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Posts with tag ensemble-studios

Video: Halo Wars 'Field Trip to Harvest' trailer

Just as Mr. Geoff Keighley promised, a new Halo Wars trailer titled Field Trip to Harvest recently aired over on Gametrailers (it's their exclusive, don'tcha know) and it gives us our first taste of what the Halo Wars storyline is all about. And in typical Halo fashion, the trailer is hella' entertaining, visually impressive and quite the informative piece of video. Check out the trailer embedded after the break.

We also wanted to say that if the presented images are the actual in-game cut scenes, then man oh man will we be impressed. It's freakin' beautiful! Oh, and for the geeky Halo folks in the crowd, our own Richard wanted to point out that the the main Elite towards the end of the video is wearing the Arbiter's armor. That means he'd be the Arbiter Elite that was bestowed the "honor" prior to the Arbiter we came to know in the Halo games. Geektacular!

Continue reading Video: Halo Wars 'Field Trip to Harvest' trailer

First Halo Wars footage releases this Saturday

Halo Wars fanatics, listen up. This Friday night (technically Saturday morning at 1:00AM eastern), GameTrailers TV with Geoff Keighley will be airing in-game footage from Halo Wars, introduce us to the cast of Halo characters and debut some cut scene footage. Not only that, but Keighley will sit down with the Ensemble crew to discuss their feelings (Dr. Phil style) about being shut down by Microsoft. And just from watching the GTTV teaser trailer, we can't wait to see the informative Halo Wars cinematics that they're going to share. Joy!

[Via HBO]

Canceled Ensemble title was Halo MMO

Gamasutra has discovered that a canceled project at Ensemble Studios -- soon to be shuttered by Microsoft -- was in fact a Halo MMO. The game was supposedly in development in 2006 and part of 2007, which would jive with rumors that were circulating at the time. Gamasutra managed to dig up some of Ensemble's concept art and mocked up screenshots of what the game would have looked like. Taking a look at the screenshot, it's clear that the game's interface would have borrowed heavily from World of Warcraft, while the concept art shows off a dual sword wielding Spartan with what appears to be an AI companion standing (floating?) behind him. The 'magic' energy of the game was apparently refered to as Psion, so perhaps the AIs would have been part of the game's magic system.

Alas, the game is kaput, though it's unclear exactly why it was canceled. It could be that a similar game was also in the works, a likely possibility given how many teams are currently working on Halo projects. Then again, maybe it was canceled when Ensemble realized it would get pretty boring if everyone picks Master Chief.

[Thanks to everyone that sent this in. Via Joystiq]

Ensemble founder blogs studio closure, disappointment

Earlier in the month the industry was shocked when rumors circulating about the closure of famed-RTS developer Ensemble Studios turned out to be accurate. Having finally broken his silence on the situation, Ensemble Studios founder Bruce Shelley outlined his take on the matter on Ensemble's blog last night.

"I believe we thought we were immune to shut-down talk because our published games have done so well and have been so profitable," Shelley wrote. "We thought we were among the best studios in the world, and that may be true, but we don't fit in the future plans of MGS as an internal studio so we're out."

According to Shelley, Microsoft outlined a number of reasons why the studio had been selected to close but at the end of the day the bottom line is the bottom line. "The new leadership of the game group at Microsoft has a new plan for making the game group consistently profitable, especially over the next few crucial years, and we are the odd group out."

As previously announced, the outgoing development house will close its doors after the Xbox 360 exclusive Halo Wars releases in 2009 and members of the team will form a new company signed to maintain content for the game. Shelley has confirmed he will not be joining the new company formed after Ensemble Studios closes its doors and maintains the studio is "very disappointed" in Microsoft's decision. We agree.

New details on Halo Wars Marines and Hornet

The Halo Wars website has been updated with info on two new units as well as two new structures. The first is the trusty UNSC Marine, deployed in squads of five from a barracks, they come equipped with MA5 assault rifles and grenades. They are quick (and cheap) to train and, from the sound of things, their grenades can be upgraded to rockets. They are described as a good all around unit and effective in large numbers. The second unit is the Hornet, which is deployed from a UNSC airpad. It is described as an anti-aircraft unit, though it does have the ability to attack ground units as well. We imagine they make a decent reconaissance vehicle as well. Hit the source links below to see images of the new units as well as some videos of each unit in action.

