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Halo

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Halo: Combat Evolved (CE) Not the CommanderEvil kind of CE! was one of the first 1st person shooters I ever played, aside from the original Ghost Recon and it's expansion, Island Thunder. I became immersed in the atmosphere provided, a super soldier and marines battling aliens and robots on a strange ring-shaped structure, and then I was introduced to Halo 2. Years later, I got into 3, Reach, and ODST. Enjoyed all of them.

So this is where we get to talk about Halo!

Halos 4 & 5 didn't do so well for me. I enjoyed H4's Spartan Ops series and H5's Warzone, though! Things seemed smoother, less clunky, in those modes than it did in 4 & 5's campaigns. While the last two games were a bit of a bummer, I'm still excited for what 343 has in store.

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I was indoctrinated into the cult of Bungie's Gaming-groundbreaking legend at a shockingly early age. For years I watched my Dad play the games, listened to him read the books, obsessively read the official strategy guides, bought the toys, recreated the characters in shoddy imitations of Lego Customs I saw online, looked up fanart on Deviantart, and watched the Machinima. There was no critical thinking involved whatsoever. Halo could do no wrong. Until Halo 4's marketing machine kicked into full swing and the extent of the "new" Halo aesthetic was revealed for this first time. I was devastated. How could 343 Industries burn down all the designs that came before? They were perfection! It was heretical to the worst extent for me and many others. To see how the story for the game itself played out, and the ensuing fifth game later, was like watching a train derail itself in a multi-car pileup. All the good will from my favorite franchise was squandered. Nothing can ever be good again...

Jokes aside, I've moved on from Halo. Halo 5 really did drop the ball when it came to establishing and wrecking expectations for the campaign. And as a lore fan, recognizing some of the canon shifts starting in Halo Reach and reading about other newer changes online was a dismal experience. The fate of one specific group sounded particularly stupid just from what I read. It was an egregious case of tying up a loose end.

And because it's late and this postingsetup doesn't have a "spoiler" tag right there in easy reach:

Spartan Team Black gets ganked by the Didact (Yes, the guy you thought you killed in Halo 4 but no, he survived and his actual death is confined to a tie-in comic) when he fucking respawns on the Ring they're posted at. Especially dumb because, based on the scanned pictures on Halopedia, they're clearly wearing the Halo 2-era Mk6 Armor, even though it was seemingly made clear that EVERYTHING had been redone for the Halo 4 aesthetic, inlcuding the Chief's model of armor. Unless if you buy the silliness from Halo 4 about Cortana "redesigning" it in a Cryo chamber. As Crazy Uncle Joe says, C'mon, Man! It really did feel like a symbolic killing off of the prior style, if not a prior Era of Halo storytelling. Fuck, the Spartan-2 Gray Team from The Cole Protocol got brought back in an entirely new book. It's like the New Star Wars films and the tendency of Lucasfilm to deliberately toss important lore bits into tie-in stuff that YOU MUST READ, buy that shit!

Don't even get me started on the first set of newer Halo Books I bothered to read, Karen Traviss' Glasslands. What a mess. Maybe coming back after 7 years will give me some new perspective, but I still can't see how a storyline that started out as basically "Iran-Contra in space" and only spirals out of control from there was the best choice for the first series of full-length Halo novel in five years alongside the Foreunner trilogy.

Stupid little side-observation I thought up years ago: Karen Traviss wrote a bunch of Star Wars Republic Commando books that I still haven't touched yet, until she quit writing Star Wars EU stuff altogether. Why? Well, she seemingly took it as a personal insult that the Star Wars Clone Wars Cartoon had a story arc that heavily altered the culture of the Mandalorians from the version that she herself helped flesh out in her books. Subsequently, she got her book deal for Halo in 2010. It's funny, in other words, that we can blame Star Wars, and Dave Filoni in particular for giving us Glasslands. Everything is more connected than you think.

Never really liked the animation style for that cartoon anyway.

(Oh, and you better believe there's a some degree of Anti-New Clone Wars sentiment out there. I once found a guy's moddb profile that was loaded with propaganda pics of the stuff. This being 2012, I can only imagine how Disney Wars has made people like that reconsider their opposition, even slightly).

There's other shit I that leaves me thinking too. Example: Halo tie-in stuff us coming out at a faster rate than even the Mid 2000's last I checked. Why isn't there more stuff featuring Spartan-III's? Glasslands at least showed that the ones trapped in the Onyx shield world were rescued. ONI got the Katana team members out of the forunner stasis pods, right? Would be interesting to read about what they did? How about the other members of Gamma company that made it off Onyx?

