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|Halo: Side Factions|
Campaign, Matchmaking, Forge-World (Map Development Tool), Theater
Halo: Side Factions is a first-person tactical shooter video game, developed by Gearbox Software and published by Microsoft Innovative Arts for the Xbox 360 console. The game entails a direct chronicle, directed by , which will be based on the science fiction events and settings of the Halo Universe.
At E3 2012, Gearbox announced to the Halo Nation that Side Factions will delve into the lore of the franchise like few games before it. For instance, the roots of the battle-hardened Orbital Drop Shock Troopers will be explored for the first time. The game revolves around the initiation of Battle of Earth by the Covenant Empire until the sudden activation of.
The game focuses on the troops of Oscar and Victor Teams as they fight on multiple locations on Earth to save the human inhabitants and the planet from a collective of alien races known as the Covenant. The player assumes the roles of Corporal John Doe and Gunnery Sergeant XXX, team leaders of Victor and Oscar respectively.
Characters and setting
Halo: Side Factions takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting on the planet Earth, in between the events of fall of Reach, the UNSC revised its military defenses and directed all of its fleets and forces to Earth, the last military power and defense of the human civilisation. This lead to the formation of the three Orbital Defense Lines based off the alignment of Orbital Defense Platforms orbiting around Earth. When the first Covenant fleet arrived, the first two of the Orbital Defense Lines fell and Earth was invaded and was sparsely occupied by the Covenant forces on multiple continents around Earth.and . After the
The game focuses primarily on Corporal John Doe, the main character, and Victor Squad (consisting of Private First Class Christiaan van Zyl, Lance Corporal Roland Huffman, Private First Class Tomas Navarro and Lance Corporal Sarah Hyuk Lee), and some side characters such as Gunnery Sergeant XXX of 17th Shock Troops (Oscar Squad), of , and Senior Chief Petty Officer Maria-062.
Some of the characters in Side Factions received voice-overs from previous game titles. Lance Corporal Roland Huffman is voiced by John DiMaggio, Private First Class Tomas Novarro is voiced by Orlando Jones and Staff Sergeant Nolan Byrne is voiced by Michael Ironside.
The game's overall plot is still similar to its, however this time through the eyes of the . In the campaign mode, the player will be given the option to take the role of the Corporal of the Victor Unit or the Gunnery Sergeant of the Oscar Unit. The game will be the first in the Halo universe to feature a more militaristic style, which sets a darker tone than most other games that are a part of Halo. Gearbox stated that, "if the other media are seen from the point of view of the Spartan, then Side Factions is from the point of view of the ODSTs."
The game's primary plot begins with the Victor Unit returning from Operation: LONGHAWK. Shortly after their rest on the Orbital Defense Platform, the "Eritrea", a Covenant Expeditionary Fleet invades Earth's defense grid. As the space combat unfolds, a number of Orbital Defense Platforms were disabled, one of them includes the "Eritrea". Victor Team manages to evacuate the station and drop down to Earth safely, albeit separated. Victor Team reunites shortly after and journeyed into the heart of and assists the UNSC in defending the city against Covenant forces. Victor Team contacts other ODST teams after the battle, later directed by HIGHCOM to head back to , the UNSC primary ground-based headquarters on the African region. The ODSTs are then given mission objectives to travel all over the African continent and destroy Covenant's installations and emplacements to impede the Covenant's occupation of Earth.
The game's secondary plot begins with the Oscar Team travelling around the world and eliminating Covenant-associated figures and structures. The Oscar Team's storyline is darker than the Victor Unit's; each objectives involve the ethics and morality of war, requiring the sacrifice of civilians to achieve victory, as well as forcing the players to witness the Covenant's slaughter of civilians. Various content of the Oscar Unit's storyline have caused some controversies ever since it was stated officially in numerous interviews. The campaign of Oscar Unit requires players to travel from Russia to Mexico. Within each operation undertaken by the Oscar Unit , key characters mentioned in the Halo lore will make an appearance. One such example is Senior Chief Petty Officer Maria-062, a SPARTAN-II sypersoldier who will assist the 17th in the European continent.
