Halo: Going Forward

Like most Halo fans, I’m excited for Halo 4. Ever since picking up a copy of Halo 3 with a new 360 in Spring of 2008, I’ve been a massive Halo fan. I buy all the games (with CEA being the exception) and usually all the map packs. There’s nothing I don’t look forward to about Halo 4. However, amidst all my obsessive excitement for 343i’s first entry into the Reclaimer Trilogy, I’ve had some time to reflect upon my fandom for Halo.

This is my personal story with Halo:

Part 1

I’ve been playing Halo since I was 5 years old. Every Christmas Vacation I went to Mexico, my cousins and I would play it (I have particularly fond memories of Assault On The Control Room on Legendary Coop. We always played it. And then Halo 2 came out and even more of my cousins played that. And I sucked. I was really bad. Or my cousins were really good. But I still had a great, though sometimes frustrating time playing Halo.

I’m not sure what exactly coaxed me back into Halo because to me it was just a game I played with my cousins. I owned a GameCube, not an Xbox (even though my dad kept calling it an Xbox), and I was fine with my Marios and Zeldas. And for some reason, I’m not sure why, I had a Game Informer subscription. Whatever. I now knew of like ALL THE GAMES IN EXISTENCE. Let me get back to the point though: there were two issues in a row that had previews of Halo 3. I kind of thought to myself, wow, this game looks pretty cool. And some impulse in me said, I have to have this game. Can you guess when that thought came into my head? September 24th 2007. A day before Halo 3’s launch. Well, I didn’t get Halo 3 then, but I was such a big fan of the franchise (somehow without owning the game), that before I had Halo 3, I had a Halo 3 shirt which I still owned and wore every Thursday until I got a Noble Team shirt last winter which I now where almost every Thursday. I also had the Halo 3 soundtrack, which I would listen to and The Fall Of Reach and Contact Harvest which I read and that subsequently led me to reading The Flood, First Strike and Ghosts Of Onyx. And after all that, then I had a 360 and Halo 3.

So for about a year, I played Halo 3 continuously and then my friend who would constantly come over to play it (he owned Halo: CE and Halo 2), told of about Xbox Live. Xbox Live? What’s Xbox Live? All I remember from that night is 2 things: 1) The registration process took forever. 2) I picked a really bad XBL GT name that followed me all the way up to the release of Reach.

With that, I finally went to Matchmaking and was repeatedly humiliated by my opponents. I sucked. I really sucked. But it was a very fun time and getting one kill in a match meant the world to me. Later in summer 2009 when I was getting prepped for ODST, I told my friend that it was time to buck up and beat Halo 3 on Legendary. That took me 17 hours. The second half (8 hours), I had to do Cortana with him (Flood are scary) and he stuck around and we did Halo together. And it was for the first time, I truly realized what was really going on, I mean, yeah, I knew the story and everything, but this last level in a trilogy, I realized that Halo had made me form human connections with people. This was just a game, something that started out as just this RTS from this Kirkland studio, had such a big impact on my life and those around me. And now, as Master Chief and the Arbiter departed their crashed Pelican, this cryptic object, one that they once worshipped, feared, pondered, and soon knew all too well would be used to essentially solve all the problems it originally sparked.

Those last 4 levels of Halo 3 on Legendary were so frustrating, but in some way, made my experience come full circle (or should I say Halo). The Ark. The Covenant. Cortana. Halo. And after repeatedly switching controllers and realizing we both sucked at driving the Warthog on the getaway and visiting the “Jerk Store” grunt, we made it onto the Forward Unto Dawn. We watched the final cutscene. Then made fun of some of the names in the credits. And even as the Legendary Ending rolled around, something both him and I had watched repeatedly, actually beating the game and watching that final cutscene had an effect on us that the ones on YouTube couldn’t give. I felt better after that, donning my EOD armor, in matchmaking. My K/D went up from like 0.58 to somewhere about 1.01.

My friends and I got ready for ODST by playing Halo 3 with ODST helmets. We played We prepared to drop. I got my copy of ODST, accidently scratched up the first disc, returned it to the store, got a new copy (years later I realized this was my fault), first playthrough was on Legendary. Hard as hell. Not as hard as Halo 3, but that was because I had become a better player IMO. Except on the last mission (Coastal Highway), was accidently on Normal and I had noticed it was pretty easy, then had to redo the level. Firefight was boss. Bungie said it would “own your weekends”. It did. Tried and failed the harder Vidmasters. Came extremely close to doing the Firefight Vidmaster but stupid us lost 16 lives ON THE LAST WAVE. THE LAST WAVE. Best defeat ever.

