7th Columnist


Isolation Secret Cracked
September 28, 2007, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Easter Eggs, Gaming, Halo 3, News

I didn’t front page this earlier, as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone trying to figure out exactly what the great Isolation secret was. Instead, I chose to tuck it away in our forum for a bit. Still, it seems X3F have caught wind of it and unleashed it onto the public via their site, so i’ve decided to post it fully now.

A while back, IGN previewed Isolation – and in a interview with Tyson Green, discovered that after prolonged play on the map, something cool would happen. Well, after an hour or so of playing around on the map today searching for the surprise, I can reveal to you exactly what that big secret was. I say big… to be honest I totally didn’t even notice it at first.

Watch the ground very carefully as you blast away your buddies next time you’re on the map and after a short while you’ll begin to notice the Flood infection present on the level spreading. The ground slowly starts to take a turn for the worse as it gradually becomes covered with Flood-like boils and parasitic nastiness.

Check out a bigger version of my handy Before and After image here.

It doesn’t actually take all that long for it to happen (I was under the impression it would take an hour or so initially) and certainly doesn’t affect gameplay in the slightest, but it’s a neat little touch all the same.

It’s clear that Bungie have once again rammed their game full of little easter eggs such as this, and although plenty have been discovered already (I’ll post a complete list a t some point), I wonder just how many more there are left out there?

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Halo 3 Terminal Locations
September 28, 2007, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Achievements, Campaign, Gaming, Halo 3, News, Terminals

Got the skills skulls? Then it’s time for terminals.

There are seven ‘Terminals’ scattered throughout the levels that hold information about the Forerunners and their battle to survive before firing the Halo rings the first time round. Access all of the terminals, and you’ll unlock the achievement “Marathon Man” for 40G.

Following on from our Skull location guide, here are the locations of all the terminals found in the game.

Terminals 1-3 are situated on level 6, ‘The Ark‘.

Terminal 1

The first time you go inside, you will see a door almost immediately on the left. Simply enter this area of the level to find the first of the seven terminals.

Terminal 2
When you go inside the structure to let the tanks across the bridge of light, there will be a Terminal almost directly behind the controls for the bridge.

Terminal 3
You’ll miss this terminal if you are not careful. After defeating the scarab, you will head into a large structure. There will be a room with several sleeping grunts. Nearly directly following this room is another room in which you can take two different directions. There is a door, and a staircase (both eventually lead to the next room).
Underneath the staircase is an additional door that leads to the 3rd terminal.

Terminals 4, 5, and 6 can be found on the 7th level, ‘The Covenant’.

Terminal 4
When you access the first Elevator leading to the tower controls, jump onto the platform to the left of the elevator control panel. The terminal is dead ahead.

Terminal 5
After getting a Hornet vehicle, fly towards tower 2 (the one that the Arbiter has already disabled). A voice will remind you that Tower 2 is already clear, just to confirm you are at the right place. The Terminal is just inside of the structure.

Terminal 6
Terminal 6 is identical to Terminal 4, only in the 3rd tower. Just jump to the platform, and there it is.

Terminal 7 can be found on the final level of the game, ‘Halo’.

Terminal 7
Terminal 7 is found at the beginning of the final level in Halo 3. To find it, simply head forward from the start of the level, until you encounter the area with a few structural beams going from one wall into another. At this point, turn right, and look for a beam separate from the rest. Follow this beam into a doorway. Cortana will ask you, “Where are you going?”. Turn left once inside, and the Terminal should be in full view.

Access them all and consider yourself ‘Marathon Man’.



Halo 3 Machinima Woes
September 27, 2007, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Gaming, Halo, Halo 3, Machinima, News

<rant>

There’s been a lot of excitement surrounding Bungie’s new saved films feature implemented for Halo 3, not only from those wanting to relive glory moments from their favourite battles, but also from the thriving machinima community that has manifested since the first game launched all those years ago. Thanks to a handy little exploit (aiming directly at the ground) it was possible to lower the weapons of characters, whilst keeping their heads up, and simulate talking with a wiggle of an analogue stick. Series’ such as Red Vs. Blue and Fire Team Charlie made great use of this feature to craft epic serial adventures, essentially online cartoons set in the world of Halo, to great acclaim.