The game features unique gameplay elements that resemble features in other first-person and tactical shooters, including Bungie's Halo series, LucasArt's Star Wars: Republic Commando and Tom Clancy's Advanced Warfighter. The game utilises the stylised heads-mounted display of the ODST and VISR database feature from Halo 3: ODST and a simplified context-based manoeuvre system that resembles the squad order system featured in Republic Commando and Advanced Warfighter.
In terms of actual gameplay, Side Factions follows some styles previously used in Halo 3: ODST. Players can only single-wield a weapon and are given limited access to equipments throughout the course of the campaign. The game is presented almost entirely from a first person perspective, aside from vehicular combat. Side Factions primarily focuses more on tactical shooting system rather than the first-person shooting system used in most Halo titles. With that said, movement and player position play large roles; shooting while moving dramatically decreases accuracy and holding down the firing button will produce blooming reticule. The amount of damage done by a weapon varies considerably depending upon the body part the weapon hits; Covenant's plasma-based weapons works considerably well on all occasions but are harder to handle, whereas the UNSC's projectile-based weapons are far more accurate and are more lethal on unshielded opponents.
Squad control system
The most important feature in the game is that the player will be able to issue commands to their squad members through the context-based manoeuvre. Every ODST operator has a unique speciality -- such as being an elite marksman but lightly-armoured, grenadier with superior firepower but slower -- and tactical approach (i.e. the amount of equipment carried affects squad performances), and that each detail plays a significant impact in gameplay. Like Halo 3: ODST, players will find that the ODSTs are not as superior as the SPARTANs due to the absence of the shielding system.
The context-based manoeuvre system is simple; locations in the game environment will highlight on the player's HMD and will prompt as to asking which manoeuvre their squad members should perform. In addition, the player can rearrange his squad's formation to their advantage; squad formations comes in offensive, defensive, stealth/guerilla, reconnaissance and split.
The game features an interface system almost similar to its previous titles, though there are several distinct changes in interfaces and user settings. For example, the shield bar has been removed from the game and will be replaced with a bodysuit management system to give players a sense of realism. The new bodysuit management system views the amount of damage the player's armour can withstand before solely presenting the initial damage on the player.
- Ammunition tracker
- Health management system
- Bodysuit management system
- Overview of squad members' statuses and tactical position
- Tactical information uploaded over the user's TACCOM/VISR
The HMD design received a visual and graphical update and differs insignificantly from Halo 3: ODST. VISR database will be available to the players, albeit being far more accessible and informative to their surroundings. With regards to the HMD special features, Side Factions recycles an absent feature from Halo 3: ODST which is the "windshield-wiper" feature, a feature that cleans off fluid from the environment, be it blood, rain or smudge. The player damage system (explained in the following section) has changed considerably from Halo 3: ODST but still stays true to the Halo formula.
Player damage system
The damage system in Halo: Side Factions is somewhat different from its previous predecessors, though shares some similarities to Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3: ODST.
- The player has limited health -- divided into seven bars and signified from green to red -- which is protected by their bodysuit gauge; they will start taking health damage once these are depleted. Health can be restored either by automated regeneration (restoring health to a certain degree) or by finding a health pack.
- When a player's health is reduced to zero, the player is not killed but merely incapacitated temporarily for a minute. They can be revived with a limited amount of carried by members of the squad. However, once revived, only a quarter of the health bar will be restored. The game will end for the player when all members of the squad are incapacitated at once. If the player receives additional damage before the health gauge could recover to the nearest bar, their physical abilities such as sprinting and melee attacks will be reduced.
- The ODST Ballistic Battle Armour utilised by the players can withstand several plasma-based/projectile-based fire. This is indicated by the durability of bodysuit -- presented in percentages -- integrated into the ODST's HMD. The bodysuit durability will decrease each time it start taking damage and will be fully-depleted after reaching a certain threshold.
