Tag Archives: Halo

Weekly Time Wasters: 2CELLOS and Lindsey Stirling

During Electronic Entertainment Expo last June it was revealed that the Master Chief Collection will make Halo’s first appearance on the year-old XboxOne. Why not celebrate with Lindsey Stirling’s rendition of Halo’s theme song?

Lindsey Stirling makes the Assassin’s Creed III theme her own.

Keeping with the music theme, check out this awesome version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” played by 2CELLOS.

Now that we know we love 2CELLOS lets splice in some “Welcome To the Jungle” by Guns N Roses and the always-lovable Ellen DeGeneres.


Simply stated, the popular video game Minecraft, is a game which includes placing and building blocks. Hasn’t this game come and gone already? Haven’t the likes of Tetris and Bejeweled exhausted themselves? To state it simply: NO.

A Minecraft rendition of Main Quad, created by Julian Guerra.
A Minecraft rendition of Main Quad, created by Julian Guerra.

Minecraft, though moderately more intuitive then Tetris or Bejeweled, is one of the best-selling independent games on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox of all time, and has sold over 20 million copies since its release in 2009. The public opinion of the game is split between viewing it as a “big waste of time,” or a medium for “creativity and learning.” Like most video games, Minecraft can seem to have both effects on its users. Minecraft users find themselves dropped randomly into a number of uniquely, generated terrains in which there are little to no instructions or objectives to accomplish. Furthermore, this scenario for the game’s users is what seems to have kept it alive and lucrative for the last six years. Children, teenagers, and even adults are said to enjoy this virtual world regularly, and it doesn’t appear that this trend is going to cease anytime soon.

Microsoft announced last week that they’ll officially be purchasing Mojang AB, the developer of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. NPR’s Laura Sydell reports that, “the move displays a shift in strategy for the company’s new CEO.” Satya Nadella took over for former CEO, Steve Ballmer, back in February, and it appears that he’s wasting no time in broadening Microsoft’s consumer audience. Microsoft holds much of its status in its Windows Phone, PC, and especially Xbox, but with this purchase, it appears that Microsoft is looking to champion something that’s already working. Because of Minecraft’s versatile audience, Microsoft sees the current evolution of the “gamer” and that s/he is becoming much more diverse.  Microsoft’s other long-time popular game, Halo, though very lucrative, is one that appeals to a very specific demographic (i.e. men and teenagers). Minecraft players include men and women of all ages, and Microsoft is seeking to capitalize off of the wide range of availability this purchase offers its users.

It’s key for Minecraft’s most dedicated users to have access to the game on any and all devices, at any and all times. With the continued development of technology and entertainment such as tablets, smart phones, computers, and watches, Nadella’s purchase looks to be an educated, smart business move.  As children, teenagers, and adults continue to indulge in the virtual world of Minecraft, whether for creative or entertainment purposes, the newly established relationship between Microsoft and Minecraft looks to be a lucrative one.

Is your boyfriend addicted to video games?

This is for all the guys who pay more attention to their game systems than their girlfriends. As someone who plays video games, I’ve been playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 almost religiously for a year now, and I understand wanting to blow off others when you prestige or forget to text back when you are really into a game. But, that does not change the fact that your girlfriends are living, breathing people. True, they don’t have cool attachments like silencers or RPGs, but they have feelings. If they are ignored, it is not going to go over well for your relationship or your sex life. What girl wants to be with a guy who pays more attention to his video game than her? Not many.

Take some time to talk to her. If you play for two hours as opposed to seven hours then maybe you will actually leave your room and realize, “Hey, it’s raining outside.” Aside from knowing the weather, seeing the blue sky that isn’t behind a window is a plus. People need attention, and even if your girlfriend seems ok with you playing all the time, I can guarantee there are some times when she wants to see you without a controller in hand.

There are the few girls that are really ok with just watching you play. I am one that actually enjoys watching people play video games. However, take her out some time, talk to her while she’s sitting there. Heck, let her play sometimes. She may be absolutely terrible, but if you are that worried about your record then you need to go on “Intervention.” Relationships are very fragile things. If she isn’t happy with an aspect of your relationship that is a large part of your life, a.k.a. video games, then you are not going to last very long.

