The Gamers Pub Episode 213 – Halo Memories…and penises

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The Year In Review: #9 Halo 5: Guardians

Sure, sequels are hard, but they’re made even more difficult when you have to follow what was the dramatic climax and culmination of a then 11-year-old franchise. Halo 4, despite the nonsensical nature of the ending, managed to imbue genuine emotion into a relationship between what many originally thought was a robot and what mostly is a robot when she’s controlling machinery.

That challenge, though, is actually what makes Halo 5: Guardians all the better because rather than try clear to that high narrative bar, it instead chose to go around it. Or maybe it did try and just failed, resulting in a “baffling, meandering, predictable, somewhat dull story,” but the point is that the gameplay in Guardians is the best it has ever been.

And standing against some of the most fun and best shooting and driving in the industry, that’s saying a lot. Consider that Halo not only revolutionized the shooter space with its limited armaments and more intuitive stick-based driving but also introduced the idea of orchestrating large, strangely operatic battle sequences.

“Orchestrating.” “Operatic.” These are very deliberate word choices for describing the series because not only is Marty O’Donnell’s iconic musical score integral to the success of the games but there is a rhythm to the combat of Halo that is indelible to the minds of anyone who has played the games, owed in part to each encounter’s design but also the artificial intelligence, or AI. There’s a reason why there has been so much written about the game’s enemies.

But we already know about that flow, that cadence. We already know how battles are crafted around the idea of moving to a beat. Shoot a guy here, dump this gun for this other gun, spin around to toss a grenade, pick up a sword and dice a few fools, all before making it to the Wraith tank and blowing it up. That’s a done deal and surely you’re tired of hearing about it like how a college student is tired of hearing about their bank account being overdrawn.

What needs to be highlighted here is how many fresh ideas Guardians manages to inject into that formula and not only keep that nearly indescribable quality up but also improve on it. Of course, Halo has been expanding on Spartan abilities since forever. From dual wielding to armor abilities, Bungie and 343 Industries have slowly been taking Master Chief and his cohorts from extraordinarily tough jarheads to relative demigods.

Halo 5: Guardians

Guardians, however, has had the most impactful expansion yet, partly in due to its brush-up against some more modern sensibilities; sprinting and iron sights are just there. But even these were smartly integrated, being that sprinting is also a gateway to more abilities and smart-linking—the idiomatic term for scoped aiming—doesn’t actually improve accuracy. (Well, it does, kind of, but only with unwieldy things like the SMG.)

While the indistinguishable difference in precision is vital for maintaining Halo‘s freedom of and impetus for mobility, the increased ability to get from place to place has opened up a whole new range of options when fighting. Sprint to shoulder charge and then thrust dodge off the edge to the right before hovering with smart-link to get a few headshots, all just to ground pound the fuck out of the clueless Grunts below.

Rather than becoming more like every other shooter (read: Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Titanfall) by integrating these commonalities, Guardians has actually made itself stand out even further. That rhythm has learned new meters and measures, offering not only more of the best but new facets of the best. It’s not just a new chapter. It’s a whole new god damn book.

Halo 2 And The 10-Year Itch

There has been a lot of Halo in the air. It’s a bit like a roaming, free-floating sensation of Christmas jollies surrounding you, but it’s far more explosion-y. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is on the verge of release (it’s happening tomorrow), including a fresh launch trailer for the sizable aggregation. The reviews have already hit and roving around. And there’s that Halo 2 documentary.

Freely available on Xbox Video and the general Internet, it’s a roughly one-hour look back at the development of one of the most hyped games ever released and how 343 Industries went about remastering it for the aforementioned collection. The title—Remaking the Legend – Halo 2 Anniversary—is more than a bit presumptuous. There’s no denying the game made a huge splash both before and after release, but “legend” might be more marketing than fact.

It’s not that anything the people in the documentary said were entirely false. That would just be lying. In fact, Halo 2 did almost singlehandedly manufacture the now standard and widespread concepts embedded within current online multiplayer including playlists, matchmaking, and, well, playing shooters online with a console. It basically took the burden of justifying Xbox Live upon its green armored shoulders and plowed headlong into the future.

What it does manage to gloss over (besides other influences within the realms that Halo 2‘s multiplayer innovations dallied in) is what a colossal disappointment that game was. Okay, let’s dial it back: both “colossal” and “disappointment” are supremely relative. It is, by all means, a great game and still holds up in most regards today, but you have to know the context with which it was released could not generate anything less than some degree of tepid nostalgia.

The two chief pillars to which critics will point first involve the Arbiter, the second playable character in the game’s single-player campaign. The impact upon the mythos this Covenant pariah has is conceptually solid, but it plays out within the rest of the story like a prequel Star Wars. It’s full of politics and not enough basely intuitive or intellectually stirring actuations the brooding conflicts and twists.

