Halo 3 Limited Editions = Trash

Now, I’m not really a HALO fan. The first one was getting so much good press that I picked it up along with my original Xbox (which I had really purchased for Jet Set Radio Future). It was OK. The controls were good, mechanics nice, but the level design bored me to tears. I wasn’t particularly compelled to play through it more than once. HALO 2 came along and I played a little bit of the SP campaign and less than a handful of online matches. It still didn’t particularly grab me.

Ironically, though, I’ve really enjoyed some of the extended-universe content. The graphic novel was pretty cool and the ARG campaigns structured around it (ILoveBees and Iris) were very compelling. They did a lot more for establishing the complexity of the world Bungie has created than the games themselves.

So, in hopes that they’ve addressed a lot of the complaints I’ve had concerning the series, I bought into the HALO 3 hype. After reading through the article in the last issue of Wired, I admit that I’m really digging Bungie’s approach. They realize that they mussed things up with HALO 2 and they’ve been putting a lot of time into shoring up all aspects of the game. The amount of time they’ve put into designing the levels is insane. They basically have a “lab” where they can assess the pyschology of a number of different types of players and restructure parts of the game based on the results. Sure, everyone does focus testing, but this takes it to the next level.

I like that. And I like the idea of The Forge which reminds me of the modding tools that Blizzard packed in with StarCraft and Warcraft III. You can take the pre-existing multiplater levels and then restructure them or pop in new buildings. It’s not a complete free-for-all, but some really creative individuals will be able to make some really fun maps or even new modes of play.

So you could say I’m somewhat excited about the game and I’ll probably be at my local Gamestop for the midnight launch, but I’m beginning to regret that decision. Apparently the limited edition of the game is already plagued by problems. Check out an inside shot of the package:

What Did they DO?!

Millions of dollars in the bank, and not a cent spent on packaging.

Yeah. A tin case is nice and all, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing when your disc is being held (or rather, not held) by a tiny nub and two thin pieces of foam. People who’ve managed to somehow or other score an early copy have complained that you can hear the discs rattling around before you even open the case and once you do, guess what? You’ve got discs scratched all to hell. Fantastic.

I feel sorry for employees that are going to have to work this midnight launch. They’re going to have to deal with a lot of pissy customers and even more of them if they end up taking their shiny new copies of HALO 3 home and the 360 can’t read the disc. For such a big release that’s going to reign in the cash (Wedbush Morgan’s “fan favorite” Michael Pachter predicts 3 million copies sold within the first 12 days), they could’ve done better than this.

So at this point, I may just try and downgrade to the standard edition. Is it really worth it for a shrimpy artbook and an oh-so-cliche “making of” disc, especially if the game itself fails to work? Well, at least I’m not spending $50 more on the Legendary Edition, which even comes with a “gimp mask of shame” for your Master Chief Cat Helmet.

But wait, there’s more! To assuage your feelings of rage and/or disappoint is this absolutely phenomenal video from Loading.Ready.Run.

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~ by Cavin Smith on September 22, 2007.

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