Tag Archives: Spartan

The Seven-Foot Tall Sociopath

Fair Warning: This is a post about Halo. It contains Halo 4 spoilers.

Master Chief Petty Officer John-117: He’s seven feet tall. He can easily jump over the heads of normal men. He wears a massive suit of green armor. He can flip a tank over.  He’s survived fighting armies of alien creatures, zombies, and at least one space god intent on vaporizing humanity. He fell from space and lived… more than once.

But, his greatest challenge is relating to the people he is saving. He’s pretty antisocial; he rarely speaks more than one sentence at a time. Sure, in the games he’s had some close human allies (Sergeant Johnson comes to mind), but most of his closest friends died before Halo: Combat Evolved even started.

Those friends were, like him, part of the Spartan-II program. They were kidnapped from their parents at a young age and trained to fight. They were conditioned to be the perfect soldiers. And this was even before they were given their cocktail of chemical and cybernetic enhancements (which killed a bunch of them, leaving the remainder to have an even tighter bond).

His only friend (and love interest?) is an AI. She’s an attractive one, if you’re into computers, but not a person. And once she dies at the end, he’s left all alone. Though, I can see Captain Lasky and Sarah Palmer becoming important to him in the next couple of Halo games. We’ll have to wait and see.

Even weirder, during an important part of the story, the Master Chief gets genetically modified…again. He’s technically not even human anymore. An entire space station gets vaporized based on their genetic humanity, but not the Chief, leaving him even more of an outsider.

Couple this with all the talk of destiny, and that he is the culmination of the human race, and I’m guessing the guy probably doesn’t speak much because he is in a constant state of shock. Perhaps that’s where his combat training and muscle memory kicks in.

He’s not the first space savior to be a loner (Leto Atreides, Luke Skywalker, and many, many more did it before Master Chief), and he certainly won’t be the last, but what, exactly, is our obsession with the aloof space protagonist? Maybe it’s the universal idea that actions speak louder than words ever could?

In any event, we have at least two more games to see if the Master Chief is capable of making friends. If he does, though, I wouldn’t count on them living very long.

Best Friends Forever?

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Halo 4: Review

It’s no secret that we’re fans of Halo, here. So, we’ve been pretty excited about Halo 4 and have been playing quite a bit of it since it was released on Tuesday.

(This is the part where I admit my bias and get that out of the way.)

I like Halo. A lot. I am, however, clear-headed enough to understand what’s good about the game and what’s not so great.

The Campaign

This is certainly the prettiest Halo so far. The set pieces are big, and the world of Requiem feels a lot like that first time you dropped onto Halo in the first game. The cut scenes are pretty great, too. 343 Industries’ decision to use motion capture for the cinematics was a good one. At one point at the beginning (there’s an interrogation scene with Dr. Halsey), I couldn’t tell for a moment whether it was live-action or motion captured. Seriously, it looked THAT good.

The gameplay, though, isn’t much different from what you’ve come to expect from Halo. You kill some dudes. You push a button. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes cut scenes are thrown in. It’s not a bad formula, but it might be getting a little stale. Though, honestly, I’m not sure what else you could do in the FPS genre.

The battles themselves are well done. Enemy groups are often overwhelmingly outnumbering, so it makes you feel like a true bad mofo when you mow them down. Ammo seems to be at a premium, but that forces you to constantly scavenge for weapons and make the hard decision between keeping your awesome weapon or grabbing a gun with lots of ammo.

Vehicle sections are always fun, but often too short. I really hate having to arbitrarily abandon a vehicle because I can’t boost up onto a platform that the Master Chief can easily bounce up to.

The story is what really keeps me interested, though. But, a lot of the larger plot is thrown at you quickly, and I would have liked it to come a bit slower, so I’d know exactly what’s going on. I’m behind on the books, so that would’ve been really nice.

The more intimate story of the relationship between Cortana and the Master Chief is great! It’s interesting to me how human the relationship between the giant cyborg and his computer girlfriend is.

The campaign is great fun. For the most fun, I suggest playing it co-op. I’m having a great time playing through the game with my wife.

Infinity Multiplayer – War Games

If the continuing story of the Master Chief got me to buy the game, multiplayer is what keeps me coming back. War Games is your typical shoot-other-Spartans-in-the-head goodness that you’ve come to expect…with a few new twists (Unless you’ve been playing Call of Duty for the last five years, that is).

At the beginning of your multiplayer career, your options are extremely limited in regard to your custom loadout, your character model design, and even your custom badge. As you level up, however, you gain Spartan levels and Spartan points. Spartan points are used to purchase stuff for your custom loadouts: guns, armor abilities, tactical bonuses. Spartan levels determine what armor your can wear, how many custom loadouts you can have, and what logos you can have plastered to your armor.

Even with all the custom stuff (and tactical bonuses), I’ve found nothing yet that is unbalancing about the matches. Even at level one, I had little trouble blasting apart combatants on the opposite team as I ran to capture their flag. In other words, skill still matters more in Halo than finding power weapons.

