Halo’s TV Show Is an Utter Disappointment

I’m staring at my laptop screen guiltily, realizing that this, the first post I’ve posted in months, is not to share some life achievement or to inundate you, my Above Average readers, with the superb writing skills I’ve purportedly been honing while I’ve been gone.

Instead I’m going to complain about a TV show.

But goddammit, I can’t help it.

You want to know why I’ve been so absent lately? It’s because of work. I edit, write, and assist in managing a website that focuses primarily on gaming content, and trust me when I say it’s not as fun-filled as it sounds. It takes discipline to be on top of your schedule, diplomacy to work with the various (honestly wonderful, who am I kidding) personality types in our online spaces, and dedication to be working 42-hour weeks on average. (Sometimes it’s more.)

So in my downtime, I like to take some time to actually enjoy the medium my career now orbits around. I play games and I watch TV shows related to these games.

And as you, my faithful Above Average readers, might know by now, there is no gaming franchise I adore more than Halo.

And fucking fuck, they messed it all up.

I didn’t go into the new Paramount Plus show with bitter pessimism. I went into it with eager hope. And those first three episodes had me mightily intrigued. I liked a lot of the things this Silver timeline was dishing out.

Side note: For those of you not in the know, the Halo TV series has crafted this “Silver timeline” that stands separate from the events in the games and books and assorted canon materials. It’s basically a carte blanche to work with the content of the games without having to be bound by their existing narrative.

And while I wasn’t keen on Master Chief removing his helmet (the Halo equivalent of blowing your load outside of the restaurant before you’ve even met that first date), I wasn’t uber pissed about it. I was patient. Willing to see what they were going to give me.

They gave me a heaping pile of Moa shit.

They presented this character named Kwan Ha to us in the first episode as if she would be a foil to Master Chief. Where he was a jaded, brainwashed super soldier, she would be the spirited rebel with no desire to submit to the UNSC, the one to convince him to break free.

But they basically spent two episodes together and then never saw each other again.

And while Kwan Ha’s background appeared interesting, we never got the chance to really see it aside from one flashback. You can’t expect me to care as much about a side story you did not even have the decency to fully develop when you then decides to give it its own whole episode.

That’s not to say there weren’t good moments in the show. Many of the action setpieces were awesome, and I actually really liked the characters of Cortana, Dr. Halsey, Kai, and Captain Keyes.

But you know who I grew to loathe?

Master frickin’ Chief.

Or should I say John?

I don’t know who they think the Master Chief is, but it’s definitely not the douche nozzle they gave us.

I don’t even care that they showed his face at this point! Could they at least have made him less of a jerk?

Side note: I’d also like it if they could make Master Chief a person who does not sleep with a Covenant spy. That would be nifty. That would be really swell.

He frequently makes the most irrational of decisions, leaving us fans wondering hopelessly at what his motivations are. He gets angry in almost every pivotal moment in this one episode, and it just cements him as this unlikable person. It says something about how a character has been developed when you find yourself sympathizing with the scientist who kidnapped, experimented on, and lied to him rather than him.

For instance, at one point, Master Chief removes this emotion-blocking pellet from his lower spine so he can feel his feelings better. A fellow Spartan, Kai, sees this and gets the idea to do it herself. However, when she almost happily presents him with this information, he gets mad at her and declares her unfit for combat.

HYPOCRITE, MUCH?

Look, the thing that’s so cool about Master Chief is how much he gives and does for humanity, with little to no thought for his well-being. The drive he has to finish his fights and protect humanity whatever the cost makes him a hero.

You don’t see that here in the show. At all. You get a bit of it at the ending, but it feels less like a heroic act and more like a well-there-is-literally-nothing-else-I-can-do-to-get-out-of-this-situation act.

And I get it. Master Chief as he is in the games is a larger-than-life character. It’s tough to translate that to a TV show and have him be this relatable person.

Which is why this show should not have been about Master Chief.

Master Chief could have been a prominent figure in the show, but the main character should have been someone like Kwan Ha or Miranda Keyes or a random UNSC marine. Someone just trying to get through the struggles of a human-Covenant war from a position and perspective we could understand more easily.

If any of my Above Average readers are Halo fans, do you remember Forward Unto Dawn, that little miniseries 343 Industries did to promote Halo 4? That is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Lasky was just a dude with an allergy trying to figure out if he wanted to stay in school or not, with an intimidating mom and an older brother everyone thought was better. And when his school got attacked by the Covenant and Chief rescued some of Lasky and his classmates, he looked friggin’ awesome and amazing, but he did not detract in any way from Lasky’s story. If anything, he enhanced it. He inspired Lasky to be a better man, a better soldier in times of crisis. When Lasky decides to be a distraction so Chief can get a better angle on a Hunter, that moment is all Lasky. You are cheering for him, even though Master Chief is being way cool and flipping around sticking plasma grenades on the Hunter.

