It's probably tattooed onto Peter Moore's face, but Halo 3's release later this year will be big. Bigger than all of us. Bigger than Tom's credit card bill. And as with the very biggest games, the information drip-feed would torture even Jack Bauer into confessing that, yes, he prefers the Xbox 360 to the PS3.
So what do we know so far? Well, despite haven written nine million news stories on a game no one's ever seen outside Bungie, we know very little. You know, the names of the new weapons, the Mongoose ATV, the names of some maps, but little of consequence. Here's a World Exclusive guess: it's going to be a bit like Halo 1 and 2, but with high definition badgers.
And to continue the agonising process of filling up our factometer on the game, we grabbed content manager Frank O'Connor to see if he had any more nuggets to reveal. Interview by Gregor Wildermann of Eurogamer.de.
Eurogamer: What do you think didn't work that well in Halo 2 and will be changed for Halo 3? How do you judge the criticism to Halo 2 in general?
Frank O'Connor: We're continually looking for ways to improve things we've done before, so of course we welcome and acknowledge criticism and look for ways to make the game better. We're probably our own harshest critics, so literally, there isn't a single element of Halo 2 that we're not trying to improve upon.
Eurogamer: How will the snow-terrain in the new map Snowbound change the gameplay and tactics?
Frank O'Connor: Well you'd be surprised how much the sun reflecting on the snow affects your aim, but mostly the terrain is there for atmosphere. It won't really change gameplay, or how your player runs for example - but at the moment, you do leave footprints that can be tracked for a few seconds before they fade away.
Eurogamer: Who had the idea for the Spike grenade and how will this weapon affect the gameplay?
Frank O'Connor: Spike grenades are the invention of our design team and of course their look is heavily influenced by how the art guys interpret the design team's request. As for gameplay, it shares a lot in common with the plasma grenade - but is harder to see against an object and that allows it to become a deadly trap for following attackers.
Eurogamer: Could you describe how you tested new weapons like the Spike Rifle or the Spartan Laser? Did you kick out other weapons and why didn't they work?
Frank O'Connor: Well, we haven't lost a single weapon thus far, but we've improved a few. Our test process is simple. Play it, play it some more, take notes, make changes, play it more.
Eurogamer: Who had the idea for doing a beta test with American soldiers in Iraq and can you give an example of specific changes just made from their input?
Frank O'Connor: The idea came from inside Bungie and it was simply designed as a holiday treat for hard working men and women who are fans of Halo. There was no political, publicity or gameplay testing purpose, so that's really all we're prepared to say.
Eurogamer: Games like last Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War implemented in-game events to immerse the gamer more into the gameplay. What do you think about that or is the single-player-mode of Halo 3 still reliant on the main story?
Frank O'Connor: As ever, we'll tell a story and surround the player with that story in a number of traditional and occasionally innovative ways.
Eurogamer: Is there a science-fiction movie which comes near to the dynamic of the Halo game?
Frank O'Connor: Lots of them. Our influences come from many different kinds and genres of media. Movies, books, TV shows and one Broadway Musical. I will not reveal which one. Let's just say it's magical and packed with dancing cats.
Eurogamer: What's your view on the Halo movie and are there still hopes that the project will continue? And has Peter Jackson played Halo 3 already?
Frank O'Connor: We'd love to see the Halo movie made and our relationship with Peter Jackson is as strong as ever. If we find out more, we'll be sure to share that information with you.
Eurogamer: What's the weirdest fan reaction you've had to Halo?
Frank O'Connor: Definitely a painting we received. I cannot tell you what the contents were, since this is a family show. Let's just quote Joe Staten, our resident scriptwriter, who exclaimed, "Where is Sgt. Johnson's moustache?"
Eurogamer: What three words would you use to describe Halo 3?
Frank O'Connor: Icy hot stuntaz.
Eurogamer: If the Covenant ruled the world now, which existing leader, politician or actor would represent them perfectly?
Frank O'Connor: Well the Covenant are powerful, so they would have Koizumi's incredibly powerful hair. They are vicious and heartless, so they would have Simon Cowell's personality, and they have an incredible array of deadly weapons, so they would have Ted Nugent's armory.
Halo 3 is due out on Xbox 360 later this year. Check back soon for our thoughts on the Halo 3 Beta Test.