HFFL’s 5TH Annual LANstravaganza!

It’s that time of the year again folks. LANstravaganza is upon us!

hffl for sal

For those of you who don’t know, you may be asking, what is LANstravaganza? Well, as the name implies, it’s a LAN. But it’s so much MORE than just that!. Take a look at LANstravaganza’s from years past for an idea of the goings on and read on after for all the details for this year’s event!

This article will be updated as needed, please check back!

Click each recap to go to article detailing the full LAN recap for that year. Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 8: NASCAR Master Chief

Master Chief has bee the inspiration for many things. As we celebrate the month of Master Chief 1/17, we look at various ways and things that have been made into Chief or in honor of him.

Today’s article focuses on NASCAR.

Before Halo 5 Guardians came out, 343/Micorsoft partnered with NASCAR and Dale Earnhart Jr. to have XBOX and Halo cars. Below we see the Chief car. Emblazoned with Green, Chief’s Visor at the front and his helmet on the hood, this is a worthy ride of our favorite Spartan!Dale-Chief Car Continue reading

Giveaways for Halo Mega Bloks Hayabusa Spartan figures!

Just last night I posted on both twitter and instagram messages for giveaways that I’m doing. There will be a giveaway for each.

Instagram:
I’m going to do a giveaway of these 3 Hayabusa Mega Bloks Spartans. To enter you must like and reply to this post and regram (repost) in your IG timeline. Tag me in that repost as well. I will select the winner Friday 8 pm EST time zone. 

I will pay up to the first $5 in shipping. If it’s more than that, the winner will be responsible for the remainder.

So go check out both my twitter and instagram accounts and enter for a chance to win the set of 3!

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 7: McFarlane Master Chief figures

McFarlane was lucky enough to have the license to produce Halo action figures for several years. In that time they made several Master Chief figures. McFarlane is known for highly detailed sculpts and Master Chief got the full treatment of that.

Chief was made with various armor sets from the lore of Halo.  The quality of the sculpt really shows too. McFarlane did an AMAZING job!

In chronological order from lore.

Here is the armor from Halo the mini series Forward Unto Dawn. The piece you see to the bottom right was part of a Build-A-Emblem series. Once you had all the pieces you could assemble them to make the Bungie version of the UNSC emblem.anniversary2_masterchief_photo_01_dp Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 6: My history with Master Chief in the games.

It’s hard to encompass 16 yeasrs of gaming with one franchise in one blog post. This article is in no way all encompassing, but does give you a synopsis of my history and experience with Master Chief from the video games. Novels and other media have not been included (with rare exception) so that any who just follow the games can read along and not be lost in further discussion.

Fair warning, this article is a long read and there will be no TL;DR.

Pre-Master Chief History:
I was a Nintendo then Playstation guy. I hadn’t even considered an XBOX until a friend of mine had me try out theirs one day while I was visiting. The game I played? Yep, HALO! And so starts my journey.

Halo 1 CE Cover
Halo CE/Master Chief

The ever so brief time I had playing Halo on my friend’s console was just enopugh to convince me to by it. It wasn’t really the console itself, but rather the game. I was enamored by this green armored super solider. The super hero-esque look of him was a big draw. I’m a HUGE Iron Man fan, so Master Chief was akin to him, insofar as te armor was concerned, to me. Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 5: Halo 5 Master Chief renders

While Chief has undergone a number of armor changes over time, today we are going to look at the Halo 5 version with some renders previously released by 343.

Regardless of which armor Chief has worn, he’s always looked strong. Even standing here looking at something, we know not what, he appears to be ready to take action at a moments notice.
h5-guardians-render-the-master-chief-png

“Thought I’d shoot my way out.” Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 4: Minimalist Chief art

Today we take a look back at a minimalist piece of Master Chief artwork I made.

Minimalist Master Chief_sm

Chief was the first in a series of 14 minimalist character renders I made.

