Quick Hits: Iris Annoys, Achievements List Puzzles

First off, a quick apology for the lack of updates around here. Mrs. Narcogen and I have been moving all our worldly possessions crosstown in cardboard boxes, suitcases and backpacks over the past two weeks, and the job now is nearly done. For me, that makes... eleven apartments in thirteen years. The new place once again has a separate room for all the gadgetry, so that's where the New Rampancy Towers is located.

Iris Reaches Out And Touches... The Wrong Person

The Hushed Casket has quickly become, along with the CompundIntelligence group at Bungie.net and the ARG forum at Bungie.org, one of the best places to keep up with the alternate reality game promoting Halo 3, which is apparently called "Iris". There's still no hint of whether or not Forty Two is involved in this game, although it does seem that Bungie is a bit more involved this time around, and things are more clearly focused on the game. The Halo 3 comic, for instance, is a far more straightforward bit of storytelling with a direct connection to the game, as compared to the I Love Bees audio drama. This has led to a predictable criticism-- that if the game only attracts fans of Halo, as opposed to fans of ARGS, what's the point, since Halo fans are going to buy Halo anyway? I've wondered that myself more than once. Clearly the sales benefits of ARGs are indirect at best.

Those benefits are likely no comfort at all to college student Michael VanderZand, whose mobile phone number was concluded to be related to the game because of its resemblance to a number in an Xbox Live profile. For the full story, read rapture's piece at THX.

As for the game itself, the friendly (if a bit terse) AI called "Adjutant Reflex", mistaken by many as a monitor despite his lack of a numerical designation, has apparently been taken over by a more powerful and less friendly entity-- perhaps that is a monitor?

We're In For Some Chop

Yesterday I read at HBO that Louis Wu was linking to a purported list of Halo 3 achievements, but was a bit suspicious at first. Then, the authenticity of the list was seemingly confirmed when it was also located at a very official source-- xbox.com itself.

Imagine my disappointment, since I had just finished writing a long piece on how the achievements couldn't possibly be the real thing, but were just a hoax perpetrated by a fan with too much time on his hands. I posted the thing and deleted it within five minutes.

Even now, looking at the list, I hold on to a desperate hope that it's a red herring or perhaps a placeholder of some sort. If it's real, it's a spoiler, so click "read more" below for my look at the list.

First off, since when does Bungie give Halo level names Roman numerals? Are those achievements really level titles? Since when do Halo games have so many one-word titles, with no proper place names whatsoever?

Sure, we had Arbiter, Oracle, Uprising, Outskirts and Metropolis in Halo 2, but we also had mouthfuls like Pillar of Autumn, Truth and Reconciliation, Assault on the Control Room, as well as place names like Delta Halo, High Charity, Silent Cartographer and Cairo Station. These names are vague to a ridiculous point. The third entry, The Road, looks like it's just had its final portion lopped off, as if The Road To Voi hadn't already been mentioned several times to date, including the Halo 2 soundtrack.

The campaign completion medals use a cute Grunt and a happy Spartan for Normal and Heroic; what happened to the regular icons like Halo 1 had? Does this mean there is no Easy difficulty, or that beating the game on Easy isn't worth a medal?

If the list is legit, it looks like a bunch of the skulls are back, along with a new one or three. Sounds good to me.

The weapon-specific achievements seem a bit strange. The sword gets one, the Mongoose gets one, the needler gets one, and the laser gets two. Meanwhile, in the beta, any laser or sniper kill also got a medal.

The Aliens homage, "we're in for some chop" seems a bit ham-handed. It's a vehicle-related achievement, which makes sense, since that line is delivered by a dropship pilot in the movie. However, it has nothing to do with dropships, and nothing gets destroyed in that scene in the movie, which doesn't.

Finally, the Marathon Man achievement for locating all terminals is interesting. Halo 3 has terminals?

Forget everything I said. If Halo 3 has terminals, it's going to be great by definition. Except... no Vidmaster achievement?