, Master Chief can snag some of those bad-ass weapons and do some damage himself.
What say you? Do the Prometheans look like they carry on the Halo tradition or do they look generic to you? Hit the comments!
When I was a kid, I remember sitting in the living room with a bowl of Frosted Flakes, watching cartoons with an eager hunger every Saturday morning. In addition to the classics such as the Super Mario Bros cartoon or Captain N, I was fascinated with the show Reboot, which takes place entirely in a virtual world. Since then, I think I’ve always had a desire for even more fiction that revolves around gaming, which is surprisingly seldom encountered even two decades later.
However, today I stumbled across a short story that a friend of mine wrote over at Prolific Novelista, so I figured I would share. Player is the tale of one man’s quest to beat an anonymous gamer online, and the way our competitive edge kicks in whenever we deal with strangers in multiplayer settings. It’s a piece that I think all of us can identify with. I know that one of the most shocking things for me when I first entered the realm of online gaming was realizing that I was just a mediocre fish in a sea of badasses with itchy trigger fingers. The desire to beat an opponent at a game you pride yourself in is a strong one, and we’ve all encountered it at one time or another.
So yeah, I think you guys should read it. Definitely entertaining and familiar. I would also suggest you guys check out Ready Player One, a novel I keep hearing about that takes place inside of a video game. Thoughts, gents and ladies? Go!
One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics has to do with the idea that every man has a price. Calvin says that his price is two bucks cold cash up front, to which Hobbes muses aloud that he’s not sure what’s worse: that everyone has his price, or that the price is sometimes so low. What’s funny is that the more I think about it, the more this is actually true in gaming, too. Everyone’s got a price in terms of what they want from a game. And while the Bill Watterson comic touched on this in a more sinister way with morality, I think it’s what actually helps us enjoy games overall.
I’m hardcore. At least, I consider myself to be. As such, I usually play games the first time through on at least normal, never dropping to easy mode unless I am just interested in the story, which is a rare occasion at best. But with games that I’ve played before, such as the newly released Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, I wanted to challenge myself and play it on Heroic. So that’s what Eddy and I did.
Until some technical SNAFUs got in the way. We were playing co-op, breezing through the game and right at the very end of the level “Assault on the Control Room” when we were suddenly disconnected from Xbox Live. Thanks to the games archaic checkpoint system, we lost our progress and would have been forced to replay the whole level again, if it wasn’t for the fact that we rage quit for a week.
Finally, this weekend, we got back on the Halo horse and started kicking ass again. Until it happened again…in The Library. Rather than race to trade the game in, which was my first instinct, Eddy suggested we drop it to normal and just beat it quickly. And so we did. And what an enjoyable experience that was. We were so tired of the game that we just wanted to race right through it and be done with it.
Has this happened to anyone else? You suddenly lose all concern for your hardcore cred and just want to BEAT THE FREAKING THING and move on with your life? Sound off!
The release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary yesterday also saw the passing of the franchises’ tenth year in existence. Yes that’s right, good old Halo is 10 years old, if you can believe it. It seems only yesterday that I was waiting for Reach to fall or finishing the fight, but there you have it. Halo has been such a fixture in my gaming life that I can’t really let this occasion pass by unnoticed.
I played Halo: Combat Evolved more than any other game, even Knights of the Old Republic 2, which absorbed a large part of my life. I played through the campaign on solo and co-op on every difficulty except for Easy, and I had dozens of LAN parties with friends, trying to to see who could out-pistol each other. It’s kind of amusing to me that the most iconic weapon in Halo’s history is reportedly a tweak that was put in by accident by a developer that more than doubled the pistol’s damage right before ship.
Halo 2 had almost as much of an impact on me; it was the first game I lined up at midnight for, and it also showed me that multiplayer could be done well on consoles. While I was still very much a PC player then, the fact that I could have a great experience on my TV was kind of revolutionary. Halo 2’s campaign was also pretty decent, story blunders and the fact that I would have to wait four more years to get a Halo game set entirely on Earth. Continue reading 10 Years of Halo