In fact, if you’d like to seem them all, you can click on the link to view all of those articles and the corresponding artwork. HaloFanForLife’s Minimalist Halo Characters

At the end of this series, I put all of the characters together in a rough size comparison poster.

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 3: Crafts

Master Chief has been such a legendary character of Halo that he has inspired a great many things. From novels to building blok sets to action figures, t-shirts, cosplay armor and so much more.

Today, we’re going to focus on crafting projects made to look like our favorite Spartan!

First up is the very unique Pipe Cleaner Master Chief, with Arbiter companion.

My friend Rythmic Warrior made these some time ago. I first found them via DeviantArt.com and saw that he has plenty more Halo related pipe cleaner figures as well as a few from other franchises. You can see some of his work that I’ve previously feature HERE. In fact, if you click this link, you can find all of the articles I’ve posted that have Rhythmic’s figures in them. Much more than Master Chief. You can see all of his stuff via his DeviantArt page.master_chief_and_the_arbiter_by_isaiah14-d5jvg85 Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 2: Statues

Master Chief has been such a legendary character of Halo that he has inspired a great many things. From novels to building blok sets to action figures, t-shirts, cosplay armor and so much more.

Today, we’re going to focus on a few of the statues.

In the mini-series Forward Until Dawn there is what I consider to be the most iconic scene of that series. If you’ve seen it, then I think you know which one I’m about to mention… Yes, it’s the Chief vs. Hunter scene in which Master Chief jumps onto a Hunter’s back and jams a grenade into it.

It just so happens that McFarlane Toys created a statue commemorating that moment. I was fortunate enough to get one of these amazing statues. So let’s take a look at it shall we?

The armor Chief is wearing is slightly different from what we’ve seen in the games. It does match the armor we saw in the Halo Legends cartoon. I really enjoyed that 343 kept continuity here.

So first up, the box that the statue came in was huge. The statue itself isn’t one piece, it’s actually made of several pieces you assemble, no glue required.IMG_0440 Continue reading

The Month of Master Chief January 2017 (1/17) Feature 1: Fan art

There is a TON that can be said about Master Chief and we will explore much of that throughout the month. While there is much to discuss, there is alos much to SEE. And fans from around the world have responded over time with some amazing pieces of artwork. Today I’m sharing one of mine, another I altered from someone else, one my wife created as a short series of art and pencil art from a fellow fan.

If you’ve been following the blog for sometime these will be familiar to you as I’ve posted them here previously.

First up is my take a making a piece of word art of Master Chief. halo-4-master-chief-in-words-600x463 Continue reading

Celebrate the MONTH of Master Chief! Starting January 2017. (1/17)

Celebrate the MONTH of Master Chief!Master Chief AR down

I’ll be celebrating everyone’s favorite Spartan, John-117, aka Master Chief! all January long. After all, it’s 1/17!!!

Look for articles on:
1. the lore of Master Chief
2. My experiences in the various Halo campaigns
3. Fan made Master Chief art
4. Development history of Chief
5. Chief’s ever changing relationship with Cortana

and MORE!

And…there might even be a contest at the end of the month!!

-Sal

12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews CONTEST!

Okay folks, here it is. If you’ve been following the 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews, then this is the contest for you. Answer all of the questions correctly and e-mail your answers to me at sal@halofanforlife.com. The first to answer them all correct will win the prize. If noone answers them all correct by 9pm EST, Dec. 31, 2016, then the person with the highest total right will win.

So..what could you win?

A Mattel Spartan Locke Action Figure
mt-spartan-locke-pose-1

A Mega Bloks Vulture!
MB Vulture fin

A Jakks Pacific 31 inch tall Master Chief BIG Figure
Jakks 31in Master Chief

A prize packge worth $175!

The contest is open to U.S. residents (with free postage) AND everywhere else, with winner paying postage. (Sorry folks, international postage is expensive.)

Now to the questions to answer (and please e-mail your answers to me numbered in order from 1-13.

