The time has finally come where officially the real forerunners of the franchise fire their great Halo and let life start off from scratch. Bungie have handed over to the Microsoft run 343 Industries. Fear immediately fills the mind of naff sequels, pointless plots, substandard gameplay and terrible cash-ins. Fans of the Halo games should have every right to fear…
Or should they? Put simply, no. Halo is in safe hands, and if the recent behind-the-scenes video of the Defiant Map Pack for Halo Reach is anything to go by, it might actually be pretty prosperous. The problem being is that this now huge intellectual property, or IP if you will, is as much of a money earner as other franchises like Call Of Duty. However, it is not Call Of Duty. One of the things that Bungie have done, along in tandem with Microsoft Game Studios, is keep the plot and the story cannon rigid and consistent. When the original Halo game was released a trilogy of books was also released. The Fall Of Reach, The Flood and First Strike. The basis of the first book served to inspire not only the latest game but also the entire back-story of our hero John 117. Then you have the iconic Red vs. Blue series, many more books, toys, figurines, comics, cartoons and soon to be movies.
What I’m trying to get at here is that Halo has been a franchise of not just games, but story, merchandise and all round engrossing sci-fi fan wielding property for nearly ten years. Ever since the first game hit our shelves, xbox’s and PC’s. The plot and story of Halo will certainly survive and be frankly as encapsulating as ever. For the gamer however, you may feel the game may change or lose its “Pick Up And Play” accessibility. I however don’t think that much will change. Of course the engine will be updated or even totally changed, but fans will accept and wait for that as long as the end product is beautiful to look at, smooth to play and enjoyable to experience.
The people at 343 Industries have been involved for a while now. As far back as Halo Wars. Halo Waypoint, Halo Legends and even Halo 3 ODST have had some involvement with the company. Many of them are ex-Bungie staff. Let’s be honest here as well, most of them are probably fans of the series. They certainly won’t knowingly turn their gleaming multi-million dollar IP into a steaming pile of pavement chocolate, and as a quote I read earlier in the week says “no one ever sets out to make a bad TV show.” The same can be said for games.
I do have some worries of course; it wouldn’t be natural if I didn’t. Halo Wars needs to improve. The story wasn’t as good as it could have been but the idea was sound and the game was fun to play. As Halo Wars 2 is already very much in progress, we can only hope these lessons are already learned. Halo and maybe Halo 2 could and should get a HD re-master. The PS3 is currently doing the same to the Tomb Raider franchise and an up rated Halo re-release would definitely sell well and be very welcome. I fear for the soundtrack to the franchise. Halo Wars Stephen Rippy did well in places but he is no Marty O’ Donnell. I hope whoever gets the music will do the franchise justice as it’s one of the things that definitely makes the games.
Of course time will tell. But I firmly believe this beloved franchise, held dear by many including myself, will survive and survive well. Bungie have instilled a community of Halo gamers and fans. These fans will talk and talk. They will be the life and death of Halo. Bungie always listened to them and 343 Industries look like they will too. Besides, Microsoft is not the kind of company who release a yearly game to make money. The Fable and Forza series come out when they are ready. They certainly won’t publish a series to death like… Say… Activision… Oh dear Bungie… All the best!