Source - UNSC barracks and Marines
Source - UNSC airpad and Hornet

Gallery: E308: Halo Wars

Brutish new concept art from Halo Wars

Scavengers that we are, we are obligated to post everything, nay, anything related to Halo Wars, the upcoming real time strategy game from (soon to be defunct) Ensemble Studios. With this slavish devotion to duty in mind, we present you with concept art of the game's Brute units. Brutes, for the three of you unfamiliar with Halo, are huge, muscular, gorilla-like soldiers with the kind of grim determination usually reserved for freight trains. The Brute uniform in Halo Wars -- which takes place before the first Halo -- looks decidedly different than the uniforms in any of the Halo games. Our heads are filled with all of the nerdy reasons for -- and implications of -- the differences. We won't jump down that rabbit hole just now (though we hope Ensemble gives us a few hints).

Instead, we simply direct you to the images, which you can find in the gallery below. Our biggest question: At what point between Halo Wars and Halo 2 did Brute beards go out of style?

Gallery: Halo Wars Brute concept art

Gallery: Halo Wars

Ensemble Studios to close its doors, Halo Wars will remain unaffected

In a shocking announcement made late last night, Microsoft confirmed rumors that Age of Empires and Halo Wars developer Ensemble Studios will be shut down as soon as work on Halo Wars is completed. An astonishing decision Microsoft claims to be one that is "fiscally rooted". Wowzaz!

In Microsoft's official statement to the media, Ensemble Studios' closure is addressed, mentioning that after completion of Halo Wars, the "leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for Halo Wars as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios." Microsoft also makes it clear that they'll "place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft" and insists that the studio's closure has nothing to do with "Ensembles talent or the quality of Halo Wars."

What can be said? How random, how unexpected and how troubling it is to hear this news. News that we never would have seen coming. From our early experience with Halo Wars and the Age of Empires franchise, the level of talent the entire Ensemble crew possess is more than apparent as we wish them all the best with their future endeavors.

McFarlane announces Halo Wars figures for '09

To compliment their already expansive sets of Halo 3 figures, Todd McFarlane and crew just announced that they'll be releasing Halo Wars figures to retail beginning March 2009.

The first series of Halo Wars figures are actually mini-figures, 2.5 inches tall (aww, shucks!), rotatable at the waist and sold as a three pack. At release, the first series will be comprised of four different sets including Spartans, Marine Infantry and Covenant with each set packaged with various weapons. You can get learned about all four different Halo Wars sets after the break and view the work-in-progress figure sculpts in the gallery below. Lovely, aren't they?

Gallery: McFarlane Halo Wars Figures

Continue reading McFarlane announces Halo Wars figures for '09

Halo Wars monthly: Weird code, scrambled image

As we've come to expect, the latest Halo Wars monthly update doesn't contain much in the way of juicy information. No new UNSC units have been uncovered. There are no details about how the Covenant plays. No, what we get is some general info that the game is coming along nicely. There are promises that more info is on the way soon though, along with some significant changes to the Halo Wars website. And then there is the image at right (click here for full size), which is undoubtedly the most intriguing part of the update. It's accompanied by the text below.

"Scrambled Transmission
Incoming Sub Space Trans Encode ####121478####121381####
ONITrans Priority; Delta
ReceiveTrans Loc; Subspace Relay 000003878
ReceiveTrans Loc; Subspace Relay 000003879
ReceiveTrans Loc; Subspace Relay 000017438
CovCarrier Detect; Encode [ Null ]"

What does it all mean? We have no idea. We're fairly certain that the image is some kind of environment. Dare we hope it's a Flood containment facility? Given the presence of human lettering in the lower left corner, we're inclined to think it's not. Thoughts?