  1. What was the first 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews toy?
  2. Which 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews did I review the Jinx Master Chief figure?
  3. How many Mattel Halo Action figures did I review during the 12 Days of Halo?
  4. Which was the most expensive Mega Bloks/Mega Construx set I reviewed during the 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews?
  5. Of the Mattel figures I reviewed during the 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews, how many of them had a CLOSE-UP shot of the unarmored figure?
  6. What is the NAMED character I made from the ODST Customizer set?
  7. Which Mattel figure exclaims, “Look at me, I’m a little ballerina!” in my 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews?
  8. How many Mega Construx Spartan Customizer sets did I buy for that review?
  9. Which Mattel Halo Action figure includes the Crawler Head as part of the build-a-figure, in it’s packaging?
  10. What are the TWO colors used on top of the lids of the Mega Bloks Brute Weapons Customizer Pack crates?
  11. Which Mattel Halo Action figure includes the Plasma Caster as one of it’s weapons?
  12. What colors do I call the ODST Drop pods I reviewed during the 12 Days of Halo Toy Reviews?
  13. According to my reivew, which Mattel Halo Action figure has “Christmas” colors?

Answer all of these correct (and in order), and you could win all of the above prizes! Again, e-mail me the answers to sal@halofanforlife.com. First person to answer these correct by 9pm EST Dec. 31 WINS!

(Please not again the restriction on postage for out of U.S. participants.)

Good luck!
-Sal

Happy 15th Anniversary HALO!!

Today marks 15 years since Halo debuted on the original XBOX. WOW!

We sure have seen a lot of  stories, characters, planets and other places, armors, aliens and changes along the way.

What started out as an idea by the Bungie forefathers and what would have been an RTS game for the MAC, became an FPS shooter and a franchise that was bought by Microsoft for its fledgling console, the XBOX.

2001

At the time, Master Chief was little more than a husk. One that the player would be enveloped by to take on the epic campaign. That campaign culminated in the destruction of one of the vaulted Halo rings. In between however, we tackled wave upon wave of Covenant and Flood.

2004

It didn’t stop there. While Halo CE had a local multi-player built into it, Halo 2 is arguably where Halo REALLY took off.

Not only did we, again as Master Chief, kick some alien butt, we got to do it on our home planet. Oh, you know, in a little town called, New Mombasa. The LAN parties of Halo CE didn’t go away though. Instead, they were transformed into an international setting  Instead of being called LAN parties, we had a fully functional multiplayer through servers. And Halo 2 THRIVED at it! In fact, some might say this is where multiplayer overtook campaign as the favored game mode. There is no doubt that professional eSports on consoles hit a new benchmark when Halo 2 hit the scene. Gamers from all over the U.S. Formed or joined teams to compete. Not just for noteriety, but for fame and a little bit of fortune…just a little bit. LOL

2007

The battle for earth didn’t stop there. Master Chief slammed into the ground and with just the slightest help from Sgt. Johnson, began yet another epic journey. This through lush jungles, savannahs, and another Halo ring.

Forge debuted to the delight of many gamers and for the first time enabled US to create maps for Halo. And boy, did we ever create! Foundry was one of the go to maps. In large part, that was due to the spacious interior of the preformed warehouse. Many an Infection map was made. With Haunted Mansion probably being the most played one of them all.

Multiplayer was still thriving and had in some ways increased in popularity. We had both Social and Ranked playlist. Each had several playlists to choose from and all were heavily populated.

At the end of the campaign, we were left to wonder…would we ever see Master achief again? Would he indeed be woken because we needed him??

2009

That year saw not one but TWO Halo games. First came Halo Wars. Not an FPS, but rather an RTS game. Much in the same vein as what Bungie had originally planned. Though this title was NOt made by Bungie.

Halo Wars took place several years before the events of the original trilogy of Halo games. We were introduced to Captain Cuuter, Sgt. Forge, Ellen Anders, Serina and more. Epic mostly top down gameplay allowed us to take control not just of one character, but MANY! Running UNSC troops through the Covenant like we had never done before. Once again we had Multiplayer. This time with a whole new set of strategy to learn and implement.

