Chief is back and bursting with extras

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

We all knew it was coming, but it didn’t make the announcement any less exciting when it finally came at this years Microsoft E3 conference. John 117 and his entire story will be packaged into one amazing collection coming on the 11th November 2014.

The collection includes Halo 1, remastered Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 all running at 1080p at 60FPS (for all you resolution snobs out there).

Halo 2 Coagulation

Halo 2 Anniversary Edition

To celebrate the tenth anniversary, Halo 2 will be getting the full remastered treatment Halo 1 received. You’ll be able to instantly switch into ‘Classic’ mode at the press of a button and most importantly of all, multiplayer will allow you to play on all 25 of the original maps on the original engine as well as 6 ‘re-imagined’ maps. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll get to play the Halo 5:Guardians beta first.

As a Halo addict who was disappointed with Halo 4, this collection is music to my ears… We’ll be bringing you hands on impressions at this years Eurogamer.

Halo 2 Coagulation

PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One: Making the choice

Content Editor Dom prepares for the arrival of the PlayStation 4, he takes a look into the benefits and potential pitfalls of buying both new platforms.

When it comes to gaming, few periods of time are as exciting and buzz-filled as the months before the release of brand new hardware. The gloom of current generation graphics, interfaces and hardware units begins to lift as the air fills with lip-smacking anticipation.

And so, as those months whittle away to weeks and days, which one do you plump for? Do you shoot for Sony’s revitalised PlayStation 4 or do you place your fealty in the recently DRM-less Xbox One? Or, in some odd gesture of financial stability/stupidity, do you buy both?

I know of quite a few people who are choosing to pick up both Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles in November, and (if the ‘placeholder’ dates on retailers are anything to go by) and these consoles arrive in mid-November, that will be £780 in the space of a fortnight. And that’s not even counting the £40/£50 a game will cost at launch for each system.

playstation 4
Choosing which new system to go for can be a huge decision

There are, of course, some of us who are simply more financially well-endowed (whether it be by birth or damn hard work), but my concern is less about what having two brand new consoles will cost, and more with the ramifications of having two competing platforms.

Over the last seven years I’ve been lucky enough to own all three of the major platforms, and while my Wii continues to depreciate in a dusty corner, I’ve flitted between my PS3 and Xbox 360 at random intervals. Having both consoles has given my access to some of amazing console-exclusives (the Halo games and the Uncharted series to name but a few) but owning both platforms has also brought a few devils to the table.

My personal gaming tastes can be rather fickle, so I could sometimes completely ignore one system for months at a time. During the PSN hacking debacle in 2011, I lost faith in Sony’s ability to support a reliable online service and fired up my Xbox 360 again. I didn’t turn it back on for six months. Likewise, when I decided to take advantage of the mind-blowing bounties of PS Plus, I barely touched my Xbox 360 for weeks.

playstation 4
Ah, the trust Xbox 360.

My point, in rather a roundabout way, is that having access to both platforms does give you the freedom to enjoy the console-exclusives of each system, but you risk leaving a £350/£430 bit of kit to fuse into the wall while you enjoy the other. Yes, it’s frustrating to not have access to certain IPs when you decide on one platform (when the next Halo arrives next year, I will be seven shades of gutted when I can’t play it at home), but that system will get all the focus and attention that warrants such an expenditure.

And despite being someone who has genuine affection for my time with the Xbox 360, I know that feeling excited for a new bit of kit (and I mean really excited, the kind of excited you get when you’re a kid and a new console is a literal portal into the future) is a rare and precious thing. So, as I trade much of my current hardware and games in for a PS4 in November (or whichever month it arrives) I will happy in the knowledge that my investment will be pumped for its worth in the years to come. The PS4 will be my portal into the unknown, the DualShock 4 my means by which to craft it. I’ve pledged my allegiance to the PlayStation 4. Sony, be a darling and nab Halo for me, too. There’s a good boy.

@furianreseigh

Dom is a freelance games journalist and Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk. He is legion.

Furian Fridays | A spoonful of reality helps the Xbox One go down

This week’s Furian Fridays sees ever-cynical Content Editor Dom Reseigh-Lincoln take a surprisingly optimistic approach to Microsoft’s recent Xbox One reveal.

Ah, there’s nothing like the vitriolic response to something new. We humans are creatures of perpetual habit, plodding about our lives in fear of the devil named ‘change’. But change, be he red and be-horned or not, is upon us. Behold, the eighth generation of consoles cometh. Lock up your daughters.

