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Second Take: The Games That Spawn Halo

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September 21, 2007 5:53:13 AM

What games paved the way for Halo to be one of the biggest game franchises of all time? Ben and Rob discuss their picks.

Watch Video:

It's a longish one, but the blooper at the end is well worth it. Tell us what you think. Do you agree with the picks? What did we miss? Are you sick of the media talking about all things Halo?


"Gamefuel tastes like the distilled sweat of Master Chief's armpits"
-Hammerin' Ben Sengoku

More about : games spawn halo

September 21, 2007 11:37:33 AM

A guy in my Battlefield 2 clan has a fridge full and his comp surrounded by that master chief sweat. He drinks it everyday until it comes out I bet, then he'll be playing H3 for a month, no sleep.
September 21, 2007 3:55:08 PM

Definitely sick of the media hype. The viralish marketing was a huge failure in my eyes. Maybe I was spoiled by the viral marketing of the latest
Nine Inch Nails album, which had some really cool hidden stuff, really good atmosphere, made me think they should make it a movie, lol. But the diorama and the live action films for Halo.. well, I'm not buying into the whole storyline thing after the epic failure that is the Halo 2 storyline. The first one, well, I loved it, and the flood was my favourite part. But the second? Very unrealistic, even for a sci fi game. It makes little sense why humans would team up with elites and become all buddy buddy. I wanted to kick their ass, not kiss it.

The childish storyline really ruined the game for me, and its ruining what they are trying to accomplish with Halo 3. I just lost my trust in them to make a good story. So marketing the story isn't really doing it for me. Well, I know the gameplay will be good, so all I can do is cross my fingers and hope they don't mess it up.

The games are pretty much spot on, although I might disagree about starcraft. Sure, the 3 races, yes, but the story, I don't see much of a relation. Goldeneye, well, if you think in terms of successful console shooters, sure, but I don't see how the relation would be different from any other FPS.
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September 21, 2007 7:00:16 PM

I had no idea it was originally going to be an RTS, I always thought it was going to be a Star Wars Battlefrong/Battlefield game, I have a video or two on some pc gamer CD stashed somewhere from years ago, i'll see if I can find it on the weekend.
September 21, 2007 7:16:22 PM

How about a book!!! Larry Niven's Ringworld anyone?
September 22, 2007 3:05:54 AM

I think I should point out that while Halo was originally being developed as an RTS, it was changed to an FPS long before Microsoft bought out bungie. When it was introduced at Macworld '99, it was introduced as a Mac shooter and was later slated to be a PC/Mac shooter. When Microsoft bought Bungie they did a complete rewrite of the game for the Xbox, but it had already been intended as an FPS.

Great feature though, very insightful and enjoyable.
September 22, 2007 3:27:35 AM

The original Halo RTS was based more on Bungie's strategy game Myth than on Starcraft and Myth came out shortly before Starcraft. As for the story, it seems as if the plot and backdrop was taken more from games like bungie's own Marathon games, (which you rightfully mentioned), and the System Shock series, not to mention the vast mass of science fiction novels that contain precursors to nearly every modern sci-fi movie, book, or game in one form or another.
The omission of Myth as a game that influenced Halo really bothered the hell out of me considering the early concept for Halo was essentially Myth in Space. Try telling a gamer that Warcraft didn't have an effect on Starcraft.
Since I've mentioned Warcraft, that brings up another point. Warcraft probably influenced Myth. Warcraft in turn was probably influenced by Dune II. It seems that people are always looking for games that they can point to as a "breakthrough" game. There really are very few true breakthrough games, possibly none anymore. Halo was not a breaththrough game and Half-Life was not a breakthrough game either though both were outstanding and took steps forward for the genre. The evolution of videogames is now fluid and each game expands or formulas laid down by dozens of previous games.
For example, Bioshock has been almost universally declared a "breakthrough" game by hundreds of reviewers. Before I go further I will state that Bioshock is an amazing game and of that there is no doubt. However, Bioshock can really be boiled down, to a combination of the mechanics of Deus Ex and System Shock and the "you uncover what happened in the gameworld through your own actions and exploration" storytelling style of the first Myst. Of course there are many more, smaller influences but I believe it is a good example.
Regardless of my disagreements with this particular episode, I enjoyed it and the rest of Second Take and thank you for it.
September 22, 2007 4:27:38 AM

The previous poster already pointed out that Halo's original RTS permutation would have been based on Bungie's own Myth RTS from 1997 rather than Starcraft from 1998. Sorry to be a know-it-all, but I wanted to make a similar point-

In the video, Ben and Rob have the common misconception that Marathon (1994) was Bungie's take on Doom (1993). But actually, Bungie released their first FPS in August 1993, a few months before Doom was released. It was called Pathways Into Darkness, and it was actually a literal precursor to Marathon; PID and Marathon share a couple of actual plot points.