The crew of the Spirit of Fire had one, but at a cost, their ship’s slipspace drive. Cutter ordered everyone to Cryo chambers. Here the story ended and we though we’d never see the ship again…

Later in 2009, Halo 3: ODST hit the ground running. Literally, well within the campaign at least. Taking place right around the time of Halo 2, this time we deployed as a squad of bad ass ODSTs. We now became “the Rookie”. Though we also became other members of the squad in an intertwined set of missions.

Not as strong or armored as Spartans, as ODSTs, we had to play things slightly differently. We couldn’t just charge enemies, guns blazing. Now we had to learn tactics. It was even better if you were doing so with friends.

Halo 3: ODST also brought about a NEW game mode; Firefight! We took on hordes of Covenant at several locations. Rounds getting progressively harder and even an achievement that would take you and three of your friends on a struggle and play a game of around 2 hours or more to complete.

We saved a little critter dubbed Virgil and in doing so, helped to turn the tide of battle for what was to come.

2010

REACH

We returned to Spartan gameplay. This time as a Spartan III, with Noble team. We became Noble Six. In what was one of the arguably best features of Reach, we got to create our OWN Spartan that would play I. The campaign. We were no longer limited to playing as Master Chief. Now we could play and BE our own Spartan!

Along the way, we got to know the other Spartans of Noble team, Carter, Kat, Emile, Jun and of course, Jorge.

Each with their own special skill sets. You teamed up with one during different missions that took place all over the planet Reach and at different times of day.

Multiplayer began to change a lot in the Halo franchise with Reach’s release. Now we had loadouts we could choose from. Each one with their own Spartan ability..

We also got yet another new game mode: Invasion! Not only did we get to team up with friends as Spartans, but we got to play as Elites!! While not new to Halo, the way in which we got to play Elites in Reach was. You towered over your Spartan Enemies. Through 3 phases of the mode you fought your way through bands of enemies, be they UNSC or Covenant, depending on which side you were on, at the time.

We got a revamped Firefight. One in which saw limited waves in the matchmaking part. You battled through 15 rounds and a bonus round if you were skilled or lucky enough. All sorts of enemies from Elites, to Brutes, Jackals, Grunts, Hunters and a new one…Skirmishers. Though directly related to Jackals, Skirmishers were the more athletic and quick version of Jackals, You may miss them now, but back then, they were lethal to play against. Especially if you were brave enough to play Skirmegeddon.

Forge saw a big upgrade here. Not only could we manipulate object like we hadn’t before, we had Forge World. A MASSIVE map from which spawned some of the greatest community made maps, even til this day. Race really got a foothold in Reach and allowed us to have endless hours of fun to see who could outrun each other.

Mutiplayer took a hit from the pro community. With MLG dropping Halo Reach, dark times for Halo lay ahead. But would that last?

At the end of the campaign, Reach had been glassed, and our Spartan face insurmountable odds, only to be slain. But we knew that from the beginning.

This was Bungie’s last Halo title. People were unsure where or even IF the series would go on from here.

Enter Halo Waypoint and 343…

Roughly around the halfway point of Reach’s solo run as the current Halo game, 343 took over for Bungie. Bloom had now been fixed. Gamers slowly started to come back to multiplayer

We then got word that this would indeed NOT be the last Halo game. 343 had already been in production of Halo 4!

2011

The ten year anniversary gave us an anniversary game in the form of Halo CE Anniversary. Here we got to relive the events of CE. This time though, we had the option to switch back and forth between the classic and NEW graphic for CE. We got to start the fight all over again.

As well, we got a special map pack that was playable in Halo Reach.

2012

Wake Up John… It wasn’t just Cortana who needed Master Chief. We all did. And so, John-117 was brought out of Cryo sleep and right into battle. The remnants of the Covenant were brought together by one Jul ‘Mdama. As Master Chief, we now got to battle a new yet OLD enemy. Prometheans and the Didact!