Speaking of power weapons, when you kill enough enemies, you are able to call in a weapon drop. It’s a nice little feature that helps keep everyone in the game. Power weapons are also randomly dropped around the map, and a blip on your HUD will tell you where they dropped. I like this feature because it de-emphasizes map memorization and keeps the battles interesting.

All-in-all, I really like War Games, and can’t wait to sink some serious time into it.

Infinity Multiplayer – Spartan Ops

I got a little sad when I heard that Firefight wasn’t going to make it into the game, but I think Spartan Ops fills the niche nicely. It’s a cool idea: Every week, 343 drops another episode of their Spartan Ops story on you, and with it comes five mini-missions. You can play them either solo or co-op. I’ve only played through them on solo, but I’m betting that co-op is the way to go with these.

Some of the missions resemble an objective-based firefight, and I like that. It scratches the itch for just raining wanton destruction on the bad guys.

Since it’s only the first week, there’s not a whole lot else I can say about it. I look forward into seeing what the story turns into.

I’m surprised that Halo 4 came out on the Xbox 360, but I’m glad that it did. I’m sure Halo 5 will be on the next generation of Xbox. Though the graphics are starting to look a little dated, especially up close, this is one good-looking game. We’ve come a long way since Halo 3. A long, long way.

So, my recommendation is to buy this game! Get some friends together either in-person or on Xbox Live, and go to town shooting dudes. It’s a ton of fun. I’ll be dropping a lot of time into this game.


And if you want someone to play with, you can always become my Xbox Live buddy! Gamertag: Spumis

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Is Halo Set In A Socialist Police State?

The Chief never has time to find love.

The last episode of Forward Unto Dawn (FUD), the Halo 4 prequel series, was fantastic. If anyone ever questions whether or not a Halo movie could work, look no further than this little YouTube series.

So it is with a sense of trepidation that I have to ask what’s up with humanity in the Halo universe. It occurred to me, while watching the last episode of FUD, that we have yet to see a complete family in any of the Halo… anything. I can’t really speak for all the books, but from what I read of the first 3-4, they are straight military science fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I just can’t help but wondering where all the normal people are. Take FUD, for example. Thomas Lasky is the central character around which events transpire. Where is his family?

Parents? Dead.

Brother. Dead.

And during the course of the series his girlfriend also dies. So go the horrors of war. But we have never seen an actual family on screen during this series. Captain Jacob Keyes and Lt. Commander Miranda Keyes were never actually in the same place at the same time. She was more of a replacement for the previous captain, even going so far as to have her own tragic/heroic death.

Why are there no families in this series? What are these people fighting for? Are there even civilians?

That might be a fair question. Are there actual civilians in the Halo universe? I understand that they are known to exist. Some of the comics show regular folks and ODST hinted at people that didn’t work for UNSC, but we don’t actually see those people. They are implied.

This leads me to a weird conclusion

Everyone probably works for the UNSC or some contracting subsidiary of the military industrial-complex. Every single person might just be an employee of the state because all industry is geared towards maintaining control of the colonies and, later, fighting the Covenant. At the time we first see Master Chief (Halo: Combat Evolved) we’ve been losing the war for better than 20 years. Every single job might be going to the state, who’s only job is now to keep humanity from going extinct.

Families aren’t the point. No one ever talks about what they’re gonna do after the war or who they left back home because the war and, by extension, duty to the state is the point. Normally I would give a combat shooter some wiggle room here because it’s not an RPG. You’re not supposed to build a home, have kids, or go all Hearthfire with your character.

But Halo has been lauded for its amazing story.

The only reason these people fight is because they are honor-bound to do it for humanity and, again by extension, the state. A state that constantly lies and keeps secrets from its own people. A state that doesn’t seem to have any democratic institutions, even though we’ve been told it does. Instead what we see is a big-ass military making decisions in space.

I’m a student of political science and I have to say it isn’t often that socialism and fascism come together in so perfect a union.

Take Master Chief, for example. The iconic, faceless hero of four games as of November 6th. He is featured in Forward Unto Dawn, which takes place at the beginning of the Covenant war. And a few of the books put him in combat before first contact with the aliens as well. So we know he’s been fighting since before the beginning of the war.

A war that ran from 2525 to 2553! That’s a full 28 years! That doesn’t include the time he spent fighting insurrections. What kind of life is that? What does this guy fight for? Why hasn’t he retired yet? Has he ever had a girlfriend? Has he ever gotten laid? Does he aspire to do anything other than murder?

But John! He’s an exception! He was made to be the perfect soldier. Normal soldiers probably get to have kids and a house and junk!

Maybe. At some point Captain Keyes found time to have a kid. But that’s just never seen. FUD was the first Halo thing (though TJ says ODST had some) where two people engage in any romance. And I’m certain it’s the first Halo anything outside the expanded universe where people kiss.

What kind of life is this? Working under the heel of an oppressive government with an intelligence arm that will black bag you for looking at the wrong youtube video? You know what we didn’t see once Halo 3 was over.

It was the end of the greatest threat to humanity. EVER. No kissing? No baby boom? No white picket fence or WoW addiction?

Again, I have to ask. What the hell are these people fighting for?

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