NEWS - Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bungie Puts The Rumors To Rest

The Rumor: Halo 2 is coming out on PS2, Gamecube, Virtual Boy, et al… The Facts: Bungie, awesomely independent, leather-jacket wearing, gum-chewing, authority-scorning, paintchip-eating rebel though it may be, is also owned by huge corporate behemoth, Microsoft. Microsoft, as you may be aware, is in competition with the good people at Nintendo and Sony for market dominance in the video game console market. Halo, it can be comfortably stated, is the most successful game on the system. Now you have to ask yourself, why would Microsoft make Halo 2 for PlayStation and Gamecube, and thus give its competitors a great game, and simultaneously lose a big advantage? They wouldn't of course. No more than Nintendo would make Super Mario for Xbox, or Sony would make Ico for Gamecube. Or Donald Trump would get a haircut and wear a nice hat. Doesn't make a lick of sense. The console is often referred to as the Razor Model – that is, a razor blade company for example will sell the Mach 12 laser-bladed nanorazor (can shave atoms right off of molecules) for a song, but then charge you twenty squillion dollars for two refill cartridges. That's us! The Xbox system itself doesn't make Microsoft much money at all, but software sales and licensing do. Only, it's ironically cheaper to buy a video game than a month's supply of razor blades. Rumor Rant: This is just dumb. Seriously. Of all the rumors, this is the easiest one to disprove scientifically, while sitting on the toilet, armed only with a magnifying glass and a handbag. The Rumor: The clan and stat features will require a paid subscription. The Facts: The online aspect of Halo 2 – apart from your Xbox Live subscription that is – will be free. Gratis. That means clans, stats, delicious kernels of information and anything else except the contents of the Bungie store, will be yours. To keep. For nothing. Because we love you. There will possibly even be free downloadable content. That's how awesome we are. Think of it as the game that keeps on giving. Rumor Rant: Ahem. Not exactly guilt-free here, since we may or may not have run an April Fool's a few years back, claiming that was going to become subscription based, and offered subscribers access to our secret story bible, extra webcams and possibly mildly erotic massages from staff members. So basically, this one's our fault. For lying. The Rumor: Halo 2 will feature massively multiplayer combat. The Facts: Halo 2 will support 16 players on Live. It will support up to four players per split-screen, on System Link or Live, but there will be a maximum of 16 players in any game. So if there were four players on every box in the game, that would be four Xbox systems total. One player per box? 16 boxes. Two players? Eight boxes. You get the picture. Now, there are plenty of good technical reasons why 16 players is the limit, but only in reference to Halo 2. If the game was simpler, smaller and dumber, you could fit loads more players in a server. If, instead of battling Spartans and Elites throughout massive interactive levels, blowing up fusion cores, boarding tanks and flying Banshees, you simply moved cubes around a grassy maze, we could probably do 64. But no, we had to go with the whole Covenant/human/vehicle interaction model. Hence, 16 players. That makes for a nice balance of performance, graphics and gameplay balance. Rumor Rant: While 24 players could have been stretched out (at the cost of other features) anything more would be stretching credulity. That said, it was never a wholly unreasonable rumor. And who's to say Bungie didn't consider it? But 16 it is. The Rumor: Halo 2 will feature four player split-screen co-op play. The Facts: There's two player co-op, but that's it. Four player co-op is quite possible, but it would be a mess in split-screen. Spartans would overwhelm the Covenant with sheer weight of numbers. There'd be so many Spartans on your tiny split screen, that you'd have to blast through them just to get at the bad guys. It would also be absurdly easy. And with that many Spartans, we should probably be invading the Covenant Homeworlds, not the other way around. Anyway four player co-op WOULD be a totally cool idea if each player had their own screen and rank. In fact the basis for that type of game is already in there, since AI players play valuable roles in the game. A player could simply assume the role of say, Sgt. Johnson, or an ODST. Or if they were totally weak and just liked flapping their lips instead of fighting, they could be Cortana. But none of that is in Halo 2. And of course, the usefulness of sharing a screen would be gone too. Rumor Rant: Again, a sorta kinda believable rumor, that you wouldn't have to drink enormous amounts of Kool-Aid to believe. But it isn't true. You can also check out some more rumors here


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