We finally were facing off against Forerunner. The Prometheans were Forerunner robots with the digital essence of humans. And there was an endless supply of them it seemed. Not to mention, there were various forms of them. While Knights posed our biggest problem, watchers protected the knights with light shields and pesky swathes of Crawlers would swarm you from all around and in some case above and below you.

In somewhat alternating missions, we squared off against both Covenant and Prometheans. Later on in the campaign, we would be reunited with the UNSC in the form of the mighty UNSC Infinity.

At the end of the campaign, we finally challenged the Didact but at a grave cost…

Set 6 months after the events of the campaign, we would set off on 50 Spartan Ops missions. Winding their way through various locations within the Forerunner sphere, Requiem. Spartan Ops took over for Firefight. Instead of waves of enemies on various maps, we essentially got a whole other campaign. This time playiing again as your own Spartan as a member of  Fireteam Crimson. You were pitted in a contest of sorts with FIreteam Majestic to see who could finish first.

Also. We got to see much more of the UNSC Infinity, this time from the inside.

Once again Forge got a revamp. Anchor points were added to objects and magnets got the objects to stick together.

In the end, we had to deal with the loss of Cortana, a Chief who was struggling with that loss and the uncertainty of the Didact’s demise. Where would we go from here?

2013

Halo gone mobile! For the first time we got an official mobile game in Halo Spartan Assault. Playing alternately as Spartans Palmer and Davis we traversed different worlds and Forerunner locations. At first a one-person only game, we got an expansion that allowed us to play 5 missions with a friend against the vaulted flood.

2014

The Master Chief Collection. While the game suffered a horrible launch with many bugs, connection issues and the like, it would eventually settle off to be the collection of the Halo numbered games and an addition of ODST.

A whopping amount of achievements made even the most hardened achievement hunter’s mouth drop. 4,000 gamerscore.

Within HMCC as it came to be called, we got Halo 2 Anniversary. Switching between classic and updated graphics campaign was now instantaneous. We also got our introduction to Spartan Locke.

2015

Once again, we got another twofer. Halo Spartan Strike would come out early in the year and was the second official mobile game.  Here we played as an Orange and White armor colored Spartan. This top down shooter, like its predecessor, Spartan Assault, pitted us against Covenant. But we also face off against Prometheans as well.

The game gave us a new vehicle to play with. The Kestrel. The name was brought back from an old Bungie concept piece of art for a ship. In fact, much of the Kestral’s finished design was based off that concept piece.

No co-op play this time, but still a fun mobile game.

Later in 2015 came Halo 5. Master Chief had been reunited with the other members of Blue Team. They went rogue and it was decided that a new fire team led by Spartan Locke would be brought in to bring Chief back. This new team, Fireteam Osiris, included Spartans Vale and Tanaka. Vale having been introduced via a novel, while Tanaka was introduced in a comic book. And of course, the final member of Osiris, Buck. Yep, Buck got a promotion to Spartan. They used to say if he were any better, he’d be a Spartan. Guess he got better…

Much of the campaign had us playing as Locke or other members of Osiris if you were playing co-op campaign . Though we did get 3 missions to play as Chief and Blue Team. Jul ‘Mdama and his now failing remnant of the Covenant We being decimated by the Arbiter and Prometheans who had now turned on Jul.

WE faced a new enemy in the Warden Eternal as well as a friend turned enemy in Cortana. Is that really her or is it a fragment? Time will tell.

Multiplayer got a big remix. Gone were some of the past abilities like jet pack and new abilities out in place like Clamber.

343 made a distinct effort to get Halo back to the top of the eSports world. It’s first Halo 5 competition ending in a more than $2 million dollar prize pool!

Halo 5’s Forge was a massive overhaul from Forge in past titles. For six months we got more and more forge items and tools to work with and still are, as of this writing.

DLC for Halo 5 was free, much to the delight of gamers. This meant no one was left behind.

