A deeper look at Peter Jackson’s Halo Chronicles.
Join us while we do a little digging of our own.
©2008 Aaron Bertinetti
“`The rumours have been flying over the last week about a new Halo being unveiled at E3. And since Halo Wars is already confirmed to appear; Bungie appears committed to their new “Superintendent” IP being unveiled next week; and a Halo 4 FPS just doesn’t make much commercial sense when Halo 3 is still going strong, Bungie is busy and Gears 2 wants the limelight this year; our safe bet is on Peter Jackson’s Halo: Chronicles.
Whilst we don’t know much we do know that it has had the collective resources of Bungie, Microsoft (now with former Bungie writing guru Frank O’Connor), Peter Jackson’s Oscar Winning Weta and the more recently formed WingNut Interactive games studio, for more than two years and has seen a significant ramp up in production over the last six months courtesy of some very public job advertisements.
Having done as much scouring as possible and tapping all the leaks (sorry) I could find, along with some educated guesses based on my long held interest in film and games (see my bio), this is what I’ve come up with…
Halo: Chronicles will not be a traditional game, rather it will be an “interactive experience/story” where a player makes emotional, moral and action-based decisions that affect the cinematic direction of what is otherwise a film.
• It will not contain Master Chief as a playable character.
• It will be released within 12 months.
• It will be based within Halo lore but will have no immediate narrative connection to the linear plot of the Halo FPS trilogy.
• It is likely to be computer animated, utilising the unique resources of Weta.
• And it will have some form of online component, whether of an episodic DLC nature or some shared, online, interactive storytelling experience.
The closest parallel I can draw is a much more tightly directed, scripted and dramatically paced MGS4 where the cut-scenes are the game itself, with a more advanced “interactive philosophy” than that seen in the entirely dialogue focused system in Mass Effect’s cinematics. It will demand player choice that is truly interactive, has real consequences and that progresses the narrative down distinctly different paths.
Imagine being Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, except the player decides interactively within the scene not only whether to destroy the ring or not, but how, when, where and why. By handing perceived control to a player you can immerse them and create emotional investments in narrative & character progression, and yet the director/designer still retains absolute control by determining the choices and story arcs available. Poor Frank O’Connor must have a seriously prolonged case of writer’s cramp!
For some gamers it might not sound too exciting, and simply a next-gen version of old text adventures, “choose your own story” storybooks or a drawn out FMV with some superficial choices. But to me it’s moving towards what games are ultimately capable of by using their one wholly unique tool – that is interactivity.
If a game as ambitious as I suspect Halo: Chronicles to be can succeed at making players the director, actor and audience simultaneously then I’m truly excited not just for this title, but for the future of gaming.
Am I right or completely off track? You can let me know in the comments section or play it safe and wait till E3 next week… But if I’m right, you better quote me on it!