I am once again writing to you from the trenches of endless online war that is Halo Reach Multiplayer Beta. As I have been playing and constantly trying to assassinate people so I can see the cool animation I was struck by something very unique in the beta, the animations. Anyone who has played Halo 3 or many first person shooters know that the animations aren’t always the best for the character models. In games like Modern Warfare 2 other players see your character performing animations that you will never seen from first person perspective. From the first match played it is clear that Bungie has put a lot of love into the animations and they are beautiful.
The character models seem to have a wider range of motion this time around, and it would appear that the models even take into account the position of the player and in the case of assassinations the location of an enemy player. For example, when attacking someone as they jumped into the lift I went into an airborne assassination, whereas when attacking from a crouched unmoving position it became a sort of knock down with neck break action (video of the animation here)
The context based animations add a sense of depth and complexity to the game, even though they don’t specifically alter gameplay, the bit of flare makes going back and watching video of a certain match that much more enjoyable.
Even though the animations and textures are simple cosmetic changes, they increase the players immersion and investment into the experience that is Halo. A good match can be talked about months sometimes even years and these small flares of drama add to the overall story giving people more to brag about as there is nothing more fulfilling or infuriating than the assassination animation. When you’re the one being taken down you are forced to sit and watch yourself get killed, but if you’re the one doing the kill you are tense with anticipation and hoping that this guy’s teammate doesn’t come along and take you out.