[quote] The days of this insular cabin console fever are about to be swept away [/quote]

Perhaps we’ve simply had our PlayStation 3’s and Xbox 360’s for far too long. We’ve become over-acclimatised to the green swish of the Xbox 360 logo and the overture of the PlayStation intro. But the days of this insular cabin fever are about to be swept away, as consoles with eight-times the power of what we’re using now fast approach.

A tale of two reveals

The reactions to the separate reveals of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One could not have been any different. Sony’s official ‘reveal’ of the PlayStation 4 seemed to show a manufacturer determined to show they’d learned from the complacent cluster fuck that was the PlayStation 3, providing a powerful yet malleable platform that would appeal to both developers and consumers alike.

xbox one
“Look at the box. Don’t look for any games. LOOK AT THE BOX!”

But there was an air of seething cynicism in the run up to Microsoft’s announcement on Tuesday. And with an hour’s presentation that focused almost entirely on the Kinect 2-driven user experience of the Xbox One, many left the reveal with something of a bitter taste on their tongues. “Where were the games?” they cried. “Where was the actual in-game footage?” they mewed. “Kinect 2? NFL? Live TV switching? Nice one Microsoft!”

My dear gaming public, have you learned nothing from the last 25 years of gaming history? As much as we hate to admit it, the gaming landscape isn’t the insular medium it once was. As soon as Sony popped a DVD drive in the PlayStation 2, it brought the games consoles out of the dark depths of its own dimension and into the blinding light of multimedia possibilities.

[quote] Yes, Steven Speilberg is going to shoot a Halo TV series in black and white, while a single red Spartan runs about symbolising something. [/quote]

The rise of online services like Xbox Live and the PlayStation network feed us constant access to new games and experiences, while streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and LoveFilm have become the new boxset; revolutionising how we consume our media. Games consoles are no longer defined by a single function, and to survive in a world of touchscreen tablets, multi-functionality and Smart TVs; manufacturers have had to ensure their consoles can offer you more than just a games platform.

xbox one
“There’s no place like games. There’s no place like games. There’s no place…”

It still plays games, you know

Yes, Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal was EXACTLY what we expected: lots of pretty words, lots of Kinect 2 demonstrations and a couple of middle-aged men from EA and Activision gushing about their respective cash cows. But it was simply the confirmation of the inevitable. Yes, your Xbox One console will allow you to snap between your TV signal and your game with a single command (if it works); yes, you may be able to enjoy sports broadcasts with enhanced settings; yes, Steven Speilberg is going to shoot a Halo TV series in black and white, while a single red Spartan runs about symbolising something.

But it will play your games. Just like your Xbox 360 did; just like your Xbox did. The past eight years have given rise to TV-based channels and other live-streaming services, but it’s also seen Grand Theft Auto IV, Halo 3, Batman: Arkham City, BioShock Infinite and Skyrim. Microsoft may have attempted to penetrate your cerebellum with advertising, but you’ve also experienced some of gamings most beautiful moments.

gta iv
Remember when GTA IV took your breath away, while you played it on your MULTIMEDIA HUB!

The Xbox One will be a direct descendant of the Xbox One, with a great deal more power under the hood and the potential to amazing things. Creating a pure gaming machine is a noble idea, but it’s a foolish one. We just need to look at the once great house of Nintendo to see how clinging to once powerful principles can soon poison your legacy, relegating you to a corner that’s rarely paid much attention. Having a multimedia machine will save you a great deal of hassle in the future. You’ll be able to watch TV, Blu-ray movies and whichever other media you want to consume, while having truly magnificent games a mere command away.

For those who can only see a console by its games, simply return to the basement cave you still live in at your mother’s house (that poor woman) and set your alarm clock for June 11. Then you’ll have your games. Will you be happy then? Somehow, I doubt it.

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for @infiniterobots. He is that red Spartan. You can find him on Twitter @furianreseigh.

Furian Fridays | Multiplayer? I disconnect from you

I’ve come full circle.

After 22-years of 8-bit consoles, gold controllers, memory cards and digital downloads, my taste has finally hit a theory of relativity and arrived back where it started.

Okay, for those who aren’t me (how do you live?), let me clarify: once upon a time I was a very secular player of games. Games were less of a clichéd escape for me, they were simply the only thing I really cared about. They were worlds to explore, characters to meet and things to blow into various pixelated bits. I took a kiddish-price in beating my favourite games, delving into the greats of the MegaDrive and the SNES and into the ‘golden age’ of the PlayStation 1 and the Nintendo 64.

multiplayer
Remember when multiplayer was all about crowding around one of these?

I loved games like Mario Kart, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Sensible Soccer – games that are fondly remembered for their sofa-filling multiplayer modes. It wasn’t a conscious desire to avoid playing with others (I spent far too much time at the local arcade playing Mortal Kombat 2); perhaps it was just subconscious control thing.

