December 09, 2003
The Halo 2 Conspiracy

I don't play video games anywhere near as much as I'd like. Too many good books to read and good movies to see, too much good work to do, too much quality time to spend with my family, etc.

But every once in a while, I get a chance to play, and my favorite game by far (at present) is "Halo" by Bungie / Microsoft. The game has been out for a while, and there is a sequel in the works.

A friend of mine who has ties to (but does not work at) the manufacturer of a certain game box system has an interesting hypothesis for why Halo 2 has been delayed (aside from the obvious: production schedules almost always slip).

The manufacturer of the game box in question is switching processor chips, and will be introducing the new chip in its next major release of the console. My friend hypothesizes that the release of Halo 2 will coincide with the release of the next version of the console. He further hypothesizes that Halo 2 will have special features that will only be usable on the new version of the console, and that the old (ie, the current version, which is the one I have) console will be able to run Halo 2 but not access these special features. In this way, the manufacturer might hope to lure consumers into buying the next version of the console when they might otherwise just stick with the version they have.

Again, I'm more inclined to believe it's delayed because, well, just because. Bungie has been late shipping *every* version of Halo's predecessors (Marathon), plus, if I recall correctly, every other game they've done (Oni, et al). They hardly need any additional excuses to be late with Halo 2. The guys and gals at Bungie are *very* good at what they do, and they have shown a tendency to favor "getting it right" over "getting it out on time." This strategy has done well by them so far.

But that said, I like my friend's conspiracy theory. We'll know when it ships, of course, but it has that plausibility that appeals to one's sense of order -- that the thing we want is not being denied to us "just because", but for a specific reason. And that reason is *nefarious*! Anything that delays our gratification must be nefarious!

However, while we're making up reasons for the delay, I'd like to suggest my own theory.

Halo is a "first-person shooter" game, which means that the player controls a character in what is essentially a battle (to fight, maim, and kill baddies) and sees everything on the screen from this character's view point.

Allow me to hypothesize that Halo 2 has been delayed because the makers wanted to add some cool new weapons to the main character's arsenal. Machine guns and sniper rifles aren't good enough. I suspect we'll see a flame thrower in the next version, for example.

But I *also* expect that, in keeping with modern times and modern themes, we'll also see the deadliest weapons of them all. The kind that make airport security personnel quake with fear: pocket knives, nail clippers, and shoes.

Posted by on December 09, 2003 11:42 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits

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