If you really don’t care about her then go ahead and ignore her until she dumps you and you can have all the time in the world to play Halo: Reach or Black Ops when it comes out. But if you really like her, make the effort to connect with her and talk to her. Playing video games sometimes is ok. Playing all the time is really unhealthy. I can guarantee that she will not care that you have seven seconds left and it takes five to plant the bomb, or that the score is three to three and you are the last one left against six other people. So turn off the console, get off your 10th prestige level 70 butt, take a shower, change your clothes and pay attention to something other than your TV screen.

Reaching for the stars

Photo from Creative Commons

Ever since the debut of Noble Team at the 2009 Spike TV Video Game Awards, Halo fanatics everywhere have been clamoring for what appeared to be the anti-climactic final chapter of humanity’s desperate struggle against the Covenant.

Just like its predecessor, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach takes place at a point in the Halo timeline where players already have a general idea of what’s going to happen and how the game is going to end. In spite of this, Halo Reach grabs your attention very early on and doesn’t let go until the very end. (or the very beginning, if you prefer)

As a huge Halo fan, the thing that stood out the most to me in Reach is the amount of fan service that Bungie packed into the game. Everywhere I turned, memories of the past four games were evoked. Characters, achievement names, level design and almost everything in the game spurned some great memory from a past Halo game. The music in particular was so seamless and wonderful that it almost went unnoticed, yet it sparked that old familiar feeling. However, Reach isn’t just an old hat.

The biggest selling point of the campaign is that Reach is the main Spartan breeding ground of the Halo universe; you’re playing as not just one Spartan, but with an entire team of them. Noble Team is a group of six Spartans, with your character acting as a last minute replacement for the sixth member. Your name is actually just “Six,” but I think it’s a little better than being dubbed “Rookie,” as was the player character in ODST. You and the rest of Noble Team are at the tip of a continually escalating struggle to save the planet Reach.

Being the fifth game in the immensely successful series, or sixth if you count the RTS aberration that was Halo Wars, Reach does not stray far from the tried and true Halo formula. The biggest change is the addition of classes to multiplayer, which boils down to a different type of armor power depending on the class you choose. Most of the armor powers augment your movement in some way, while others allow you to briefly shrug off attacks or fool other players with invisibility or a clone of yourself. This adds another layer of strategy to games, particularly team games with players who play together on a regular basis. However, classes are really just a more thoroughly implemented version of the equipment system introduced in Halo 3.

There are a handful of other minor changes as well. The controls were changed around once again, but this time it was a seamless transition for me. Enemies seem just a little bit smarter, more frequently avoiding my attempts to run them over, as well as using their overload attack to briefly disable my Warthog. Going hand-in-hand with the AI improvements, Reach is the most challenging Halo of the series. The increased difficulty comes mainly from a few more enemies than usual, again working in tandem with the improved AI.

Holding the melee button when attacking from behind triggers an assassination: a gratuitous display of Halo awesomeness. By far my most thrilling multiplayer moment was using sprint to chase down another player from behind. He had a jetpack and began to take off while I was sprinting after him. I caught up, jumped into the air and used an assassination on him while he was in mid-air. The only thing that could have made it better would have been seeing the look on his face.

I don’t have a lot of complaints about this game. The graphics are not much better than the last two Halo games, and in 2010 the Halo engine is beginning to show its age compared to other AAA titles on the market. However, the game is no worse for the wear. The armor customization system is more fleshed out in Reach, but it is still superfluous and is mostly just for bragging rights.

Reach won’t convert anyone who already dislikes the series, but it’s obvious that bringing in new fans wasn’t on the agenda. I consider this game Bungie’s apology for the sub-par effort that was Halo 3: ODST. Reach is the culmination of over a decade of Halo, and it couldn’t be a more fitting conclusion, as Bungie has topped themselves one last time.