By the time Halo 2 launched, Halo machinima was really flying. Everyone wanted a piece of the action due to the ease at which it could be created. Bungie, aware of the success of Halo in this area decided to make things a little easier for the fans. They gave us a button. No more were we required to aim at the floor to lower our guns (making it incredibly difficult to control the characters), instead a simple press down on the d-pad or (when out of grenades) holding of the left trigger, would make your character lower his weapon. Perfect for filming purposes.

So in walks Halo 3. With it’s freely detachable camera allowing for great viewing angles and cutting out the need for any letterboxing, it’s slowmo and multiple perspectives, not to mention the fact that every game is stored, saving plenty of precious hard drive space. Then there’s Forge. Giving players the ability to remodel maps and set scenes as they see fit, another perfect tool for any budding filmmaker. It looked as though machinimakers were getting more than they could ever wish for, with Bungie fully on side to help them create the epic features they’ve all been wanting to.

As it turns out, pressing down on the d-pad this time around does nothing. Nor does holding the the left trigger when out of grenades.

To lower a character’s weapon in Halo 3 you have to do is this:

Hold down left bumper, right bumper, left analogue stick, down on the d-pad and the A button… AT THE SAME TIME… for three seconds!

It’s a ridiculous feat in itself that feels as clumsy as pulling off a ‘fatality’ in Mortal Kombat. Worse yet, the feature can only be used in system link and local play, NOT over Xbox Live where many machinima pieces (This Spartan Life, for example) are filmed due to the ease of using ‘actors’ from anywhere in the world.

Machinimakers are furious. I’m furious. As this seems to not only be an incredible wasted opportunity on Bungie’s part, but also a massive step backwards in terms of usability for wannabe filmmakers – in a game literally rammed full of features seemingly created to make things easier.

Over the years the Halo community has produced some astonishingly good pieces of machinima and really helped propel the medium forwards. Sure, we shouldn’t expect all this from developers at all, but with machinima playing such a huge part in Halo from day one… we do.

So Bungie if you’re listening, you have to fix this. We need this to work over live and we need it to be a simpler process to lower the weapons as we play. Fix that… and Halo 3 will truly be the perfect game we all thought it would be. Otherwise, shame on you for taking away one of the best things about our beloved community.

</rant>

**UPDATE**

Swap d-pad down for d-pad up and you’ll be given global coordinates and look vectors for the camera, allowing you to reproduce a specific camera position for advanced shots.

**UPDATE 2**

Dark Red Productions put together a handy little machinima video eplaining how to pull the technique off.

Thanks, darkredX13.

Digg!



Halo 3 Premiere IMAX London
September 27, 2007, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Campaign, Gaming, Halo, Halo 3, Multiplayer, News, premiere

I was lucky enough to get along to the Halo 3 premiere this week at the IMAX cinema in London. Naturally I went along, camera in hand to capture the occasion for you guys.

First of all, I’d like to stress just how cold it was… like, real cold. It was a miserable day. We were told to make our way to the event for 4 0’clock for registration, which many of us did – only to be left waiting outside in the rain until nearly 7pm as various stars waltzed down the red carpet into the event. Stars (and sometimes I use that so lightly you can barely feel it) including: Pharrell Williams, Kimberly Stewart, Chantelle (yes, of Big Brother psuedo-fame) , Christian Slater and more were in attendance, all of which were briefly interviewed by the media and managed to give embarrassingly uneducated answers to the floods of video game related questions being flung at them.

Once they were all inside, we were allowed to enter. Divided into two groups, Red and Blue (of course) we made our way into the auditorium to watch the show. Hosted by Iain Lee, we were treated showings of the ‘Believe’ Ads on the big screen and a demonstration of co-operative play and saved films by none other than Joe Tung and Lee Wilson of Bungie. Watch it for yourself below.

Afterwards via Xbox Live, we got to watch Pharrell Williams and a competition winner from MySpace battle it out (Rumble Rockets style) with a few more celebs scattered accross Europe. These included Carmen Electra and LL Cool J. It was horrible to watch. Is moving in a virtual three-dimensional space really that difficult to get your head around? Apparently it is, once your salary goes over a certain amount.

Now I mentioned we were seperated into two teams. This was for the final part of the event. Selected at random, two players from each side were invited up onto the stage to go head to head in a specially Forge-modified version of Epitaph – the winning side bagging copies of Halo 3 for their entire team. Again, with everyone new to the game, it was a mess. Better yet, the Red team were playing in blue armour and the Blue team in red – just to confuse things further. We won though, which was ace for us, but not so good for the Blues (I’ve never seen so many nervous faces) and Microsoft later revealed that everyone would get a copy of the game that night. Good sports.

