It probably says something about the state of Japanese game design that the biggest story out of this year's Tokyo Game Show has the Halo name on it. We had as many questions as you after Microsoft took the wraps off Halo 3 Recon yesterday. Luckily, Bungie community honchos Brian Jarrard and Luke Smith were kind enough to answer a few of them today (and scoff at the rest). Without further ado...
- How am I going to get this thing? Recon is a standalone retail disc; no downloads, no ownership of Halo 3 required. There aren't any official pricing details yet, but you can bet it will run a cool $60 like all top-tier 360 games when it's out in fall '09.
- What's it about? The game takes place during the latter half of Halo 2, while Master Chief is kicking it on Delta Halo. You play as a lone ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) stranded in the embattled New Mombasa just after the Prophet of Regret rudely performs a slipspace jump and sunders the city in the process. It's your job to perform mop-up and get the bad guys out of there. Lucky you!
- Does it play like Halo? Yes and no. It's a first-person game set in the Halo universe; in Jarrard's words, it "will feel like a Halo game." At the same time, your ODST is no badass cybernetic supersoldier. He's just "one lone guy in a Covenant-occupied city," which will dictate a more reserved, tactical play style. (I bet Bungie works up some lesser enemies for you to square off with too, though.)
- How much Halo 3 will be in there? It's the same engine and tech as Halo 3. But on the content side, Bungie is working furiously on building the Recon campaign from the ground up, so don't look for recycled levels or anything like that. This also won't look like the New Mombasa of Halo 2. Expect a unique experience.
- What's up with the multiplayer? Recon will have new multiplayer maps and potentially other stuff, but no more details available than that. However, it will also contain the new Mythic map pack that's hitting Marketplace in the spring.
- Points? Yeah, a full thousand points' worth of achievements for the campaign.
- Does it have [insert my favorite Halo 3 feature]? Yep, Recon has "full feature parity" with Halo 3. So things like online four-player co-op and Forge level editing are still supported.
- Am I going to get the Recon armor? "You might, you might not," says Jarrard. Cagey. But he also pointed out that 1) the Recon armor wouldn't be so special if everyone got it, and 2) maybe that armor won't be such a big deal by this time next year, anyway. Hmm.
- Who's making this thing? Bungie formed a small splinter group to build Recon while the rest of the company focuses on other projects. (Projects? Plural?!) This team includes some Bungie vets who have been working on Halo since the beginning of the series, and they view it as a "fun creative challenge" to build up an entirely new Halo offshoot with established engine tech. This is a one-off game, though; don't expect a whole new ODST franchise. Call it Halo Gaiden.
- Anything else? Not related to Recon per se, but an upgrade is going into Bungie.net soon that will let you render your Halo 3 saved films directly to Flash videos on the web site. Not too shabby.
Lastly, here's the Recon announcement trailer in our super-duper high-res AwesomePlayer (trademark pending.)