Side note: AXIOS!

That’s what this show should have been.

Okay, I’ve moaned and complained about this little video game television show enough. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal that it sucks eggs. I got to watch the show with a friend who loves Halo as much as I do, and that made the whole thing pretty funny, even though we were both shrieking, “What?!” more than half the time an episode was on.

I feel the need to apologize for not posting much, i.e. at all, these past few weeks. It’s not been some glorious vacation or anything. Work has been work. I spend hours of my day plugged into my computer, stuck in my computer chair, doing computer things for a job that entails a lot of computer. And when I’m done, I find myself wanting to hang out as far away from my computer as I can. Sometimes I’ll go for a nice walk; sometimes I’ll flop on the couch and watch YouTube videos. Other times, I’ll turn on my Xbox and play a few games.

Side note: My Xbox is not my computer, shush. It’s an entirely different thing, not the same at all. I’m on the couch when I play.

So I’m sorry for not being around much.

Actually, heck, I don’t know why I’m apologizing. I’m not sure how many of you are still with me. I don’t even look at my stats page anymore. For all I know, I’m posting this into the void. But it was fun to write it.

And as I keep reminding myself, that’s what matters. That it’s fun. And as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it.

See you in the next post, my glorious, possibly nonexistent, Above Average readers!

I rate Paramount Plus’ Halo series a my-god-it-is-below-average-it-is-so-below-average-it’s-worse-than-my-blog-and-that’s-saying-something-because-my-blog-sucks.

Were It So Easy: Halo Infinite Review

I’ve waited a long time to review a new Halo game. I didn’t have this blog back when Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians came out. But ever since I made one, I’ve been champing at the bit to review Halo things.

The problem is, Halo things don’t just fall from trees. It’s been seven years since Halo 5 came out. Presumably, some of those years were taken up developing Halo Infinite.

And I spent all of those years yearning for a new Halo experience.

I’ve loved Halo for a long, long time.

I’m in no way the best Halo player out there. Far from it. In fact, you could probably count me as one of the worst players. I’m too brash in multiplayer, with no skills to back it up. I don’t bother spending time learning new tricks to make myself a better player either. I am the bane of my teammates’ existence.

But god help me, I love the games. I love the feel of them, the sound of them, the story of them, everything.

The soundtrack sends me in raptures.

I used to annoy my sister all the time, asking her to replay the campaigns with me. She got so fed up with me, my mother eventually had to step in and guilt-trip her into playing with me so I wouldn’t sulk and play alone.

My closest friends have all played Halo with me couch co-op style at some point during our friendship. Even the ones who don’t play video games.

I have more Halo books on my shelves than I do Stephen King books, and if you know how much I love Stephen King, you know that’s saying something.

So when I say I was “excited” for Halo Infinite, you’ll know that’s the understatement of the year.

This past December, Halo Infinite’s campaign released. Admittedly, it started off on the wrong foot for me because it released without a co-op option, but I kept an open mind.

And now, after having played it, I can say that Halo Infinite…

…is good.

It isn’t perfect, but it is good.

And I am thoroughly okay with that.

The Story

To briefly summarize Halo’s narrative is rough. A ton of things have happened over the course of the five mainline games, six spin-offs, and the multitude of novels centered around its universe.

So I’m not even going to try to summarize everything. Rather, I’ll just let you know what you can expect from Halo Infinite’s story alone.

Halo 5 saw Cortana’s rise to power over the whole galaxy, using Forerunner technology to bring every sentient species to its knees. Master Chief and the rest of humanity have to rally what little they can muster to counterattack.

Infinite starts with the Chief and the UNSC forces interrupted in the midst of eliminating Cortana by a force of grumpy ex-Covenant known as the Banished. The leader of the Banished actually defeats Master Chief, which means six months later, Chief has to pick up the pieces of what happened while he was out of commission.

The plan to defeat Cortana worked, but the Banished now have control of Zeta Halo, one of the giant ring-shaped superweapons the Forerunners left hanging around the universe. Given the temperament of the Brute in charge of the Banished, the notion of them having such a superweapon at their disposal is terrifying.

Master Chief, along with a reluctant Pelican pilot who just wants to go home and an eager-to-please AI known as the Weapon, has to reclaim Zeta Halo inch by inch, defeat the Banished at every turn, and contend with a new foe that is lingering on the ringworld as well.