We were then ushered out of the auditorium back downstairs for a mingle, with free beer and demo pods with multiplayer games running for a few hours to finish the night with a bang. There was also a gallery of images from the Halo 3 Diorama down there, all of which looked fantastic. I managed to snap some ropey shots. Apologies for the reflections.

Finally, I caught up with Joe and Lee of Bungie and chatted to them for a while, showing them my 7th Column tattoo and discussing our favourite Halo moments from the series. They were great guys, and threw me a whole load of Bungie tees, signed my press pass and posed for a couple of photos.

On our way out we were handed a copy of the game and an almost too cool to wear Halo 3 t-shirt.

So, aside from the odd blunder here and there, the waiting in the cold and the abysmal skillz of the celebrities in-game, it was a brilliant night – especially for us here in the UK, where we normally miss out on this sort of thing.

Thank you Microsoft, thank you Bungie, thank you all.



Halo 3 Skull Locations
September 27, 2007, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Campaign, Gaming, Halo 3, News, skulls

By now you should have all beaten the game. Once, twice… more? So maybe it’s time to turn your attention to something else now… like skulls.

These can be found scattered throughout the levels on Normal, Heroic, and Legendary difficulty settings. Why do you want them? Well, picking up ‘Golden’ skulls will unlock an achievement for starters, but also, each skull has different effects that can be enabled in Meta Games, which will in turn multiply your meta game score.

Here’s a handy list of skull effects and where to find them:

Gold Skulls

Iron Skull
If you die, you restart from the beginning of the level.
Location:
The ‘Iron Skull’ is located at the very end of the first level. It is located behind the building where Sgt. Johnson is being held captive, up on the roof. You can gain access to the roof on the far right side of the building. Travel all the way over to the left side of the roof, and the Skull will be concealed in the corner.

Black Eye Skull
When you lose shield, the only way to get it back it to melee an enemy.
Location:
This Skull is located in the beginning of the second level ‘Crow’s Nest‘, the very room you start in. Hanging down from the ceiling is some piping. On top of this piping, on the side nearest to the large display (the one that Hood appears on) lies the ‘Black Eye Skull‘.

Tough Luck Skull
Your enemies never back down, always make their saving throws, and always charge you.
Location:
The ‘Tough Luck Skull’ is found on the third level, at the point in the level when the huge covenant cruiser flies overhead. On your left is some large piping following the road you are walking on. Underneath this piping are some support beams that extend out over a cliff. Jump onto the first of these beams, and travel to the end of it. Look to your left, and the Tough Luck Skull will be sitting on a rock extending from a cliff edge.

Catch Skull
Enemies throw LOTS of grenades.
Location:
The ‘Catch Skull’ can be found on the fourth level, in the first area where you need to destroy the Wraith Tanks. When you enter this area, do not eliminate the Wraith Tanks (The skull appears when the tanks appear, and disappears when the tanks are destroyed). The Skull is located on top of the circular building next to the Anti-Air Tank. You can access the roof using a grenade jump, or jumping on the back of a hog.

Fog Skull
“You’ll miss those eyes in the back of your head.” You lose your motion sensor.
Location:
The ‘Fog Skull’ is found on the level ‘Floodgate’, at the very beginning of the level. As you are walking down from the anti-air gun you destroyed in the previous mission, you encounter a ramp (next to a missile launcher). Around this ramp, you hit a checkpoint. At this point, you should also hear a marine yelling, “There! Over There!”.

You have a small window of opportunity at this point, but it is fairly easy to get the ‘Fog Skull‘. Look up, and to the right, directly at the roof of the building next to the missle launcher. There is a single flood form (not to be mistaken with the two other flood forms jumping in front of you) which is holding the skull. Kill him before he jumps, and he will drop the skull down to the ground where you can retrieve it. Too early, and the skull will get stuck on the roof though, so just time it carefully.

Famine Skull
Enemies drop 50% of the ammo they usually drop.
Location:
You can find the ‘Famine Skull’ on the sixth level, near the point where the path you follow branches off into two sections (one leading to the area where you need to let the tanks across the bridge, and the other leading towards the area where you meet up with the frigate). Take the right path, as you would if you were completing the mission, and you’ll notice a structure above you / to the left of you (near the area where you encounter a few ghosts).

