Weekly Update: October 15th, 2004
You ever have one of those weeks? You know, the kind of week where you try to start your car, and it explodes in your face because the mob wired it to blow up and hurl your broken body across the street and through the plate glass window of the local acid factory? Well that was kinda like my week this week, but with the following metaphorical caveat — my broken, glass filled, acid-ruined body became a perfect fertile bed for a glorious, colorful display of flowers.
What is Frankie going on about this time? The horrible leak of the French PAL build of the game, and the impressive, wonderful, heartening reaction from our fans — who have been closing forum threads, slapping posters on the wrists and even reporting folks who broke the law. Community sites are all over it, and the big sites have been helping too, so a HUGE thanks to all of you guys.
Whoever did this is a criminal, plain and simple, but this isn't a pulpit from which to spew a sermon. Suffice it to say that stealing a traceable, Live Aware video game isn't the smartest thing you could do. But the way our community rallied to our support yesterday and the day before was incredibly gratifying. And a note to otherwise regular folks who might be tempted to download a copy — don't. It's really not worth the risk. Fines of up to $100,000 and all sorts of other legal remedies can be assessed against even individual downloaders.
You know, we're not Metallica. The cost of this is emotional, not fiscal (jerks would just hack and pirate the game on Nov 9th anyway). Bungie is mostly concerned that this event is going to ruin the plot of the game for the 99.9999999999% of fans who buy the game on November 9th. As you know, we've spent three tortuous years preventing story leaks, hoarding screenshots — not because we want to — but because they'll reveal twists and surprises. Now a few jerks have ruined that for everyone. It's one thing to sneakily pirate software — quite another to yell spoilers from the rooftops. As Napoleon Dynamite would say, "IDIOTS!"
Anyway, I'm making myself vomit with my combination of preachy outrage and quilted two-ply, absorbent love. Back to the matter at hand — the Bungie locomotive. Let's call it more of a monorail right now, since about 80% of the office is in Hawaii (if they're smart) or in Rainhole, Alaska (if they're married).
This week was another out of the office week. I accompanied ten copies of Halo 2 to San Francisco so that they could be reviewed over a period of nearly a week by gathered luminaries from various gaming, entertainment and technology publications from all over the US.
Everyone who played seemed to have a good time. Everyone had LOTS of questions about plot twists, new characters etc. I had to help out once or twice when people got stuck, but mostly it was eerily quiet, as the journos sat around in our special E3 chairs, with wireless surround headphones on, in front of 30 inch widescreen sets (CRT for maximum awesomeness and maximum Teamster complaints — since they weigh 200 pounds.) Actually, widescreen is a very cool feature, since the multiplayer game can then split vertically (for two) giving each player a great deal of real estate in co-op or MP.
The event was long enough for people to finish the game on NORMAL difficulty level, but then go back and try HEROIC: "Wow, that was freakin' hard!" And then they tried LEGENDARY: "What is wrong with you people!?" We should note that nobody completed it on LEGENDARY or frankly, more than a couple of levels. LEGENDARY is a whole new sick twist on game difficulty. LEGENDARY includes bizarre stuff like perma-death for co-op players — meaning that you can't hopscotch like you can on other difficulty levels. Once a player dies on LEGENDARY, both players are hurled back to the last checkpoint. It's brutal. Also, that place where you encountered two grunts and a flowerpot on NORMAL? Well now they're Hunters, high-ranking, sword-carrying Elites, and they're all PMS-ing. Seriously, sticking your head around a corner on level two can get it shot clean off.
Multiplayer was a blast. Like we'd hoped, players spent a long time exploring new modes, and enjoying them. As suspected, Swords is a huge favorite, but we (I was only HELPING!) played a lot of Assault, Territories and Juggernaut. Folks love NinjaNaut — Juggernaut where the Jug is invisible, has triple overshields and is the only player with a motion detector — you don't event WANT to find him!
Nobody would tell us what they thought, so I guess we'll find out in a couple of weeks.
Special props to Mister X — who, having only 24 hours to visit, played the game as a speed run, and pulled in the fastest completion time — though he missed about half the game doing that, and Mister Z — who, being hardcore as all getout, completed it on Heroic — and in a pretty respectable time. Epic, considering that was his first time playing.
Anyhoo, this week was short (game is done folks) and a downer, sorry, so here's a sad picture to make you feel even worse