Opinion: Why We Don't Want (Or Need) Halo 4

Microsoft's Latest Cash Grab is Nothing Anyone Needs
Magic new armor and a lack of Bungie. It's Zombie Chief, back from the end!
It was hard to miss the grins on Microsoft's faces walking onto the stage at this years E3. After all, Microsoft had formed 343 studios with the sole purpose of milking the Halo franchise dry (my words not theirs, but effectively true) so we knew that Microsoft had to be planning the unveil of at least one major Halo title this E3. Then they announced two and the crowd went nuts. An HD remake of the original Halo, and an entirely new Halo title, Halo 4.

Nice one Microsoft, way to cheapen the entire series.

Now I've made it clear before that I really enjoy the Halo series. What started out as an average shooter redeemed itself with its fun story (with some surprising twists) and the draw of networked multiplayer games on a console. As the series progressed the story got better as Bungie worked to craft the lore behind the game, and the series overall was incredibly enjoyable. When Halo 3 ended, they did everything they could to make clear that the series was over.

I guess it wasn't enough.

One of the reasons the mere existence of Halo 4 feels so wrong is that it cheapens the entire experience of Halo 3, in both its characters and its resolution. Halo 3 was all about finalizing the story of the Master Chief, and it does so quite masterfully. If you've ever read Campbells "Hero of a Thousand Faces" or studied the journey of the hero, you can see quite clearly in Halo 3's ending how well Bungie ascribed to closing elements that end a heroes journey. From the loss of the mentor, the brotherhood in someone that was once his enemy, to the ambiguous fate of the Chief himself, the entire ending is the well crafted story of a hero designed to be a close.

The announcement of Halo 4 ruins all that by suddenly explaining what happened after the end. It cheapens the whole of the experience that was the first three titles. To make a comparison, look at the Lord of the Rings (both novels and movies). They end at a very clear point, with each of the heroes coming to an accomplishment and then choosing  how to continue in life. Frodo sails off with the elves across the sea, Legolas and Gimli set off to unnamed lands. Do we need to find out what happens to Frodo across the ocean? Do we need to have another several books detailing the adventures of Gimli and Legolas? No, because as it was, the ending gave us what we needed to know.

Halo 3's ending was much the same way (Note that this is only the last part of the ending, to understand it in full you'd best play through the last half of Halo 3). A fitting close to the saga, with the hint of adventure to come for the Chief. But much like the life of Frodo after LoTR, it's not an adventure we truly want to see. Those adventures are better left to our minds then played out on some screen . Now compare that somber and fitting ending with the trailer for Halo 4. Setting aside the obvious lack of attention to detail from 343 (different armor, magical jetpack), Halo 3's ending feels empty in retrospect. Crud, look at the tagline for Halo 4: Set in the aftermath of Halo 3, Master Chief returns to confront his own destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe.

We already DID that. That was Halo 1, 2, and 3.

There's one other reason I would give for why no-one should be looking forward to Halo 4: it's not Bungie. It's 343. Ignore all that fanboy-speak about 343 being made up of all the members of Bungie who wanted to see Halo continue, its bogus. They have Bungie's old franchise director. Not designer, or coder. Franchise director. 343 is NOT capable of building a decent Halo title. Look at the material they've built and sold for Halo so far:

  • Halo Wars, an almost RTS title for consoles that was famous for simply ignoring established storyline
  • The Halo Reach Map packs, none of which show the polish of Bungie's own home built maps

None of 343's prior offerings have shown even a remote closeness to the core of the Halo design save in name only, and quite frankly the only thing that can be expected by handing the reigns to a new Halo franchise is a generic shooter that fails to capture even a slight part of the original series charm and design.

This is even sadder when you think that 343's design could probably fit any other character and design. They could have created their own hero, their own lore, and spent the time to build their own game, but instead they'd rather create their own cheap imitation of series already finished. Its as if Fox got their hands on all the Star Wars rights and decided to make their own sequels. That Emperor guy? Back! Darth Vader? Not cool enough, lets give Luke a twin brother that NO ONE knew about who's ALSO a Sith Lord! This is what happens when a company decides to make money for the sake of having money.

Thus ends my rant on why I will NOT purchase Halo 4. Sorry guys, but I liked the end the way it was.

Image Copyright Microsoft

1 comment:

ExtremeMMOgamer said...

For me it will depend on what direction the story will be headed. Right now unless you played Halo 3 on legendary most people don't know where it is going. But if you have a great game and every installment is better then last why not make a sequel to make some money. Plus its a great way to keep people playing the old franchises as well. Since nothing much is known about it now it maybe a great game when and if it does come out.