You need to scale the rocks to the right of the structure, and then travel across it so that you pass 3 of the large support beams extending into the cliffs. Inside of the fourth support beam, lies the Famine Skull. A well placed grenade should have you up there in no time!

Thunderstorm Skull
All enemies are given a field promotion, and ranked up to their next available level.
Location:
The ‘Thunderstorm Skull’ can be found on the level, ‘The Covenant‘, after you take command of one of the Hornet vehicles. Fly towards the second force field generator (the one the Arbiter disabled), and land. The skull is waiting at the very top, at the end of the ramp extending over the sea.

Tilt Skull
Makes enemy resistance much greater. For example, Brute power armor becomes nearly impossible to take out with nearly anything except for plasma bursts.
Location:
The ‘Tilt Skull’ is found on the level ‘Cortana‘, in the circular room where Cortana mentions that she “Likes to play games too…”.

It’s a bit difficult to get to, as it requires getting on top of the ceiling of the room. Upon entering the room, head towards the left side where you will see some mushroom shaped extrusions along the wall. Get on top of these, and then look up and towards the right for another set of extrusions. Jump to these. From here, you should be able to jump on top of the ceiling of the room, where the Tilt Skull lies in the center.

Mythic Skull
All enemies have double their usual health.
Location:
This is probably the easiest Golden skull in the game to get. It is located in the very beginning of the final level in Halo 3. Begin by heading into the canyon, but hug the right wall. Very soon, you will notice that there is a turn to the right that is off the normal trail. Head a bit down this path, and the ‘Mythic Skull’ will be sitting there.

Silver Skulls

Blind Skull
You lose your HUD when this skull is turned on. You won’t see your weapons, shield, radar, etc.
Location:
The ‘Blind Skull’ is the first of the Silver Skulls in Halo 3, and can be found in the first mission. It is located relatively close to the beginning of the level.

After your first encounter with the Gold Armor Brute, Two enemy dropships will appear a bit further down the stream. Go towards the dropship that is furthest away, and stay on the right side of the stream. Continue along the right (towards the cliff edge), and a rock will jut out a bit over the large lake. The ‘Blind Skull’ is located on this rock.

Grunt Birthday Party Skull
When you get a headshot on an enemy Grunt, they will explode into confetti, and you’ll hear children cheer, “Yay!” in excitement.
Location:
This is one of the more fun Silver Skulls in Halo 3. The ‘Grunt Birthday Party Skull’ is located on the second mission, ‘Crow’s Nest‘, just before the area where you team up with the Arbiter (it’s the piping area where you see Drones buzzing in and out of an array of pipes). Just before you jump down the pipe to meet up with the Arbiter, stop at the ledge, and look directly below you. Along the wall that you drop down, there is a small ledge with a green arrow pointing backwards. Jump onto this ledge (rather than all the way down), and go inside this secret room. The skull is in the dead center of the room.

Cowbell Skull
Explosions become much bigger in the game.
Location:
The ‘Cowbell Skull’ is found on the level ‘The Ark‘, and marks the third Silver Skull found in the game. It’s fairly far into the level, so it takes a bit of time to find it.
Begin by heading all the way to the part of the level where you battle the Scarab. After defeating it, look in the middle of the desert area which you battled it in for a fairly large structure (it’s the building you see if you are at the bottom of the ramp you are supposed to go up, and turn to look in the opposite direction). Inside of this structure are several Gravity Lifts. Take one of these for later.

Next, head up the huge ramp, and head inside of the building (the one with the cartographer inside). Pass through a few of the rooms in this building, and you’ll eventually come to a room with a whole lot of Explosive crates. Right after this room is a Staircase/Hallway that leads to the level below. The Skull is located at the top of the room, at the point where you turn on the staircase to head for the next part of the slope. There are four platforms above you, the Skull is on the uppermost of these platforms. Use the Gravity Lift to jump up to it, and there you have it!

IWHBYD Skull
Unlocks hidden dialogue throughout Halo 3’s campaign.
Location:
Currently, the ‘IWHBYD (I Would Have Been Your Daddy) Skull’ has yet to be found by the public. Only members of the Bungie team know the location of the final Silver skull in the game.

