The big news today is that Bungie Studios has broken away from Microsoft and returned to their indie roots. Microsoft will still own a minority share in the company, have right of first refusal to publish any future Bungie titles, and retain full ownership of the Halo franchise and all it's IP.
It doesn't really take a great deal of supposition to figure out why Bungie wants out, they want to move on and do something, anything other than Halo. They've worked on nothing but Halo titles in the 7 years since Microsoft bought them, and several years before that. Now it's a wide open road for them, they can work on whatever they want, and get to keep ownership of it when they do.
Why Microsoft would let them go, on the other hand, is a bit more of a mystery. Perhaps enough key Bungie employees wanted to move on badly enough that they were ready to leave the company to do so. Does Microsoft let the guys responsible for their biggest selling franchise, the most recent installment of which broke the record for the largest single day gross in entertainment history, just walk away? Or do they give them the independence they seek, while holding onto publishing rights for future titles? Add in the fact that Microsoft gets to keep Halo and do whatever they want with it (translation: milk the franchise) and it seems like a good deal.
I'll keep it no secret that I've been a huge Bungie fanboy in years past. The Marathon series is still among the greatest games ever made, and the Myth games were top-notch as well. Most of the key players from those days are long gone, but at least we'll get to finally see Bungie do something besides another damn Halo game.
Yeah, I bought Halo 3. I was in the store anyway, and there it was sitting on the shelf. That old-school Bungie fanboy wouldn't let me just walk away without picking up a copy, so I became part of that record-setting day of sales.
It's… well, it's just like the other two Halo games for the most part. Only prettier. I still hold to my opinion that the Halo series is among the most overrated games ever, remarkably unremarkable. They're not bad, mind you. What they are is just another first person shooter, with little new or original to distinguish them from the pack. Halo 3 does improve over the first two a bit though. The environments are more varied and less repetitive, the levels are more interesting, the enemy AI better. Still, it all feels like I've done it before.
I won't say I didn't enjoy playing it, the experience was fun enough that I don't regret buying it. But coming off of playing Bioshock, a game that well and truly blew my mind, it felt a bit like watching a movie you've already seen. Or playing a game you've already played.