Wow... Halo: Reach seemed so far away before, and now it's only a week away. While there's people who have played and completed the game already (damn robbers), I still can't wait to get my hands on it; It's been a long time coming. In fact, this sorta brings me back to the days when I was waiting for Halo 3.
One of the most overused pictures in the campaign
Halo 3: Believe campaign
A lot of people remembered Halo 3's advertising campaign; it had everything from cheap dog tags to its own soft drink. Looking back, I recalled that Halo 3 was going to have a commercial played over the Super Bowl, which we all know millions of people watch, so I figured that it would've been kickass... and it was; Starry Night, as we recall, was a brief look at John when he was a kid talking about what would happen if aliens came before the action kicks in. The CG was amazing, the special effects were killer, and it ended on a great note; Master Chief jumping into a horde of Covenant? Awesome was the only thing I could say.
It wasn't the only ad though; Just the most well known. For those who loved Halo, like me, Bungie has also made a couple of live action series called Halo: Landfall. Now, it wasn't as good as Halo 3: ODST's We Are ODST ad, and not as stellar as Halo: Reach's Deliver Hope, but it was what it was; what if Halo was realistic? No flashy special effects, no music; It was simply a camera following ODSTs as they try to track where Master Chief's gonna land (as we recall from the beginning of Halo 3). It was pretty cool in its own right; The ODSTs looked good, the Brutes were powerful, and the weapons were nicely detailed, but it was pretty short and not as exciting.
Thinking back, I saw Halo 3 everywhere; In Wal-Mart, in Best Buys, in GameStop (but that's obvious); It was madness! There went from huge cardboard cut-outs to promotions; I recalled that buying Halo 3 in Wal-Mart would've gotten you a dog tag with the words "Believe" on it. While I wanted a dog tag, I already had the game paid off in GameStop, and I could've gotten a customized dog tag anyway, so the reason why I went to Wal-Mart was to get a box of Game Fuel... Yeah, you remember that? Mountain Dew gave Halo 3 its own soda and titled it Game Fuel, which was supposed to be filled with stuff that makes you stay up longer, but from what I remember, it didn't taste as good as Mountain Dew; It had a decent taste, but the after-taste kills it. I bought it a few times, but I didn't miss it when they cancelled it.
Because one wasn't enough, and two is too low!
I definitely recall all the Halo 3 based merchandise and swag being sold in GameStop as well. They had these belt buckles of the Legendary symbol, tiny pins to put on your shirts, wallets, hats, and even toys; I already told you that they sold Halo toys when 2 came out, but Todd (the guy who made Spawn comics) designed these action figures, and they were nicely detailed and pretty cool to look at; I didn't buy any, but they were nice to have... Especially that Legendary Edition Helmet... while it was big enough to hold the three games, it wasn't even big enough to stick your hand through it... that disappointed me, but seeing the Master Chief toy wearing the helmet over his head in Master Chef Sucks At Halo was too damn funny. With all this money going for Halo's swag, I started to wonder if Halo 3 was even going to be good. Well... I'll give my impressions of it.
Halo 3: Finish the Fight
When I first bought this game... I didn't even have a 360. That's right, I bought Halo 3 before I even had a 360. I wanted to be a part of the Halo 3 launch so I essentially paid it off and got it on the first day, but it took me like a week before I could actually play it. When I first played it, it started off in a cool way; Master Chief crash lands on Earth, and he suddenly teams up with the Arbiter to go kick some ass. I loved getting my Assault Rifle back (albeit with a lower clip and max ammo count) but the pistol I could do without; the pistol went from one-shot-ing a Hunter to needing a few bullets to kill a Grunt... damn Bungie... Took them 2 games for the Pistol to finally redeem itself in Halo 3: ODST. Going on, I have to say that game play wise, this was probably the weakest of the bunch.