Right off the bat, you can kind of tell that Halo Infinite ignores most of the story from Halo 5: Guardians. Though it uses its predecessor’s narrative to jumpstart its plot, Infinite charts its own course when it comes to the story. Gone is the excessive amount of characters introduced in Halo 5. Infinite focuses on a smaller, core group of characters, which means the emotional journey each one takes feels more impactful.

Things are able to breathe with fewer characters. It was hard to care about Locke, Vale, Tanaka, Buck, Chief, Linda, Kelly, and Fred in Halo 5: Guardians because that’s eight people indirectly vying for attention.

In Infinite, we are happily limited to caring about Chief, the Weapon, and the Pilot. When they go through a trauma, express reservations, or crack a joke, you just feel more because they are our human connections to the world we’re exploring and the narrative we’re traversing.

Infinite also improves upon the antagonists this time around. Fuck Prometheans. The Banished are where it’s at. Damn, I have missed Brutes.

In Halo 4 and Halo 5, these Promethean warriors were your enemies, but they were basically robots. They didn’t have a “personality.”

Brutes do.

They will get angry at Chief, taunt Chief, bum-rush him when they land in nearby drop pods.

Escharum, the leader of the Banished by the time Chief wakes up from his six-month nap, also has such a presence throughout the game. He’ll leave these long-winded messages gloating over the Chief. In a weird way, Escharum is happy the Chief survived because he wants a challenge in his life.

And it’s kind of nice to have a villain who wants you around.

That’s not to say I didn’t miss characters I was introduced to in the prior two games. Lasky is briefly mentioned in audio logs, and I found myself hungering for more information about him. I seriously wanted to know if he survived the destruction of the Infinity.

Hell, even Locke was referred to in an audio log, and I found myself wishing I knew more about what he and Osiris were up to during the events of Halo Infinite.

If you were unsatisfied with Halo 5: Guardian’s story, I think Infinite will be a balm to your soul. It feels more like a “Halo story,” if that makes sense, with less exposition and more experiences than in Halo 5.

The Open World

Many were surprised to learn that Halo Infinite would have an open-world structure to its campaign. While the series has definitely dabbled with an open world in levels like The Silent Cartographer, the games have all consisted of linear mission design.

When you’re first dropped onto Zeta Halo, there is this sense of wonder. You can see mountains in the distance, lightly touched by the rising sun, and you can feel awed at the assurance that you can in fact walk (and by walk, I mean sprint/grapple) to the top of that mountain.

Infinite encourages this sense of wonder at every turn. Fall damage is completely gone. You can shuttle up and down cliffs without having to worry about spraining the Chief’s ankle. And the addition of the Grappleshot means you can scale the tallest mountainsides with a few quick thrusts.

Sprinkled throughout the map are story objectives, upgrade locations, boss fights, unlockable FOBs, hidden audio logs, and rescue missions.

When I was in the middle of playing the game, I bemusedly asked my coworker if he thought they had cluttered the game with useless side content, like in current Assassin’s Creed titles.

He said, and I quote, “Yeah, I guess they did Ubisoft [Halo], but they did it in a classy way.”

The spacing of these missions and collectibles feels right, not too cluttered, not too far out. I never groaned to myself and thought, “Oh damn, another FOB to unlock.” I had fun opening up the map for myself.

However, I have two big complaints about the way Infinite is structured.

For one thing, while what we see of Zeta Halo feels grand and gorgeous when we first step onto its surface, it quickly becomes a bit monotonous. Gone is the variety of environments that we used to see in Halo games. There are no snowy levels, desert levels, swampy levels, or city levels.

You are either on the wooded surface of the ring or in the metallic interior. Those two environments are what you will constantly see while playing Halo Infinite, and while traversing the ring never gets tiring, the setting eventually wears out its welcome.

My second complaint deals in nostalgia.

As I said earlier, I love replaying the Halo campaigns. Every so often, I’ll still say, “You know what? I want to play Truth and Reconciliation.” And I’ll pop in Halo: CE and load up that third mission.

You can’t have that in Infinite.

The open-world format means no self-contained missions, and I kind of miss the cleanliness of being able to pick out one I like and replay it. If I want to replay a moment from Halo Infinite…I’m going to have to start the campaign from scratch.

The Combat

Oh my god.

I love the way combat feels in Halo Infinite.

The physics-fun nature of it, the glory of the Grappleshot, the sheer joy of a weapons sandbox that finally feels useful again.

Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians suffered from a terrible weapons sandbox. Half of the weapons in those games didn’t feel fun to use, so you never bothered with them. Of the roughly twenty-five weapons in Halo Infinite, on the other hand, I think I’m not fond of only two.

My favorite weapons to use were the Sidekick (the new pistol that has replaced the Magnum from previous Halo games), the Shock Rifle (this zappy sniper rifle thing that just looks super cool), and the Heatwave (a total Dead Space plasma cutter rip-off, but I love it).

