The Squad is your Life – Longo joins 343

Some exciting news I found over at Sal’s site (HaloFanForLife) – 343 Industries has a new Creative Director, and his name is Tim Longo (Jr.).

That’s right – the Tim Longo.

What? Never heard of him you say? Well, neither had I. But it turns out I have enjoyed some of his work…

Delta Squad

Previously he was Creative Director of a little game called Star Wars: Republic Commando which was (in my opinion) one of the best Star Wars games ever made – not only because its story was so well done but it was a good FPS in its own right.

The game had fantastic squad mechanic, where you could order the other members of your team to make a coordinated effort to … well, the Wikipedia entry does a better job of explaining:

The game features some gameplay elements that resemble features in other first-person shooters, including Metroid Prime, and Halo. The heads-up display (HUD) in the game resembles the Metroid Prime helmet display and the player sees the world through visor. The usage of health and recharging shields, as well as the general combat gameplay, resemble styles seen in Halo.

An unusual feature is that blood from enemies (or lubricant fluid in the case of mechanical opponents) dispatched at close quarters that will splash onto the helmet visor, can slightly obstruct vision until an energy-based “windshield wiper” cleans it off at intervals of a few seconds.

The squadmate order system allows the player general tactical control over the three NPC squadmates that round out the four-man commando team. The order system resembles a simplified version of the context-based command menus seen in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.

Many objects in the game environment will highlight when the crosshair is placed over them. The player can then press the use key to issue an order automatically associated with the object; for example, a sealed door may highlight with a synchronized team breach-and-clear command, or a computer console might give have a “slice” (computer hacking) command, while a pile of cargo boxes suitable for a cover position with good vantage may provide a “take up Sniper/Anti-Armor position” command. Where possible, the squadmates will usually take their preferred roles (sniper, demolitions and technical). The player can also order the squad to move to secure any position (wherever the crosshair is pointed), or perform search-and-destroy. Also, there are orders to command the squadmates to group up or spread out according to the player’s discretion for the situation.

Now read that again, but read it thinking about how all this goodness could be brought to the next Halo.

See what I mean?

The potential is exciting – not that the exact mechanics of Republic Commando have to make there way to Halo, but that perhaps part of the great experience that Commando offered would come to the land of Forerunners and Firefights.

(I thought it worth mentioning that Tim Longo was also Creative Director/Franchise Director on the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and while I haven’t personally played the game I’ve heard good things.)

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You do okay for a mongrel squad

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 14, 2008

Another one bites the dust – Star Wars Republic Commando: True Colors is done. I would have to say I liked this one a little more than Triple Zero, but again there was a sense of build-up. The fourth (and last) novel in the series comes out this summer, so I’ll be looking for that.

This story dealt a lot more with the reoccurring theme of loyalty, which always makes for high drama. This sets up Order 66 nicely, and I am curious how this is all going to pan out.

It was nice to see the Nulls get a little rough – there is so much reference to how unstable and violent they are, but they never actually do anything that crazy…until now.

Also explained more of the war, how the Jedi are and are not involved in it, and Palpatine’s ambitions for himself and the clones.

A great read and yet another reason I’m glad I decided to try it out.

Post tenebras lux

Brothers All

Originally posted at GameSpot on January 29, 2008

Finished Star Wars Republic Commando: Triple Zero, the second in the series inspired by the game. The story just keeps getting bigger and better, with both Omega and Delta squads now involved in the story. An urban setting this time for the clones, and even a little emotional pull for me by the end of the book.

I already have True Colors sitting on my shelf, but I’m trying to hold off on that so I can get some other reading done. The fourth book is due out this summer, and I’m really looking forward to continuing the story.

The question I still don’t understand: how did Sev get back to Deta Squad after being left behind in Star Wars: Republic Commando? At the end of the game you don’t know what happened to him, but he shows up alive and well in Triple Zero.

It may be a time-line thing I just don’t understand yet, but I would like to have that one answered.

Post tenebras lux

The Squad is your Weapon

Originally posted at GameSpot on January 11, 2008

I just finished reading Star Wars Republic Commando: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss two night ago. I promised myself I would never get into Star Wars novels because there are so many of them, but since this series is connected with the Republic Commando game, I wanted in – and so far so good.

An interesting story; as with most books of this type, it took a while to get going – but when it did I really wanted to see how things would turn out. I knew this going in, but the book doesn’t deal with Delta Squad from Republic Commando – rather you follow Omega Squad, made up of four clone commandos named Darman (RC-1136), Niner (RC-1309), Atin (RC-3222), and Fi (RC-8015). I’m still a little fuzzy on the connection between the two squads, but I think I’ll find out more in the next book (Triple Zero).

As I knew would happen, I now want to play through Republic Commando again. I know I won’t have time in the near future to do so, but I know I’ll get more out of the game having read this book.

Post tenebras lux