Bungie is done with Halo, mainly because Microsoft owns the brand. Now 343 Industries has the reigns of the series. Halo is much loved by gamers the world over. It revolutionized the console based FPS (although some may argue that). That means that 343 has some pretty damn big shoes to fill. Failure is not an option. If they do not make a perfect game then no one will trust them in the future. So did they succeed in making a not just a good, but a new legacy? Or are people going to march on Microsoft with torches and pitchforks demanding that they relinquish the title back to Bungie?
Wake up Call
Last time we saw Master Chief (aka John) he was on the wrong end of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. If you beat the game on non-legendary mode you saw the Arbiter with Sergeant Johnson at a MIA memorial for Master Chief. If you were good enough to beat it on Legendary (not me) then you saw the Chief getting into a cryogenic pod and going to sleep with Cortana watching over him. Four years later they get scanned by an unknown source. This gives Cortana a reason to wake up Master Chief. They find an immdiate problem of being boarded by the Covenent. In an attempt to get rid of at least one of the Covenent ships Master Chief heads outside to manually fire a missile at a nearby cruiser. Once on the ships hull we find a more major issue. The Forward Unto Dawn has entered orbit of a Fore Runner planet. Not just another Halo, but this time a whole metal planet. The planet opens up and pulls the Forward Unto Dawn down into itselt. This gives Master Chief three total issues he has to deal with. The Covenent that came in with him. He has a new set of enemies called the Protheans that seem focused on doing everything they can to kill anyone here. Then lasty he is fighting time. Cortana is 8 years old, and an AI has a 7 year life span. She is entering a state of rampancy, where her processes start to splinter off and she literally thinks herself to death. If they can get back to earth soon enough then Master Chief may be able to save Cortana, but that chance is slim due to their current situation, and things always get worse.
Man or Machine?
Master Chief, at his core, is a soldier. He has been modified to be what he is, and this includes having very limited emotions through most the series. He has done what it takes to save the galaxy with very little emotional attachment. But now things are different. The one constant in his continued war has been Cortana, and now she is dying. The one person that has been around him, and arguably cared the most for him is terminally ill, and there is nothing he can do to stem this tide. Through the game you are confronted with insurmountable odds. You are faced with a threat that can, and will, destroy all life. Despite this threat that requires your immediate attention you cannot help but focus, and care about, the relationship between Cortana the Master Chief. It seems to humanize the main character. The story that this creates makes for a a real fun play through, and allows the player to connect with Master Chief like never before.
Well, that is two sections on the story, so suffice to say 343 did a a bang up job on that, but a story is just filling if the game has crappy controls. Thankfully this is not the issue. The landscapes that 343 created are both beautiful and deadly. Enemies are wise enough to make it all out assaults a risky and extremely dangerous endeavors. Last time I played a Halo game you could dual wield some weapons and you had no special gear like jet packs. Now you can no longer dual wield, which is not really missed and makes you seem less overpowered. They also added the gear from Halo Reach. This adds an additional level of strategy that did not exist in Halo 3. The game is smooth and programmed with great precision. This is truly a great entry in the Halo series, and 343 Industries has given fans great hope for what is to come with Bungie no longer in the picture. They have indeed started their own legacy in the Halo mythology.
5 / 5 Joyticks