- Main article: Campaign
The campaign mode is separated into two militaristic-styled theatres; the Oscar Theatre and the Victor Theatre. Both theatres features an array of levels and difficulties. The campaign mode can be played through single player, with two-players on one Xbox 360, or played cooperatively with up to three players locally, via Xbox Live online service or System Link. Like Halo 3, cooperative gameplay does not lead to players playing as identical ODST; the first player takes role of the leader of the squad, the other players are allowed to choose the squad members as their game model. Many classic weapons and vehicles from previous Halo titles returns.
Side Factions's campaign also features a competitive scoring method for cooperative play that was previously used in Halo 3 called the "". Players are awarded points for defeating enemies while completing a level in the campaign. Extra points are awarded for specific actions (such as successfully launching a stealthy assault on specific locations or reviving an incapacitated ally), and are lost if the player gets incapacitated and lost the game or killing an ally.
Side Factions also introduces several new features that are absent from previous Halo titles. One such feature is the ability to revive incapacitated members by means of forcefully injecting a squad control system which allows the player to issue commands to their squad members. An added bonus featured titled "ONI operations" for finishing the campaign would unlock extra campaign operations for players, featuring Insurrectionists almost exclusively.into the chest of the downed member. Another feature is the
- Main article: Multiplayer
Like its predecessors, Side Factions allows players to compete with each other over the Xbox Live online service or System Link, for 16 players on the Xbox. The multiplayer featuresmode, a cooperative gameplay mode present in Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach for four players, editing program with some additional settings which were not made available in previous titles, and the armour customisation system.
- UNSC Faction
- Special Operations Aviation Reconnaissance
- Civilian Security Forces
- Covenant Faction
- Sangheili (Elites)
- Jiralhanae (Brutes)
- (first appearance)
- (first appearance)
- Seraan (Stalkers) (first appearance)
During the development of, 343 Industries began recruiting contractors that could assist them in creating the next Halo title. While brainstorming in creating a new Halo content, the Franchise Development team, headed by Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor, felt that the ODSTs had a worthy potential to set up their own legendary reputations like the SPARTANs as seen in Halo 3: ODST. The Franchise Development team also considered returning to the Great Schism, a Covenant Civil War which split the Covenant Empire into two factions, and expanding the event through the eyes of an Elite.
343 Industries began development on Side Factions in September 2009. Works began around the expanding the tales of the ODSTs, with the project titled Halo: Recon, later changed to Halo: Special Forces. Using ODST as their main reference, the team began constructing a plot that took place on the planet Earth. This development later expanded and the project title was changed to Halo: Side Factions. After several concepts, 343 Industries began developing a new design direction with Side Factions, aiming to be a more gritty and militaristic atmosphere. In order to achieve this, the development team decided to alter the Halo formula by introducing a simple squad-control system and a realistic gameplay mechanics, something akin to the designs of Tom Clancy: Advanced Warfighter. The development team referred to commissioned concept paintings previously used in ODST to decide how to construct Earth and its major cities in the 26th century. To achieve the realistic atmosphere from the ODST's perspective, 343 Industries consulted several ex-US Special Forces personnels to understand how they view the world.
- Main article: Halo: Side Factions Original Soundtrack
The Halo: Side Factions Original Soundtrack was composed by Gearbox Software's contracted audio architect, Justin R. Durban, with some assistance and advice from Bungie's audio directors and his partner . It comes in a two-disc set featuring all the music heard in-game. In addition, it has been confirmed that several musical pieces from and shall be referenced, with some to be re-recorded to suit the new atmosphere of the ODSTs.
In contrast to Halo Trilogy's signature choral music (i.e. Gregorian chant), the audio directors of Side Factions referred the audio design as being more "somber, more grittier and militaristic" to reflect the ODST's wartorn nature. Due to Side Faction's shift towards a militaristic atmosphere, Durban wanted to create new music that was evocative of Halo, but branched in a different direction.
- Main article: Valor
Valor tells the tale of Delta Team, a unit of the 5th Shock Troops Battalion during the Human-Covenant War. Composed of three mini-series, Valor was directed by Jordan Mathewson, with audio by Michael Salvatori and Martin O'Donnell.
ONI Operation is an extra feature in Side Factions, accessible through Campaign mode. In this feature, players are given the option to choose over seven operations involving the Insurrectionists.