I seriously barely even remembered what happened game play-wise in Halo 3; I had to play it again just to have something to write about. I haven't played Halo 1 in a long time and Halo 2 even longer, but Halo 3 was recent, and yet it wasn't as good. I mean, don't get me wrong, Halo 3 was pretty cool in terms of a story (I even liked how instead of a SPARTAN clone for co-op there were Elites) but the game wasn't as hot; I hated most of the levels (specifically Tsavo Highway, The Ark, and Cortana...) and the only good levels were few and far in between (I liked Storm, Floodgate, and The Covenant).
Why wasn't this a level!? It's like Halo 2 all over again...
Anyway, story wise, Master Chief's finally gonna finish the fight; He teams up with the Elites to take down the Covenant that they defected from and goes to kick ass. He attacks the Covenant hard until the Flood attacks Earth, to which the Elites have to glass like half the planet. Eventually, they find the Ark after Miranda gets kidnapped (because they need her to fire Halo) and during their rescue attempt, Sgt. Johnson's revealed to be a Reclaimer as well, and Miranda gets killed before she killed themselves to stop Truth's plans, leaving Johnson to be kidnapped himself. The Arbiter and the Chief temporary teams up with the Flood to stop Truth, but after he dies, the Flood betrays them.
After that, Chief goes back to get Cortana, they tried to get Halo to fire only the Flood, and in a dick move, 343 Guilty Sparks shoots Johnson in the back. Then, after Halo is fired, it starts to break away, leaving the Chief and Arbiter to escape. Arbiter escapes, but Master Chief along with Cortana stays in a ship, presumed dead by the USMC. They hold a burial, and Master Chief is remembered as a hero... eventually, we find out that they survived, but stranded in space; He goes into cryo-sleep, and they wait.
Story wise, it was pretty decent; I liked how the Covenant was a pretty epic level considering that it's the LAST level (canonically) you fight the Covenant, and being able to team up with the Flood was an amazing plot device. However, the levels like Tsavo Highway and the Ark were boring and not interesting at all; Fighting a Scarab in Storm was exciting because it was the first time: Doing it again in Ark was boring and uninspired, and although you had to do it twice in the Covenant, at least you had Hornets to keep it from being a retread. And Cortana... man, just throwing waves and waves of Flood at you wasn't fun in Halo 1's Library, Halo 2's High Charity, and it definitely wasn't fun in Cortana.
All this... For THAT?
And the last level was just plain horrible; It starts out as an uphill battle against the Flood to open a door to the Control Room of the Halo. However, once you get in, you get one of the worst deaths ever for a major character, and a boring boss fight. I mean, I wasn't expecting a boss fight, let alone against 343 Guilty Sparks, but it wasn't really even a fight; You dodge lasers until Sgt. Johnson shoots one at him, and then you get it to finish him off... That's it. No true fight, and no true threat; I could've even beaten him on Legendary.
And the part that followed was even less exciting; you fight against Floods and Sentinels, an enemy since Halo 1 after Two Betrayals, to get into a vehicle to drive away. It's like they were trying to do the epic run away scene in Halo 1 with the epic boss fight in Halo 2, but failed at both; 343 Guilty Sparks was lame, and the driving sequence less so. It had no tricks (remember when Cortana asks you to stop only for your ride to be shot down?) and an invisible time limit; You had to keep driving because the land around you were falling apart, but that meant that if you flipped over, you might as well consider yourself dead. In Halo 1, you had a time limit; As long as you kept driving, you still would've made it with time to spare, but not in this game; unless you fall in a certain areas, which was the LEAST dangerous, you'd die and have to restart at checkpoint
Is it Easter? Because there are eggs...
Overall though, the game wasn't that bad; they made finding skulls a lot easier for one time. Yeah, I didn't touch this in Halo 2, but Skulls were a little Easter Egg that the player can find to enhance the game, kinda like cheat codes. They were only found on Legendary in Halo 2 though, and had to be found again if you wanted to use them again, but at least they were creative; Grunt Birthday Party allowed Grunts to explode if you headshot them, and it was funny finding them worshiping the skull when you find it. In Halo 3, you didn't have to be on Legendary (thank you!) but they weren't really hard to find or exciting; As long as you knew where to look, it was easy. And they toned down the Birthday skull; Instead of an explosion, you see confetti and Viva PiŮatas kids yelling "YAY!" And no Envy skull, where Master Chief can cloak himself? That sucks.
