Massacre Music League


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Halo 4 CSR is beyond terrible. And why Halo 4 is a disgrace.

Okay, I have to get this out here since very few people have mentioned anything on the web.

Halo 4 CSR [competitive skill rank] is dreadful. 

For 343 to put in a system like this shows their total and utter failure to understand what made Halo great. I find it disconcerting that self-acclaimed “true Halo fans” could make such a mistake. This just goes to show that the people steering the beloved Halo franchise don’t know what they are doing.

Quite simply, what made Halo great was balance. It was like a sport. Halo 3, despite what some fans would say, was, among pros, the best multiplayer fps ever made. Its longevity on the MLG circuit proves this. A sport pits two or more players against one another with the same kit and simple rules. The only difference in kit may be the bat or the shoes, but these make little difference to the overall outcome.

Halo 3 was perfectly balanced. There was no run button. Power weapons were dotted on a map. The intricate levels held secrets players discovered years into the game. It was like digital football or tennis. And you don’t change the rules of football or tennis. You don’t give players different shaped rackets and augment them with biomechanical upgrades.

Now, what 343 have done to CSR — the mode supposed to cement Halo’s professional players into a cycle of regular play and prolong the life of the game for everyone — is so incredibly cack-handed it beggars belief. Now, to start: Rumble Pit (free for all). In Rumble Pit, players can *bring other players* into the game using split screen. This enables all team mates to help you out on your way to victory. That’s like four bent wrestlers in a free-for-all Royal Rumble teaming up to help their leader win. And wrestling, may I remind you, is fake.

You can join *late* into games. How … on … earth … can 343 expect people to take Halo 4 and CSR seriously when you can be *thrown into games late*? Halo was popular among competitive players who *hated losing*. The kind of people who would spill blood over a game of tiddlywinks. Can you imagine a player in a professional football league turning up to a game seven minutes into the match? How can 343 so blindly miss what makes Halo tick? They are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to make the game appeal to the lowest common denominator. It is sycophantic cowardice … sitting on the corporate fence like a bisexual prostitute trying to appeal to all customers, casting their net too wide, ultimately failing to please their regulars. Grow some balls 343 and make big decisions. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

343 outright copied Call of Duty’s formula. Now, I can see why they did. Halo is one of the biggest franchises in the world. It’s about money. Of course it is; and there’s nothing wrong with that. Businessmen and businesswomen have a job to do and why should they care about the credibility of their work? Only a handful of geniuses — Jobs — were able to do that. But 343 and Microsoft made a mistake in diluting the Halo experience. Halo is not Call of Duty. To make it like Call of Duty is like making a dumbed-down sequel to a pioneering movie. People will inevitably pay to see it, but each successive sequel will become subsequently less and less popular until you have a Saw 9. Microsoft alienated the hardcore fans, the guys who made Halo 3 such a big MLG success.

How did 343 mess up the core Halo experience?

1. Weapon drops. Removing power weapons from the same point on the map and giving them to the player in weapon drops doesn’t make procuring weapons fun anymore. There is no sense of achievement or possibility when picking up a gravity hammer. Halo’s weapons were one-of-a-kind pieces, now they’re manufactured art prints. Moreover, having plentiful maps with power weapons like snipers created a nail-biting game of cat and mouse, where both teams were perfectly balanced and it was down to skill, not luck or randomness to beat one another. 

2. Custom load outs. This is like giving tennis players different shaped rackets with drastically varying abilities. This destroys the sport; the minimalism and crystal simplicity of the Halo series. 

3. Changing spawn points. In the old Halos, it was all about map control. When you killed players, their hastiness in trying to master the earth was punished by respawning them far away from your controlled territory. Now, people spawn right behind you to give the mass-market player a chance not to feel angry.

