At X06, Microsoft took understandable pleasure in announcing Peter Jackson would be involved in making a brand new Halo game. There was just one problem. No one, Microsoft and Jackson included, seemed to know what it was. Oh, and it might not actually be a game...
WAIT A MO, IT'S NOT A GAME THEN?
Not in the traditional sense, no. Or, at least, that's what Peter Jackson and MS big cheese Peter Moore seemed to suggest. Jackson, who is either a bloody good actor, or genuinely didn't have a clue what the 'game' would entail, described it as "not a game, and not a film but a filmic game experience." Which is like describing a motorbike as "not a bike, and not a motor, but a motorbike... experience." Still, thereafter, Jackson and Moore referred to the project unanimously as "an interactive entertainment", which sounds a bit better.
YEAH, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
You could argue 'interactive entertainment' is exactly what games are, but in this instance, we're sure they mean something less interactive. Don't worry - we doubt, with the involvement of Bungie, this will be Halo playing out like Dragon's Lair, but what it will be is mass-market. "These are interactive entertainments that aren't for the hardcore game crowd," confirmed Jacko. "Stories are the important thing".
SO IT'S AN INTERACTIVE... MOVIE?
Well, story is what will propel the game. "It's not traditional videogames," Jackson says. "We're going to be making a form of entertainment that you can watch and enjoy with the emotion of a film, but you interact, you play and you partner with the experience". Partner with it. That's the interesting bit. We'd suggest that what MS and Jackson's crew Wingnut have in store is a CGI-heavy experience, that introduces and develops new areas of the Halo universe through storytelling, while at the same time introducing a degree of interactivity, ie you make decisions about where the story goes; plus, you play key sections, perhaps - as it's Halo - some Covenant-blasting. Story has always been a key part of Halo, with a real depth to the universe - it's likely Bungie will use this project to delve further...
ER, WHICH SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE AN INTERACTIVE MOVIE TO ME.
But with Bungie on board it's unlikely the game will be you just watching and occasionally pressing a. We predicted a while ago that Bungie were planning a Halo animated series, and although we might not be exactly right, the concept isn't far off. This will be an animated series, created in CGI by LOTR SFX house Weta (Peter Moore: "Peter Jackson and Wingnut Interactive (i.e. Weta) will create a whole new Halo series") - the difference is that you will have a say in what happens.
STILL NOT CONVINCED. SORRY.
Yeah, we agree, it's all a bit vague. Plus the words 'interactive movie' are about as welcome round games as a bar mitzvah in Iran. But, with MS dipping their toe into cartoons and TV with Viva Pinata, we can't help but think that this is the way the new series is headed.
THINK THERE'LL BE A TV TIE-IN THEN?
Nah. We think it'll be a game first and foremost. Moore and Jackson were pretty conclusive about that. But we wouldn't write off the possibility of a Halo show on TV - and this, a project created by a company already established in the film industry, is an obvious starting point. With the experience Wingnut bring Microsoft and Bungie, don't be surprised if Peter Jackson's Halo game isn't used as a brand builder for something further along the line.