Twenty Years of Halo: Halo 3 Essentials & Halo Landfall

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Like with the bonus and behind the scenes content with Halo 2 this was planned to be an interim episodes instead of taking up its own cozy spot on the weekly schedule, but the more I dove into the two disc Essentials and everything involved, yeah there was no way I could get this done as a mere aside.  There are A LOT of features on these discs and plenty to talk about, so let’s not waste any more time and dive right in!

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Halo 3 Essentials (Bonus Features) – 2007

We’ll start things off with how they were released.  The first disc which was released in both the Collector’s and Legendary editions of Halo 3 is something I SOMEHOW managed to get a copy of many years ago (I’m still baffled that this thing wound its way in my collection) and only works on an Xbox 360 console.  I can’t even find information confirming that it works on Xbox One or Series S/X, so unless you’re like me and can’t throw away anything this disc and its content are going to be hard to get ahold of going forward.  The second disc on the other hand which was only available on the Legendary Edition is a simple DVD and will work in anything that plays those.  Considering the massive marketing campaign around this game it’s no surprise that something like this was added to the game to entice people to spend a little more, and I’m not sure how many games even bother with this kind of stuff anymore.  I remember the PS2 having a few games that had some pretty cool bonus features like God of War having a ton of Making Of videos and even something like Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am having an episode of the show on it, but I guess with YouTube being so accessible that companies will just post stuff on there if they even feel like bothering with it; and even then a lot of it is pre-release so there’s always the sense of it still trying to sell you on something whereas these kind of features are more of a celebration after the fact.  In any case, there’s a lot to talk about here so we’ll group them together into loose categories to try and cover a little bit of everything.

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Making Of Features

Now this includes the VERY extensive Making Of feature on disc 1, Seven Steps to World Domination on disc 2, and the unfortunately yet still appropriately named Git Tur Wurk back on disc 1. The Making Of document is the pick of the litter here as it’s a full hour but is filled with some VERY cool stuff about how the game was developed.  It’s well produced, we get insights into many of the interesting tools used, and the enthusiasm of those being interviewed is infectious.  Just hearing Xi Wang, one of the Graphics Engineers, talking in depth about the water engine is engaging and I learned about things you could do with the water in Halo 3 that I would have never even thought about!  There’s stuff like that, the in depth showcase of the damage system, the way the tested the online servers with teams in Japan, but my favorite bit was their play testing process!  There’s this really nifty tool they had where they would have play testers play the game and be able to report issues while in game.  Then, the developers not only get a list of these issues, they know exactly where in the level it occurred and can even watch a replay of the player playing the game at that time!  That is just really cool to me and I’m now wondering if this kind of software is standard in the industry!

If only they had this for the first game!  The Library level would just be one big sea of red!
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Cinema Dispatch: Mortal Engines

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Mortal Engines and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christian Rivers

There are always WAY too many movies coming out this time of year which means that I can fall a bit behind or forget to see movies altogether.  HOPEFULLY that won’t be a big issue this year; especially if I can still find time to go out and see THIS film!  Yes, it’s another movie adapted from a Young Adult novel that’s the first in a series, but unlike recent attempts like The Darkest Minds (ugh…), it looks like someone put some real effort into this thing with just how absurd the premise is and how much money looks to have been spent trying to realize it!  Can this big budgeted world saving extravaganza be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, or is this yet another example of Hollywood having no idea how to adapt these kinds of books to the big screen?  Let’s find out!!