Nope, from what I can see there's only the same Onyx crew and one or two new faces. 343 is in the run-up to a new game, right? Just call in your current roster of writers, sift through the internet for some new ones, and pull out all the stops when it comes to tie-ins. New characters! One-offs from past books! Your questions about that one battle? That marine who fought alongside the chief and survived? Here's the answer! I'll have to review what's been released, maybe go over what I've seen people discussing on Spacebattles* as examples of criticism, but it does feel like there's less ambition than what I just described. Do we really another "Adventures of Master Chief during the Great War" series (not just one novel, no, two!)? Other books focus on side characters like Half-Jaw (Always good to have more of), the members of Fireteam Osiris, but again, there's also the Gamma company members we already know and Blue Team in others.

And over in the comics, there's the aforementioned tie-in that happens to feature key story details,  an origin story for the antagonist of Halo Wars 2 that's apparently good, and a "Master Chief kills aliens and doesn't afraid of anything" comic.

The anthology series...Tales from Slipspace had a telling split in reviews on Amazon. Sad, because it's supposed to be a successor to the 2004 Halo Graphic Novel. And if there's one Halo Tie-in I fucking love, it's the Halo Graphic novel. What I noted it had in common with the Halo Evolution successor was a variety of stories that looped in with other full-length ones. X world was the site of this story, Y characters were the subject of that one.

What I'm trying to say is that there's a lot more opportunities for stories to tell than just this Star Wars EU method of having a select few characters running around in a whole Galaxy. We had fun self-contained stories like "Seconds sunrise over New Mombasa", "Armor Testing", "Dirt", "The Return", with entirely new casts, and dare I say it, I've read fanfictions that pulled off all-new casts with more twists and turns in the plot than canon stuff. Really, my favorite current one is just about a group of Jackals trying to survive the Covenant Civil war and Flood invasion on High Charity. No galaxy-altering prophecies or whirlwind tours of space, just regular people trying to survive. Way I see it, more stuff on that scale is what you need. It could just be my mental imbalances, but I really find myself wondering about stories on a less grand, more personal, almost mundane scale and view of the world. It's what I've had in mind first as a plot my first original setting (the strangereal-style map on DA that deactivated accounts keep favoriting). The world can only be saved so many times. Maybe it's a subconscious reaction to all this Godforsaken capeshit film.

Do something more than just the known characters. Go wild! That's how you fuel a good EU. As it stands, I'm not sure. I went to one of those Outpost discovery publicity stunt larpfests. Aside from dedicated cosplayers and the museum-style exhibits,  there was nothing too amazing. Could've been a good chance to pull in some collector's item booths with past Toylines and haul out older merch to drag in nostalgic millennials and Gen Xers for more $$$, but instead the merchandise selection was mostly direct tie-ins.

Halo Infinity could go either way. Yeah, they brought back 2004-07 Chief, but hey, that's almost like an admission of defeat after 6 years with the Halo 4 style. It's like Disney Wars-the CEOs can say it was planned from that start, but that's an awful lot of reshoots and director shuffling...

 

Sorry for the length, but I just had to bring this all up, and it had to be a proper rant on the forums. Little pieces of it weren't going to work. Too much goddamn time on discord! Failure or revival, I won't be there cheering Halo on. Things have changed and this is the year I start changing with them. I kicked myself off of a discord  channel that wasn't even hyperactive by that site's standards to stop fixating on it, I'm not gawking at R18 art or porn anymore, and this may be the year I quit California for good.

 

*=REALLY not worth your time to visit anymore these days without a goal in mind, gets messier by the year, it's a contradictory fusion of the old "oh look how quirky and geeky and wacky this forum is lol xd" reddit-tier mindset surrounding the site that I could never get into and the new hypersensitivity of the current generation of nitwits jumping into the pool alongside nostalgic middle-aged long-timers that's really starting to show.

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Halo Infinite finally has a gameplay trailer available for us.

In my view, it's really, really average. Nothing amazing. There's many aspects worthy of further examination (the UNSC having "lost the war" for example). The there's the expected return to a classic Halo style that's executed somewhat haphazardly. You can see a mix of Halo 4 and Halo Reach grunts in glimpses, the Covenant guns are entirely new, the assault rifle draws influence from Halo Reach, and the pistol looks like something from our time, nothing like the hand cannons of past games. 

Most notably is the comical Brute redesign, including the Chieftain at the end who looks more like a regular human with lots of cosmetics (that could be due to the angle we see him hiding the Brutes jutting jaws, but even then those have been shortened). Brutes in the 343 Era have gone through this redesign I can't really approve of. They almost like like a different race of burly aliens. Even the elites and their awkwardly-moved eyes weren't that bad! Halo Infinite's Brutes seem to be combining the two eras in a jarring manner.

Graphics in general feel off, though my expectations might've been tempered so much by just not being interested that I was initially surprised other people had made the complaint. Hopefully the theory that this is an early build proves true.

And the Warthog engine sounds entirely different, 0/10. 

Won't even be playing it anyway most likely, no Xbox X for me living out of state.

So, how do you feel about this desperate attempt to recover from the disaster that was Halo 5?

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