In memory of the re-graphic-ing of this now decade-old story, I’ma bitch about it.
What’s the Story?
The spaceship Pillar of Autumn runs away from the alien enemy destroying one of their planets. When they emerge from hyperspace, they find not only are the Covenant waiting for them, but there’s some strange ring-world right in front of them. [Spoilers ahead] The ringworld is called Halo. It’s actually a giant gun designed to kill everything in the universe so that the enemy of its builders (the Flood and the Forerunner, respectively) are all killed.
What’s the Problem?
Man, it sounds convoluted when you say it like that, but it’s metered out over about five hours of gameplay so it’s not so bad.
The main character of the game doesn’t speak, except in cutscenes. And even then, not much. In many cases, this is just frustrating – a blatant attempt by the game makers to keep their character a Blank Slate for the player which they then ignore by giving the character a backstory or love interest or something.
In Halo, however, they never go into what the Master Chief did before waking up on the Autumn. Because it’s not relevant to shooting whatever is in front of you. Which is what the Chief does. All he does.
After a few levels, killing the Covenant all starts to feel the same. However, right when I start getting bored of slaughtering grunts, along come the…
The Flood are essentially zombies in space. They infect the living or take over the corpses of the dead. They are, however, alive. They basically act as zombies, though. However, since this was before the zombie rush of late, I can’t begrudge them that.
Actually, the original Halo didn’t do too much wrong. It re-trod paths that Bungie had worn thin with the Marathon series, so they knew what they were doing: insane AIs, silent protagonists, enslaved enemies. Halo took its time getting to these points, though, and did them well for the most part.
343 Guilty Spark
could have turned up earlier. What was he doing while two different species were invading the control room of the very facility he was supposed to be guarding? How crap were his security protocols that everyone could break into the most secure areas and release the unfathomable evil? Bad robot.
Ultimately, though, it’s hard to look too harshly at anything Halo did because the first game was essentially an introduction: this is where humanity is, this is the Covenant, this is the Flood, this is the Halo rings and what they do. It’s all put out there so it’s established and can be played with in the next games.
What’s the Solution?
Halo didn’t do much wrong from a story point of view because the first game was mostly a level-by-level story. Each level had a mission you were undertaking, and “Defeat the Covenant” and “Don’t destroy (or let someone else destroy) the universe” were the only overarching story points.
As such, it wasn’t really “about” anything, really; it was more an excuse to shoot things. And while I could have put that as a negative (that they didn’t try to make you care about the characters more, or whatever), we all know that part of the fun of games is breaking their boundaries. If they’d tried to make us care about these characters, we probably would have stuck grenades to them or something. Better to leave us to just care about our own survival than attempt to force empathy on us. It won’t work. We know they’re not real people.
Yeah. It won’t take you long to finish the campaign (5-10 hours), so feel free to rent it.
The Halo Anniversary edition just came out. It’s the same decade-old game running on the same old engine, but with updated graphics. Oh, and you can push BACK at any stage to switch to the old graphics and blow your mind with how dark and polygonated everything was ten years ago.