LANFest 2010

Photo from Creative Commons

On Saturday, Sept. 18, from 7 p.m. to midnight, room 248 of the Bonnie was the site of LANFest 2010. There was wall-to-wall gaming, with three projectors playing games like Mario Kart Wii, Rock Band, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Party, Dance Dance Revolution or any other game you can imagine.

For first-person shooter fanatics, there was a 16-player match of Bungie’s much anticipated final chapter of the Halo franchise, Halo Reach. While held in the Bonnie, only one floor away from several eating establishments, there was also an on-site bake sale to raise money for the club sponsoring the event, the Radford University Chapter of Association of the Computing Machinery.

While LANFest 2010 was all fun and games, Alex Meade, President of the ACM RU Chapter, wants students to know what the ACM can do for them.

“We have two sides to the club. We have the professional side where we help students get jobs; we help them keep up with the industry. And we like to have the fun side too,” Meade said.

Meade also acknowledged some problems regarding awareness of what the club can do for students by attending the meetings themselves.

Meade said, “In the past, we didn’t have very big meetings at all. When I first got here, every meeting was like officers and two other people. And I wanted to change that. So, last semester I got elected president, and I said ‘Ok, I’m gonna go out and I’m really gonna start pushing.'”

Meade’s push has been comprised of mainly events like LANFest 2010. Last spring the club held a similar event, with a turnout of about 40 people. Expectations were high for LANFest 2010, but the final tally for attendees fell a bit short at 45.

Gamers who missed this event can look forward to the spring with another LANFest having the tentative date of March 2011. However, be sure to bring your own gaming equipment as the ACM doesn’t have a wealth of consoles, controllers and televisions to loan out.

Halo 3: ODST dropping into stores near you

In this installment of the well-known Halo franchise, players play as an orbital drop shock trooper. You are put into the shoes of the teams rookie, who, like in most games, is simply referred to as “rookie.” He is the strong silent type\. You and your squad are orbiting earth as you get orders and prepare to take the leap. Before the rookie makes the jump he is introduced to two new faces: Buck the squad leader and Dare, a woman full of mysteries.

The rookie quickly learns why others call those in the

ODST “Hell Jumpers” as he plummets down toward the waiting battlefield of New Mombasa. The jump goes wrong as the Covenant ship makes an emergency escape, sending your squad scattered about the city. The rookie wakes up six hours later to find much of the city in ruins.

Game Play

The game in and of itself plays very much like the previous editions of the game. The gameplay is smooth and rather simple, what one would expect coming from Bungie. While the game plays like its predecessors, there are still enough changes to make it fun. Gone is the self healing and gravity defying spartan amour, replaced with light combat armor. While your character can still jump higher than most normal people, it is hardly the super-jump of previous Halo games. The loss of regeneration means you have to be much more careful in the urban battle environment as you face the troops of the covenant who are searching the city for survivors. The heads up display (HUD) for the game is built into the visor for our ODST rookie. The HUD in ODST is a rather unique and fun addition. Not only does it work as a form of night vision, it highlights enemies and points of interest. Another addition to ODST is a new game mode known as firefight. It is very similar to horde in Gears of War 2, where you face countless waves of enemies, hoping to survive until the end.

The Good

The graphics for the game were stunning, especially the drop scene as you cut through the clouds and come flying towards the city as it is under attack. The detail put into the city is great, including the cities AI, the Superintendent who helps guide you to hidden audio tracks and provides health and ammunition packs at various stations. The game has an in-depth and intense story as you try to piece together all that has gone wrong in the six hours while your rookie has been unconscious. The story is what makes this game, with its in-depth acting and rich content. Without the story it would just be another Halo game; nothing special.

The Bad

There isn’t all that much that is overwhelmingly bad about this game. There are a few things, like the maps being confusing at times, or that the HUD can be very disorientating at first as it makes everything shiny. My main point of contention with the game is the firefight mode, the mode in and of itself is solid and fun, but the restriction to friends-only can make it a pain to get people together to play it at times. Often times you can find yourself just lurking on the 360 dash board, waiting for someone to get on so you have someone to play with.

My Rating: 5/5

Official Game Trailer.

The live action trailer.

Videos embedded from an outside source.

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