Just like game previewers the world over, Prima has been going over any new information leaking out of Bungie studios with a fine tooth comb, attempting to draw knowledge, Holmes-like, from between the lines, but all we know so far is exactly what everyone else knows, there are some new weapons, and there will be some snow.
Today we got to sit down with Frank O’Connor, the content manager, to try to wring him dry to squeeze out some delicious facts about testing with the US army, the new weapons, and the reactions of the developers to Halo movies, as well as erotic Halo art.
Eurogamer: What do you think didn't work that well in Halo 2 and will be changed for Halo 3? How do you judge the criticism to Halo 2 in general?
Frank O’Connor: We're continually looking for ways to improve things we've done before, so of course we welcome and acknowledge criticism and look for ways to make the game better. We're probably our own harshest critics, so literally, there isn't a single element of Halo 2 that we're not trying to improve upon.
Eurogamer: How will the snow-terrain in the new map Snowbound change the gameplay and tactics?
Frank O’Connor: Well you'd be surprised how much the sun reflecting on the snow affects your aim, but mostly the terrain is there for atmosphere. It won't really change gameplay, or how your player runs for example - but at the moment, you do leave footprints that can be tracked for a few seconds before they fade away.
Eurogamer: Who had the idea for the Spike grenade and how will this weapon affect the gameplay?
Frank O’Connor: Spike grenades are the invention of our design team and of course their look is heavily influenced by how the art guys interpret the design team's request. As for gameplay, it shares a lot in common with the plasma grenade - but is harder to see against an object and that allows it to become a deadly trap for following attackers.
Eurogamer: Could you describe how you tested new weapons like the Spike Rifle or the Spartan Laser? Did you kick out other weapons and why didn't they work?
Frank O’Connor: Well, we haven't lost a single weapon thus far, but we've improved a few. Our test process is simple. Play it, play it some more, take notes, make changes, play it more.
Eurogamer: Who had the idea for doing a beta test with American soldiers in Iraq and can you give an example of specific changes just made from their input?
Frank O’Connor: The idea came from inside Bungie and it was simply designed as a holiday treat for hard working men and women who are fans of Halo. There was no political, publicity or gameplay testing purpose, so that's really all we're prepared to say.
Eurogamer: Games like last Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War implemented in-game events to immerse the gamer more into the gameplay. What do you think about that or is the single-player-mode of Halo 3 still reliant on the main story?
Frank O’Connor: As ever, we'll tell a story and surround the player with that story in a number of traditional and occasionally innovative ways.
Eurogamer: Is there a science-fiction movie which comes near to the dynamic of the Halo game?
Frank O’Connor: Lots of them. Our influences come from many different kinds and genres of media. Movies, books, TV shows and one Broadway Musical. I will not reveal which one. Let's just say it's magical and packed with dancing cats.
Eurogamer: What's your view on the Halo movie and are there still hopes that the project will continue? And has Peter Jackson played Halo 3 already?
Frank O’Connor: We'd love to see the Halo movie made and our relationship with Peter Jackson is as strong as ever. If we find out more, we'll be sure to share that information with you.
Eurogamer: What's the weirdest fan reaction you've had to Halo?
Frank O’Connor: Definitely a painting we received. I cannot tell you what the contents were, since this is a family show. Let's just quote Joe Staten, our resident scriptwriter, who exclaimed, "Where is Sgt. Johnson's moustache?"
Eurogamer: What three words would you use to describe Halo 3?.
Frank O'Connor: Icy Hot Suntaz
Eurogamer: If the Covenant ruled the world now, which existing leader, politician or actor would represent them perfectly?
Frank O’Connor: Well the Covenant are powerful, so they would have Koizumi's incredibly powerful hair. They are vicious and heartless, so they would have Simon Cowell's personality, and they have an incredible array of deadly weapons, so they would have Ted Nugent's armory.