Last Tuesday was election day, and while some people talked about voting for the lesser of two evils there was an ancient evil awakening in the fictional Halo Universe. Now, I’ve only played the first Halo game (I did get the sequel but my XBOX died before I got around to playing it.) I have also watched a lot of Red vs. Blue (which has just released its tenth season to video!) I also had this sting where I collected all of the red Spartan Halo 3 figures released by McFarlane toys, even though I never played the game. It’s just a generally cool design.
Somehow, Halo had done a better job of drawing me in with its mythos than its gameplay. Go fall down the rabbit hole of reading the Halo wiki. The universe it describes is as interesting and developed as many other fictional sci-fi epics. But better than most older established universes (Star Wars, Star Trek, Lensman, Ender) this one is still being developed and/or has devolved into complete nonsense. The universe is portrayed as a vast, horrifying place that the reader could easily envision themselves as a part of as themselves. I think a big part of what made the universe so engrossing was how it was officially portrayed; in those aforementioned live action commercials the events of Halo 3 were depicted in past tense, with regular (not retired) soldiers recalling their experiences alongside Master Chief the way a modern soldier would be interviewed for some History Channel documentary. This wasn’t Star Wars, where you’d have to a light-saber wielding Jedi like Luke Skywalker to matter. There, the common man was largely ignored (or cannon fodder.) The last fictional universe to really give any indication that someone besides the chosen ones/heroes mattered was probably Babylon 5 (and to a lesser degree, Deep Space 9.) I was eager to pore over the spoilers for Halo 4’s storyline (because I would never play it, since I have a PS3) to find out the latest developments in the story.
Yes, the story of an FPS. Insane, I know. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I’m only interested in the story. I have absolutely no interest in playing the game. I know what the game is like: your bog standard FPS. It’s a sci-fi FPS, which at least makes it a little more unique among an ocean of Modern Warfare clones, but I still have a good idea of what the game is like.
Along those same lines I watched the ending for the recently released Assassin’s Creed 3. Great! Now I don’t need to play the game. I hated the game anyway. And while the fans may be pissed at the way the story went, I applaud the writers for not finding a way of making things revert to the status quo and maybe even force the game into some very unique territory.