So the teaser that Bungie wanted to tease us with this past E3 is now out for download on Bungie.net in the usual flavors of QuickTime and Windows Media.
Luke Smith's post on Bungie.net calls this a "CG-teaser" and the front page refers to it as being for "one of our current projects".
My general impression is that this teaser is for a campaign expansion to Halo 3 that takes place sometime between the departure of Regret's ship from the Mombasa area and the Master Chief's return to Earth at the start of Halo 3. As such the main character or characters may be other human forces, perhaps marines or ODSTs, and the plot may focus on improvising city guerilla warfare against the Covenant forces in the city.
The most noticeable point of this trailer is that unlike nearly every Bungie game trailer produced to date, it is completely without music.
Without further ado, let's peruse the details the trailer offers.
This gallery shows each of the points illustrated here in order from 00:07 of the trailer through 1:02. Click each thumbnail for a full-size image and accompanying commentary.
[image:62799 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:07 we see a rooftop view of the city. Several buildings have visible corporate logos. In the near right we have Traxus, also seen many places in Halo 3 and a reference to a rampant Martian AI in Bungie's Marathon series. Up and left form that we see AMG, and in the far left a stylized "e" logo. The sky is criss-crossed with contrails indicating the recent passage of air vehicles, and in the middle right we can see a large Covenant ship, perhaps a carrier or a cruiser, slowly passing by an intact space elevator.
[image:62800 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] If this is indeed the same area seen in Halo 2, then the fact that the elevator is intact means it is certainly before its destruction, which is covered by the novel Ghosts of Onyx which occurs roughly between Halo 2 and Halo 3. If this is indeed Earth and the object seen at 00:07 is a Covenant ship, then it can be no earlier than Regret's arrival there during Halo 2 as this is the first known encounter between the Covenant and humanity on Earth.
NOTE: Thanks to those who provided the correction that the elevator from Ghosts is in Cuba, not Africa, so while the elevator in Africa is apparently somehow destroyed between Halo 2 and Halo 3, presumably by the wake of Regret's departure, the events of Ghosts are not involved.
[image:62801 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:09 we see, up close, one of many objects streaking (presumably) Earthward from high in the atmosphere. While there are few distinguishing characteristics visible even in the closeup, the logical conclusion is that they are drop pods, either human or Covenant. Later details may strongly indicate they are human, rather than Covenant.
At 00:10 we get a repeat of the previous rooftop camera view, slightly zoomed in; the Traxus logo that was in the lower right is now out of frame. A HUD has now been superimposed on the screen, and the Superintendent's avatar appears in the upper right, open-eyed and awake. In the lower right is the text "Tanaga.0086". Tanaga is an area in present-day Mali, in Western Africa, far from Mombasa and Zanzibar; however it is possible that in this context it is the name of a neighborhood in Mombasa. The number may indicate a location, or perhaps the number of the camera. The video presents several such camera views with the Superintendent superimposed; the implication is that these are security cameras around the city that are under his control, or that he at least has access to.
[image:62803 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] In the center of the screen we see the text "POST SCAN CAMERA ACTIVE" and "SCAN>> POP:0" and "[EVAC.COMPLETE]". This would seem to indicate that the current conditions-- one or more Covenant ships in the area, was anticipated and the city completely evacuated. This would largely explain the situation on the ground that the Master Chief and his compatriots experience in the Earth levels of Halo 2; a city completely empty, partially damaged, but still mostly intact.
[image:62805 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] As the scene ends, a clock pops up under the "TANAGA" line, indicating 16:11. This clock remains in the security camera shots, advancing from 16:11 forwards, until an event that apparently resets it to zero later in the video. One of the other messages shown under the clock is "SIERRA 117 LOC UNK" which would indicate that the Superintendent does not know the current location of the Master Chief. This may be another clue that this scenario does not involve him, and if the timeframe of these events are from Regret's departure onwards, then the Chief is not on Earth at this time.
At 00:12 we get a different camera view, this one labeled "LUMBUMBA.0624". The name is quite likely a reference to Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo following its independence from Belgium. In the upper left, a sign reads "evacuate" above the text "City of New Mombasa". The sky overhead is darker than the previous frame, which may be consistent with this view being from Mombasa in Kenya, on Africa's east coast, and the previous one being from Mali, far to the west.
[image:62807 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] The view is of a darkened and empty street, with several abandoned cars visible; the nearest one still has its forward-swinging door open. The architecture of the buildings, as well as the palm trees, make this scene very reminiscent of the area just outside the Hotel Zanzibar in Halo 2. At the end of the street a fire is burning.
[image:62810 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:14 we get a different camera, this one labeled "MBARAKI.2552", with the clock still ticking up from 16:11. Mbaraki is a port in Kenya. "2552" is the year in which the events of the Halo series thus far take place, but the other numbers that have followed locations have not looked like years. If this is indeed a year, then perhaps the previous reference, "06.24" is a month and day, indicating June 24th, but then the first reference, 0086, would be out of place.
The center of this view shows a view of the space elevator, stretching upwards between two towers. At this point the Superintendent is still visible in the upper right, still wide-eyed and alert.
