4. The Return Of Frank O’Connor
First of all, we have franchise director and creator of Master Chief, Frank O’Connor, on board. Why is this one man so significant you may ask (stupidly)? Well, if you are anything like us, you may have seen a slight drop in the quality of the franchise after Halo 3. The Master Chief was dropped from the games after the sequel was released in 2008; this gave Bungie room to explore some other parts of the franchise. They tried out some new mechanics, fiddled with multiplayer modes and gave the series a whole different feel. Unfortunately, this ‘feel’ proved hard to get used to after traipsing around in Chief’s boots for so long.
Halo 3: ODST was not a bad game, it just did not match the games before it, and much of the same can be said of Halo: Reach in many ways. It is hard to put your finger on it, but the last two titles in the series did not quite feel right. It’s easy to put it down to the absence of Chief or the copycat design ideas, but these spin-off titles certainly lacked something else. Considering this, it may be no surprise to know that Frank O’Connor left Bungie in 2008 after Halo 3 to start work for 343i. Presumably, the titles that O’Connor began work on was Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4, as well as planning out the whole new trilogy of course. Now, we are not implying O’Connor is some kind of god, but he certainly embodies the heart and soul of the series, and players have felt his absence. In all honesty, the input of just this one man into Halo 4 gives us enough reason to feel assured about the quality of this new trilogy.
3. Fresh Eyes On The Franchise
Now this next point is actually more of a hit or miss, rather than a definite positive. While the team that make up 343i are certainly not amateurs, what PR does not talk about are the projects that some of the team have worked on. Put it this way, do you think 343i was formed from the best individuals in the industry, or rather those who had lost their job or were in the process of losing it. Well, it’s more of a mixed bag really. Fortunately, there are some very good titles that can be brought up when discussing the previous work of the team, but a lot of it is either completely dissimilar to Halo in every way, or is a very commercial project bereft of much creativity - not to say that Halo is not commercial of course.
Regardless of these slight worries, the team will have the encouragement of O’Connor behind them as well as other former Bungie staff who worked on Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. The huge number of other game directors, and lead designers are previously from studios such as: id Software, Microsoft Game Studios, Kojima Productions, Bethesda Softworks, Ubisoft Montreal, Guerrilla Games, 2K Marin, Pandemic Studios and many, many others. It’s a fairly strong line up, but it’s not quite Bungie, is it? They lack the long-term unity of a studio like Bungie along with the experience with the Halo franchise. Again, the fate of Halo seems to lie with O’Connor, but can the rest of his team deliver the goods? With any luck, they will bring something fresh to the franchise, and I am not talking about the likes of armor abilities (that’s still a moot point) – for some of the staff, this could be their first opportunity to really let their imagination run wild. As O’Connor states: “the sci-fi universe basically gives you more freedom to create characters, and create unrealistic and exciting scenarios.”