While you were preparing to shower your loved ones with flowers and chocolates, Bungie and McFarlane Toys were showering each other with bullets -- assault rifle bullets, battle rifle bullets, shotgun bullets, sniper rifle bullets...
McFarlane Toys recently faced off against Bungie, the makers of Halo 3®, in an online showdown. Bungie's "Humpday Challenges" are a weekly feature on their site, www.bungie.net, that showcases a team of Bungie employees playing a best-of-three match against a new set of challengers each Wednesday. On Feb. 13, it was McFarlane's turn.
Let's introduce the teams:
• respawn in 10
• Electron Shell
• TJ Scoot
So how did our team do? We won't lie, it was, as the title suggests, a massacre.
Game 1: Team Slayer on Guardian
Tone of game: What have we gotten ourselves into?!
Bungie graciously lets their opponents choose the map and game type for the first match. We picked Guardian, one of the smaller maps with numerous confined spaces, and a map all teammates felt fairly comfortable with; and Team Slayer, a straightforward game of Us vs. Them.
Before the match, the four of us met online in Guardian to discuss our strategy. "If we start on this side of the map, you go for the Gravity Hammer while you go for the Sniper Rifle." Stuff like that. But as Helmuth von Moltke the Elder said, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." This was proven mere seconds into the round.
Though close for the briefest of moments, Team Bungie quickly asserted their dominance. There was a slight sensation that they were simply playing with their food.
Winner: Bungie, 50 to 27
>> GAME 1 SCREENSHOT
Game 2: Team Slayer on The Pit
Tone of game: Absolute massacre.
In the second game, it's Bungie's turn to pick the map and game type. With their Game One victory in Team Slayer, they apparently saw no need to change a game type they knew they could win. Before the game, we joked that they had found our weakness. Unfortunately, it wasn't a joke.
They selected The Pit, a small, symmetrical map that theoretically would give each team an equal chance.
We really can't write too much about this round. Just remembering the terror and the carnage is too much to bear. Team Bungie was superior in every way. They controlled the map. They controlled the weapons. At one point, the Team McFarlane captain was moved to exclaim, "How many shotguns are there on this map?!" Team Bungie had seemingly multiplied, covering every corner of the map, while managing to surround each of us simultaneously.
It was obvious early on that we would lose, and lose big, so we banded together with but one lofty goal in mind. That goal: somehow, some way we would break the double digit scoring threshold... Or would we?
Winner: Bungie, 50 to... um, 12
>> GAME 2 SCREENSHOT
Game 3: Three Ball on Construct
Tone of game: Merciful?
For the third game, Bungie and their opponent discuss game types and come to a mutual agreement before choosing one. After winning Games 1 & 2, Bungie apparently decided to turn down the humiliation, just a notch. We eventually decided on "Three Ball," a custom game of Oddball with three balls, and a lot of action.
To put it simply, it was brutal, but not a complete embarrassment.
Winner: Bungie, 200 to 131
>> GAME 3 SCREENSHOT
Team McFarlane had been thoroughly defeated. Hey, there's no shame in being beaten by the best! You may be good against people who play the game, but against the team that made the game? That's a whole different level.
For a different perspective, check out Bungie's account of the McFarlane Toys Humpday Challenge on their site.
Great sportsmen that they are, Bungie did not gloat after their decisive victory. Instead, they joined us for a couple of "social" games, the dessert after their three-course McFarlane feast.
Game 4: Multi Flag CTF on Valhalla
Tone of game: Pity for the innocent victims. But not too much pity.
The four-man McFarlane team and the four-man Bungie team joined forces and dove into a Big Team Battle on Xbox LIVE. Our combined might was now aimed squarely at eight randomly selected Halo 3 players. They had no idea what was about to hit them.
In addition to the obvious team skill boost, playing with Bungie employees on your team allows you to hear their in-game banter. One such gem:
Bungie Employee 1: "You know, this map really wasn't designed for the Wraith."
Bungie Employee 2: "I prefer to think the Wraith wasn't designed for this map."
Winner: Team McFarlane/Bungie, 3 to 0
Game 5: VIP on Standoff
Tone of game: Unbalanced rematch satisfaction.
Two members of Team Bungie left before our final game, so we were split up and put on opposite teams once more. The four Team McFarlane members plus a teammate from Xbox LIVE vs. the two remaining Team Bungie members and three LIVE teammates. Not exactly a rematch, and not exactly fair, but at this point, we were in no position to complain.
Winner: Team McFarlane/LIVE, 10 to 7
Thanks to Bungie for letting us play against them, and for making such an awesome game! We had a great time. And despite the brutal defeat, we did learn an important lesson: it's better when McFarlane Toys and Bungie work together.
If you need proof of how great such a partnership can be, we'd like to direct your attention to the newly-launched Halo 3 Series 1 online feature.
ONLINE FEATURE NOW LIVE
In spite of our humiliation at the hands of Bungie, it's still a very good day to be a Halo fan. Our Halo 3 online feature is now live. And if we do say so ourselves, it's one of the most comprehensively awesome features we've ever done. It encompasses the entire line of Series 1 figures and vehicles, and includes:
>> HALO 3 SERIES 1 FEATURE
- Figure and packaging photos
- Complete figure specs
- QuickTime VRs
- Desktop Wallpapers
- Printable Backdrops
- Halo Series 1 checklist
- Information on where to buy
- Information on McFarlane Toys' exclusive Halo Points program
DON'T MISS 'HALO: CONTACT HARVEST' PAPERBACK
The fifth Halo fiction novel, Halo: Contact Harvest, by Joseph Staten, debuted on the New York Times best seller list on Nov. 19.
Here's a taste from the forward:
This is how it began...
Halo: Contact Harvest is now available through Tor and Forge Books (www.tor-forge.com).
It is the year 2524. Harvest is a peaceful, prosperous farming colony on the very edge of human-controlled space. But we have trespassed on holy ground--strayed into the path of an aggressive alien empire known as the Covenant. What begins as a chance encounter between an alien privateer and a human freighter catapults mankind into a struggle for its very existence.
But humanity is also locked in a bitter civil war known as the Insurrection. So the survival of Harvest's citizens falls to a squad of battle-weary UNSC Marines and their inexperienced colonial militia trainees. In this unlikely group of heroes, one stands above the rest...a young Marine staff sergeant named Avery Johnson.
>> HALO: CONTACT HARVEST PROLOGUE (60k PDF)
© 2008 Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft, Halo, the Halo logo, the Microsoft Game Studios logo, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Bungie and the Bungie logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Bungie, LLC.