A new gamemode made its debut. Warzone. Think BIG big team. Now 12v12 instead of 8v8 and with a heavy mix of AI to fight along the way as well.

The REQ system was also introduced in Halo 5. This a new means to garner new armor, weapons, assassinations, emblems and more.

While Halo 5 continues to thrive, we look to the future.

Today marks 15 years of Halo. Will there be 15 more?

If Halo Wars 2 in 2017 and Halo 6 on the distant horizon have anything to say about it, we’ve still got a lot of Halo left to play!

Thanks for sticking with me in this long article, I had it much longer, but had to cut it down somewhat. The original article was another 3/4 as long again as this one….

Yes, I may have skilled over some things, but when talking about  15 year franchise, it’s hard to get everything I There and still try to have a short article.

I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane.

Sal.

HFFL’s 4 Annual LAN Recap!

Whew, apologies for the late recap on this.

As you may know, I hold a yearly LAN. This year’s was on the weekend of August 13, 14. However, for me, things started rolling on the 11th. So this is where I’ll start the recap.

Thursday, August 11, 2016
My first LAN attendee arrived this day. We call him by his nickname, ‘Dij’. I consider him one of my best friends, not just through XBOX/Halo, but in life. He decided to come up a couple days early and arrived in the early evening.  This was not only save on airfare but to get in some other activities. So the first thing we did after I picked him up from the airport was to stop at the Pittsburgh famous Primanti Bros.

There we each got one of their huge sandwiches. Pictured below is one from the LAN weekend a couple years ago. It has your choice of meat, cheese, fries, tomato and coleslaw. Now, for those of you who have never had, believe me, this WORKS! I’m not a fan of most coleslaw, but Primanti’s has the best slaw I’ve ever had. I always encourage anyone who’s never had a Primanti’s to have a bite or two as it normally is, then decide to take off whatever they may not like. Most people find out that it’s really good as delievered.

Friday Primantis

After this we headed over to Toys R Us, where Dij bought the newly released Mega Bloks Kubros Master Chief figure. (I”ll have my toy review of that set soon.)

Then we headed to my place to relax for the rest of the night.

Friday, August 12, 2016
We proceeded to start with some of the set-up for the LAN. Dij was getting the extra XBOX One updated, while I brought up my TV and XBOX set-up from my ‘man-cave’ in the basement.
Much of the stuff I wanted to have out for display had already been set-up before Dij even got into town, so there wasn’t a ton left to do.

After what seemed like quite a bit of time updating the other XB1, we were set-up to start gaming, or so we thought. Turns out the other XBOX, the one I eventually got from MS after 4 months of trying to get back my original after it was lost in the mail, had a defective disc drive… Thankfully, I actually had yet another XB1. This one was the one Dij and friends had pulled together to get me when I was having those issues with MS/XB last year (unbeknownst to me). He got that one up and running and we gamed for several hours.

My wife made a great Chicken Pesto with Pasta dinner, then we gamed the rest of the night.

Saturday, August 13, 2016
Finally the first day of the 4th Annual LAN was here!

We had to cancel p[lans for the tatoo session as the tatoo shop made a switch in personnel and didn’t have staff for us. Meh, no worries…

12:30pm Folks start to arrive! Pens_Halo brought pizza from his dad’s restaurant, always a hit! We had folks form all over the U.S. Texas, Colorado, and New Jersey for example, not to mention of course several from right here in Pittsburgh, PA.

hffl4lan-jersey-boys-setup
1pm Set-up is finished and we’re ready to start gaming. We played both BTB and a little bit of customs until lunch time. Above shows only a portion of the set-up. There was MORE! Continue reading

Going through a bit of a rough spell folks.

Apologies for not posting as I said I would. Life is a bit rough for me at present. So that’s taking precedent over blogging.

I ask for your patience. I have PLENTY to post, I just need to take care of a couple things first.

With deep humility and respect to you my readers,
Sal