Seeing as how Halo Reach is coming up, I like to talk about Halo games. While I am a huge fan (I played the games, read the books, read the comics...) I feel like Halo's going to pass us by. Remember your favorite games as a kid? How do you feel knowing that the kids today don't get to experience those games that you love so much? Well, I feel that way about Halo because, hate it or love it, it is a respectable franchise, from having million dollar TV Spots (Super Bowl ain't cheap) to its own soft drink (Game Fuel anyone?). While I can't change what's going to happen, I just wanna let it be known that Halo has made a lasting impression on me: This is a blog about the many things of Halo.
The start of it all
Back a few years ago (when I was in elementary school I think?) I recalled the first time I ever HEARD of Halo... except... not exactly. I remember flipping through a magazine because back then (I was either 9 or 10) I only looked at the pictures to find the coolest game, and only read about that. However, there was an ad, and I vaguely remember what it was: It had Master Chief on the third level (Truth and Reconciliation) holding his gun with a sentence about the Covenant. That's it... there wasn't even the title of the game! I didn't even know that it was Halo at the time!
Eventually however, I got a chance to play it at a friend's house. I played the fifth level with my friend in split-screen co-op (what happened to those!?) for the first time ever, and I couldn't believe how epic it was: You start in a Pelican going to a beach and as soon as you touch down, things were blowing up, bullets were flying, and insults were given. I didn't know how to play at first, but with my experience with 007 Goldeneye on the N64, I learned quickly.
While I'll get back to Halo 1, I just wanna note that the control scheme of Halo was amazing. At the time, the only FPS games I've played were Doom on the SNES, and Goldeneye on the N64. I only played the first level of Doom over and over again (because I was afraid to play it further) and I always complained that you can't look up. I mean, if I'm on the stairs, and the enemy was on top, why did I need to GO UP and shoot him when in real life (I'd pee my pants if that actually happened though) I would've just aimed up? Goldeneye kinda remedied this by allowing free aim, but the fact that you had to stand still was also pretty stupid. I mean I'd rather get close and strafe than to stand still and aim. These problems are the reason why Halo appealed to me so much. I mean one control stick for walking and one control stick for looking was awesome because in real life, we don't stand in one spot to look around... well, we can, but we can also walk AND look.
While I was scared to play it, this game is the reason I liked FPSs... And why I checked under my bed every night
Going back to Halo, I have to admit that it was a great game. The only problem was, back then, I was young and naive; I didn't know anything that I do now, and I foolishly kept wishing that Halo would appear on the Nintendo GameCube. At that time, my parents didn't have too much money, but we did have enough for each kid (I have two brothers) to have their own system. While my parents wouldn't let us buy two of the same system, at the time, I didn't mind; I mean, back then my brother had a PS1 when I had a N64 (my other brother was too young for anything). Last generation, I had the GameCube, my brother had a PS2, and my little brother had an Xbox. Hell, even to this day, my brother has a PS3, my little brother has a 360, and I have both a 360 and a Wii (I bought the 360 with job money). But back then, I didn't have an Xbox, so it kinda killed me inside that I couldn't play Halo as much as I wanted.
However, when my little brother was away, I played Halo on his Xbox, and I can't forget how awesome it was.
Pillar of autumn
Starting up at the first level, I was pretty much bored out of my mind doing the tutorial. I mean, don't get me wrong, knowing how to play is crucial, but the fact is that I already knew, and you couldn't skip it. But once the crud hits the fan, the wait was worth it; you see explosions everywhere, soldiers reporting for duty, and aliens boarding the ship. However, you yourself couldn't do much except make your way to the captain, but the trip there was wicked... I don't think I'll forget it.
It was more amazing than this; trust me
I did have a complain though... why don't I have a gun, and why couldn't I punch aliens? I can kinda see about the gun issue... I mean after all, what scientist would have two guns on him, but the punching was odd because when I played the first time, I grabbed a Plasma Pistol once and punched aliens with my fist. Did I seriously need to have a GUN to punch aliens in the face? Anyway, I was thinking too much about it, but at the time, I wanted to kill these aliens with my squad so bad that it was eating me alive.
Eventually, I got the gun from Captain Keyes, and how great was it that it'd be a Pistol. While I didn't know it at the time, this gun turned out to be one of my favorite guns of all time: The M6D pistol was a Godsend: It can drop Elite in just a few bullets, and can actually take out a HUNTER with ONE bullet (if you shoot his exposed back), With up to 120 rounds and a 2X zoom, it was amazing.
Moving on with the level, it was pretty good, and it definitely kept me interested. I loved explosions and being with allies, and the final cut-scene made the Chief look badass (and the intro made Sgt. Johnson my favorite character).
Now, I'm not going to go into every single level in the game (and you don't want it either) so I'll just go with a summary. The story was pretty simple, but sometimes you don't need a complicated tale to be a good story; you just gotta hit the right notes. The game is about a lone SPARTAN nicknamed Master Chief (which in the book Fall of Reach is his rank) who goes into the mysterious ring world. He's that overrated, gruff badass space marine that we saw a few times (and a lot more now), but for some reason, he has that air of badassery around him. Either way, he fights through aliens, a parasitic life form dubbed "The Flood," learns that Halo is meant to kill everything to starve the said Flood, and then he blows Halo up. Now, that's a very simple story, but the books that came out expanded on it, making it one of the most in-depth franchises today, possibility rivaling Star Wars. I mean, each book has its own charm to it.