Halo Wars: It's all about the Spartans

Ensemble posted a new Halo Wars update where they talk about the design decisions and gameplay elements behind one of Halo Wars' most powerful units, the Spartans. It's pretty good wall of text read, full of interesting Halo Wars decision making stories and explanations of how they came to decide upon the Spartan unit's special move: vehicle jacking. What's our favorite Spartan factoid? The fact that the more your Spartan levels up, the "larger your swagger on the battlefiel." Because Spartan swagger is l33t as hell.

Halo Wars introduces the UNSC Wolverine

Ensemble Studios has updated the official Halo Wars website has been updated with a new vehicle, the UNSC Wolverine. The Wolverine is an anti-air vehicle equipped with missile pods that can take out aerial vehicles with the greatest of ease. While designed primarily to take out aerial vehicles, Wolverine's can also aim their missiles at ground targets, though the website implies that the missiles are less accurate when dealing with ground targets, suggesting instead that players aim for "stationary targets or buildings." It's also equipped with a grenade launcher that "can potentially wreck soft targets," though the website adds that Wolverine's need ground support in order to stay alive. Hit the source link for the full entry on the UNSC Wolverine as well as a short video of it in action.

Spartans ho! Halo Wars box art

There it is, the box art for Halo Wars from Ensemble Studios. It was drawn by the same folks who did the art for Halo 2 and Halo 3. And no, this doesn't mean the game is coming out soon (it's still slated for early next year). Here's our suggestion, print out this box art, slap it onto a DVD case and fool your friends! They will totally think you have the game already. When they ask where the disc is, just tell them that it's "in the shop." If they ask you why there is no art on the back of your DVD case ... run.

MS brings Gears of War 2 and Halo Wars to PAX

Late last night, the Gamerscore Blog posted a list of games Microsoft plans on showcasing at the Penny Arcade Expo and if you're a PAX attendee who is huge Gears (slash) Halo fanboy, you should get excited.

According to Microsoft's PAX schedule of on stage demos, they plan on demoing both Gears of War 2 and Halo Wars as well as Project Origin during all three days of the expo. Meaning that those who plan on attending PAX and dreamt about getting a chance to see either Gears 2 or Halo Wars will have their dreams fulfilled. Wish granted! Also, according to the schedule, there will a few "Gears of War 2 Signing Sessions" planned which we can all but guarantee a certain blogger will be first in line ... every day.

Halo Wars update talks Legendary and leaders

The latest Halo Wars monthly update is up and gives us a few fun details regarding our favorite Halo themed real time strategy game. First is that the game will include the famous (infamous?) Legendary difficulty found in all the Halo games. In its current state, Legendary appears to be somewhat uneven, with some members of developer Ensemble Studios going so far as to say that Legendary is unbeatable. The game is still being polished though and the update assures fans that "Legendary will be a challenge that will be worthy for the most experienced players."

Second, and somewhat more intriguing, the update mentions a new feature in Halo Wars: leaders. Before any given match, players will choose a leader. Each leader will bestow certain abilities, lending another layer of strategy to the game. For example, one leader has the ability to call in a carpet bombing, while another leader order a devastating MAC gun blast from orbit. A leader may also be able to command special units, such as Captain Cutter who can utilize the Elephant, which acts as a mobile barracks that can train new troops. Another leader can command the mech-like Cyclops units. Choosing a leader that complements a player's given play style sounds like it will be key to victory.

Don't get to excited though, Spring 2009 is still a long way away.

Bungie 'very excited' for Ensemble's Halo Wars

Proving that there is absolutely no bad blood between Bungie and Ensemble Studios (with Microsoft though, that's another story), team Bungie's AI tech Damian Isla praised their Halo Wars efforts saying that Bungie is "very excited" to see the game finished.

"We've done a lot of talking with Ensemble guys, and we're all really excited about Halo Wars, because from everything we've seen so far it's a very cool, faithful adaptation," Isla recently told Eurogamer. "Everything we've seen has been very, very encouraging - we're very excited about it." Aww, best friends forever!

Then again, it isn't that far of a stretch for Bungie to be supportive of Ensemble seeing that both developers have been working as a team to make Halo Wars what it is today. And from our time with Halo Wars at E3, we can safely say that the game is visually stunning and the control scheme just works so beautifully. Love all around!

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