Then through college and uni things seemed to shift. In came Call of Duty 2, 3 and 4; in came Guitar Hero 2 and 3; in game Pro Evo 2008. These are games made for hanging out with your mates, screaming the air seven shades of blue. Literally wasting hours in tourneys on Pro Evo or handing over the controller once you died on Call of Duty single-player (yeah, because a warning about grenades tending to explode is so useful after you died from a grenade-related explosion).

multiplayer
“Dude? Dude! DUDE!!!”

Soon that shifted into online bouts of Gears of War or various Halos and Tekkens. But after a while, I seemed to lose heart with it. Nothing drove me away from the good the good ship multiplayer – even those idiots that play FPS games online and take it far too seriously (“I just shot you, how did I die? I F**KING EMPTIED A F**KING WHOLE CLIP IN YOU!!”) I just wanted to be able to dive back into a world where I was the one and only influence on events. Call it a God complex, if you will.

There’s a time, a place and mindset for playing with strangers (experiences like Journey feed off such anonymity), but multiplayer isn’t really multiplayer unless you’re playing with your friends. It’s like playing Mario Party with some random bloke at a party. It’s a little, well, weird when you start looking at it like that.

multiplayer
Ah, all the joy of the online fair.

Perhaps it’s life starting to dictate the direction of our gaming tastes. Playing online is hard thing to drop in and out of. One round of Halo 4 is pointless. You need to settle down with a can of Monster Ripper (other energy drinks are available) and carve out a four-hour, eye-melting session and find your groove. It’s also a pretty impersonal thing (unless you have a group of friends/online friends you regularly play games with). Or, perhaps, I’ve just become a little disillusioned with what multiplayer has become – a giant network of strangers playing a game with the lights off.

People, I’m advised, are great. But there’s nothing like switching off Xbox Live/PlayStation Network/whatever the hell Nintendo are using and play something nice and closed off. Who need’s friends when you’ve got NPCs? NPCs are GREAT!

Furian Fridays | You Don’t Like Halo…do you?

THIS WEEK’S column is a few days late, but infinite robots has had a busy weekend at the Eurogamer Expo in London so we can bring you all the latest news & previews straight from Earls Court. Now we’re back home Editor Dom has a few bones to pick…

Videogames are an awesome medium to love. Now the industry is as big as it is there’s something for everyone to enjoy, each gamer taking away their own experiences & stories from the millions of digital worlds in existence. But for every gamer that just wants to play a game & enjoy it (shock horror) there’s a ton of people who can only view games through a prism of ridiculous elitism.

I get that ultimately what is cool is relative to the person or ‘scene’, but does a game’s popularity somehow make it social suicide to a true gamer? Does openly admitting you like Halo, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft (to name but a few) make you some sort of sell out? Perhaps it’s a sense of status or cred by boycotting popular games. Who knows?

Halo 4 Multiplayer
Like Halo? *face palm*

Whilst at this year’s event I got to speak to quite a few fellow gamers, from paying ticket holders to fellow press like myself and a few them definitely brought their elitist take on gaming to the show floor. When asked what my favourite titles were up that point I happily gushed about Halo 4 & Tomb Raider only to be met with a face like I’d starting goose-stepping about throwing random Hitler salutes. It made me laugh at the time but it’s hardly the first time I or anyone else has come across this kind of view, and it certainly won’t be the last.

As a games journalist I get to play a lot of games. Whether it’s an indie game on my Windows Phone or something colossal like Assassin’s Creed 3, I’m open to anything. Even games like FIFA or Warmage: Battlegrounds, genres that I don’t normally like can sometimes do something different that makes an instant fan out of me. Warmage, a browser-based online TBS title made a fan that normally found TBS a bit of a drag. I love the drop-in/drop-out nature of mobile gaming, even if the hardcore gaming crowd refuse to accept it as a proper gaming experience.

Warmage: Battlegrounds
Warmage: Battlegrounds may be a smaller game, but it’s still worringly addictive

I doubt the decision to boycott certain games by elitist gamers would have the slightest effect on the subscription figures of something like World of Warcraft but perhaps part of me hopes that every gamer can at least share the same sense of openness to games I have. But in the end it’s kind of a pointless hope. You’re always going to get Call of Duty players who despise the notion of someone playing Battlefield 3 or a gamer who disregards the contribution of Nintendo to an industry they helped build because of the success of the Wii.