Then my love for Halo was interrupted by MW2. Halo went to the back burner, but after playing days of MW2, I ended up at Level 63 and hating the terribly unbalanced game by Spring of 2010.

And I came back to Halo. I road the hype-train for Reach. Ran into school the day of the multiplayer trailer madly yelling about the new Halo having jet packs. JET PACKS! DOES MW2 HAVE JET PACKS? NO! Then all the guys at school the next day were saying the same thing.

Some guys from my school played the Reach beta with me. First beta I ever did. So fun, reporting in glitches to Bungie, PLAYING A GAME BEFORE IT CAME OUT. USING THE JETPACKS. We ran Invasion. Boneyard lived up to its name. Headhunter was amazing. My favorite memory was the one and only Skullamanjaro I pulled against a guy with 23 skulls. Just walked up to like ten skulls, no one at the capture zone. I won the game with ten less points then him. His reaction . . . priceless.

Ran into school the day after Halo Reach E3 yelling about the space combat. -BLAMING- SPACE COMBAT. WHAT NOW COD? And all summer, I paid attention to every weekly Bungie post. I was hyped for Forge World. I played tons of Halo 3.

Reach arrived. My friends and I were such big Halo fans we essentially gifted each the game. Played Reach. But left my GamerTag at a friends. That sucked. Never got it back. Started fresh again, with NinthTruKiilla, flaming ninja emblem, Spartan-III, Major Grade 2. I loved Reach. Maybe not as much as 3, but now that I don’t play it as often, I appreciate Reach a little more. It was a great farewell gift from Bungie. Not even that amazing of a story, but I felt throughout the campaign, Bungie was softly letting us Halo fans go and by the end, when you’re back to being that Lone Wolf, I again recognized the emotional journey that the games had taken me on. Not even the stories of those games, but the what was going on behind those stories. Maybe the goal of making Halo this giant franchise was to rake in money, but they earned my money. Goodbye Bungie. See you starside.

After a few months of Reach, I kind of became a Halo fan without a purpose. Forge World lost its luster. Matchmaking became dull. Invasion hard. I went to playing other games, but they were just duct tape over the hole Halo had filled. And then they announced Halo 4.

Part 2: Believe Again

When Halo 4 was announced, I felt like I had something again as a Halo fan. No more waiting in the dark after Reach. I had something to look forward to. It would be along time until that, but nonetheless I was rejuvenated as a Halo fan. I knew Halo CEA wasn’t going to compete with the big boys like MW3 and BF3 this holiday, but I was waiting for Halo 4. There wasn’t really any information on the game, but I knew this was going to bring back the Golden Days Of Halo 3. And better.

When I saw the HaloFest trailer, it instantly brought me back to being a Halo fan. We would whether the storm of FPS clones and emerge the next year with Halo 4. The most striking part of the trailer: the words BELIEVE AGAIN. As someone who actually saw the original BELIEVE trailer on TV, I truly felt inspired.

So riding the hype train that follows Halo 4, I’ve gotten the chance to re-discover some of the old days of being a Halo fan. I played through ODST on Legendary a second time. Definitely liked it a lot more. I’ve noticed that I’ve enjoyed the Halo campaigns more the second time I play them. Legendary made me feel like an ODST. I was a badass, but not a tank. As the Chief, I would face my enemies head on, not so as an ODST.

I re-read some stories of Halo: Evolutions. I like to see myself as a multi-faceted Halo fan. It’s Halo: Evolutions is possibly my favorite Halo book because it covers so much ground. An ODST’s life in Dirt. The horror story that was The Mona Lisa. And The Return, the most symbolic and meaningful to me. The others were great too, like Midnight In The Heart Of The Midlothian and Headhunters.

I made a pact with a friend to go through ODST, Reach, then the Halo Trilogy.

We have yet to make progress on that front.

I plan on reading through EVERY SINGLE HALO NOVEL before Halo 4.

It’s like the title of the song in the HaloFest trailer. I will always love this series. It’s impactful campaigns, fun coop, ridiculous multiplayer, awesome and innovative Forge and theater, even though I only used it to take pics of a COLLATERAL DOUBLE HEADSHOT NO SCOPE. Really. I don’t mean to brag.

But Halo has meant a lot to all of us. The massive impact its had on my life. I love the games. The books. And I believe again.

So tell me Waypoint, what order should I read the Halo books in preparation for Halo 4?

Also, I’d love to hear how you became a Halo fan.

Thanks. Kiilla out.

Novels to read: Glass Lands, the Forerunner saga, and Thursday War when it comes out.