[image:62811 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:15 the text "THRESHOLD TRIGGER" appears in frame, near center, and this triggers a change in the Superintendent's appearance, from eyes fully open to eyes that appear half-open. Some fans have considered this to be a "sleepy" look but the trailer may show this to be more consistent with wariness or suspicion.
The camera moves upwards and at 00:18 we get a look at some commotion in the sky; a large group of what looks like incoming drop pods, all moving from right to left from the center of the frame, and a smaller group, moving directly downwards into the frame and gradually moving slightly from left to right. The camera takes a few steps to zoom in on this smaller group.
[image:62815 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At the same time the camera began moving, the "THRESHOLD TRIGGER" text was replaced first by "AUTH INQ" indicating "authentication inquiry" or perhaps "authority inquiry" and then "AUTH DENIED" indicationg that the request was turned down. Further left, the text "ACTIVATING SUBROUTINE VERGIL" appears, along with "WARNING! DATA LEAK ON LEVEL 9!" Vergil is an alternate spelling for the name of classical Roman poet Virgil. Virgil is best known for his epic poem Aeneid, about the Trojan warrior Aeneas who flees the destroyed city and ends up being ancestor to the Romans. New Mombasa's fate here would seem to parallel Troy's.
[image:62816 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:21 the camera is fully zoomed in on the sixteen pods in the smaller group. Meanwhile, a loud rumbling and a bright blue-white light begins to emanate from behind the tower building on the left. It appears to engulf the larger group of pods, while the smaller group continues on its way. The explosion also appears to engulf the Mbaraki camera, as the view then switches to another one further away.
[image:62822 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:22 we are returned to a viewpoint similar to the first one, except now where the name of the camera was displayed is only "ERR" and the center of the screen shows "EMP TRIP DETECT". At 00:23 the camera text reads "SIDIRIYAI.0042".
It is quickly replaced with "ERR" again and the clock resets to zero as the view flickers in the face of the onrushing explosion.
From behind the two large towers we can see a blue-white sphere of light that appears to emit from some location near the surface, rather than from the atmosphere. That, combined with the fact that the only large Covenant ship seen in the trailer was moving from right to left, from behind the space elevator, roughly towards this area, may indicate that we are witnessing the events that closed the Halo 2 level Metropolis over again-- the Prophet of Regret's ship performing a slipspace jump from within New Mombasa, headed towards Delta Halo.
[image:62825 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] The Superintendent remains mostly in his eyes-half-closed state, but has now begun to flicker, and at times as many as three versions of him are displayed, in varying states.
[image:62828 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] By 00:23 the view from that camera is also interrupted, and we switch to another view of incoming pods. In these shots, they clearly seem to be trailing some kind of parachute or airbrake, similar to those seen at the start of the level Delta Halo in Halo 2, again indicating that the pods are of human, rather than Covenant origin. The Covenant drop pods, first seen in the Earth City trailer for Halo 2 and later in the Outskirts and Uprising levels of that game, do not appear to have any external braking mechanism such as this. The HUD displays "SAVE SYS STATE" over these images; the clock still reads zero and the camera name is still just "ERR".
By 00:24 we can see that the small group of pods is now just passing by the tops of the skyscrapers in the previous views. Also at 00:24 we see a camera view centered on the building with the TRAXUS logo; the blue-white ball of fire is present in the upper left. As it spreads from left to right across the screen, several drop pods also travel left to right across the screen, ahead of the blast, apparently unscathed. By 00:25 the ball of light has engulfed the entire screen.
From 00:25 to 00:31 we get almost a full six seconds of trademarked Staten-O'Donnell black screen and silence.
[image:62829 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:31 we begin to see what looks like a Superintendent status display. In the upper left is the text "ALERT STATUS" and beneath that, the Superintendent icon. Throughout this sequence his icon changes and flickers inconsistently. Beneath his icon is the logo and text "CITY OF NEW MOMBASA".
[image:62830 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] The main portion of the screen is taken up with a larger image of the Superintendent, two small green circles within a large green circle. Across the middle a large banner with a read background begins to read out "PLEASE REMAIN CALM" in several languages: Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and finally English. In the background are other variations: Dutch, Korean, German, Chinese, Portugese and French.
The background texts remain the same, while the foregrond English texts rotate through several messages.
[image:62831 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "EXPECT DELAYS" seems an obvious message to get in a crisis from what the Superintendent appears to be-- some sort of municipal AI involved in the administration of New Mombasa. Most logically it would perhaps refer to traffic (although the city is deserted) or perhaps to the provision of services by the AI and related systems.
[image:62832 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "ROAD CLOSED" seems to be a straightforward traffic warning.
[image:62833 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "YELLOW MEANS YIELD" is also self-explanatory, and would seem to be a message imploring people to stay safe and follow the rules.
[image:62834 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "OBEY POSTED LIMITS" is another message that seems traffic-focused, only missing the word "speed".
[image:62835 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "PARDON OUR DUST" usually refers to the mess caused by construction or repair, and has traditionally been used by Bungie to indicate errors or under construction areas on its website.