Personally, I love games like Halo. I love the campaigns, the multiplayer experience & the canon these franchises hold. I love Call of Duty because I’ve been playing it since Call of Duty 2 & still pour an ungodly number of hours into the multiplayer modes of Black Ops or Modern Warfare 3. Am I ashamed of liking a popular game? Not in the slightest. Yes, these games are million-selling franchises that everyone is playing, but the quality of the product is diminished by the amount of people playing it. Just because a band becomes popular & everyone is wearing their hoodies doesn’t make their music inferior, it just makes them mainstream.

Dishonored
A game as good as Dishonored deserves all the fans it can get, elitist or not…

Games like Dishonored & Natural Selection 2 would kill to get the sales figures & global dominance that these big daddy titles pull in year round. But beware developers, if you become mainstream you’ll stop being ‘cool’. Because cool pays the bills these days doesn’t it?

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk & can usually found behind a laptop screen or with asleep with a controller in his hands. Don’t wake him though, he’s dreaming of playing Dishonered. Yes, that makes him a subconscious elitist.

Furian Fridays | To ‘Chieve or Not to ‘Chieve? Our love affair with achievements

This week Content Editor Dom tackles one of the hallmarks of this generation’s console experience: the hallowed achievement. Is it a proper roll call of glory or just a cheap gimmick to get players to replay a game?

Some people go mental for achievements, and I mean really mental. Unless they hit a 1000 points or whatever DLC-increased total a game might have, some players will grind away until all that’s left is a screen of coloured thumbnails and a severe case of insomnia. Some people are all about the grand total, picking up games with easily attainable trophies or achievements, regardless of whether the game nets them a full 1000gs or a platinum trophy. And some people play a game because they just want to play a game, regardless of what little icon pings on the screen.

Ah, the familiar ping…

There’s no denying the achievement system introduced by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 in 2005 drastically altered the way gamers approach a game, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely a good thing. I’m a little indifferent to the whole achievement thing. I love netting a tasty little total but at the same time I’m acutely aware that an Xbox logo popping up on my screen mid-game hardly represents the years & months that went into the game’s creation. Does it make me a game-whoring hypocrite? Abso-bloody-lutely, but I have my reasons.

Once upon a time when I picked up my Xbox in 2006 I was all about the ol’ achievement. I battled through the Legendary mind-murder of Halo 3, free-ran myself into euphoric exhaustion with Mirror’s Edge & pretty much graduated with honours from Bully. I even 1000-pointed the first Assassin’s Creed; yes that means I collected every one of those ‘effing flags & shanked every single bloody Templar. Then as I was making my way into GTA IV in 2009 my Xbox decided to take an electrical nosedive. It had survived a case of the red ring a few months before but now the hard drive had decided to become corrupted. In a second 17k of Gamerscore was gone. But surely your score was saved on Xbox Live? Wrong. I wasn’t an avid online multiplayer gamer by that point so that score was well & truly lost to the ether.

Does the Trophy hold the same cultish following as a ‘chievo?

In the grand scheme of things did the loss of 17Ks worth of Gamerscore really matter? Of course not, but as a gamer it kind of feels like having a dusty old trophy cabinet you occasionally dust off to marvel at your glorious past. In 2011 after 18 months of PlayStation 3 conversion I bought a new hard drive & returned to the familiar shores of Xbox. The hacking of the PlayStation Network was getting on my nerves so I dived into Halo like I’d hardly been away. Then, against the better judgement of my adult self, I decided to get back to my old score back as quickly as possible. Now all bets were off.

Avatar: The Burning Earth? Whored. NBA 2K6? Double-whored. Fight Night Round 3? FIFA Road to the World Cup? TMNT? You get the idea. In the space of five months I’d gone from 2,000gs to 23,000gs. Now does that make me a hardcore gamer bursting with beast-blood or a sad weirdo with more games than sense? Truth be told I think it made me some sort of time travelling madman as I managed to fit this odyssey into a life with a full-time job & an 18-month old toddler.

The use of achievements has changed drastically over the 360’s life cycle

It makes you wonder how many people actually enjoyed some of those early games from the Xbox 360 roster. How many people played beyond the first five minutes of Avatar TBE? I certainly didn’t and I bet not many people did. At least these days developers are using achievements with a certain sense of economy, spacing them apart throughout a game in a way that feels like you’ve actually achieved something.  The achievement is still a superficial gimmick that doesn’t really mean a great deal to the wider world but such a thing will always be relative to what. Deep down my ability to hold my own in match of Team Slayer in Halo Reach says a thousand times more than my Gamerscore ever will, but even the best of us like to wave our dicks to the wind now & again.

Forgive me for my sins.

