Halo's Identity Problem Started With An Admirable Mess

Halo’s Identity Problem Started With An Admirable Mess

Cover of Halo 4 from 343 Industries.

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft

It’s a law of nature that eventually every long-running game franchise will have a particular entrance that will be rung for too far of what made it so fun in the first place. Your Super Mario Sun, your Dragon Age IIAssassin’s Creed III, etc Whether or not that opinion changes more favorably over time, the initial specter of negativity will forever hover over it. Microsoft Halo is no exception, except that the negative specter hasn’t hovered over one particular game, but over an entire studio.

Halo 4 released for Xbox 360 on November 6, 2012 and was the first full entry from developer 343 Industries. The studio became the official stewards of the franchise after Bungie pulled out with Halo Range in 2010, and before Halo 4, made Reach map packs and lead the development of the 2011 remake for Halo: advanced combat. For what was the start of what would come to be known as the “Reclaimer Saga”, 343 wanted to put more of an emphasis on storytelling than Bungie’s games, which they achieved by foregrounding the The series’ deeper Forerunner lore that was present in previous games, but not the big focal point.

For a franchise whose previous entries could be summed up as “a guy in a helmet kills aliens”, and as the games industry began to place more emphasis on characters in its single-player offerings, you can see why 343 would follow. . With that in mind, it makes sense why Halo 4 chooses to meddle with Master Chief and Cortana’s efforts to return to Earth amid the latter’s deteriorating mental state and death with the arrival of the Forerunner Didact, who wants to convert humans into Promethean robotic warriors under his rule to conquer the galaxy. If there is something that Halo might fit, it would be a deeper exploration of character, and if one chooses to look The dynamics of Chief and Cortana as platonic or romantic, there is Something there that has made their adventures worth following over the years. But while the campaign does its best, the end result is ultimately something of a mess.

Image for article titled Halo's Identity Problem Began an Admirable Mess

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft

Undoubtedly, there are a few highlights: the opening where Chief and Cortana attempt to escape the ship they spent years cryo-sleeping on while being overrun by the Covenant is chaotic and dizzying, and the moment the pair crash into the world of Requiem and Chief look up at the hovering skyscrapers bring a similar sense of grandeur and awe similar to when they stepped onto the Halo ring in the original game. Likewise, the penultimate mission, which is essentially a Death Star run, can’t help but feel awesome, thanks in large part to the co-composer’s solid musical backing. Kazuma Jinnouchi.

But the biggest problem of Halo 4 country, and the Reclaimer saga as a whole is that it too easily abuses the show’s already established mythology, or simply piles on new lore without doing a decent enough job of establishing why it’s different of the above. Midway through Chief-Cortana’s story, which features some of the series’ best writing for the characters, the precursor to it all begins to feel like it’s mired in too much terminology to be accessible to anyone who doesn’t. It’s not already waist deep in extended media. And it’s a shame to say it, because Halo 4 contains one of the most exciting additions to the series that has come to define future 343 games, and even the Halo TV series.

Halo 4 features standard co-op similar to its predecessors, while also introducing a new mode called Spartan Operations. Following the events of the game’s campaign, up to four players with their own customizable Spartans would participate in missions with their own narrative hook and weekly release schedule. This mode lasted no longer than the first season, and narrative events previously intended for future seasons were converted into monthly comics that served to tie together the campaigns of Halo 4 and Halo 5. But his spirit lives on in the aftermath of 343: hello 5 co-op puts players in the boots of three named Spartans on Master Chief and Jameson Locke’s respective teams. infinite halo, although it follows in the footsteps of other live service games in featuring narrative events in its seasonal model, it could not have achieved this without Spartan Operations laying the groundwork for the franchise to explo.

Image for article titled Halo's Identity Problem Began an Admirable Mess

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft

Among the pantheon of Halo Developers, 343’s tenure has not been without problems and controversies, both general and entry-specific. As noted in the jump, it’s the curse of any long-running franchise: the idea of ​​what it is becomes so firmly held by fans that anything deviating from it is seen as a gross betrayal. In this case, the peak of the deductible would be Halo 3, a juggernaut that was so big it attracted players who never took a look at the series at the time. At best, whatever comes after can only hope to reach second place or perhaps be considered a fairly close equal, based on his estimation of a particular game.

For 343, his Halo the games feel so close to perfection. Halo 4, 5, and Infinite have their respective strengths and weaknesses, and each feels like they get a certain piece of what makes the franchise so beloved and why it’s worth sticking around. But every time the devs try to fix what went wrong in a previous entry, the cracks in the franchise’s identity start to show, and it gets to the point where they either have to get brand new armor or move on to a new journey. .

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