[image:62836 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] After that we get the much more cryptic "MADDIE, WHERE ARE YOU?" where it is unclear who Maddie is. Perhaps New Mombasa has more than one AI, and there is another one with whom the Superintendent has lost contact.
[image:62837 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "PROCEED WITH CAUTION" marks a return to a more traditional and straightforward safety message.
[image:62838 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "DANGER: FLOOD ZONE" is sure to be controversial with fans since Flood means something special in the Haloverse. Here it might refer simply to the possibility of continued natural disasters following the decidedly unnatural one we have just witnessed. However, it might also refer to the arrival of Flood forces on Earth. This could possibly indicate that the event we have just witnessed is not the departure of Regret's ship from Earth, which occurred far in advance of the arrival of any Flood on Earth, which presumably occurs only during Halo 3 in the level Floodgate, as Gravemind manages to send a single Flood-infected Covenant ship to Earth. Alternatively, it might mean that the events that will be covered in this game stretch from Regret's departure at least until the Flood do arrive.
[image:62839 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "FINAL NOTICE: BILL PAST DUE" is perhaps inserted here just to emphasize the fact that the Superintendent is not working at full capacity, given how inappropriate and irrelevant a message this is during a disaster. If the Superintendent, as an AI, is intended to fulfill the role of Cortana during this game, then any damage it suffered during this event might make it an unreliable partner, perhaps signalling a return to the Marathon-esque theme of treacherous AIs.
[image:62840 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] "KEEP IT CLEAN" has been the Superintendent's trademark phrase, perhaps indicating that his role in the administration of New Mombasa is primarily or at least significantly associated with custodial services. The same phrase also appears on the bulletin board in the mess hall of the Pillar of Autumn in Halo 1, and its repeated use in this campaign has led many to conclude that this game will follow a group of marines, rather than Spartans. The bulletin board contained other messages, including exhortations not to ride scooters on deck and a message about a lost cat answering to "Jonesy" (a reference to Alien).
[image:62841 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:37 that screen blanks; the Superintendent icon, now quite sad, relocates from the left to the top-right, and a matrix-like spout of garbage scrolls down the screen.
In amongst all the flotsam and jetsam appears the string "01/06/09" which could be the date January 6, 2009. Would Microsoft really want to release just after Christmas, instead of just before? We'll have to wait and see.
The message "REINITIALIZE" appears. This might be a simple reference to the Superintendent restarting some of his sytems; it may also be a reference to a partial "reboot" of the Halo continuity, emphasizing that this is not an entirely new story but a continuation of previous events.
[image:62842 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] By 00:42 four more messages have appeared: "WARNING! METROPOLITAN DISASTER", "CHECKING POWER...", "CHECKING COMMS..." and "ALERTING EMERGENCY SERVICES!"
The fact that emergency services have to be alerted, rather than instructed on what to do specifically, may indicate that their operation is outside the Superintendent's direct control. If such services are provided by human forces, they may be unavailable if they were also evacuated with the rest of the population. It may refer to the occupants of the drop pods.
At 00:44 we get another rooftop cam view, zoomed in more closely than before.
[image:62844 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:44 we see a repeat of the Lumumba view, except now the street is entirely ruined; cars destroyed, the signs no longer fully functional, and black debris raining from the sky. The camera briefly flickers a repeat of the view at 16:11, with the street intact, to emphasize the change.
[image:62846 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:45 we see again a view of two tower tops; and at 00:46 a tilted cityscape from a similar perspective as the very first camera. The AMG building is visible in the center, and Traxus at the bottom right. The space elevator is still intact in the far right. At the top of the screen, just above the first two towers, moving left to right, in the more distant group, a drop pod appears, moving into the frame and slightly from right to left. As it nears the buildings, at 00:49 we get a black screen and the flickering text "HALO 3", followed by the more traditional Halo 3 logo.
[image:62848 align=left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:51 we see a view looking up from the surface between two large towers, with a single drop pod descending between them. The pod's airbrake / parachute deploys, and the pod approaches the camera position at high speed and finally smashes into it, shattering the lens. This screen displays a clock, which is curiously different from the others. It reads 16:01 when it starts and impact occurs at 16:05. However, where the other clocks appeared to show hours, minutes, seconds and hundredths of a second, this one advances rapidly from 16:01 to 16:05, as if it were minutes, seconds, hundredths and thousandths of a second, or if the camera were sped up or the clock malfunctioning. Another possibility is that the clock is now counting elapsed time from the EMP event and the second indicator is now seconds instead of minutes.
[image:62852 align=right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0 size=small] At 00:53 we see the text "PREPARE TO DROP" which is then displayed in several places and in several styles, followed by "BUNGIE" and the Bungie logo, and then the Microsoft Game Studios logo and the text "MICROSOFT GAME STUDIOS" and then a last flash of a distorted Superintendent avatar before the Xbox 360 logo and a the "Jump In" slogan, followed by a last screen flicker and display of half a Superintendent avatar.
It is interesting to note that the judicious addition of punctuation marks transforms the tagline "Prepare to drop" followed by the Bungie and MGS names and logos into the sentence, "Prepare to drop Bungie, Microsoft Game Studios." However I am 100% sure that is mere coincidence only. Really.