At least you get this sweet Ninja helmet....
Another Easter egg that I haven't mentioned is the "add-on" endings for most of the Halo games. Usually, with the exception of Halo 2, if you beat the game on Legendary, you're rewarded with an extra scene. In Halo 1, we saw Sgt. Johnson hugging an Elite, who decides to put his hands somewhere else... That wasn't canon, but the endings in Halo 3, Wars, and ODST were. It was pretty interesting, because it kinda starts discussions and debates on what it could've been, or hell, what the hell was going on.
I noticed that I'm leaving out Halo Wars in my blog... while I won't go in-depth, I do wanna acknowledge this game for being different; It's an RTS game akin to StarCraft and Warcraft, two of my favorite RTS games back in the day (Terran for the win). It talks about the SPARTANS as they were alive (a.k.a. BEFORE Reach) and what was going on before Halo 1. While it wasn't a bad game, it wasn't exactly too much fun. I mean, for one thing, against the AI, it was pretty easy; Most of the time, I just built a lot of strong units and rushed. However, the campaign can be hard at times, but the CG cut-scenes were well worth it. The game even featured a different AI named Serina, who is WAY hotter than Cortana, but that's going into weird territory... so let's just drop that... anyway, the game was pretty decent, and proved that, with a lil' tender loving care, RTSs on consoles WERE possible...
Final: Halo Legends
Besides from the books, the most recent thing to hit Halo was Halo Waypoint, which is pretty much the Info-Net of anything all Halo. It had videos of tips, trailers, and other Halo goodies, along with cool Avatar props, art galleries, and RedvsBlue episodes. What appealed to me the most though was the debut of a short series called Halo Legends, which was a collection of short stories in anime form. Now, being a gamer and a fellow anime lover, when I heard the two were going to be combined, I definitely was skeptic, but excited all the same. I mean, with big name companies such as Bones, Casio, and Production I.G., I had to watch it, even if it sucked. Thankfully, most of the episodes didnít:
In the words of Sgt. Johnson, "Buy one... heck, buy two! That's an order soldier!"
was about a group of ODSTs teaming up with a SPARTAN, who they don't like. After a few fights, the SPARTAN was to snipe a Prophet when she took a hit from an angry Brute's hammer. They killed him, and the sniper who were to originally take the shot fills in for her. She dies shortly after, to which the sniper ponders about. Score: 8/10
was a two part that took place 4 years after Halo 3. The Chief's still asleep, and Cortana's going rampant (a fancy term for crazy when an AI gets too much information, which at max capacity, takes 7 years...). Cortana decides to talk about the origins of the Forerunners (which was the best part) and Human history (which felt too much like a documentary). I noticed that she barely mentioned the Insurrectionists, which were Human rebels that the USMC had been fighting BEFORE the Covenant... Score: 7.5/10
- The Duel
was a good episode; itís about an Elite who was an Arbiter, which was a good thing, who doesn't like the Brutes. After the Prophet changed the title Arbiter from a sign of respect to disgrace, the Elite takes on an army of Covenant soldiers as the Brute killed his wife. Angry, he fights against the Brute, but both are killed. The action was sweet and the water-color style was unique and fresh. Score: 7.5/10
-Odd One Out
was a comedic and non-canonical short about a SPARTAN named 1337 (yes... elite...) who accidently goes to a dinosaur planet. A Prophet eventually sends a Brute to fight him in a DBZ styled fight (as Toei was known for) and he wins when a rogue AI from an abandoned ship sends the Brute to the moon. It was pretty good: Humorous with a dash of action. Score: 8.5/10
- The Package
is the only CG episode on here, and definitely a main reason to watch this DVD at all: It follows half the original Blue Team (John, Kelly, and Fred... no Sam, Linda, or James) along with Arthur and Soloman (two other guys) as they ride space vehicles (kinda like in Reach) to infiltrate a Covenant ship to rescue Dr. Halsey. It starts off strong, and the First Person sequence was amazing, but the ending was seriously lacking... Also, Dr. Halsey looks hot... which is weird because by the time John gets his armor, she's old... why is she so young? (Then again, I always imagined her to look like the teacher in Negima... but that's a different story.) Score: 9.5/10
Too mature for a "I'm charging my lazer" joke
Now then, there are 2 more episodes to talk about, and they were both my favorite out of the bunch. The first one was "Prototype,"
created by Bones, who also made Robotech, so I knew the mech action was gonna be sweet. It starts with Serge nicknamed Ghost who apparently is a cold person. After his squad dies, we skip to 3 years later, when a group of marines were dying trying to rescue the Demolition squad (after the demo squad destroys a secret weapon: a mech). However, before they were killed, Ghost hijacks the mech and decides to use it before self-destructing it, preventing the Covenant from using it. His superiors were yelling at him, but he decides to do it anyway, to make sure that the team survives.
The action was amazing; you see Ghost flying around like a pro, almost like as if Master Chief was a mech. He takes out everything in his sight; Hunters, Elites, Phantoms, Wraiths and more. The mech is so detailed, and the action sequences were so smooth, that I thought that it was even more impressive than the Package (had a hell of a lot better ending too). Eventually, Ghost is shot down by a plasma grenade, cutting off one of his arm. When he is to activate the self-destruct through a voice commander, it is the words "Be Human," which is what the female member of his old squad said to him. He says the words and explodes, killing the Covenant. Afterwards, the superiors call Ghost a hero... and a human. I definitely thought that this was one of the best episodes, and the most canonical one: Ghost is even reference in the Halo: Evolutions novel, unlike anyone else. Score: 10/10
Honestly, when I saw this in the trailer, I knew that it was gonna be good
was to me the best one story wise. While the action was pretty bland, as well as the characters, this anime episode, done by Production I.G., was about a girl SPARTAN named Daisy who was sent to the aid the Marines in a unnamed planet. Once she gets a call and recognizes the voice of her former SPARTAN ally (who is now an ODST!? WHAT!?) She has flashbacks throughout the episode about her and her friends trying to escape Reach. She actually does succeed in escaping, but when she goes back home, she finds out that, like ALL SPARTANS who were abducted as kid, she was replaced by a clone.
She attempts to kill the clone, but she in the end can't do it. The clone however, gives her a teddy bear keychain similar to the one she had before. Back in the present, she makes it to the rally point for the evacuation when a plasma grenade severely hurts her. She tells the people to leave without her and tries to keep the Covenant at bay, but she failed; The Covenant destroys the Pelican that came to rescue them, and she dies shortly after. After that, John 117 comes in the aftermath, sees Daisy's dead body, and places the teddy bear keychain in her hands.
This is one of my favorite episodes mostly because of the symbolism and hidden foreshadowing. She has flashbacks of escaping the planet just like when she was trying to escape from Reach. When she met her clone, she didn't kill her; that to me was a symbolism that she couldn't kill her clone, a.k.a. herself, despite desperately wanting to. And finally, when she peaks over a hill to see her home in the flashback, and the rally point in the future, that's when it struck me: Daisy went to her home, as she did with the rally point, but in both cases, Daisy never returned home; Daisy was replaced with the clone in the past, and in the present, she got killed. I thought that that was amazing, and definitely an inspiration piece for me. Score: 10/10.
Wow... this was definitely a long blog. But you know what? Halo had a long history... It went from being a launch title to a series, a brand, to eventually a franchise. I mean, look at the games that's released: How many of them are as big Halo is now? Even Mario isn't getting as much attention... although they did go overboard with the countless spin-offs and party games... The point is, Halo has grown since I can remember, and in a short time too; Even Star Wars had to take a few years to make movies. Anyway, I honestly want to say that I did a good job talking about the series: I put a lot of hard work into this blog, and for good reason; Halo is one of the best series ever, and it deserved my time and effort. Hopefully, the Halo franchise will stay strong after Bungie lets go... After all, all good things come to an end...
The end was only the beginning... almost literally