With the recent events of the release of the sequel to the greatest gaming trilogy ever made, the result of which seems to produce a feeling of love or despise (whatever your flavour) for what has become the future of our beloved franchise.
That said, what is Halo? A cultural phenomenon nonetheless.
Since the days of the release of Combat Evolved, Halo was the figurehead of Microsoft’s gaming industry, in its early days, it was the go-to game for all Xbox owners and the deal breaker for anyone even consider buying a play station. To me, that game was the beginning of a love affair. Before Xbox live was even a consideration, it provided hours of entertainment and a compelling storyline. Seriously who else thought the first encounter with the flood was one of the scariest moments of their life? We were introduced to our hero, the Chief. We took the pilot’s seat of this armored, faceless behemoth of a man and took our first journey through the adrenaline-packed thrill ride that was the campaign of our first exposure. Thus, leaving us wanting more. At the same time, the community of those who love to experience the campaign were born. Who didn’t want to know what happened next?
Then Halo 2 game along, in all its glory. The sequel to the much eagerly awaited campaign which took off where Halo CE left off. Although controversial (playing certain missions as the arbiter) once more we fought on for future of humanity. Probably most influential about this game was indeed its introduction on online matchmaking. Although I never played it on XBL at the time,a new community was born, clans were forged, matching gamertags composed, countless hours spent mastering button glitches and jumps. The ranking system was introduced.
By Halo 3, anticipation was almost at bursting point, with both Xbox 360s and XBL being affordable and accessible, (plus the end of a dial up era) we were finally fighting the last fight of the Halo namesake. But with the seemingly endless customization options, Forge and a theater system, console gaming innovation was bar none to this game. The forge community was born, Red Vs Blue became a internet hit, custom game lovers were born. (Fatkid, Fiesta, Octagon, Duck Hunt, Race, Grifball, MLG etc)
Perhaps most importantly of all, was the evolution of the Halo 2 Skill system. Now the Halo 3 system was not without its flaws, (nothing is perfect), but it kept gamers coming back for more. Now, I find this to be one of the most definitive aspects of halo. It gave us the illusion of competition. This also spawned more, less beloved communities, boosters, derankers, illegitimate 50’s etc. I consider myself a part of the competitive multiplayer side of Halo, (albeit there isn’t much in my native Australia). That said, like many of us refuse to acknowledge, we are all casual gamers in the beginning. I bought my own Xbox 360 and copy of Halo 3 after a weekend playing split screen social slayer at a friends place. This casual yet still enjoyable environment made me want to play. I got home, set up my xbox and played the campaign all weekend long on Xbox live for the first time. I, like everyone else at some point in their halo career, was a Casual Gamer. When the concept of ranked popped into mind, the competitive spirit in me took to the challenge, and over the weeks, I played countless hours watching those little numbers go up and down and sadly enough, possibly experience one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment in my life (foolish, i know) when that number ticked over to 50. This then turned me to MLG, this number next to my tag became a focal point from which i could befriend other more “hardcore” Australian gamers and my abilities grew as i watched the events, checked out pro service records and who can forget the STR8 Rippin Montage? A monument to the greatest moments of a community of halo.
So I guess I should get to my point, there is no such thing as casual and hardcore gamers, it was natural progression sparked from interest for me. Halo 4 isn’t ‘Halo’ for me because, well, if didn’t take the foundations of 2 and 3 and tweak and add to them, they scrapped the whole concept. The whole experience feels foreign. Look at Starcraft, the essential gameplay has remained untouched for what seems like a millenia, its still 3 races, more units, more maps. Yet it has remained competitive and entertaining to watch as their was always a competitive foundation for, hell its even a national sport in Korea. Because it stuck to its roots. Listened to its people and slowly added more to the sandbox of the game.
We just want Halo 3.5, 4 shot BR’s, symetrical, smaller maps, flag juggling, custom options for infection and other custom gametypes (I never understood why they would remove something so basic and simple), we don’t want to sprint, We dont want to spawn instantly, we dont want blunt one gametype all the time playlists, we dont want random drops, we want Halo, Our Halo. We want competition, something that tells us that one day we could even compete with the best for real money. We want to be unscoped when shot, We want to be able to call out “one shot on my -Yoink!- X”, we want a reason to get better and make teams which develop into communities. We only asked you to take the last game, and keep the spirit of it alive. Whatever happened to picking up active camouflage off the map to be sneaky? Why take the custom power up away from mapmakers? Why is there no mention of the Halo rings them self in Halo? Why cant we go out and find the skulls hidden away in the campaign, Easter eggs like that were half the fun of multiple play throughs? Why cant we view the terminals in-game? Why is there no campaign scoring or time limit? Why cant multiple people simultaneously watch a film in theater?
Why Take the competitive options away from those with the competitive drive? Where are the “Pit’s” “Guardian’s” and “lockouts”? whatever happened to the ability to enjoy the game in its entirety out of the box? Youve had years too prepare 343, why release something thats incomplete to a community whose been begging to remember the nolstagia? Why did we see a portion of the Chiefs face? (that was one of the greatest mysteries of halo, also, everyone could dream of what the chief looked like in their own way).
Halo 4 shouldn’t be considered Halo, in one way or another they have screwed over every community of Halo and for what? Its not a sequel, its as different to Halo as Reach, which at least didnt claim to be a main storyline. Dont get me wrong i have enjoyed this game, but not in the way I and i hope many others of you have, its not a sequel, its an alternate universe, where adding your own name to the game was more important than communities that fund it. Halo 4 is not Halo. Its a lamb in sheeps clothing. The last of the series ill buy.
End rant. Please feel free to voice your own opinions on the matter. What was the evolution of Halo to you? Love to hear your thoughts