Over at NeoGAF, Tyson Green of the Bungie states:

“…IWHBYD is hidden in ways you cannot yet even imagine. It’ll be a while, unless someone at Bungie leaks it. Good hunting, gentlemen.”

So expect this to be toughie. He also confirmed that the Hayabusa, or ‘Samurai’ helmet permutation may be unlocked with the skulls.

Remember: All Skulls must be found by setting the game to “Normal” difficulty setting or higher, and you must begin from the start of the level to find them! Good Luck!

**UPDATE**

The IWHBYD Skull has now been found! Here’s how to grab it for yourself and unlock that Hayabusa armour:

Located on the level, ‘The Covenant’ – After defeating the two Scarabs, head inside to confront Truth and get to the location with all 7 ring holograms. Here you must jump through the rings in a specific order to make the skull appear.

That order is as follows (1 is where you came in, 7 is nearest Truth):
5 4 6 5 4 5 3 4

Jump through them in the correct sequence, and the ‘I Would Have Been Your Daddy Skull’ will appear as if by magic, right next to the bridge that brings you over to the Prophet of Truth.

It’s worth mentioning that you may want to take down Truth and the rest of the Flood BEFORE tackling the jumps though, it’ll make things a lot easier.

Thanks to Halo3Planet.



Last One Standing
September 24, 2007, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Gaming, Halo, Halo 3, News

The final Halo 3 short by Neil Blomkamp is now up online over at at Discovery.com. This is the longest, the most intense – and the most gruesome of the three. If you’re squeamish, you might wanna give it a miss, but should you choose to, you’ll be missing out on one of the finest pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. It’s powerful stuff.

It shows a squad of ODSTs and marines securing the drop zone for Master Chief, setting up the very beginning of the game. It’s graphic and nasty, but really hammers home the idea of this being humanities last stand.

I gotta say I’m loving the artistic direction of Blomkamp in these shorts, they’re gritty and far more mature than I ever thought they would be. They’re no replacement for a full length Halo feature, for sure… but hats off to Microsoft, Bungie, WETA and Blomkamp for making this happen. If this final piece doesn’t get you pumped, nothing will.

Go check out ‘Last One Standing’… NOW!

Digg!



Reviews are go!
September 24, 2007, 3:46 am
Filed under: Gaming, Halo 3, News

The verdict? It’s the bomb.

Now that the online embargo has been lifted we can expect reviews to spring up all over the place – Here’s just a small selection of some of the first to appear.

Team Xbox – 9.7
“Halo 3 is the best Xbox 360 game to date. The single-player campaign and storyline are both very strong, but it’s Forge and the Saved Films features that will likely go down in history as Bungie’s crowning achievements. They’ve basically taken everything great about the series and improved upon it in every way, then added some amazing new features that we’ll be using for years to come.”
Read Full Review

1UP – 10
“Halo 3 is as sure a thing as it gets. Sure, no one aspect of the game is life-changing on its own, but perhaps the package as a whole is. After all, Halo 3 has enough content to keep you stuck to your controller for weeks, if not months or even years.”
Read Full Review

GameSpy – 10
We’ve put in some serious hours reviewing this game, and after several exhaustive playthroughs both solo and co-op as well as countless bloodthirsty multiplayer rounds, we can announce that Halo 3 is everything that it needed to be to fulfill our wildest gaming fantasies… and then Bungie showed us The Forge.
Read Full Review

EuroGamer – 10
“The best game yet in one of the best FPS franchises of the era. Better than either of its predecessors, Halo 3 still can’t quite escape the category of flawed masterpiece – but this time around, the flaws are so minor that even the most churlish of reviewers would be hard pressed to mark the game down.”
Read Full Review

GamePro – 10
“It’s solid gameplay, immense replayability, online functionality and incredible production values will ensure its place in video game history, and it is, without a doubt, a satisfying and fulfilling close to the beloved trilogy.”
Read Full Review

IGN – 9.5
“Look beyond the gameplay and you have a rich feature set unlike anything ever delivered in a videogame. The Forge and the replay functionality raise the bar for console shooters so high, it may never be surpassed this generation. There will be plenty of aspects for fans to nitpick, but it’s hard to argue against Halo 3 as the most complete game available on any console.”
Read Full Review

So far so good, as if there were ever any doubts.