Not only that, but playing the Arbiter was far from compelling. For all the ire that the Flood drew in Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie saw fit to instead excise the entirety of that painful underground exercise into its own segment involving a character no one really wanted to play. Perhaps it was some twisted idea of redemption in proving they can actually make the Flood fun, but the net result was the same.

Halo 2: Anniversary

Then there is the ending, or lack thereof. It does, for all reasonable analyses, end only in the strictest definition of the word. It is the terminus of the campaign, yes, but it goes so far out of its way to be a cliffhanger that it must have been as inconvenient to write as it was frustrating to watch. The only way it could have been more insulting if Master Chief had actually been hanging from a cliff. (The real reason follows below.)

This makes the documentary—this 62-minute trailer barely qualifies as such when it so directly is aimed at wallets—a lackluster addition to the game’s history. It has some neat tidbits and behind-the-scenes clips (who knew John Mayer played on the soundtrack? That’s incredible.) but it also skips over the most compelling arc of all: an education.

It’s lightly touched upon in the part where some folks that worked on the game discussed its genesis, which was sloppy to say the least. It was a haphazard affair with a lot of guns pointed in a lot of directions that all hoped to cooperatively shoot down the giant sequel hype beast while not really planning ahead or even communicating all that well. It serves to highlight the true value of Halo 2, which are its contributions to Halo 3.

Halo 3

Put aside all of the multiplayer influences that linger about today and focus on the broad strokes. Halo 2‘s development was, by all means, a nightmare. Most, if not all, of what was shown as the first bit of publicly viewable gameplay in 2003 was scrapped and the game was not playable until a year later. And the subsequent and seemingly interminable engine work blocked production and design, rendering half of the team useless.

This led to the final year of development to be described as “the mother of all crunches” in an IGN retrospective. A split team structure resulted in broken lines of communication and a prototypical mess with an impending deadline. It was the paragon of poor planning and excessive ambition.

Yet we still ended up with one of the highest rated games of 2004 and one of the best selling games ever. But all it led to was the immediate production of Halo 3, which would eclipse its predecessor in terms of sales and ratings. And if you look at its actual development, it came across as a far more structured endeavor. Instead of spreading thin across arbitrary divisions of labor, Halo 3 worked between a single-player and multiplayer chasm, producing individual builds and weekly, publicly accountable updates.

Halo 3 Believe ad

The end result of this lesson in growing from a “messy adolescence” (as Halo 2 engineering lead Chris Butcher put it) to a legitimate organization and a superior product that had a metered and met ambition and expectation. And from that, we had several ensuing games of the same universe grace our gaming libraries.

It’s interesting to think of the material contributions Halo 2 had on the industry and its studio and our lives directly and in fact makes for a good sell to think fondly on and purchase the Master Chief Collection, but an equally compelling thought is how it shaped the studio that would come to continually pump out game of the year contenders. (And a somewhat average, derivative game about light and dark.)

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Preview Very Hot 1/6 US Navy SEAL HALO UDT Jumper x 2 & US Army Special Forces HALO

High-altitude military parachuting or military free fall (MFF) is a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. Two techniques are used: HALO (high altitude – low opening) and HAHO (high altitude – high opening).

In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time, while in the HAHO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a high altitude just a few seconds after jumping from the aircraft. HALO techniques date back to 1960 when the U.S. Air Force was conducting experiments that followed earlier work by Colonel John Stapp in the late 1940s through early 1950s on survivability factors for high-flying pilots needing to eject at high altitudes. In recent years, the HALO technique has been practiced by civilians as a form of skydiving. HALO is used for delivering equipment, supplies, or personnel, while HAHO is generally used only for personnel.

In typical HALO / HAHO insertions, the troops are dispatched from altitudes between 15,000 feet (4,600 m) and 35,000 feet (11,000 m).

VERY HOT will be releasing three versions of 1/6 scale HALO military figures: a U.S. ARMY Special Forces – HALO (shown above and in the pictures following), a U.S. Navy SEAL HALO UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) Jumper Camouflage Dry Suit version and a U.S. Navy SEAL HALO UDT Jumper Wet Suit version, all with and without figure options available.

