While the rest of Europe's gaming press danced across the South of France
sand to an X03 beat, we sat down with Bungie's studio manager Pete Parsons to
talk Halo 2. Since the amazing E3 showcase, Microsoft and Bungie have played
cards extremely close to chests, preferring to beaver away at the title in
private, ahead of its intended release next April.
The X03 press conference played host to a brand new "Making of..." piece on
Bungie's massive FPS, featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes insight,
although disappointingly there was scarcely any new footage aside from the E3
material, and certainly nothing of great significance.
So why no new footage? And why wasn't the game playable? And what does Bungie
think of Half-Life 2? And why won't they just tell us something new, goddammit?
All this and more is revealed in our lengthy chat with Pete Parsons:
Presumably you're aware of the amusing speculation on the Internet
suggesting Halo 2 is finished, and that you're holding back on it to help drive
Xbox Live renewals. Thoughts?
Parsons: [Laughs] I thought it was funny. I guess it's always great to
see that fans care a lot about Halo 2. Firstly, it's not true - we're working on
Halo 2 on both single-player and multiplayer. I suspect this came out of Halo PC
having gone Gold; it's miscommunication or rapid-fire speculation.
So what is left to do? What are the key areas you're working on right
Parsons: Exactly what I think fans would want us to be working on. We
know the story we want to tell - we've known for a long time - the technology is
where we wanted it to be, and the team's in full production. There's tonnes of
work left to do, create, design, put sound to... But in terms of basic building
blocks, that's all been done.
I play every night; people see us on the webcam playing multiplayer. It's
just that long process of putting all the pieces together and making sure its
Can you tell us anything more about the storyline?
Parsons: I wish I could but I can't. We've probably said about all
we're going to say - at least for a long time. Other than that, if you haven't
realised already, the story is really important. We thought a lot, all the way
through the process, about how whatever you do has an impact on the story.
Do you foresee there being a two year gap between the Xbox version of Halo
2 and the PC version?
Parsons: I really don't have an answer for you. The reason for that is
we haven't really thought about it yet. Mainly because both sides need a lot of
work. Even though Gearbox did Halo PC, it required a lot of work from our side.
The thing we're focused on right now is making Halo 2 a glorious successor to
Halo and once that's done we'll think about what to do next.
Whether that's working on PC or working on the next game, I don't really have
an answer for you. Which is probably the answer you ultimately want to hear,
that the team's thinking nothing more than getting a great game done for Xbox.
Do you think you'll be working on another Halo game after this?
Parsons: Who knows? Bungie has lots of stories and, yes, I think the
entire team loves Halo so who knows? Once again, we're singularly focused on
What about downloadable content?
Parsons: Downloadable content is possible, but we've nothing to
announce on that. I think downloadable content would be cool, but that's about
all I can say. I think the entire team loves Xbox Live and what's possible.
The most important thing is to make sure the single-player experience and
story is fun and the multiplayer is really cool. After that, we'll see what the
right thing to do is. But downloadable content is great; I love it and I'd love
for us to do it.
Would it be an option for stuff that maybe doesn't make the final cut but
would make a cool downloadable extra?
Parsons: We're getting everything into Halo 2 we want to. Every game
developer makes trade-offs, but there's nothing like that we would need to do
with downloadable content for Halo 2. There'll be nothing left undone. If there
is any downloadable content, it'll be cool new stuff we want to do.
When Halo was nearing completion, there was another project you were
working on. Has that been permanently side-lined in favour of Halo 2 or is there
another project in development?
Parsons: All I can say is we're just 100 percent focused on Halo 2. No
news on what's next.
So the game that was in development prior to Halo 2 is no longer in
Parsons: We always explore a lot of ideas and that was an idea that
didn't work out. There are two teams at Bungie. One team focused on one game and
one focused on our community - that's what we spend our time doing. We'll see
what happens after we're done with Halo 2.
Are there any new details you can give us today?
Parsons: Unfortunately, probably not [laughs] I think no. I can tell
you that every day I'm having a blast playing Halo 2; I think people will really
enjoy it and it will do exactly what people want it to do, which is to tell a
really good tale, to be great online and to not change a lot of what was great
I think it's an ambitious game and there are certainly new things we've
added, and things we haven't done before. We want to make sure that when you
pick up the controller you think: "I'm back as the Master Chief!" That's
something that's really important to us.
No new spicy details. In case you didn't see it, there was new footage. You
also got to see the Prophet in the game for the first time.
Also, footage was shown from a level and you talked about the Forerunners
in it. Can you elaborate?
Parsons: Er... [laughs] Sorry!
What are you general hopes for Halo 2?
Parsons: In short, hopefully it's a glorious successor to Halo. The
thing that people know is that the Covenant has found Earth and it's under
attack, and you are the only thing standing between the Covenant and the
destruction of mankind. As we said in the video, we're going to take you on a
galactic romp! [laughs]
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