What I hear a lot of from people is those who don’t take the story seriously, don’t understand it, or say it’s the least important part of the game. I just can’t disagree with that anymore. It is undermined too often and I just want to give my views on why it should not. The Halo franchise is a journey, since the beginning you are venturing off to new worlds and fight off ancient threats that wish nothing more than to gain power through any means necessary. This is nothing new and goes so much deeper if you allow yourself to understand.
Why is Halo different than most other storytelling? What makes it stand out among others? Many don’t understand the story of Halo as they should, you don’t jump into it as any other linear story you expect to see. They give you the tools, they point you in the right direction, but it’s up to you as the gamer and fan to discover the world that is Halo. Halo has always been straight forward action, not so much through 3 and Reach, but never to the levels of Halo 4. This game emotionally catches you up with the series and that is what immerses you into the story to help you believe what they are telling you.
Master Chief is not another nameless character hidden behind a mask. He’s John 117, a human, always has been since Halo 1 and still is now. This new trilogy explores what happens when a soldier comes to find his humanity. How does he handle it? Can he handle it? What does it take to find it? Halo 4 did what it was supposed to do, it knocked the big man out of his comfort zone.
Chief is the hero, it is the heroes journey, he finds out what he will have to sacrifice to preserve something so precious as humanity. What burden a guardian carries when they have to change, they have to put themselves against unbeatable odds is what is addressed and will be further addressed in this new trilogy. Chief is humanities guardian, Cortana is Chiefs guardian and the Forerunners were supposed to be guardians of the universe. The biggest question asked at the end of this journey is what it means to be a hero, and is the sacrifice worth it?
Cortana is the furthest thing from a human being an AI, but throughout this journey you see that of all of them she is the most human. The most fragile character that carries the weight of the world on her shoulders as she tries to understand herself. Not only this but one who has so much courage and should never be underestimated when things seem impossible. Cortana is the heart of Chief and the biggest emotional attachment to the series. Whatever made Chief human was all Cortana, she is his caretaker and what keeps him in line. Not only is she Chief’s caretaker, but yours too as the player from a gameplay perspective. She doesn’t hold your hand, but she makes you feel a part of the world.
Everyone has to come to terms with death, and when faced with this chance it is Chief and Cortana who finally feel what it feels like to be brought down to Earth. Both explore their immortality and mortality as they are machine and man, nothing more nothing less. Behind the scenes, what made the interactions between the two so much more believable now is that the two voice actors have never been in the same room together, though now they have built a connection personally that made them able to feed off of each others emotions.
First of all, what’s great about the side stories, or Spartan Ops, are the cut scenes. They give you the movies and then the actual missions and they usually run for about 4-6 minutes. Within that time frame you are taken back by the amazing graphics and the time that they put into it to make it feel as real as the campaign. What was really exciting was the dialogue during the gameplay because sometimes you could just feel like you’re shooting and all by yourself, but here they always have someone with you, or as they call him your “handler” Miller. I mean I usually play music while I play games like this, but because of the consistent dialogue I always keep it off when playing Spartan Ops just to hear what they’re saying, and some of what they say is funny too. This mostly follows the stories of Commander Sarah Palmer, the senior officer of the Spartans and Captain Latsky of the UNSC Infinity. You really see them take their active roles as they explore Requiem and give the new Spartans experience on the battlefield.
I think the Covenant were the biggest surprise to me because in the previous games they always seemed like they were mindless brutes that were willing to give up their lives without a second thought, just for their honor. Though here they seemed to have gotten smart, like they know what they want and they are going for it, nothing would come between them and the secrets Requiem held. They aren’t pushovers anymore and that’s something I was excited to see.
The character that outshines them all is the mother of the SPARTAN IIs, Dr. Catherine Halsey. From the minute she stepped into the story you knew things were about to get interesting. She is a mad scientist, war criminal, genius at large, cunning, and not one to underestimate because of her age. Everyone fears what Halsey is capable of, yet she always has the purest of intentions in mind. While they try to fight a war, she is trying to understand it as the rest should be doing as well. Even as she is outnumbered and in no position to make demands being a prisoner forced to help them, Halsey still manages to have her way time after time to still save the race that looks down on her for her past actions.
She is the game changer in the series and holds all the cards which is what you want to want to see her play when the time arrives. Every character has their time to shine, and she shined bright with her appearance.
The Didact’s story is one of revenge and hatred. He blames the human race for the Flood and for everything wrong in the universe. This is where he and his wife, The Librarian, are at odds. She sees them as the race to take their mantle as the Universe’s guardians when their time comes. The Didact has so much pride that he can’t allow this to happen and thinks that only they alone can hold this responsibility. So even after the defeat and extinction of the human race during the Human-Forerunner War, the Didact continues to hold this grudge to the point that he would fight against them being revived to regrow as a race. The Promethean’s are the product of the Didact killing off many of those revived humans to create an unstoppable army to fight off the Flood after their return. When the Librarian found out about his acts she could tolerate them no more, she did what she had to do which is take her husband out and banish him to the center of Requiem so he can eventually learn of his mistakes. She hoped his time there would allow him to re-emerge and lead the human race as the new guardians. Yet as we know that does not happen.
People say the Forerunners made no sense in this, yet they always have since the beginning of the series. They are the biggest mystery behind the story and they alone hold the key to the end of this war. Forerunner is a name that is constantly spoken and everything that is now, is because of the Forerunners advancement in technology.
And stay tuned!