In the far off future, after the bombs dropped and presumably after the Fallout games, humanity has decided that the best way to live in the ravaged hellscape of post-apocalypse Europe is to build cities on top of their cars and race them around looking for resources.  I’m not quite sure how this is more efficient than say using airplanes and smaller vehicles to find stuff and bring it back to stationary cities, but then I guess I’m from the BOMBED INTO OBLIVION part of history, so what do I know?  The biggest and baddest of these cities is London (which STILL waves the Union Jack a thousand years later) run by the nefarious Thaddeus Valentine who you KNOW is bad because he’s played by Hugo Weaving, and when they capture one of the smaller roaming cities he learns that there’s at least one person out there who’s quite cross with him.  Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) was one of the captured city’s refugees, but it was all a ploy to get her that much closer to Valentine who she takes a stab at but only causes minor damage because some dude named Tom (Robert Sheehan) sees the attack coming and stops her from finishing the job.  Through an elaborate chase scene, Tom chases her down to… I guess the city’s trash hole where she tells him that Valentine killed her mother before escaping the city through said trash hole.  Valentine, realizing that one of his loyal peons has heard the ravings of an attempted murder decides that the rational thing to do here is not to convince him that she was lying or even to outright murder him, rather he throws him down the trash hole as well; very much alive and at least a little bit peeved by the whole experience.  From there he finds Hester again and they tentatively team up to find a new city for him and a new assassination plot for her.  Along the way they’ll run into raiders, slavers, some robot dude named Shrike (Stephen Lang), and even an Anti-London resistance movement head up by Anna Fang (Jihae) of which Hester is apparently the key to their success and not just one of many people who have a legitimate grievance against Valentine.  Speaking of whom, he also has some sort of plan to make a Doomsday Weapon out of old technology which he will use to… conquer the world I guess?  In any case, will Hester and Tom learn to become friends over the course of their ridiculously convoluted journey?  Why DID Valentine kill Hester’s mother, and what other secrets is she hiding from everyone around her?  For all the stuff these cities have scavenged, did any of them manage to find the plot?

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“Where do we go now?”     “I don’t know, wait for something to explode.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Kong: Skull Island

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Kong: Skull Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Truth be told I’ve always been more of a Godzilla fan, and while the recent Shin Godzilla was pretty good (if a bit disjointed and tonally uneven) the American film with Gareth Edwards wasn’t so much.  Now Warner Bros is trying to create yet another Expanded Cinematic Universe (because the DCCU is working out SO well for them) and this is in some ways a sequel… or prequel I guess… to the 2014 Godzilla film.  Does this manage to make up for the mistakes of that film while setting the groundwork for future monster movies to come, or are we much better off watching that 1962 film where the two of them duked it out and threw rocks at each other?  Admittedly that wouldn’t be the WORST thing to do as it’s still pretty freaking awesome, but let’s find out!!

The movie starts by introducing us to Bill Randa (John Goodman) who is the head of Monarch; an organization that is hell bent on proving the existence of monsters.  They’ve hit a rough patch, mostly due to them never finding any monsters, but 1973 just might be the year they turn things around!  They have some satellite images of a heretofore unknown island which may or may not contain resources that the government can use in their fight against the Russians, and Monarch wants to tag along with another organization already headed there for some basic geological research.  Actually, all Bill wants to do is find monsters, but the US government gives them the go ahead to tag along and to also bring a military squadron who JUST SO HAPPEN to be one day away from heading back home from Vietnam.  Of course the commander Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is thrilled at the opportunity as he doesn’t seem too interested in leaving the war, but those under his command which includes Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell) are less so.  Still, they follow the orders that are given to them and they are even joined by former British SAS bad ass James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) who’s supposed to be an expert tracker and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who somehow manages to be a part of this expedition as well.  The crew packs up, they fly to the mysterious island that is colorfully known as Skull Island, and IMMEDIATLEY get their asses kicked by Kong who mows down all their helicopters; leaving all of the name actors but only a handful of army and scientist extras.  Along their travels, they run into even MORE monsters, find a World War 2 fighter pilot who’s been trapped on the island for almost two decades (John C Reilly), and ultimately have to come up with a way to escape the island before their one chance of rescue passes them by.  Can the remaining survivors make it off the island before they become monster food, or will some of them refuse to leave until Kong is dead?  Just what is Kong fighting on this island when he’s not swatting down humans?  Most importantly, WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET A NEW GODZILLA VS KING KONG MOVIE!?

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“This guy doesn’t have thermonuclear breath, right?”     “No, but he can still throw stuff at us.”

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