Monday, August 13, 2012

Halo: A Look Back

Halo has been the flagship title of Microsoft. Seven games to date have been made, all of them a delight to behold. The epic story takes us deep into space, in an age of exploration and all-out war. The tale has taken us many years to learn, and even more ancient mysteries remain.

Halo: Combat Evolved brought us into the fold, where Humanity faces complete annihilation. Earth is the last protected planet from the ruthless Covenant forces. Set on the gigantic structure, simply termed Halo, we fill the boots of the Master Chief. A genetically enhanced Super Soldier, code named "Spartan", he is further aided by a suit of armor that raises his strength, speed and reflexes to beyond even his superhuman traits. An AI, named Cortana, is our companion on this trip. She gets into our head. Literally.

During the combat with the Covenant, we find an even more frightening enemy. The Flood. A parasitic organism that will kill and infect any sentient life-form it comes across. It's whole purpose? To control and consume. It is nearly unstoppable and requires massive amounts of both nerves and firepower to engage these nightmares. The Halo construct was designed to eliminate the Flood by destroying all sentient life in the Universe, thereby starving it out. The only way to end both the threat of the Flood and the installation to the rest of the galaxy, was to destroy Halo.

Barely surviving the explosion in time, Master Chief makes his way back to Earth. Enter Halo 2. The Covenant have found our home. Moments ago you were getting a medal, now you are locked in a deadly firefight as the Covenant try to destroy the defensive platforms. Mowing down the enemy, you find a bomb that was set to destroy your satellite. Returning it seems only fitting. Jumping out the airlock, bomb in tow, you plummet through the ships between you and earth. Reaching the Covenant carrier, you activate the timer and continue on your way. The explosion? Beautiful.

Now the real battle begins. The fight on Earth is brief, but intense. With the Covenant forces defeated, the High Prophet Regret immediately retreats. The UNSC ship, In Amber Clad, follows them. Once out of slipspace, they find a second Halo ring. Obviously the first one, was not the only. Master Chief is sent to kill Regret, while the crew searches for how to destroy the second installation.You also take part as the Elite warrior, Arbiter, to learn about the Covenant side of story. You learn the Prophets have lied to them for generations and mean to betray all the Elites.

While traveling on this newest Halo, you encounter the Gravemind, the collective consciousness of the Flood. His goals mirror your own, although for more selfish reasons. He sends Master Chief to High Charity to take advantage of a Covenant civil war. This was used as a distraction so the Gravemind could infest In Amber Clad and spread the flood. The High prophet of Mercy is taken by the flood forms once they escape the ship. Unable to destroy Halo and prevent the sequence firing, they yank the Index, causing the system to prime all the rings so they can only be fired from The Ark. Cortana stays behind to destroy the Flood infested ship, High Charity.

Now we get to Halo 3. After escaping the second Halo, Master Chief returns to Earth to pursue The Ark. Crashing to Earth, his armor is locked up. Once he recovers, he finds himself surrounded by marines, and one Elite. Getting up he attacks the Elite, before being told by Johnson it's the Arbiter. The Elites have left the Covenant and have joined Humanity in the fight. A few firefights through the jungle later, Master Chief is headed to a UNSC bunker to plan out the next move.

The Covenant have discovered the portal to the Ark in Africa. Master Chief is sent in to take it back before the Covenant can get to it. During the fight, a flood infested ship arrives and starts taking over as much as it can, before your new found allies, the Elites, start eradicating the infestation. You and the Arbiter, along with Forward unto Dawn, chase the High Prophet Truth, and his forces through the portal.

Arriving, Chief learns the Covenant already have taken control of a large portion of the Ark. They must move quickly to ensure they can stop Truth from activating the rings. Fighting their way through the various landscapes, they quickly clear out enemy entrenchments. Truth captures Johnson since only a human can interact with Forerunner technology. When they reach the control center, Master Chief and the Arbiter are approached by the Gravemind. He proposes a collaboration to prevent Truth from firing the Ark, since it would mean the end of the Flood as well. Master Chief agrees, knowing neither of them will keep the truce once they stop Truth. While there, they learn the first Halo that was destroyed is being remade.

The rings are activated and the firing sequence starts. After killing Truth, the Gravemind turns on the Chief and the Arbiter, forcing them to escape the control center. Once they escape, Master Chief tells the Arbiter the only way to stop the Ark is to destroy the Halo currently under production. And in order to accomplish that, they need to rescue Cortana. Imprisoned by the Gravemind so he could learn her secrets, she rests in the belly of the ship. One secret she carries, is the Index from the first Halo. It can be used to destroy the Halo once more, causing a chain reaction through the entire Ark, rendering the Halos inert.

Once they trigger the detonation sequence, they race to the ship Forward unto Dawn. The blast rips apart the slipspace jump, and only the front half of the ship, carrying the Arbiter, makes it back to Earth. Believing the Master Chief is dead, they hold a memorial service. Meanwhile, Master Chief and Cortana are drifting through space in the rear end of the ship. Master Chief gets in a cryo tube to wait out the possible years until rescue, telling Cortana "Wake me if you need me."

Spartans never die.

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