CCC: Much of the connection players will develop comes from the music and voice acting. Aside from Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman from Heroes) providing voice over work, can you let us know some other recognizable names?
BJ: Marty and our audio team have outdone themselves with Reach, really building on everything they’ve collectively done for the last ten years to make sure that from an audio standpoint, Reach is the definitive game in the series. The cool thing about the celebrity cameos in Reach (and prior Halo games) is that these are all people who are genuine fans of the games. This isn’t about agencies sitting in a room trying to throw star power at a product – this is Bungie talking directly to people who we’ve come to know as fans of the game and whom we’re fans of ourselves. Besides Greg, you’ll hear audio work by Aisha Tyler, Zach Levi, Jamie Hector and Ron Livingston to name but a few. And of course there’s also the return of our favorite ODST “Buck”, voiced by Nathan Fillion.
CCC: With Martin O’Donnell returning to provide the score, fans can expect a lot of astounding music. Will these tracks be made available for fans of the game?
BJ: Absolutely. Marty has just confirmed that the Reach original soundtrack will be available digitally on September 14th with the release of the game, and then the CD will be released through retail outlets on September 28th. All told, Marty created nearly five hours of all new music that he’s distilled down into about two hours of great listening on the soundtrack.
CCC: A lot of people have voiced their concerns about the return of Firefight with Halo: Reach. Is there a specific reason for including it or was it more a nod to ODST?
BJ: Interesting. I’m not aware of these ‘concerns.’ The specific reason for including it in Reach is that it’s awesome and fans really enjoyed the initial taste we gave them with ODST. In Reach, Firefight has been raised to a whole new level with full support for Xbox LIVE Matchmaking and a near limitless amount of customization options that allows you to create and share your own unique gametypes. Quite frankly, Firefight is better than ever and it’s some of the most fun you’ll ever have with your friends with any Halo game.
CCC: Forge sets up a great creative mode in the game, but how easy will it be to use? Will players have to go through hours of tutorials as has been in the case in other games that feature the ability to “create your own”?
BJ: The team has definitely focused on trying to build on the foundation laid out in Halo 3 while making it more user-friendly and easier to use. Building huge, complex maps will still take some time and devotion by our fans but Forge 2.0 in Reach is capable of way more and is going to be far less tedious and frustrating than its predecessor. Don’t forget that Forge is also a multiplayer game in and of itself, up to eight people can play and build together in a session.
CCC: The various armor abilities in the game provide massive amounts of strategic playability in the game. Some have even said it makes Reach the far superior multiplayer experience over past games in the series. Do you agree with this? Which is your favorite armor ability?
We definitely think of Reach as the best Halo game yet on every level, including competitive multiplayer. The Armor Abilities are a great, natural addition to the Halo ‘sandbox’ and they fit in surprisingly well. After a few games, it feels like they’ve been there since the beginning and you wonder how you ever got along without them. The interplay of different abilities, the ebb and flow of a game and corresponding changes of load-outs and coordinating specific ‘roles’ amongst your team all add some layers of strategy and depth that weren’t available in the prior Halo games.
I’m not sure I have one single favorite armor ability since my choices differ depending on which map or gametype I’m playing. So I’ll pick a few… In Firefight games, the Drop Shield is a must-have. Nothing beats having an instant safehouse that heals you once the sh*t starts hitting the fan. I always try to make sure at least one person in our Firefight party is rocking the Medic load-out. For competitive MP, I usually pick Sprint more than anything else because it always seems so versatile. Really you can’t go wrong. On some maps it really pays to have a Jet Pack and other times you just want to harass your opponents and “Hologram” comes in really handy.