The best book of the bunch... not the best bundle
Fall of Reach was all about how the SPARTAN program came to be and about John's experience in training. He was 6 when he was kidnapped and forced to train HARDER than the Marines (If that's not child abuse, I dunno what is) and had to do some difficult training, but we all appreciated the outcome. However, I also liked how John wasn't the strongest (Sam), fastest (Kelly), or even the most badass (Sgt. Johnson.. who's actually a SPARTAN 1), but the luckiest; The first chapter when Halsey, their "mother" if you wanna call her that, first met John was the best thing I've ever read; He's playing King of the Hill, and when asked what he was doing, he said, "Winning." So badass even as a kid, when Halsey asked him to call heads or tails on a coin flip, John GRABBED the coin in midair and called it right; That made me wanna read the whole book, and knowing me, I don't take to lots of books... I did like the books that I had to read for school like The Great Gatsby or Tom Sawyer, but this was the best book I ever read period.
They spawned many books though, like the sucky Halo: The Flood (which was a rehash of Halo 1), the ho-hum First Strike (I only recall some cool parts like about Sgt. Johnson's 'conditions' and Blue Team's ESCAPE FROM REACH... they better be referenced...), the epic Ghosts of Onyx (where they created the SPARTAN 3's, which were the mass produced knock offs), Contact Harvest (where they explained how Tartarus got the Fist of Rukt, how Sgt. Johnson was back then, and even how Humans first met aliens), and the Cole Protocol.
The Cole Protocol was interesting to me because it was essentially 3 stories in one instead of 1 story with 2 sides: Cole Protocol was about a man named Ignacio Delgado, Grey Team (who were referenced in the first book as the 'three SPARTANS who didn't go to Reach...' which means that Master Chief isn't the only one left) and Thel (an Elite who blindly follows the Prophets). It was cool because it had a little of everything: SPARTANS kicking ass, ODSTs, and there was even a scene when an Elite turned on the Prophets; It was all amazing. While nowhere near as epic as Fall of Reach, this is my third favorite book.
Did we really need a close up? We know what it looks like.
My second favorite book has to be Halo: Evolutions, which was a collection of short stories, but they mostly kicked ass.
-In Pariah, they talked about a SPARTAN who was disfigured in the SPARTAN process, which gave an unique take on the universe. (8/10)
-Stomping on the Heels of a Fuss was alright; It was a dual story about a man who was captured by brutes and the brutes who captured the humans. It ended with the man escaping only to be killed by his ally, who didn't want people to know he existed because he was a martyr. (7/10)
-Headhunters was about 2 SPARTAN 3s who just went on a special op. Long story short, they talked and argued, one of them gets killed, and the other sacrificed himself to kill the Elites who killed it. It was amusing. (8/10)
-Blunt Instruments was a action story about SPARTANS who teamed up with drones to get a job done. Things go wrong, they killed the Covenant and the drones, and all goes home happy. (8/10)
While I don't wanna say all the story (as I want you to buy the book... plus, the blog is gonna have a part 2), I will say that my favorite story was 'Dirt', which was a story about The Rookie (hero of Halo 3: ODST) meeting a man named Gage, who begins to tell him his story: He grew up on a farm on Harvest. He wanted to get away, claiming the planet was just dirt, so one day he joins the USMC to fight. However, he gets boned and stuck on guard duty, but at least he was with friends, notably Felicia. After a bombing by the rebels, he and Felicia transfers to the ODST, and when they learned that aliens are not only attacking, but they glassed their home planet Harvest, Felicia gets mad at him for calling it "just dirt."
I dunno what he's talking about; I see wheat, but not dirt... DIRTBAG maybe?
Eventually, they meet again and they are friendly. They even talked about a job to steal a Pelican to loot gold from the ruined city. They got the team ready, and they went to get the gold, but then something unexpected happens: There are civilians. Gage wants to forget about the gold and get the civilians out, but the team wants to forget about them and get the gold. Felicia tries to get a different Pelican but after a brief firefight, everyone but Gage dies. Gage then steals the Pelican, calls for a pickup of the civilians, and drew the aliens, as well as the ODSTs, away. Eventually, his ODST teammates shot him down, and this is when the Rookie meets him. He told the Rookie that he's going to blow up anyone who's coming for him, and for him to get away. The Rookie leaves, agreeing that he will remember Gage, and escapes the nuke.
That was honestly the best short story I've read either. Again, it might be because it was Halo, but I like how the story turned out: It wasn't just a story; it was actually a story about Gage telling his story (commentary and all). It had influences from the movies Three Kings and The Rock. Plus, it fleshed out the Rookie a little bit (said by Tobias Buckell himself).
Now, I'm going to make a part two to talk about the other things Halo, like the animes, the TV spots, comics, and more, so stay tuned.
Star light, star bright, who's ass is kicked tonight?