The matchmaking system featured in Side Factions allows players to compete with each other over the Xbox Live online service or System Link, for 16 players on the Xbox. The system is capable of placing players in fair matches, avoiding the occurrence where less-experienced players are pitted against experienced players. The matchmaking system also supports Firefight and Campaign.
- Main article:
The Firefight mode featured in Side Factions allows players (up to four) to fight against waves of Covenant forces in various terrain. While the mechanics of Firefight remains unchanged since Reach, the customisation of this feature has been limited due to game engine limitations. Side Factions introduces multiple gametypes for Firefight, each designed to enhance player's gameplay experience. The following are examples of confirmed gametypes for Firefight:
- The standard gametype like its previous incarnation. Classic offers five Waves in a Round, and three Rounds in a Set. Classic causes all skulls (Tough Luck, Catch, Black Eye, Tilt, Famine, Mythic and Iron) to be activated in random orders.
- Causes Waves to spawn every 7 minutes, even if the previous waves have not been eliminated by the player. Onslaught offers six Waves in a Round, and three Rounds in a Set. If all enemies were killed within the time limit, the player would be rewarded with bonuses such as more weapons deployment. However, succeeding in killing all enemies within the time limit would decrease the spawn timer by one minute. Additionally, if the player fails in eliminating a wave within the time limit, there would be a score penalty. Onslaught disables skull activations as each Waves completed within the time limit increases the score multiplier.
- Causes Covenant Units to be promoted/rank up with each wave. Uprising offers seven Waves in a Round, and three Rounds in a Set. Uprising causes all skulls (Tough Luck, Catch, Black Eye, Tilt, Famine, Mythic and Iron) to be activated in random orders.
- Replaces Covenant soldiers with Insurrectionists. Interjected with other gametypes.
Career Service Vitae
The Career Service Vitae (or CSV) is an individual overview of the player's statistics. By default, these information can be accessed publicly and are heavily monitored by 343 Industries Game Content Software which filters unnecessary, unsafe and malicious information.
The CSV is divided into three sections; the first section shows the player's fullname, gamertag and service tag, the second section provides the player's statistics and the third section previews editable information along with comments by friends.
- Main article: ODST Battle Armour
The armour customisation system in Side Factions is similar to that of Halo: Reach, in the sense that the player is able to fully customise their character's appearance. Additional armour pieces would need to be purchased using points gathered from Campaign, Firefight or Matchmaking.
The helmet-mounted display (HMD) provided for the player features various forms of technologies and readouts previously made available to the SPARTANs (listed below). Additionally, the HMD is equipped with a proprietary data management suite, a utility that not only provides a wealthy amount of tactical information but also improves the user's vision in low-light areas, and outlines allies and enemies.
The game allows players to fully customise their HMD to their preferred layout; features can be placed wherever in the HMD and removable if the player finds a feature not useful to enhance gameplay experience.
The Forge-World is a "map editor" that can be used to generate custom-created multiplayer maps. It should not be confused with, the object editor present in and . Unlike previous titles, Forge-World is not playable nor it is available for matchmaking. Forge-World is simply a map generator program built into Side Factions.
In Forge-World, players are provided tools such as environment control (i.e. applying snow or changing from day-time to night-time), textures developer (texture generator and uploader) and the terrain editor (i.e. raising/lowering terrain). Once the terrain is finally loaded (within 10 minutes), players would be prompted to place object spawn markers in their custom-created map.
Similar to Halo 3's theatre mode, Side Factions's allows players to save films from the Campaign and Multiplayer, produce screenshots and upload them to their profiles on Halo Waypoint.
- Halo: Side Factions was created long before Tiberium, a cancelled FPS game by EA which attempted to explore the event of the Scrin invasion, and Star Wars: Republic Commando, successful Star Wars FPS title that explores the origin of the Republic Clone Troopers. was announced. The concept of HSF was inspired by
- Halo: Side Factions aims to explore the origins of the ODST and why they became one of Halo universe's most popular side faction.
- Halo: Side Factions' sister project is titled Halo: The Covenant, a prequel to Halo 2 which explores the culture of the Sangheilis and how the Covenant Empire was dissolved.