Amidst all of the ‘comment chaos’ surrounding the multiplayer, I felt like taking the time to craft a post about what is, to me, the most important aspect of Halo: the story. I’ve played thru H5’s story three times so I could formulate a thesis, and present a calm, clear-headed argument about said story.
Disclaimer: I did not like Halo 5’s campaign. And, as always, this is completely opinionated, and is not meant to insult anyone who does like H5’s campaign. Do with what you will.
Here are the six aspects that I think Guardians is lacking in:
Plot pacing. Halo 5’s story is quite simplistic, though that’s not always a bad thing. However, there were almost no twists or curveballs thrown toward the player, nor was there any, “Eureka!” moment in the story. It’s practically accepted from two missions in that Cortana is somehow alive in the æther, and that she’s connected to the Prometheans, and in that, the Guardians. Now, I’m fine with sight unseen storytelling, as I think it stimulates the imagination. On the flip side, most of the info in the story was presented like, “oh, everyone knows that.”
Dialogue. Nobody is ever wrong. As in ever. Most of the dialog is set up like, “I bet that that thing is somehow connected to that thing, and we’ll need this to do that. Get on it, Spartans!” Oh, please continue on your galaxy-saving quest while blindly accepting postulations and conjecture.
Level design. Now this wasn’t all that bad, but still, when compared to previous Halos… it’s not that great. There were a few standouts, like the one that featured the DIY infiltration of the Kraken, but that’s about it. Overall, the levels fail to live up to the likes of say, The Silent Cartographer, or Cairo Station, or even Pillar of Autumn and New Alexandria from Reach.
Interesting enemies. This is one of the biggest issues(for me). First off, I get the conundrum that 343i must’ve had when faced with the enemies. I mean, there’s no real good reason for the Covenant to even be there, and were relegated to secondary antagonists whose primary involvement was a civil war that had nothing to do with the over-arching plot about the Guardians. There is no mystery around the enemies, what their intentions are, etc. Where is the Cronenberg-ian body horror surrounding the Flood? Where are the mysterious Engineers? And as long as we’re on this note, it is almost impressive that 343i came up with a story conceit that allowed them to make just one boss with the same moveset.
Locke’s place in the story. I’m fine with Locke. He’s a pretty cool character. I’m even fine with the Chief taking a bit of a backseat this go 'round. However, it’s the very nature of H5’s story that messes him up. Here we have a deeply personal story about the Chief and Cortana’s relationship. How are we going to go about this? “Eh, just put Chief in for roughly 20% of the story.”
Integrated co-op. This is the worst for me. For starters, what was so wrong about the way old Halos handled co-op in their campaigns? Now, I will admit that H5 would be very different without the respective squads, but it could have been implemented better. Maybe try giving the single player squad AI half a brain, that doesn’t totally crumble at the slightest hint of elevation when you need a revive? If one is going to implement a revive function in Halo, make it reliable or stop wasting my time waiting to die so I can reload the checkpoint. But once again, it’s their place in the story that bugs me. My favorite part of Halo is Master Chief against the world. The one final effort. There’s none of that here, as you’re constantly being followed by three lackeys who don’t add much to the story overall, except maybe Buck, who is the comic relief.
Anyway, those are my gripes, and again, to repeat, this post is not meant to be incendiary; people have a right to like or dislike anything. No buts. Hat’s off to anyone who actually read all of that. Cheers.