If you're at work wondering where your more gamer-centric peers are, they should be nearing the end bits of Halo 3 on easy mode. Heck, they could even be done. Depends how quickly they managed to get trhough the line and race home to throw it into their 360.
With a crew of over 250 people having worked on this game, the endless discussions in the first 3 months about the story arc and what was important to Halo drops its fruit today, to much media fanfare.
I spoke to Mike Zak, Environmental Lead at Bungie and Canuck made good in game land, last week. He tells me how designers really wanted to push the number of characters and vehicles on screen at once while at the same time giving player control larger groups without having to micro-manage. In addition, the fantastic high-dynamic range lighting, (which realistically simulates light transmission to your eye), during inside/outside transitions and careful attention to water effects and physics push the visuals pretty far. Luckily, all the time and detail that Mike and his fellow artists have put into the game get some well-deserved camera time, via the new post-level fly-through options.
Mike noted "four player coop on fence for the longest time" as a tough development aspect. Bungie knew everyone wanted it, but they were staying hush until it was totally a go. This is one feature I have yet to actually test out and look forward to with great anticipation. Despite my fondness for Gravity Hammer carnage, Mike's favourite weapon is the battle rifle. "It's not the most unique or distinct weapon but it's so bread and butter." I'd still win, Mike.
I couldn't pry anything out of him regarding easter eggs, but he says, "They're worth looking for."
A side conversation we had was games and comics. I'm just belatedly reading the Halo graphic novel, (produced by Marvel), and I hear a regular series is coming out as well. It's interesting to see the cross over between movies/games/comics these days. The only successful videogame comic I can think of right now is Tomb Raider. But it's boobtacular Lara Croft and the delicious renderings of Adam Hughes on the cover, so generally, a winning combination. With the fanbase of Halo, we'll see if there's a large enough group that will make the jump to the comics bandwagon as well.