I hate to nitpick, it's not like anyone was intentionally insulting Bungie or anything. I just like to spread awareness that Bungie never followed in anyone else's footsteps. Too many people think of them as some Johnny Come Lately developer who jumped on the FPS bandwagon years after Doom/Quake/Goldeneye/Half Life did all of the hard work first. The fact is, Bungie was out there in the trenches before any of them.
September 22, 2007 6:47:51 AM

I recall playing both pathway into darkness and Marathon, and i don't recall the plot points or similarities.

Actually, come to think about it, i don't remember pathway into darkness as having any plot at all. Can you give a recap of what you're talking about?
September 23, 2007 11:44:54 AM

Hmmm... I guess everyone beat me to the points I was going to make. Funny video though. The whole Halo drink thing is an amazingly dumb idea and it's sad 14 year olds probably buy into all of the hype. Halo is a good game, but it's definitely overrated, which is unfortunate because it's not a bad series by any means. In fact, I'd even say the first game was excellent, but Halo 2 fell short and its only redeeming quality is multiplayer over XBox Live.

Anyways, I don't really agree with the picks for games that influenced Halo. Marathon is spot on, that one is a no-brainer. All of Bungie's games have connections with each other. Bungie likes to rehash ideas. I don't know if that's good or bad. has anything you could possibly want to know about the stories of the games and the connections between them all. Marathon is the most obvious, and many people argue that Halo is a sequel/prequel to Marathon. Halo is at the very least a revisioning of Marathon because there are a ton of similarities and connections and subtle hints. And I agree the Myth series makes more sense than Starcraft. I don't think Bungie changed Halo to an FPS because of Microsoft, I think it was already headed in that direction before Microsoft even got involved simply because people wanted a sequel to Marathon. The only obvious influence outside their own work that I'd consider is Aliens. Lots of sci-fi games lately have been ripping off the movie Aliens, and Halo is probably one of the most blatant... the drop ships, the space marines, the armor, etc.

I'm still not sure Halo 3 will live up to the hype. I think about how the game was originally planned to be, and it the move to XBox seriously dumbed it down and killed a lot of its potential. XBox Live players will probably love it, but the single-player campaign and story are what I care about. I just can't picture them wrapping everything up into a satisfying conclusion.
September 24, 2007 12:41:21 AM

I liked the drinking bit at the end, maybe you guys should do a roundup of all video game themed beverages?
September 24, 2007 12:00:14 PM

Its an interesting topic. I think it would be a completely different discussion depending on who is talking about it. I for one would have mentioned Tribes.
September 26, 2007 11:12:05 PM

I liked the drinking bit at the end, maybe you guys should do a roundup of all video game themed beverages?

My stomach is curdling just thinking about it.
September 27, 2007 5:41:16 AM

One thing I didn't like about the video is that they showed Marathon 1 only and said that "they touched base on the fps genre". They completely failed to mention that Marathon was a hit TRILOGY in the Mac gaming community with many cult followers (including myself). One thing that I feel was revolutionary about the Marathon series was its ability to be tweaked and molded using 3rd party tools and later Bungie released its own tools (one of which, the map editor, is not coincidentially called Forge) which allowed a plethora of scenarios and user made maps, physics models, shapes, and sounds to be created for the game. I was even lucky enough to be on a project team that created a pretty well known scenario called Tempus Irae.

Bungie is the biggest sellout story in gaming history if you ask me. They are just another company that is helping MS take over the world. The move to MS was obviously for $$ considering that they even changed game designs around that time. Crazy deals were going down at the time. Not many people actually know what happened between the time they announced the change to FPS and MS but it was a huge surprise to many loyal Mac gamers out there. Maybe that's one reason that one of the founders, Alex Seropian, decided to move back to Chicago and form Wideload Games. Probably got fed up with getting it up the poopr from Billy.

Nevertheless, I did play Halo 1 on my friends xbox (which I never planned on owning). Good game. I was impressed but it was the last true Bungie game IMO. Little did I realize at the time that it may have been the single game to not only kill Mac gaming, but now it seems it is killing PC gaming as well. (tear) Way to go, MS!