Previous articles from our editor Paul Govan are here.
Microsoft loosens the purse strings again as they announce Halo ODST's voice work spending spree. Talent from Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and Assassin's Creed may show that they have our number, but can they offer a substantial and engaging experience to back up the bucks?
The person speaking our favourite film-lines is as important as the lines themselves. They say them not as a character in the story, or as someone reading a script, or to fulfil a driector's desire. Rather, they say them as a person who persists in the real world - they have a story of their own that includes the films they've work on. And this is what they bring to each of their roles.
When Michael J Fox plays a doctor in Scrubs struggling with a compulsive disorder, and says 'if your brain puts up road blocks you need to bash through them' the line has a world of weight and meaning added. As most viewers know, Fox has is own real life brain roadblocks in the form of Young Onset Parkinsons - something that he masterfully disguises, works with and uses in his role.
As most viewers know, Fox has is own real life brain roadblocks in the form of Young Onset Parkinsons.
In this light, particularly when a lot of games fail to do the detail of their stories justice, I was excited to hear that Halo ODST had cast three Firefly/Serenity actors to voice their troopers. Nathan Fillion (Mal) will take Sgt. Buck, Adam Baldwin (Jayne) voices Dutch and Alan Tudyk (Wash) lends his voice for Mickey in the game. The Serenity crew are complemented by Nolan North (Desmond in Assassins Creed) and Tricia Helfer (Number Six in Battlestar).
This not only makes sense from the overlap of the audiences of these shows and the new game, but it adds the sort of weight Halo badly needs in its story. When Fillion talks about winning or loosing the ODST war, we will of course hear that alongside our history with brown-coat Mal. And when Baldwin takes a dumb pot-shot at someone, or Tudyk lands a child-like joke, they will do that with all the kudos and knowledge we've built up with Jayne and Wash.
In the same way that Extras made perfect use of the popularity of The Office, what better way to leverage their series than to land these sci-fi heroes.
In the same way that Extras made perfect use of the popularity of The Office, what better way to leverage their series than to land these sci-fi heroes. Halo 3 is one of the few names in video gaming that transcends that world and gains credence amongst those who've not (yet) dual-wielded Plasma Pistols.
The question thought, is whether this is icing on the cake like the Blomkamp directed Landfill trilogy that promoted the original Halo 3 in such emotive style, or if it is something that runs a little deeper. Hopefully this investment and approach has run through the project as a whole (and is given space to breath as Jackson did with Blonkamp's Distract 9) so that rather than simply buying a sense of grandeur, Bungie are building it in from the start.
Certainly the recent 'We Are ODST' vid-doc (as they call them) created as sense of connection and overarching human story to the game. Oh, and also the shooting is sure to be a lot of fun.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: