Well, what is there to say about me? I'm kinda like your average gamer: I like to play games, I like to talk about games, and I hope to work in the video game industry one day.
I do tend to enjoy videogames more than the average gamer would though: videogames have been my life for as long as I remember (hell, the earliest memory that I can recall personally is me waking up and hopping on my SNES to play that X-men and Spider-man crossover game) so it's as much a part of me as my personality.
Although I LOVE to play videogames, having been doing so my whole life, I am not as skilled in videogames as others so I usually play on easier difficulties. Don't get me wrong, I do find it a bit dull when a game's too easy, and I do respect games that are hard for the players who want it (Dark Souls is deliciously hard and I wouldn't want it any other way) but I'd still like it if developers catering to gamers like me who simply aren't as skilled as others.
I have a wide variety of taste when it comes to games as I try to keep an open mind about everything that comes out: just because I play mainstream games Halo and Call of Duty doesn't mean I can't enjoy the underrated ones like Anarchy Reigns, Fire Emblem, and the like.
Back in middle school, gaming was essentially my life: I played games everyday, every week, every chance I got. Sure, I've had friends, but that was during school. When I got home, the first thing I do is either turn on the TV to play my Gamecube or sat down on the couch and take out and turn on the Gameboy Advance that I kept in my pocket at all times. However, as much as a gamer I was, I never truly got out of my comfort zone: All I played was Super Smash Brothers Melee, Pokemon, Mario Party, and all the other mainstream games with essentially no depth. However, one issue of Nintendo Power opened my eyes to the most amazing game I've ever read about, and the game that opened my eyes to a whole new world...
And I was blown away.
"Nothin' on You" Yes, still doing music references
When I read the article of Tales of Symphonia , which was pretty rare for me since I dislike reading in general, I was so taken in on the hype that Nintendo Power, the source of video game related news back then, was giving it. They mentioned a great, robust battle system, a detailed world, colorful graphics, and more. Now, despite growing up on the SNES and N64, I never strayed from games that had levels and such, so things like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid blew me by.
But for some reason, that I can't even explain to this day, I was strangely drawn on wanting to play this game. Yeah, the anime aesthetics did help in that regard (I made a whole blog on Japanator about loving anime girls), and yes, the battle system was pretty sweet, but it wasn't because of that that I became so dead set on having this game... No, something inside me told me that this might be one of the most important games I'll ever play, despite my brain telling me it might not be worth the money (why spend money on a game that I might not like?). So what did I do? I followed my heart, saved up my money (a few dollar bills here and there) and hit up the local Gamestop.
Once I bought the game and held it in my hands, I knew that I made the right choice. The case was all shiny, the cover art appealed to me, and it felt heavy, like a REAL game. And so, on "My Way Home" from the car ride (I remember ripping the cellophane off, reading the instruction manual, and complaining about headaches during that time), I popped the first disc in (the only other game that had multiple discs that I recalled at the time was Final Fantasy 9 ) and watched the intro cut-scene. The anime cut-scene was pretty good, a step up from the quality of other animes I watched, but the music really hit home; Remember, the America version didn't get a catchy Jpop song like Tales of Vesperia did, but an orchestra of music that made me feel inspired, uplifted, and best of all, ready to play. (Or should I say "Ready for Whatever?")
While there weren't many anime cut-scenes, it DID get adapted to an anime.
Now, before I go on to the meat of this whole blog, you have to understand where I'm coming from to understand what's going through my head. The only other story-orientated JRPG I ever played was a little bit of Chrono Cross and a few hours of Final Fantasy 9 . Chrono Cross had one of the best game intros that I remembered at the time, with it's unique opening gameplay, that stuck in my mind to this very day. However, I was pretty young at that time, so once all the action stopped, I immediantely lost interest, a mistake I still regret apparently since people tell me it's so good... And I went on to make that same mistake with Final Fantasy 9 ; Don't get me wrong, I loved playing as a pirate who decides to crash a play, and of course, Vivi, the little lovable black mage, but at one point in the game I got lost, and in m frustration on not knowing where to go, I lost interest yet again.
However, those games weren't mine, so when I stopped playing them from other people, I was pretty much "Letting Go" of them both physically and metaphorically, a decision I regret. But I wasn't going to make that mistake again, so "No Matter What," I was going to finish Tales of Symphonia now that I actually owned it. So once I booted up a new game, I kept my mind open of all the game has to show me, and what it showed me was pretty damn cool: The game started pretty decently, with school kids in school learning about not just a mythlogy, but something that actually HAPPENS in their world, before the teacher has to leave to tend to an emergency... An emergency that Lloyd and Genis are curious about.
At this point, I might've lost interest in the game, since it didn't start off as good as Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy 9 did, but I stuck with it, reading all the text and such, in hopes that this game will blow me away like I thought it would from reading about it. And after some pretty cool turn of events (the appearance of the Desians, the introduction of the badass Kratos, and the whole "Chosen One" type deals), I started to get into the game, but that was only the "Tip of the Iceberg."
He's more badass than he looks, trust me.
Fastforwarding, I want to tell you about my experience of the game once it started to get real good. Since I didn't get far in the two PS1 games I mentioned earlier, and the fact that all I games I've played were level based, I never got to experience a true open world before (I guess Pokemon could count, but it didn't amaze me back then), so when we get some pretty free rein to explore the world of Sylvarant, I was so taken back that I was just amazed: The wide open fields, the infinite skies, the oceans that stretched across the horizon... I had no idea how big the world could be (I was in middle school at the time).
I walked around the land, trekking my way to my destination, taking in the sights, exploring any places of interest... It was amazing to play a game that could do this! Sure, I did actually got lost on my way to Palmacosta (that was actually RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU), but the battles I had in this game was awesome... I always did wish for a game that allowed me to free in real time instead of waiting for my turn (especially for Pokemon ), and after seeing the characters pull off some pretty badass moves like "Beast" and "Tempest," my wish was pretty much confirmed.
"Beast Mode" (a track from B.o.B's mixtape)
And the story was just so interesting. Well, looking back, it was pretty simple at the time, but when I was a kid who grew up hating stories and such (always prefered action movies and skipping over any boring dialogue), it was amazing to see an electronic story that you could actually play. This wasn't like just watching it... I was playing it. And the characters grew attached to me over the scenes that I actually remembered their names and read every bit of dialogue, even all the static, voiceless Z-Skit cut-scenes (which didn't bored me for once I started to get to know the characters).
And the scale of the story also made me feel like a hero: Instead of trying to be the very best ( Pokemon ) or catching them all (Ape Escape), I was out to save not only one world, but two worlds. I wasn't just trying to save my friend from a certain fate, I was trying to stop everyone from becoming something they're not. And I didn't know what betrayal was at the time, nor believed in anything but pure god or pure evil, so when Kratos and Zelos did what they did, I was shocked and depressed. I never felt this way in a game before... I didn't think I'd be the one who'd get attached to the characters, who feels emotion from a story... It was all a new thing to experience. I felt sad when Colette became a distant, emotionless being. I felt angry when Kratos betrayed me. I felt among friends when we're sitting around a campfire enjoying a meal. And best of all...
I felt happy to have played this game.
It unlocked a door of possibility into my world of video games, where being introduced to Tales of Symphonia made me want to play games like it. I started to play Grand Theft Auto 3 for it's action packed story and free roaming world, Final Fantasy Tactics for it's story and the ability to customize (I will write a blog on that sometime), and more, all from one game. Sure, maybe you think I'm making this game a lot bigger than it really was, but back then, this was a game with a low barrier to entry that, using past experiences with Pokemon and Final Fantasy 9 I was able to get into while still being introduced to new types of elements like story and characters. And even today, I regard JRPGs as one of my favorite genres of video games ever, with Tales of Symphonia being the most influencial.
"It doesn't make sense to me... What does it all mean?" Well, I'm pretty sure many of you guys are familiar with that: It's one of the more famous mottos that some of the Sony exclusive games are using to describe themselves, such as LittleBigPlanet . So I bet you're wondering: How could you NOT know what it means? Yes, I'm very well aware of how painfully obvious it is, but sometimes you gotta realize that as obvious as the answer may be, sometimes you just need to look at it differently.
Are you familiar with the saying "The glass is half empty/ the glass is half full?" Essentially, it means that despite being the same thing, you can view it as two separate perceptions of it. So "Play.Create.Share" probably means just that to you: Play the game, create a level, and share it with the whole. However, while I'll be saying the same thing, here's my perception of it: Play the game, create the memories, and share THAT with the whole world. Because after all, we may be playing the same game, but we aren't playing it the same way.
And so, appropriately, I quote Kid Cudi when I say this to start my blog: "I'm off on an adventure."
"What's up, how's everyone doing? You are now in the world I'm ruling."
You know what I hate about gaming today? That everything's so connected to the online world that it's not even funny: If you aren't hooked up to Xbox Live or Playstation Network (lovingly shortened to XBL and PSN respectively), then you're missing out. For the modern age, that was a good thing, kinda like a REVOFEV (Revolution of Evolution). I mean, you could now play against people all over the world, linking into the Social Network (not a song reference, but I managed to work that in).
However, the more gaming integrates with the internet, the more it can hurt, like a double edge sword: With new downloadable content (DLC) becoming much more mainstream, it's hard to get the most out of your games because you're denied content that in some cases should've been on the disc. In some extreme cases, not downloading a patch may prevent you from playing it. An example of this was Assassin's Creed for the PS3, where without a patch, the game was essentially a glitch riddled cesspool. I still love the game, don't get me wrong, but I shouldn't have to be online to enjoy this classic to its full extent (it's a great game!). Another would be Metroid: Other M , in which I didn't stop because of the story (I liked the melodrama...) but because of some bug that stopped players cold in their tracks.
So what if I want to enjoy the game as it is? Think back to the classic generation: Did we have DLC? Did we have online (Dreamcast, if I recall correctly, sure, but stay focus on where I'm going)? No, we didn't, but was that a bad thing? No, that meant that we could see everything in the game that the game has to offer, like the multiple endings in Chrono Trigger (despite the fact I played it once. Yeah, a game that actually encourages multiple playthroughs still wasn't enough for me to go back). And definitely no giving us a half assed ending just to make us pay for the rest ("Let's have a toast to the douche bags...", Alan Wake and current gen Prince of Persia ). So what does it mean for me? What if, one day, when Sony eventually ditches the PSN support for the PS3, I just want to enjoy the game for what it's worth, and for what's on it?
Cameo characters not included in original packaging, must be downloaded. RAGE.
That brings me to the point of ModNation Racers . Having a game so well integrated with the online community is a great idea, but for me, the most enjoyment I got out of ModNation Racers was the story mode: Career Mode, where you yourself, or whoever you made, was a star. If you read my blog on Lost Planet 2, you'd recall that I absolutely ADORE games that feature characters in the cut-scenes. So imagine my excitement when I heard that your character, in his fully customizable glory, shows up in the in-game cut-scenes? I may be "Wild'n Cuz I'm Young," but it's always nice to see a game where creation is not just an afterthought, like in Soul Calibur 4 where your character was seen in like two cut-scenes.
Show of hands: Who here when they first got the game ran straight into the Creation Center? I know there's more hands than that! You, with the shifty eyes, I know you did too! Put that hand up, in fact, put two up for trying to lie! Alright, that's cool, but now then, show of hands, who was disappointed with how little stuff they gave you? I know the feeling, I felt like I had to earn the stuff in order to create stuff, kinda like spending money to make money. So that's probably what dragged me into Career Mode, to just grind through it to earn more stuff, but imagine my surprise on how awesome the story was, albeit being simple...
ModNation Racers features a story about a kid named Tag, a guy who dreams of racing and winning. Sure, before you can create yourself, you have to go through the ropes under the pre-defined skin of a kid wearing oversized goggles, but once the story allows you to become you, then it was amazing: You get to create not only your character in the way he looks, but you also get to choose the whip he drives by in. I wasn't the most creative person out there, so I have that generic anime, silent (he has no mouth!) street racer (picture included!) with an equally generic ride (not included, but to your benefit), but the fact is that he was my creation, and I love him with my heart (I even took a picture using the in game camera, transferred it into a computer and print him out, which is how I can show it to you).
My "Gorgeous" character design for the "Pursuit of Happiness."
So now, he's going to show up in all the in-game cinematics, which I thought was going to be decent, as the CG cut-scenes that the game was using before was nice and slick, but man, was I wrong: Your character isn't cut out of the cut-scene (like the pathetic PSP port where it's in first person) but rather, he's in there, like an actor on the stage! Again, I could play this game over and over again, just to see my character doing his stuff in the cut-scenes, and while Lost Planet 2 beat it in terms of adrenaline pumping, holy cow that's a big monster, movie style action, ModNation Racers had it where it's at: Humor and drama.
I literally burst out laughing watching these cut-scenes (which is no easy feat for someone like me), and watching my character become the star in most of these cut-scenes warmed my heart to no degree. I mean, seeing my character try to refuse the deal with Uncle Richard was hilarious, as well as seeing my character being showcased as a champion. And don't get me started on the pre-race animations... I recall seeing my character "Drive Slow" to the start-up line ďLike a Boss" one time much to the chagrin of everyone, seeing my character so annoyed that he stomped on another racer's foot, and seeing my character get punked by some punk chick (she honked her horn when my character was sleeping to have him wake up, realize false fully that the race had just started, and crash into another racer). It was pure, innocent humor that didn't rely on potty jokes and adult humor that I love to show my kids one day should I get them.
And then there was the drama. I had became so attached to my character that when he signed over to Uncle Richard to become a sellout (due to a sabotage on his "boombox," what they call the cars), I became disheartened. That's like seeing your son grow up to be a murderer, like how Thane felt in Mass Effect 2 during his loyalty mission. And the fact that he couldn't be customized during this sequence was just heartbreaking... By not allowing me to customize him, he didn't just sign over his dignity, he signed over his soul. He was a generic racer, by the book, with no outlandish ride. Even one of the guy's most adoring fans, who'd been there since the beginning, looks down in shame. Oh Uncle Richard, how could you be so "Heartless!?"
My College Dropout
You see how much I'm getting into the story? Trust me, if you think this is getting too into it, I actually played through the whole game not once, not twice, but thrice (bolding was intentional) with all different character, not to mention replayed certain levels much, MUCH more. I literally loved this game not because of the addictive drifting mechanic, the upgradable weapons system, or even the thrill of winning first place: I loved this game because of the story. I loved seeing my character go from absolute zero "To the Same Heights" (bonus points for the correct anime song reference) as that fancy pants Expresso. I loved seeing him win that Trophy and sharing it with the Chief... It warmed my heart even today, and since I've replayed it dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds, of times, that's saying a lot.
Yeah yeah, I know that there's hundreds of thousands of levels out there (though not as much as LBP) and that I haven't talked about them once, but that's because maybe, just maybe, I didn't need it. The story, though short, was good in itself, and sometimes, that's all a good game needs. Say what you will about the horrendous loading times, the simple story... Whatever, that's cool that you have your own opinion, but for me, this game will be in my heart forever, as will the image of seeing my character Genesis win that Trophy for the Chief (probably because I played it so many times in a very dark room that it burned into my retinas, but hey, I'm not complaining).
So now that you know you're in the presence of a "Champion," roll out the "Red Carpet," because "my life is like a movie..." And I'm out.
"If you can't do what you imagine, then what is imagination to you?"
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (otherwise known as 999) isn't your average game: While it has an original concept unlike any other game, the thing is, this game isn't really a game... at least, not in the sense you may be thinking. This game is what's classified as a "visual novel," which is an interactive novel of sorts: You read lines upon lines of dialogue which watching static anime sprites go through pre-set poses. Visual Novels are rare to see outside the land of the rising sun, but they certainly ain't nonexistant: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are but one of a few that sees success overseas. However, while Phoenix Wright is certainly a well received game, visual novels are for the most part, hit or miss, with games like Time Hollow and Lux-Pain failing to make a splash. With Akyss releasing 999 to everyone, will it reach to the same heights as the beloved Ace Attorney series, or will it end up in the bargain bin?
999 is commonly compared to the Saw films, and with good reason: 999 has characters put into something called the Nonary Game, where they must play for their life. Nonary means nine, which makes perfect sense: The nine characters has nine hours to find a door with a nine on it, or else the bomb in their intensines (read: impossible to regurgitate) will blow. To traverse through the doors, they need to satisfy certain conditions: The characters are all assigned a number from one to nine, and three to five of the characters' number's digital root must equal to the number of the door they want to go in. So to go through Door 5, their digital roots must be 5. For example, characters 1, 2, 4, and 7 would have the number (when added up) 14, and 1 + 4 = 5, which is their digital root, allowing them access. Failure to follow these rules will result in immediate death.
Now before you get too stressed out about worrying about who goes into what doors, let me just tell you that it's pretty much automatic on how the game proceeds: You read through lines upon lines of dialogue until you're given a choice on what to say, or what to do. While not every choice you make will determine which of the 6 endings you get (3 of which are bad with 1 red herring), it will become pretty obvious when it will (like which Door do you want to go through when presented the choice). While that would be the gameplay of most visual novels, 999 has a little extra something included to make gameplay a little more exciting... Escape puzzles.
Solving the puzzles
Like the overabundance of flash games that flood the web, the Escape segment of the game have you searching a confined room for items and clues on how to get out of a room. While some are certainly brain-teasers, most of the time you just need to know what to do at what time. There's quite a good number of puzzles that exists in the game, but most are solved the same way: Look through every "clickable" object until you have all that you need, and then ask the characters on what you should do with them. Most of the time, they just flat out tell you what to do, like "Use this to do that," while at other times, they simply give cryptic clues along the lines of "Have you found something that can be used to decode this?" It's interesting to find out how to solve each puzzle, but hardly any of them requires any brain power to do so. But should you get stuck, you have the option to save at ANY time without fear of being backed into a corner, so you can always put the game down without going to sleep mode.
But you will find out how hard it will be to. This game simply has an engrossing story that'll leave you wanting to find out more, and with lovable characters that you'll grow attached to. While most people have nicknames to hide their true identities, it won't be long until you're able to recognize each and every character. Even though there's no voice acting, the way the dialogue was written gives everyone a different vibe, such as giving Snake a "princely demeanor" or Clover that "bratty little girl attitude." Sure, they are anime clich'es such as the lovable lug (Seven) or the snobbish, big breasted woman (Lotus), but the presentation allow them to each stand on their own, and that is important, if not absolutely crucial, in a visual novel (after all, who'd love the Ace Attorney series without Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, Dick Gumshoe, etc.?)
Kinda reminds you of a certain someone I just mentioned, eh?
However, unlike Phoenix Wright, but like most visual novels, this game is meant to be played multiple times. There are 6 endings, and while some are essentially the same as one another (they don't end on a good note), all of which should be experienced, sans one ending that, in particular, is nothing more than a tease. While it may take over 7 hours to get through one playthrough, on repeated playthroughs, you're allowed to fast forward dialogue, effectively cutting the time in half. For a game with multiple endings, this and the "save anytime" feature are a godsend. However, the only problem is that you can't fast forward puzzles you've done before, meaning you have to do them again. While knowing the answers certainly helps, you still have to do things in the order you have to instead of going straight to the answer, which can be annoying. It is intended that you have to redo the puzzles because sometimes the main character, Junpei, will learn new things during the puzzle if you did things differently before then, but to still have to do the puzzles itself is a real drag.
Still, the endings are all worth to get (except the coffin ending, which is essentially half of the true ending, so it's pointless to get since you'll probably want the true ending anyway) just for the experience. In fact, this whole game is an experience: The character designs are typical, but the atmosphere of the scenes are particularly haunting, with the appropriate music accompanying them. And since the game is so well written, you may find yourself becoming Junpei as he tries to not only survive, but to the find out about the truth of this game: Why are these characters selected? What is the purpose of the game? Why is his childhood friend that he haven't seen in years here? These are questions that are answered well in the true ending, which is achieved not just by going a certain route, but by achieving a certain "bad" ending before it. While I will certainly keep my mouth shut on spoilers, I can say that the both the "bad" ending, as well as the "true" ending of this game stands out to be one of the highlights of this game, and it simply must be experienced. You may see it coming with the clues sprinkled throughout the game, but seeing come to fruition is a feeling unlike any other.
Overall, I quite enjoyed my time with 999: Like a good book, it filled my mind with a great story filled with haunting details that all ties up together for a grand finale. While I wasn't a big fan of the unanswered questions that lingered, this game simply is an experience that's well worth the 35 dollar price tag. However, the controls weren't as nice as they could've been (not as smooth as Phoenix Wright), and while having multiple endings SHOULD'VE given you a reason to play again and again, the time you spend in each playthrough drops to the point where you spend more time at the puzzles than reading anything else, and 3 of the 6 endings don't contribute anything that you couldn't have found out in the two "true" endings... But this game clearly had a lot of thought put into it, and while the visual novel aspect of the game means that it may not BE for everyone, everyone needs to EXPERIENCE this hidden gem.
While it isn't much, a couple of these are sprinkled throughout the game, specifially for the key moments.
Score: Graphics ---- 8.0
-While the sprites of the characters are so crisp, the animation isn't as smooth as it could've been. The backgrounds are nice to look at, but it's not unlike something you couldn't see on those online "escape the room" flash games.
Sound ------- 8.5
-While there is simply no dialogue at all, the music is haunting when it needs to be, which is quite often. Some of them do cycle over and over throughout the game, but for the most part, it does the job well.
Controls ----- 7.0
-I can't believe on how the controls are somewhat awkward. Sure, the hit box is generous for some items, but for others, it's almost a nightmare. I had trouble at a few puzzles simply because the game failed to register what I was doing, or it registers it too late. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I never had this problem before the puzzles...
Fun Factor --- 8.0
-Going through it once is like reading a really good book: You'll find it hard to put down. And on repeated playthroughs, learning the revelations, as well as the "what if's" scenarios, is equally enjoyable, but redoing puzzles aren't, especially when they were a nightmare to do the first time (write down your answers).
Final Verdict - 9.0
-This game is like a book, so it's a hit or miss thing for most people. Visual novels aren't for everyone, and it surely could've been more. But instead of focusing on what the game could've been, focus on what it is, because it excels at what it does.
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!"
The Babysitter 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
- Origins 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
Homecoming 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.
Finally over? 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
We all probably remember Halo 1 right? It was a great game of epic proportions. So naturally, when they announced a sequel, there were a lot of debates about it: Will it be better than the first game, or should it not have been bothered at all? Well, since Halo: First Strike was to bridge the gap; I was expecting at least a pretty good story. I recall reading about everything Halo when I was younger; I read the books that were out, and then I read almost any magazine articles that I could find. Now, back then, we weren't exactly the richest family out there, and I wanted to keep up with the latest game news, so I had 3 magazines subscriptions: Nintendo Power, Gamepro, and EGM (which was thankfully revived... still not the best magazine, but it's good seeing it again). Once I heard that Halo will be getting a sequel, I was really excited.
And for good reason, the game is as good as the difficulty I can't play on; Legendary. Sure, there's tons of debate, but I wanna go through my personal experiences of Halo 2.
Only for Xbox!?.... Damn Gamecube...
Halo 2 I was hyping myself up for the game so much that it couldn't have POSSIBILY be as great as I was expecting. Now, I have a tendency to do this for a lot of games, but because I have a low threshold for what's decent, and a high mark for what's good, I couldn't believe how much better the graphics of Halo 2 looked; No more bland armor, hello scratches and details! I was disappointed as the grunts doesn't look as cute (yeah, I said that) as they did in the first game, but everything else looked amazing; Seeing Cairo Station the first time was awesome, but if I recall correctly, you couldn't skip the tutorial... dammit...
It wasn't a BAD tutorial per se, but I wanted to get into the thick of things. I wanted to pick up my Assault Rifle and go to town... but then it struck me... there WAS no Assault Rifle. I recalled buying any magazines that had an article about the weapons and vehicles of Halo 2, and I just thought that they just didn't wanna show the Assault Rifle, but no; they took it out and replaced it with the SMG. Now, this was disappointing; In video games, I always liked to carry guns that shoot bullets, and the default weapon. In Halo 1, all I used unless ABSOLUTELY necessary were the human weapons, and if I could specifically, the Assault Rifle and Pistol. That's it; I even just used it as a club if it meant keeping it.
Now, the SMG was alright, the recoil's too bouncy, but the Battle Rifle was a decent weapon; A three round burst with a 2X zoom? That's like a DMR (which Halo: Reach has), which stands for Designated Marksman Rifle, a term to describe medium range guns (M14 EBR is my favorite one). Now, I like having new guns as the next guy, but the Assault Rifle was iconic; why take it away? I mean, every ad the Chief's in is seen with the Assault Rifle; why remove what we remember fondly?
Sure, Halo 3 brought it back, but they gutted it so bad that it's like it's on life support when it came back. Still nice to have at least
Again, I won't talk about the WHOLE game (as we have things like TV Spots and action figures to talk about... by the way, this is a 3 parter, which is fitting since the Mother Halo games were a trilogy... I consider Reach o be a "standing ovation.") So I'll summarize what happened: Master Chief's back kicking ass, but somehow the Covenant has found Earth's location, and is messing things up. They could've destroyed it, but they were looking for something. Anyway, Master Chief goes into a different Halo, and does what he did before: Find the Index, and destroy Halo like in the first game. However, turns out that there's an Elite from the first game behind the scenes (and not that punk Zuka... worst Elite ever) who survived, but now he's disgraced, and now he must find the Index as well. But he's not just a side character; He's a playable one too.
Yes, there was a second playable character in Halo 2, a surprise that Bungie has duped us with. I didn't recall anything about reading about becoming an Elite; when the hell did this happen!? From what I understand, Bungie did the same thing with Halo 1; they specifically told the reviewers to not mention the Flood in the first game to surprise the players. I guess Hideo Kojima must've been in on it as well, as with MGS2, he didn't reveal until the game came out that RAIDEN was the hero, not Snake. And just like both games, they were both nagged on about the sudden switch. Now, again, don't get me wrong (and if you had read my blogs, that's something I say A LOT), I LIKED seeing things from a new perspective, but at least warn us that that's gonna happen. Granted, you did see the first cut-scene in the second game, but I just thought it was a note for anyone who didn't play the first game.
Anyway, the high ranking Elite, whose name is Thel (who's also featured in the book The Cole Protocol) is disgraced for allowing Halo to be destroyed, and he should've been executed for it had it not for his new purpose: To become the Arbiter. For anyone who didn't see the anime, this was actually a GOOD thing until a noble Elite betrayed the Prophet in the short anime episode "The Duel..." since then, Arbiters are now a sign of disrespect. Now, at first, I just thought that he would be a boss character; who knew that you're gonna be him?
Who could also be him in Halo 3, but who the hell wants to?
Now, for his first mission, he has to destroy some rebels within the Covenant, which brings me to my question: If Bungie is gonna let us be an Elite, why are we still killing Aliens? I mean, you fight grunts, jackals, and even Elites (albeit without their signature armor)... you're just teaming up with the Covenant while doing it, which can get mildly confusing (not telling which from which, since they're green, but I'm so used to shooting aliens that teaming up with one to shoot other aliens was weird). Eventually, you tackle the newest enemies of the Halo universe who in my opinion is the worst: Brutes. Yeah, it turns out that after the Chief assassinated the Prophet of Regret (which was a FUN BOSS FIGHT), the Prophets don't think that the Elites don't have what it takes to protect them, and so they hired these monkeys. At first, I thought they were cool, but they were bullet sponges: They take probably 2 clips to take down. Sure, melees are easier, but I didn't want to charge at them all the time.
Anyway, long story short, Master Chief goes to High Charity, a Covenant city, to get the Index, and after seeing the Flood take over, leaves Cortana (who went from looking like an Asian woman into something... admittedly hot, but I'll leave it at that) to stop Truth from using Halo. The Arbiter, along with Shipmaster (who's named Rtas, who's nicknamed Half-Jaw) goes to the control room of Halo to stop Tartarus, the high ranking Brute, from using Miranda, a Reclaimer, from activating Halo. They team up with Sgt. Johnson in the process, who stole a Scarab, and they worked together to kill Tartarus in an epic boss fight. After that, Miranda turns off Halo, but 343 Guilty Sparks reveals that in response, all the Halos were now going to be on standby, and they can ALL be launched in the Ark. When asked where that is, it wasn't revealed, and when Master Chief is asked what he's doing, he replies "Finishing the Fight..." then credits roll... seriously...
Don't worry Cortana, I'll be back... in the sequel.
Now, don't get me wrong, it was a pretty good story, but that was a BS ending if I ever saw one. I mean, this game suffers on what all the trilogy's do: It ends on a cliffhanger. I mean, in Modern Warfare they ended it horribly... in Star Wars, Han Solo is captured... and in Back to the Future, they ended it with Marty reading that Doc's in the Wild West in 1885 (I was born before that movie, but thanks to Nick at Nite, it's one of my all time favorites). Why did it had to end like that when it had one of the only few boss fights in the whole series!? I mean, Regret was admittedly easy, and 343 Guilty Sparks in 3 was seriously lame (I'll get to that later), but Tartarus was awesome; He can one shot you with the Fist of Rukt, he can't be hurt unless Sgt. Johnson (or you if you had the Beam Rifle) took down his shields, and best of all, you had Elites jumping in into the fray as well! I was all amazed that this was all happening; Killing Tartarus with a sword is just epic.
Frag Fests I pretty missed this. All the time we had an Xbox, we never had the internet required to play Xbox Live, so I only played Halo 2 online for just a tiny bit (but it was oh so sweet...). Hell, even when Halo 3 came out, I still didn't have Live until 2 years later (then again, I didn't even have an Xbox 360 when I bought Halo 3). But that doesn't mean I missed out on the multiplayer though; we always threw Halo 2 parties where me and my friends would take turns killing each other and passing the controller around. I myself had my own controller that I didn't let anyone touch (you know how that feels) and after one round of death match (to 50), we cut the last 2 people off and play again. It was all in good fun; we laughed at awesome kills, claimed that the controller was busted or that they were screen watching... It was a good time.
Not shown, but do you remember when you could just swing the sword like a madman? Or the double melee hit BYB? Rocket Jump? Rocket Lunge?
I also loved the levels in Halo 2 and I wanted it to be revived in Halo 3 so bad... Ascension and Burial Mounds were a few of them. I mean, I'm grateful that Zanzibar and Lock Out were remade, but I really loved a lot of the levels in Halo 2 better. And I think everybody else agrees as well; It was until this year that they finally been cut off from playing the original Xbox Live since its release (R.I.P. OG Xbox Live), and many of people took part in its final hurrah (I didn't, but that's cause I didn't own an Xbox, much less the game).
I also recalled that there was the Bonus Map Pack released for the Xbox for non-live owners, and it was pretty cool to be introduced to this; Remember, DLC (downloadable content, but you knew that) was exclusive to PCs until the consoles finally went online, and even then, there wasn't much of it (unlike now where it's all there is to think about). Turf became one of my favorite levels because, oh my God, it was in a city: If you recall from my Looking Back at Halo 3: ODST (I should make a video series outta this), I mentioned that I love city based levels, and seeing as how Turf was essentially alleyways and one long street, it was pretty cool to fight in. I also loved seeing the gate that can be jumped over or opened with a vehicle; I recalled walking towards in and using grenades to open it only for a Warthog to be driving at that same time; It flipped from my grenade and smacked the hell outta me... Good times.
Halo also spawned some really cool fan-made Halo games
I also wanna mention one of the things about Halo 2; If you bought Halo 1 when Halo 2 was coming out, you got a special section of the game where you can access all kinds of goodies, from footage of the original Halo 1 (the third person shooter... yeah.... it existed at one point) to trailers of Halo 2, but the thing that stood out to me the most was the Halo 2 tech demo (unplayable in other words), btu I'll never forget it: It starts off with Master Chief walking out of a hospital seeing his men wounded. After someone gives him a SMG to dual wield, he goes to kick ass. Eventually, a Gauss Warthog pulls up to him and offers him a ride, and we see him drive through the city level, shooting down Banshees and Ghosts until finally reaching his destination. It was really cool, and at the time, I thought "Hey, if the tech demo from Halo 1 became a real level (the Silent Cartographer), then this probably will be too!" Sadly... it didn't... and I'm still disappointed.
Ending notes while I prep for Halo 3 That's all I have to say about Halo 2; It was a hate it or love it game, but make no mistake; It's definitely the most memorable of the bunch. However, we knew that Bungie was committed to finishing the trilogy, and we all knew that it was coming.... It was just a matter of what and when. While Halo 3 will be mentioned in the final wrapping up tomorrow, I just wanna get everything pre-Halo 3 outta the way. I recall that many stores were selling Halo action figures as Halo 2 hit the stores, and I remember them all being sold out within the first few days. I only got one of the figures myself; It was a red Elite with a rubber hand that can be twisted to hold items like the Beam Rifle and the Energy Sword. While the Sword looked cool, the Elite itself wasn't as hot; I don't miss it.
Best... season... EVER
Speaking of missing, I didn't want to miss talking about the line of machinima the Halo series spawned. The Halo series kinda started the mass production of machinima ever seen Red vs. Blue was conceived. Red vs. Blue was essentially about a fight between Red Team and Blue Team, but it wasn't by any means an action romp: It was strictly a humorous story with idiots, stereotypical sergeants, and retarded idiots. I personally liked the second season because it was the funniest one of the bunch, and the least plot involved (which was good in my opinion). Although this was created sometime after Halo 1, but before Halo 2, it is actually still going on today, which is way longer than any of the other machinimas.
There were other series like Fire Team Charlie, The Codex (which was just as popular as Red vs. Blue), and even a talk show called This Spartan Life, which a guy treats the game as a talk show with entertaining dancing Elites. He even got Marty O'Donnell from Bungie and Burnie Burns from Red vs. Blue to appear on his show! However, there were a lot of uninteresting ones, but I do recall my personal favorite: Master Chief Sucks at Halo. It was a short lived series about an action figure of Master Chief who plays Halo when no one's home. It started with him playing Halo 3 beta, then Halo 2 before finally concluding at Halo 3. While there was a series involving him and the Arbiter later, named Arby 'n' the Chief, I only liked the first season; everything after that lost what I liked about the series, but that's just me.
Yes, this was a real series. It's mostly just commentary of game play though.
Speaking about series, after Halo ruled the video game store and libraries, it went on to invade a new type of stores: comic books. Halo went on to make comics, and the first one that came out was The Halo Graphic Novel. It was a pretty interesting read; It explained how Rtas lost half his jaw, who tested the MJOLNIR armor before they gave the upgrade to the Chief, how Sgt. Johnson survived against the Flood, and how the civilians reacted to when the Covenant attacked Earth. There was a couple of other ones such as Uprising, which sucked, Hell jumpers and Blood Lines, which I haven't read, but from the previews, it looks better than Uprising, so I'm just assume it is until I read it. From what I heard, there's going to be a new comic when Halo: Reach hits stores called "Boot Camp," which is essentially the comic book version of Fall of Reach. It it's anything like the book, it's sure to be awesome.
Well, that's all there is to say for now, so tune in next time for the final part: Halo 3, the TV Spots and swag (dog tags and drinks), Halo Waypoint and Halo Legends. Remember Reach... remember it!
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).
Story 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?