Followers on Twitter will know that having completed Halo 4 I decided to replay the entire Halo series starting with Halo: Reach and working my way through. This was as much to do with getting the full story in my mind as anything else.
Whilst playing Halo 2 I realised something. It sucks. Out loud. It received a lot of criticism at original release and at the time I didn’t understand why – although I knew it wasn’t as good as the first – but with this recent replaying I’ve figured it out.
It isn’t the fact that the game jumps from one perspective to another, although it is annoying, it’s the fact that the story is just messy and rushed. It feels like Bungie were trying to cram an awful lot of plot developments into Halo 2 to allow for the Halo 3 to conclude the Flood story arc. I suspect this was as much to do with Bungie already deciding that they wanted to go in a different direction to Microsoft Game Studios. Even if that isn’t the case the statement still stands: Halo 2 is just too fussy. The civil war within the Covenant just escalates far too quickly and becomes a fleet scale war in no time at all.
And it all happens with far too many gaps. In a way Halo 2 was a proper stab at making a game a movie with multiple protagonists with the story developing along converging plot lines. It was ambitious but, sadly, rubbish. I also suspect one of the main reasons the story suffered was that an awful lot of time, effort and, therefore, money went into the multiplayer part of the game. According to an interview on the bonus disc it was a last-minute decision to leave the multiplayer in at the expense of some of the campaign because there wasn’t enough space on the disc. On the one hand I’m glad they did as Halo multiplayer is ace, but I play for the campaign so I’m never going to be entirely happy that thecompromise had to be made.
It’s made worse by the Retcon. In Halo 2 the Brutes were new additions to the Covenant but they feature in Halo Reach. Admittedly the events of Halo 2 aren’t that much later than Reach but enough that it doesn’t make sense.
Granted much of the reasoning is explained in the subtext of Halo 3: ODST but that came out in 2009 and Halo 2 in 2004. That’s a long time to wait to fill in plot holes and it’s not really good enough. ODST is a fine game in its own right – an elegant film noir that fleshes out the Halo universe – but it was as much about patching over the cracks as anything else.
There has been talk of Halo 2 Anniversary. A similar deal to Halo Anniversary in which a second game engine runs along side the original one making it look all pretty. At first I thought this would be a good thing but I honestly don’t think it’s the way to go. Halo 2 Anniversary should be a rebuild. The plot needs tightening up, the timeline straightened out and some of the more pointless parts of levels taken out or improved. Either way it shouldn’t be a straight reskin. They could even go all out and have Halo 2 & ODST Anniversary as a double pack.
Indications are Halo 2 Anniversary, if it goes ahead, will be out in 2014 and Halo 5 in 2015.
And what of Halo 5? By the way this’ll contain spoilers if you haven’t completed the game yet and intend to.
With Cortana dead and the Chief finally back on Earth he’ll face not only having reintegrate with a world he’s never+the Chief will be confronted with his humanity more than ever, forced to deal with loss, the fact that he is now not only removed from humanity but removed from other Spartans.
Halo 4 was all about revelations and loss. Halo 5 will, I suspect, see the Chief paired with a new AI being forced to adjust to a new personality that doesn’t have the history that he and Cortana had, and all the while having to deal with the death of Cortana and the realisation that he is not only removed from humanity but from his fellow Spartans too being the last of the MkIIs and the MkIVs being augmented adults without the psycho indoctrination although lacking none of the bravado of the Mk IIIs.
Of course the real question is who will the Chief be facing? The Didact is dead and the Promethean Knights left behind on the Shield World. The Covenant is all but disbanded and an uneasy truce exists between its members races and humanity. But clearly something is about to get real as it’s called the Reclaimer arc for a reason.
Whatever the foe I can’t wait to find out what awaits the Chief.