One of my earliest memories as a Halo fan is asking my older brothers “Do you want to play co-cop?” The answer was usually “No.” But, looking back, that answer is understandable: I’d ask them when they were in the middle of doing something, like playing basketball.
Another memory that sticks out in my mind is one Sunday morning, killing Flood with a turret on the Halo: CE level, Keyes. I was all dressed up to go to church, just sitting on the couch, mowing down the Flood as they came towards me, thinking “Aw, I don’t want to leave.”
Another memory is me playing Blood Gulch with my cousin. He was at one end of the map and I was in the center, where the Rocket Launcher spawns. At one end of the map, the terrain slopes upward: My cousin was in a Warthog at the top of the terrain, just daring me to come and get him. So I grabbed the rocket launcher and fired a shot. My cousin, knowing a rocket was coming, hopped out of the Warthog. For a moment he was overjoyed, thinking he has safe. But, when the rocket hit the empty Warthog, the Warthog flipped over, crushing him. That will always be my favorite multiplayer kill.
I also have fond memories of playing Ascension with my older brother and cousin at my grandma’s house, and playing with them over Xbox Live late into the night. We thought that all the really good players came out at night, since we’d usually get steamrolled.
I liked the storyline of the Halo games, particularly Halo: CE, but to be honest I thought of Halo as just another science fiction action/adventure story. Nothing special. Until Halo 4 came out. I love A.I., and Cortana is my favorite character in the series, so when I heard that Halo 4’s story was going to focus on her, I had the same reaction as Fry:
The story, ultimately, did not disappoint. Halo 4’s story is my favorite in the series.
Now Halo 5 is coming out. The Halo series is 14 years old. In many ways, I’m not the same person I was when Halo: CE came out.
My enthusiasm for Halo 5 has gone up and down in the months since its reveal, but I can say that I am now looking forward to it. My older brother and I will be pooling our money this holiday season and getting an Xbox One. We’ll probably buy Star Wars Battlefront, since we don’t see each other often and it’s a game we can play together. But we’ll get Halo 5 at some point. And I don’t doubt that, though we’ll have to take turns, we’ll still have fun with it.
I don’t doubt that, in terms of gameplay and graphics, Halo 5 will deliver, either. What I am concerned about though is the story. I’m wondering: Will it be as good as Halo 4’s? I’ll just have to wait until October 27th to find out. But, and I will gladly eat my words if it turns out I’m wrong, I don’t think it will be. There’s more to why I think this than the fact that Cortana is gone, probably never to come back to life.*
The older you get, the more stories you experience. The more stories you experience, the less something wows you. That is the reason why I thought the Halo 5 opening cinematic was good — I’ve watched it many times — but not the greatest thing since sliced bread, like others seem to have. And I’m OK with that. Why? I remember seeing the Halo 2 E3 gameplay footage. I remember what it’s like to be hyped for something.
I understand why people feel the way they do about Halo 5, even if it’s not exactly how I feel.
I’ve found that, as I’ve gotten older, my taste in stories has changed.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King use to be my favorite movie. (When I bought the movie on DVD, I’d skip right to the attack on Minas Tirith and watch the movie from there.) Then it was the 2005 version of King Kong. I liked seeing all the different kinds of prehistoric creatures, and watching the characters try and survive everything Skull Island threw at them. (King Kong is my least favorite movie now, but that’s another story….) Then it was WALL-E. WALL-E showed me that you didn’t have to sacrifice your story in order to have jaw-dropping visuals. (I’m a fan of the movie Avatar. The visuals, for me, hold up to this day. Though the kind of story being told — man defects from the side he was on in order to fight for the side he was against — has been told before.)
Now, my favorite movie, and my favorite story in general, is Whisper of the Heart. It’s the story of a middle school girl in early 90’s Tokyo who, inspired by a boy she meets, sets off to find what it is she’s passionate about — what drives her.
I know that I can’t compare Halo 5 to Whisper of the Heart. But I bring up Whisper of the Heart in order to illustrate how my taste in stories has changed over the years.
343 can show me all the jaw-dropping action and beautiful worlds they want, but unless the characters are fleshed out than I am unable to care about their plight, and as a result unable to care about the plight of the universe they live in.
*I know Cortana will have some role in the story, though.