The Tragedy Of Halo

Picture it, Macworld Expo 1999. A young man enters the stage and presents the world with a game that would revolutionize the RTS genre of gaming. That game… was Halo. And the young man… was Steve Jobs.

Yes, it’s true. Halo originally began as a game designed for the Mac by Bungie. That itself sounds like a joke; no true gamer would admit to playing games on their Mac. The only game I could recall that was half way decent was The Incredible Machine, which was more like an Edutainment title than a real game. Hell, my tech teacher back in school would have us play that when he was nursing a hangover and didn’t feel like teaching. I’m getting off topic already. Halo was originally demoed as a flagship game for the Mac, which became a giant kick in the balls a year later when Microsoft announced that their new console would have a First Person Shooter… called Halo.

The ghost of RTS past.

“Wait… what? How the hell did that happen?” Mac Owners breathed heavily onto their fruit based box machines. Two things can explain this phenomenon: One
Microsoft gave Bungie a “Shit ton of cash” (legit business term), and Two The infamous Myth II bug, which cost Bungie millions, or so it would seem until Microsoft threw cash at them. In case you don’t know, the Myth II bug was pretty much a massive uninstall for your PC. When I say massive uninstall, I mean your entire goddam hard drive would be erased. That in itself is rather impressive. Giving the gift of Myth II to that asshole kid down the street and watching him cry as his computer was pretty much turned into a useless hunk of overpriced metal and fancy plastic was a rather pleasurable endeavor.

The Halo games themselves really need no introduction. Okay article is over. All of you go back to fapping to Jew and Frank fanfiction.

The Glorious raid to stop the fanfics from being produced.

That’s not enough content to be considered an article? Fine, I’ll talk about the original Trilogy. Looking at it in my perspective, I always felt Halo was an immensely overrated pile of schlock, and gazing at it now, as I currently own Halo for PC, Xbox and 360, I still have to say it is. However, it did what it was intended to do: sell X-Box consoles. It’s been proven that if Halo wasn’t released, Microsoft’s baby wouldn’t have been able to compete with the PS2 or Gamecube. The initial launch consisted almost exclusively of Project Gotham Racing and Fusion Frenzy, which were okay, but hardly killer apps that would sell a three hundred dollar game system. There was also Dead or Alive 3, but if you dropped three hundred dollars to play a DOA game, why are you reading about Halo?

Halo itself is a mediocre first person shooter that focuses more on exploration than mazes, unlike most shooters of the time. You have huge maps to run around, but in reality it becomes super linear once you realize that you are actually being funneled through a series of navpoints to progress. The plot is rather stock, as well: OH NO, EVIL ALIENS HATE HUMANITY, QUICK ACTIVATE THE LAST SUPER SOLDIER. And so on and so on. We’ve seen it before in better fiction, and we’ll see it again in possibly worse fiction. The only real saving grace for Halo, in my humble opinion, is actually it’s multiplayer. I’ve heard of the huge Halo parties, where people (bros) would go to other guy’s apartments (dorms), hook up the two X-Boxes and play a huge 8 player frag-fest. That blew my mind, since the most I had played at the time was 4-players via the Nintendo 64’s built in controller ports… or I WOULD, but since I didn’t have friends, I played multiplayer hide and seek by myself.

Halo 2. It looks exactly the same as Halo 1.

Halo 2 is again, an overrated pile of schlock in terms of it’s single player campaign. Aside from the improvements of holding two guns at once (something Hong Kong action flicks have been doing since 1986) and swords (because sword fights in outer space are cool) nothing new really came with the territory. It’s still a stock story: ENEMIES BECOME ALLIES AS A COMMON THREAT APPEARS, or something to that effect. In reality, the only appeal to this game was actually the multiplayer… again.

Halo 2 actually might be the first time many people played a game over the internet. Not me though; I was one of the elite few who played Duke 3D online. Still, Halo 2 sold rather well due to the merits of being able to use X-Box Live to play against possible sex offenders, form clans, and troll twelve year olds. It at least brought online gameplay to the mainstream console community.

I got confused and thought this was Shadowrun for a second.

The last of the official trilogy is Halo 3 (derp), and happens to be the inspiration for this article, after having a discussion with Jew. Essentially, I feel that at this point, the series could have ended right here, whereas Jew felt the series should have ended even earlier, considering Halo 2’s moniker was “Finish the fight”. Microsoft has lots of money, though, and money tends to be the driving force behind the gaming industry. Halo 3 perfectly tied up all of the loose ends, granted it’s all the same stock story, as I’ve said before. It kept everything the same as it did in Halo 2, and it didn’t really do much to set itself apart from the series. Again, multiplayer was key for this game, which promoted the 360’s own Live set up. Again, it was designed to sell Gold accounts for Live, because if you didn’t have Gold, then you couldn’t play Halo online with your bros. I guess it’s safe to say that Halo 3 was really a commercial attempt for Microsoft. But then again, isn’t that what the series has always been?

An average Microsoft brainstorming session.

Now at this point I’m tempted to end the article here, but I have to cover some other things: ODST and Halo Wars. Simply put, they suck. ODST was supposed to be a DLC pack for Halo 3, but Microsoft wanted more money, so they made it an independent game. In all honesty, who wants to play a Halo game as one of the billions of nameless marines that get wiped out five seconds after saying “OH SHIT, YOU’RE MASTER CHIEF!”, And Halo Wars? It’s a forlorn hope to return to the RTS roots of the series, with negative results. Were either of these two games even necessary? Well, if you are an executive at Microsoft, yes. Because you realize that the average Halo consumer is either a Dudebro that thinks they are “Uber-leet gamer” which is funny, because when you go to play a game like Counter Strike or Battlefield, you can tell who plays Halo a lot because they’ll go running out full charge and end up sitting out for a round after getting
AWP’d; or a little kid that wants to be an “Adult” by playing M-rated games and telling everyone “They fucked your mother last night”, And as the theoretical executive at Microsoft, you’ll realize these demographics are stupid and will buy anything.

Needless to say, once Bungie and Microsoft split, two more Halo games came out, Halo Reach (which again is a stock story with an okay multiplayer, going the prequel route, as most IPs tend to do when they run out of steam), and Halo 4, which I’m kind of mixed upon. The story was actually interesting for once, but the gameplay was still Halo, for what that’s worth after six games. The multiplayer is still the same thing, but they began to emphasize on Co-op features instead of just shooting the shit out of each other. I can say it’s a step up, but that’s like saying the piss I took after my herpes cleared up was better during my break out, and for the record, I don’t have herpes…

It’s safe to say that Halo is pretty much a cash grab and nothing else. With a mediocre story for many of the games, the series doesn’t have much aside from a multiplayer which is really designed to sell Live accounts for Microsoft. That is to say, I can see why it’s a sellable franchise and I don’t blame them for exploiting it as much as they have. If I wanted to make a shit ton of cash off the dumb and exploitable, I’d do the exact same thing that Microsoft is doing.