4. Instant respawns. This totally destroys the delicate dynamic of Halo we all took for granted; the little breathers that let things sink in. The peaks and troughs of battle are gone. Waiting 3 seconds before a respawn gave you a chance to chew on your death; to feel something; to plan something; to scream at the screen and squeeze the pad itching for revenge. Now it’s just go, go, go, go, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, die, die, die, die; finish. Instant respawns are comparable to song sections with no breaks or edits made by rookie music producers. These songs just go on and on and on. Your ears get tired.

[Instant respawns also killed tea-bag culture. I don’t care what anyone says … killing someone and majestically tea-bagging them in Halo was one of the funnest things I’ve done since discovering my penis. You can’t see this anymore because of instant respawns.]

5. Getting hit while in scope doesn’t throw you out of scope. I can’t think of another aspect of Halo 4 that dumbs the experience down for the casual player more than this. Getting thrown out of the scope of a sniper introduced a feeling of dread and panic in Halo that better players would square up to by pulling off clutch no-scopes. This is where the professionals thrived. These were the hole in ones; the last-minute three pointers. These were the show-stopping moments us regular people loved to watch starry eyed. This was all about equilibrium and nerve. And this is what made BR battles so majestic and intense. Now it’s gone. 

6. Perks. These imbalance the game. We can’t pick up grenades off fallen enemies unless we have a perk? 343 — did you just put that in for the sake of filling out the perks system or was that a calculated judgement?

7. No separation of casual and ranked games. So now *every game is ranked*. That’s like saying to football teams, “No practice sessions are allowed, every game you play is for the league title.” I can’t kick back with a beer and play some Halo without worrying about my rank going down? I can’t warm up? Are we as players so stupid that we can’t feel comfortable with ranked and social games; a formula *that worked* with Halo 3 and made that game endlessly popular?

Oh, but casual players won’t care because they can’t see their CSR rank unless they exit the game and go into “Halo Waypoint” … ignorance is bliss. Halo 4, judging by the general fonts, could only have been made by PC lovers. Bungie loved Macs and the ethos of “It just works”. Having to go outside of the actual game to see your rank is as ludicrous as the old DOS PCs which wouldn’t simply run; you had to type in some archaic code to get where you wanted to go.

So *why put CSR in the game* if you don’t want people to see it? Is it to stop account selling and boosting? If this is so, any idiot can take a screenshot of their CSR and still sell the account. Is it to stop the hardcore from drowning out the casual and making the experience daunting? Because now everyone is trying harder than ever to crush their opponents because there is no social playlist. And why — *why* — make CSR invisible during the game? 343 have made it maddening for serious players to keep track of their ranks and see their opponents’ ranks; easy for casual players to remain ignorant . Let me tell you 343: Halo 3 had the best multiplayer BECAUSE YOU COULD PROUDLY SEE YOUR RANK AND YOUR OPPONENTS’ RANKS BEFORE A GAME. ANY HALO PLAYER WHO MAKES UP THE CORE FAN BASE WILL AGREE. SEEING YOUR CSR IN GAME GAVE YOU SOMETHING TO WORK TOWARDS. IT WAS INSTANT, SIMPLE AND GRATIFYING. IT WAS ENDLESSLY ADDICTIVE. IT WAS RIGHT. Grow some balls. Either implement CSR properly or leave it out. Doing it halfway is pathetic. And the fact it took you *six months after the game was released* to do so smacks of neglect.

Halo is competitive. A serious sport leaves no room for the casual players. It’s about the elite. Us lowly commoners love watching the best of the best play on an even field. There are lower leagues for lesser players who still love the game. The most abundant players are those who try to emulate the pros by having a kick about in the park — us. And just because there are Messis out there doesn’t mean we are any less inspired to play ourselves [quite the opposite]. Halo can be a hub for all types of gamers. So, 343, stop pandering and fawning to the mass market and sculpt a game in the unique spirit of Halo. You won’t sell as much as Call of Duty — nothing will — but you will keep the players on the pitch. Sport, with its simple rules and perfect balance, allows the players to define the character of the game, and keeps people tuning in every week to see what’s going to happen next. 

Filed under Halo 4 csr