Saturday, 18 February 2012

Halo 4 Master Chief: Nimble, 800 lbs. Heavy, Super

An admitted Halo partisan, I'll take any and all Halo 4 news I can get. Luckily for me, some tasty bits came to light recently with regard to Halo 4's depiction of the one and only Master Chief.
Building on the recent release of McFarlane Toys' pics of John-117, a post over at Halo Waypoint gets into depth regarding the design of the Chief's look in Halo 4.
In Halo 4, we are interested in doing something the franchise does well on the book side, and that’s helping shape the narrative. Halo is a compelling and deep universe, and we want to tell the story of this bio-engineered super-soldier.
One of the Master Chief’s most notable physical characteristics is that he’s wearing 800 pounds of tank and jet fighter. So we pulled that design into the armor and HUD. When you play Halo 4, it’s important you understand that you’re more than just a gun on the screen. To give you that feeling, we have represented that weight with player physics, without interrupting crosshair and shooting accuracy.
343 Industries seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on the feel of Master Chief, relative to his complement of armor and tech.
"When we first looked at the Chief’s armor, we studied what was done in Reach. We knew he needed to be understood as a nimble yet heavy superhero, and contrast that with Reach armor design that was more on the bulky side. Our goal is to hit that sweet spot where we represent what is fictionally true about the Chief while making sure you feel like you’re a super-powerful human being when you're playing him."
Kenneth Scott, the game's Senior Art Director, adds this nice bit of color on the whole process:
"Above all, we wanted the player to really feel what it’s like to be the Master Chief. This manifests itself in a lot of ways, and for those who read the Fall of Reach, there’s a lot of character depth behind that helmet that has yet to make its way into the game experience. Every person who was allowed to touch him had to, HAD TO, understand his history as a person. The Chief’s origin is pretty sad and grim: A strong, vibrant child stolen from his parents, he underwent dangerous bioengineering that destroyed the weaker of his friends, and trained to stomp out human Insurrectionists. Pretty morally nebulous beginnings for someone who ultimately saved humanity. Of all FPS heroes, he is distinct in that his arc is aspirational and not a cynical view of the universe.
A big focus on the Chief’s armor was his physicality and putting the player in those mighty shoes. Getting that weight across in the design had us looking at a lot of contemporary military vehicles, and we pushed detail and form into the armor that implied that history. This is the bleeding edge of military technology.
A Spartan tossing his chest plate should feel like an anvil dropping….
A Spartan sprinting across concrete should be a stealthy whisper….
Putting on your helmet should feel like powering up an F-15E….
These are the sorts of experiences we want to give the players."
While it's not going to be easy filling Bungie's shoes, considered posts like this from 343, rightly or wrongly, absolutely get my juices flowing for the next grand Halo adventure.
Halo 4 is said to be the first game in a pre-meditated trilogy, which wasn't the case in the series' first three core games. We'll be taking control of Master Chief sometime during Holiday 2012, our first meeting with the Chief, Cortana and the rest since Halo 3 was released in 2007.


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