Unfortunately this is not an article about combating a disastrous plague involving tall muscular men in green jumpsuits. Alas we do not live in such a world, but if we did, everyone would be teabagged…to death! No, instead this is a timely placed article about the repercussions of accidentally contracting a manufactured disease known as Bungie-Fever. Also since Destiny is super close to release, or is already here, I figure why not talk about Bungie and their relationship with journalists, and major gaming media sites? No?
Let me start out by saying this, even though my anticipation has lessened, I think Destiny is going to be a solid game. Also did you see that live action trailer? Before you read on, you have to check out this live action trailer that’s directed by the same guy who did Oblivion and Tron Legacy. It may be the best live action trailer for a videogame I’ve seen in quite a while.
“Proof that if you merge the Immigrant Song with space, you get something beautiful.”
Ever since the split from Microsoft, Bungie has been working hard on their upcoming MMO-shooter-Halo–Borderlands thing. It’s perhaps one of Activision’s biggest titles that is said to have a 10 year lifespan, and maintains a budget of over $500 million. That’s a lot of Destiny themed Mountain Dew bottles they’re going to be selling in the future, and hopefully one of them has a flavor specifically made for the Peter Dinklage bot. I’m striving for a name like ‘moon wizard’ flavor, I think it can sell.
Although there is of course a reason why Activision has put so much faith in Bungie, and that’s because of some asshole named Master Chief (I don’t know the guy personally, but I hear he doesn’t tip at bars and doesn’t put on deodorant). Halo was, and still is, the poster-boy for Microsoft. Sure they have Gears of War, Fable, Forza, and uh…Viva Pinata, but nothing has taken the mantle away from Halo in terms of what Microsoft’s consoles represent. Without a doubt, Halo is perhaps one of the most inspirational, groundbreaking, and monumental successes there is.
See this is where the tables have turned, and I give my piece on why Halo is the most undeservedly praised, clunky as fuck, and ridiculously repetitive games out there. Okay, that’s bit of an extreme path to take. At best I’ll say this, Halo is a pretty entertaining franchise that constantly has made adjustments to keep itself fresh within the gaming world. Mostly its multiplayer is what keeps the game going, but the campaign’s keeps inserting small nods from previous entries and the books to keep hardcore fans happy. They’re fun arcade shooters that keep making small adjustments whenever a new one is released, just so they aren’t all easily identical.
Now that I said all this, let me move on to a, let’s just say, a controversial statement. Maybe not to many, but to some it’s considered ‘sacrilegious or ‘taboo’ apparently to say such a thing. So here it is, the main crux that I’ve been trying to lead up to throughout this entire article is – Bungie is not the greatest studio in the world. Put down your plasma swords, because there’s a reason why I wanted to bring this up.
Right around the time we saw our first glimpses at Destiny, I was stoked to imagine the possibilities of what a game like that can do. An open world game where you get to travel into space, customize your spaceship, collect loot, battle crazy bosses, and do other cool shit involving RPG mechanics. It sounded like something that could be a lot of fun, and perhaps overall word of mouth will say such things once people get their hands on it, but thing is I described the reasons why I felt like it could work. It had nothing to do with the studio, it had more to do with what the game was presenting.
I was noticing something fascinating though, like a common cold, apparently certain major gaming sites started to spread ‘Bungie’ as a buzzword. Like, ‘Bungie can do no wrong’, ‘don’t doubt Bungie’, and ‘how can you not love Bungie?’ In fact I heard less about the game they were promoting, and more about critical acclaim behind Bungie. It’s like a popular boy band that all the girls are into, except it’s a bunch of dudes in green armor on stage, and the girls are replaced with journalists who throw their wet pants on stage. I can only imagine the type of fan mail Cortana must be getting, yeesh!
What is it that makes Bungie this top-tier studio that apparently every other studio should aspire to be? I mean they did make forge mode, and you do not want to fuck around with forge mode, I’ll tell you that. They made Cortana naked-er in 4, I mean I don’t know how you do that to an AI robot lady, but they did it…oh wait that was 343 Studios, damn it! The warthog now has golden rims, oh wait that’s not true, that’s just something I accidentally read from my wish-list for Halo 5. Oh boy, I should stop doing that.
Despite Halo being a thing and the influence it wrought on the industry with the regenerative health/shield bar, I don’t think that constitutes as being one of the greatest studios out there. It does carry weight to the name, in the same way that Sonic once carried weight to Sonic Team and Sega, but that’s it. Halo is a competent shooter, but only got better once it started borrowing mechanics from Unreal Tournament (hey, be glad I didn’t say ‘ripped off’). And then for a long time based their third installment on a catchphrase that would make every greedy marketing manager cry with dollar signs from their eyes (‘Finish the Plate’ I think was the catchphrase). Halo: Combat Evolved, 2, 3, and Reach are all good games, but if we’re basing what makes a great studio judging from a franchise that has made minor to moderate adjustments throughout the years, then Infinity Ward should be on there as well.
Journalists and the gaming world love to put Bungie on this pedestal of greatness that no other studio can ever achieve, despite that their most notable accomplishments involve a franchise where a man in a green suit of armor shoots aliens (not enough love for Marathon Man apparently!)
I’m sure Naughty Dog is sitting on a park bench during the national Bungie ceremony, and saying to someone, “I’ve put out a PS2 platformer trilogy involving a talking ferret and a man with anime hair, and it’s one of the best franchises of all time. And then I put out another PS3 action adventure trilogy that’s influenced by Indiana Jones, that’s considered one of the best trilogies of all time. Then I lastly put out a survival horror game that has one of the most memorable endings of all time that’s so highly acclaimed it even got a PS4 port immediately after. Yet I still am not in league with the studio that’s been working on the same goddamn sci-fi FPS franchise for close to 10 years.”
Then someone says, “What about Crash Bandicoot?”
And then Naughty Dog says, “We don’t talk about that, not since the break-up.”
This is not a question of what makes the best gaming studio in the world, that’s a whole other can of worms to open up. This is a question of why Bungie needs to be looked at through a non-bias magnifying glass, and how they’re not the pinnacle of game development. Maybe Destiny will change that, or maybe not, but remember to contact your local doctor if you contracted Bungie-Fever. Unfortunately there’s no cure at the moment, the only way to treat Bungie-Fever is through Half-Life 2 children’s vitamins. Even more good news, they’re shaped like head crabs!