Scroll down to see all the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

These are certainly not the first 12-inch HALO figure sets to have ever been released. Dragon Models Limited released their version many many years ago but the best sets were to come from Hot Toys, way before they even went into movie merchandising. Hot Toys released two versions of HALO jumpers way back in 2001 (a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret Woodlands camouflage version and a U.S. Navy SEAL wet suit version) on which these Very Hot releases seem to be based on as well. It’s been a while since we have seen HALO figures so this is good for new comers to the 12-inch military figure market. You can check out pictures of the 2001 released Hot Toys 1/6 scale U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) Jumper 12-inch figure posted on my toy blog HERE
BBI also released a Elite Force 1/6 scale Australian SAS Regiment HALO Jumper (SASR HALO) “CPL Chris Naylor” 12-inch military figure in 2003 and it was GOOD! Not as heavily decked out as Hot Toys’ HALO, but still very nice for the asking price. You can see the pictures HERE.
In 2004, Hot Toys followed up with their 1/6 scale U.S. Navy SEAL Night Ops Jumper 12-inch figure which was not a HALO figure but a straight drop paratrooper figure. Check out the post HERE.
In a typical HALO exercise, a parachutist will jump with: an altimeter, an automatic [parachute] activation device (AAD), a parachute, knife, helmet, pair of gloves, pair of military free-fall boots, bailout oxygen, 50 to 100+ pound combat pack with fighting and sustenance gear (depending on the mission parameters and operational specifications). These operators are certainly a rare breed!
The VERY HOT 1/6 scale U.S. ARMY Special Forces – HALO 12-inch figure will come with a Vin Diesel looking head sculpt for the figure and outfit option.
Scroll down to see pictures of the Very Hot U.S. Navy SEAL HALO UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) Jumper Camouflage Dry Suit version (with and without figure options)
All types of parachuting technique are dangerous, but HALO/HAHO carry special risks. At high altitudes (greater than 22,000 feet [6,700 m]), the partial pressure of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is low. Oxygen is required for human respiration and lack of pressure can lead to hypoxia. Also, rapid ascent in the jump aircraft without all nitrogen flushed from the bloodstream can lead to decompression sickness (also known as caisson disease or “the bends”).
A typical HALO exercise will require a pre-breathing period (30–45 minutes) prior to jump where the jumper breathes 100% oxygen in order to flush nitrogen from their bloodstream. Also, a HALO jumper will employ an oxygen bottle during the jump. Danger can come from medical conditions affecting the jumper. For example, cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug use (including histamine antagonists, sedatives, and analgesics), anemia, carbon monoxide, fatigue and anxiety can all lead to a jumper being more susceptible to hypoxia. In addition, problems with the oxygen bottle and during the changeover from the pre-breather to the oxygen bottle can result in the return of nitrogen to the jumper’s bloodstream and, therefore, an increased likelihood of decompression sickness.
Another risk is from the low ambient temperatures prevalent at higher altitudes. At an altitude of 35,000 feet, the jumper faces temperatures of –45 °C (–50 °F), and can experience frostbite. However, HALO jumpers generally wear polypropylene knit undergarments and other warm clothing to prevent this.

HALO carries the additional risk that if the parachute fails to deploy or lines become tangled, there is less time to resort to the reserve (back-up parachute) or untangle the lines, though the reserve is the best option if this were to occur.

The VERY HOT 1/6 scale U.S. Navy SEAL HALO UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) Jumper Camouflage Dry Suit version 12-inch figure will come with a Jason Statham looking head sculpt for the figure and outfit option.
Last but not least, Very Hot will also be releasing a U.S. Navy SEAL HALO UDT Jumper Wet Suit version (with and without figure options)
The figure option will come with a Jason Statham looking head sculpt
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HALO SPARTAN Drops by 3A Toys On October 17

3A Toys prepares to unleash new soldiers in the battle of the 1/6 realms with their Retail Edition HALO SPARTAN GABRIEL THORNE, and Bambaland Exclusive HALO SPARTAN RECRUIT! D-Day is October 17th, 2014 via, with a SRP of US$220 (“Free” international shipping included). And while equipment remains essentially the same, the HALO UNSC Spartan Recruit has an extra “SRS 99-S5 Sniper

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NECA, 343 Industries announce Halo licensing deal

NECA and 343 Industries have just announced a new licensing deal, one in which the Halo franchise will get a ton of merch made by NECA. That includes 1/4-scale figures, mini-figures, prop replicas, and according to the press release, even motorcycle helmets. Probably like Master Chief’s Spartan armor helmet.

The Halo franchise is not entirely new to NECA; they did release some Halo HeroClix back in the day, but this represents a huge expansion beyond that. Is there anything you’re hoping to see NECA produce from the Haloverse, Tomopop readers?

Read more…

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McFarlane Toys Halo 4 Series 1 – Master Chief with Assault Rifle Action Figure

Brand new figures based on the highly-anticipated video game, Halo 4, created by Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries. The Halo 4 action figures lines include all-new, never-before-seen characters, weapons, accessories, and vehicles from Halo 4 sure to excite video game fans and action figure collectors worldwide. Halo 4 Series 1 line includes individual 6-inch figures, deluxe figures, and collector boxes.

Product Features

  • Re-designed Halo 4 figure
  • Figure includes Assault Rifle
  • Approximately 55 tall

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