Dom is the Content Editor for @infiniterobots and fine upstanding gentleman. He’s currently up to his face in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and the gun-pornography of Borderlands 2. Follow him on Twitter @furianreseigh at your peril.

Furian Fridays | Is Co-Op Really the Future of Multiplayer?

FOR SOMEONE that once swore by a single-player only way of life, I practically fornicate with the many multiplayer modes of my favourite games. Whether I’m playing Halo 3, Modern Warfare 3 or Assassin’s Creed Revelations (to name a few) I can’t help sinking countless hours into death matches, rounds of capture the flag & domination. I’m unashamedly a sheep in the herd when it comes to multiplayer, and it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

But of late an odd mix of developers, PR reps & games journalists are hailing the co-operative mode as the truest next transition for multiplayer gaming. But are these modes really the natural next stage for playing with friends/strangers/weirdos online or are they just another fadesque add-on that’s clogging up disk space?

As the quiet summer of 2012 draws to a close & the AAA-heavy Q4 rides ever nearer, myself & a few friends decided to do the usual ‘clear-out-the-to-do-pile’ & ‘catch-up-on-past-games-before-the-next-bad-ass-looking-sequel-comes-out’ frenzy. One game that crept its way into our disk drives during this proverbial clear-out was Gearbox’s 2009 schizophrenic shooter Borderlands. Borderlands can be taken on completely solo, with every boss beaten & level achieved without the assistance of another living soul (if you’re willing to grind like a madman that is). But in a group – more specifically in a group of friends – Borderlands is a completely different experience.

Borderlands has reimagined the co-op experience

The hub world of Pandora becomes less of a threat filled wasteland and more of a mayhem-filled playground as you and your friends barrel around each other’s playthrough carving a path of wanton destruction. The game is also unique in the fact that it escalates difficulty depending on how many players are playing and what level they’re at. It’s a great feature that balances the experience but is it really the be all and end all of online gaming? Whilst I love the oppurtinity to experience online gaming in a different way I’m still going to want to have a game of Team Slayer in Halo 3 or an online fight on Soul Calibur V. The joy of gaming is it’s such a vast playing field that almost every avenue of taste is covered should the mood take you.

It’s also odd that co-operative play has been hailed as something of an inevitable end-state of multiplayer gaming when in fact co-operative play, in its most basic terms, has been part of multiplayer since its inception. Sure, modes like Horde from Gears of War & Firefight from Halo ODST/Halo Reach have created scenarios where human-controlled players take on waves of AI opponent but haven’t anyone played a round of TDM or Capture the Flag? Quake 2, Counter Strike Source, Unreal Tournament; all these titles & more were built on the popularity of working as a team to co-operatively reach a goal. Even Halo is known around the world for its classic ‘Red Vs Blue’ imagery (or perhaps we should thank Rooster Teeth for that?).

To me it seems like a bit of moot point. Team-based multiplayer is as much a part of the multiplayer legacy as any other ingredient, so I hardly think specifically co-operative modes are the future. Developers have noted that these modes are more in vogue as of late & many have created some amazing experiences such as Syndicate & the addictive Borderlands. But the strength of Xbox Live, PSN & PC based online gaming has been built on the popularity of classic multiplayer set ups so don’t expect death matches to expire quite yet.

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk and can usually be found grumbling behind a laptop or swooping over rooftops with a white hood & a wrist-blade. You can find him keeping the Creed on Twitter @furianreseigh.

Furian Fridays: Our Friend Keith

Ah, Keith Vaz. Defender of our children & crusader against the dark influence of video games. Or at least, that’s how he sees himself. I am, of course, talking about the Labour backbencher and all round curmudgeon Keith Vaz, who is once again calling for the blood of the games industry. And what’s got him all hot and bothered this time? Well, media-savvy as ever, Keith is taking the recent comments by Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik that he “trained” for his despicable act of attrition by playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as God-given proof that games are a negative and potentially harmful influence on us all.

Continue reading Furian Fridays: Our Friend Keith

The infinite robots Autumn & Winter Preview 2012

This autumn (or ‘fall as our American cousins call it) is suiting up to be as crowded and universally awesome as the same period a year ago.  A year bigger than 2011 you say? Bigger than Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3? Bigger than Gears of War 3 & Batman Arkham City?

Continue reading The infinite robots Autumn & Winter Preview 2012

Furian Fridays: Down & Dirty in Gotham City

Welcome to Furian Fridays, my weekly column on all things games and gaming. Sorry for the late post (technically its Sunday), but the site is only a week old and we’re still having teething problems!

Sweet Jesus, do I love a good FPS.

Continue reading Furian Fridays: Down & Dirty in Gotham City