Looks like major changes are on the way for our favorite game. Two and a half years later, it is definitely still going strong in our household. Hard to believe, in the days where a game publisher will usually abandon a title after almost a year.
First, there are the two new maps coming out in about a week, updating some old favorites from the original Halo. I can still remember playing all those maps over the Game Spy Tunnel for playing system link games over the Internet before XBox Live ever came out. Ah, the memories of how terrible I was and how I was often corpse humped. I can’t wait to see these because each new map adds another level of interest to the game – which weapons work best in certain sections, and discovering where the new camping and spawn points are.
Bungie has been mucking with the play lists as of late. The last reorganization took out Team Swat, which was my absolute favorite. The other ranked playlists seem to be too full of modders to enjoy anymore, so I spend most of my time in Rumble Training where you get a good variety of playlists and players. I’d like to see some of the playlists like Rumble Armory come back, which are along the same lines as Swat. Even the cult favorite Zombies should be placed in there, since there are so few that get the idea of the game the first time its played and it would be nice to have the team switch enforced when someone is killed by the zombie.
Next, there is the looming threat from Bungie of rank resets when the new maps are released. My opinion on this is that lower ranked people will have a terrible time playing games because people who are legitimately higher in levels will appear as much lower levels – something the derankers always love to do. While I have done my share of getting a 2-month XBox Live pass for the sake of appearing as a lower rank in games, I can attest that it sucks when it is done to you. Not quite as pathetic as modders, but it still stinks. I’m guessing that with Halo 3 around the corner, this is the last map update and rank reset we will see in a long time. Or it will be defined as an automated yearly or semi-yearly event.
It is likely that Bungie will take this opportunity to address some of the modding that is still plaguing the game. I can’t understand why Bungie or Microsoft can’t use a checksum system to determine if a map has been altered when joining a game. Things like super jumping could possibly disappear, although Bungie has said that this has not been touched because everyone can do it. This argument doesn’t fly because there were plenty of ragdoll and dummy cheats that everyone was able to do with vehicles when the game first hit XBox Live. Plenty of things like pulling the flag or bomb through the floor to get it to the target quicker. There is even still the glitch on Warlock in Crazy King where the hill is under a platform and you can gain time on the hill while standing on the platform rather than under it. I admit to having done that a lot.
The upcoming Halo 3 beta was a real sales booster for Crackdown. At first I thought this tie-in was a cheap gimmick for boosting sales. I saw a future where the beta for Burnout 6 was packaged in with Crash Bandicoot 5 or a beta for World of Warcraft was bought for placement in Kabuki Warriors 2. The deluge of screenshots and trailers from Halo 3 made this a sure seller. And then we played it and loved it – it has turned out to be one of the few XBox titles that I made time for in order to actually finish it. As a fanatic of Halo, I have to shamefully admit that I never made it more than a third of the way through Halo and only three-quarters of the way through Halo 2 before I was completely hooked on the multiplayer gaming. It helps that Crackdown has a very short storyline compared with something like Gears of War. But the ability to play completely off the rails of the storyline and pursue the extra achievements makes this game a winner. I even took some of the official game sounds for my ringtones. And I suspect that the achievements being built into Halo 3 will lead me to actually finish the game this time.
All this with the reports of the changes coming in the Spring update continue to make the XBox 360 the most exciting system and Halo the top game franchise. Add-ons like the keyboard attachment (more pics here) are just over the horizon. See you in the Rumble Pit!