The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
Here we are everyone, just mere weeks
away from Halo 4's release, and if you're anything like me, you've
been replaying the series, salivating over trailers, and bidding on
Master Chief armor on eBay. Well...maybe you're not exactly
like me, but you're probably anticipating the game anyways, if you
have an Xbox 360. Isn't that why we all got an Xbox? To play Halo,
right? It's one of the most celebrated video game franchises in
existence, as it's constantly cited as one of the most important
developments in our medium, alongside games like Super Mario, and The
Legend Of Zelda.
I recently finished
up a playthrough of the Halo series - like I stated above - as a
refresher course for Halo 4. I wanted to go into the game totally
updated on the series, and fully prepared for any curve balls, or
plot twists that might present themselves throughout Halo 4's
duration. This means that I've also been re-reading the books that
have lead up to this point in the franchise.
During my re-tread
of the Halo series, one title in particular stood out more than it
did originally. More so than any other Halo title. The game in
question was Halo 3: ODST (just in case the title didn't get that
across). I was really surprised by this, as it was at one point my
least liked game in the series. After getting a chance to take in the
game and everything it has to offer, I came away refreshed. Many
people claim ODST to be the worst Halo game in the series. Here's why
I think it's one of the best.
The Story Is As
Good As Anything From Expanded Fiction
One of the most
criticized subjects from ODST was, The Rookie. The Rookie was/is the
main character of the title, and is - at first glance - your
typical silent protagonist. Even chief spouted off one liners right?
Why should we settle for this guy? Another facet of The Rookie that's
often frowned upon, is the fact that he re-lived the adventures of
his squad mates, and didn't really contribute much himself. I
disagree with that statement, but we'll get back to that in a second.
First of all, the
Rookie was alone. He crash landed in a rough spot, a considerable
distance away from his squadmates. You wouldn't hear me talking to
myself much either. That's not to say that they couldn't have given
him some quirky personality attribute, where he basically talked to
himself or something. Wouldn't that have taken away from the
experience though? You're alone. Your squad has essentially left you
behind, there are Covenant swarming your location, and you have
little-to-no idea what you're supposed to do.
A protagonist in
this setting who spouts off one-liners, and delivers comic relief,
would have simply taken away from the experience. Bungie wanted to
make you feel, alone, and deserted. They wanted you to feel like hope
was lost, and your situation dire. I think that by making The Rookie,
a silent protagonist, they delivered on making the experience as
stoic as the setting demanded.
As for the story
outside of The Rookie, we got to meet some incredibly diverse, and
interesting characters. One of which was Buck, who was played by
Nathan Fillion. Outside of The Chief, and Cortana, I'd have to say
that Buck was my favorite character from the series. He's an
everyman, who's good enough at what he does, that he's considered to
be almost on the same combat level as a Spartan. His everyman-ness is
what makes him so intriguing. He's got a sort of rocky relationship
with a fellow ODST by the name of Dare. She and Buck clearly have a
history, but the game decides to leave that relationship up in the
air, which lends their situation a certain sense of realism, instead
of going in depth with their problems.
Combine both the
Rookie's tale of loneliness, with Buck, and Dare's relationship, as
well as the other squadmates stories and you have a tale that's on
par with a Halo novel. We actually get to go further inside the heads
of these characters, than we've ever been able to go with the
Chief...well at least until Halo 4 releases anyways.
Halo...But Then It Wasn't
What do you think
of when you hear the word Halo? If you immediately thought of lyrics
from Beyonce's hit song, then...you're alright. That song is awesome.
But this blog isn't about Beyonce. So in the context of video games,
when you hear Halo, what do you think of? If you said something along
the lines of, "A first person shooter, in which, you throw plasma
grenades into the faces of your foes" then you'd be correct. The
core elements of Halo, have always been Guns, Grenades, and
Melee...as well as righteous, chanting monks.
basically looked at the core Halo elements and said, "well that's
cool...let's not do some of that". First of all, the scale of the
story, and environment was scaled down dramatically. Instead of
globetrotting, or spacetrotting - if you will - through expansive,
lush environments, you were dropped into a darkened, and deserted
city. Instead of happening upon firefight, after firefight, you could
choose to opt out of battle in some situations. There were audio
tapes littered throughout the city, that offered more insight into
what exactly happened during the Covenant invasion, and before the
events of the game itself.
rendered in dark colors, with bright outlines, which gave the game a
unique noire atmosphere. Perhaps one of the greatest departures from
your standard Halo title, is the soundtrack. Instead of pounding
drums, and wailing choirs, we got a soft, melodic, jazzy sound. A
saxophone was a primary instrument used in the making of the game,
which heightened that sense of loneliness, which is something the
base Halo soundtrack, certainly couldn't have accomplished.
It was also the
first Halo game to not feature Microsoft's gaming mascot. Master
Chief was absent throughout one-hundred percent of the game. To
explain how giant of a risk this is, is honestly challenging for me.
We're talking about one of the most beloved characters in modern-day
gaming, missing from a franchise that he's been the face of for the
better part of a decade. It was shocking to everyone. Some were taken
aback in a more positive way, while others took to it in a negative
light. I was the latter at first, but as I said, I've had a change of
heart. I think it was a great decision to give the Chief a break, and
focus on the rest of the Halo universe. We all know that, that as
long as Microsoft is publishing games, the Halo series will continue
on. One day, Master Chief will have to be let go of, for the sake of
story. And it's good that Bungie showed that a Halo game could be
done well without the big guy. In fact they did this twice with both
ODST, and Halo: Reach.
I'm most certainly
a die-hard Halo fan. I have been for the majority of my life. When my
most loved game franchise is tampered with I tend to get antsy, but
after the success of both ODST, and Reach, I have faith in the
franchise. I'm even more comforted by the fact that, Halo can be
reduced to smaller scale, and tell smaller stories, and still be
excellent. I'm also at ease with the knowledge that the Halo series
has seen it's share of major changes before, and any changes that
might come with Halo 4 in a few weeks, will be welcome. Why? Because
Halo 3: ODST showed that the Halo series isn't a one-trick pony. It's
a diverse, sprawling narrative, consisting of many stories, both
sweeping, and compact. It shows that digging into fiction outside of the Chief, and his struggles can be done. An achievement like that could use a little
more love than what has been given to it.