Fighting the different enemies on Zeta Halo is also more fun than dealing with the Wardern Eternal a gazillion times.

The Banished have such a personality. I already said this in the story section, but it’s true in the combat too. Brutes either rush you in this mad rage, or they relentlessly shoot you with weapons as they taunt you. Elites are more reserved, and you have to deal with their shields. Jackals now have a new way to hold their shields as they fire at you, making them surprisingly tough to get used to as an enemy type. And Grunts…

…they’re just adorable.

Halo Infinite has given Grunts the best bits of dialogue I’ve yet heard from them in a Halo game. They’re cowardly, they’re snarky, they shriek, they cackle. And someone needs to give that Grunt Propaganda Officer a raise.

One of the new ways Infinite places you in a combat scenario is through boss fights. In both open-world areas and in story moments, the Master Chief has to go up against some tough Banished baddies, and overall, it’s a fun and challenging experience.

That said, there were some moments that just utterly ticked me off.

I’m going to go right out and say it, I was not fond of the Escharum boss battle. Close quarters with a rampaging Brute holding a Gravity Hammer that practically one-shots you with a health bar that diminishes in millimeters?

Color me not interested.

I like tough fights, don’t get me wrong. But Escharum bordered a bit on the unfair and unfun. My boss fight with him devolved into me swinging from one side of a cramped room to another, shooting at him for two seconds, then repeating. I whittled his health down bit by bit, and I was grimacing the whole time.

Conclusion

I desperately missed the couch co-op element of Halo games while I was playing Infinite, not just because it’s fun to play games with friends, but because Infinite itself feels like it would reach pinnacles of greatness if you had a buddy by your side playing it with you.

It captures the wonder of the original games almost perfectly, and it maintains it for a surprising amount of time given the lack of variety in environments.

The combat has also never felt better to me. It might not be the “competitive” type of gameplay fans of Halo 5: Guardians preferred, but it feels like Halo.

Approaching encounters and enemies in Halo Infinite is different every time. I could be tackling the same objective as someone else, but we could both go about it in very different ways, which heightens the game’s replay value.

And that’s considering that it may be harder to replay Halo Infinite because that means starting from the very beginning.

But I can definitely say it will be worth it.

I rate Halo Infinite a joy-to-play-for-a-long-time-Halo-fan-and-a-massive-relief-like-I-swear-a-weight-has-dropped-from-my-shoulders-faster-than-a-Scorpion-tank-drops-on-an-unsuspecting-ODST.

Top 5 Master Chief Moments

As any reader of my video game posts will know, I have a deep and abiding love for the Master Chief. For those not in the know, Master Chief is the protagonist of the Halo series. And as should be established by now, I LOVE the Halo series.

For today’s post, I thought I’d talk about my favorite Master Chief moments from the core Halo games. (That means Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, and *sigh* Halo 5: Guardians.) I’ve been doing a bunch of video game-related posts recently, and it’s probably because I am super mega excited for E3.

Side note: Posts about E3 itself will be published forthwith!

So just bear with me and my Master Chief adoration, yeah?

The Grenade Beach Ball (H:CE)

When the Chief and Cortana decide to destroy the Halo ring, Cortana’s big plan is to overheat the engines of the Pillar of Autumn. The resulting explosion will be big enough to tear apart the ring.

The plan would have worked without a hitch if 343 Guilty Spark had not hacked into the Autumn’s network and prevented Cortana from igniting the engines remotely from the ship’s bridge. (What a cock blocker.) After she finds out about Spark’s intervention, Cortana is at a loss, which is a rare thing since, as an AI, her existence consists of thinking.

That’s when Chief steps in with the bright idea of just causing the engines to explode directly. He asks how much firepower would be needed to cause a reaction, and Cortana’s all like, “Well, a pretty big effin’ explosion.”

To emphasize his utility with big explosions, the Chief starts tossing a grenade up and down in his hand. The thing is, this grenade is disproportionately huge compared to the Chief. It looks like a friggin’ beach ball. And when he puts it away, he just tucks it into this nowhere pocket behind his back. It’s one of my favorite moments in Combat Evolved.

He Does Know What The Ladies Like (H2)

This is technically a Johnson moment, but screw it, this is my Master Chief list, and I can include a Sergeant Johnson moment in it if I want to.

Johnson drops off a tank so that Master Chief and Cortana can cruise around blowing up the Covenant in style. Cortana thanks Johnson, complaining that the Chief never gets her anything. It’s banter, all in good fun.

And then Johnson just kind of rumbles out, “Oh, I know what the ladies like.”

Every time he says this, every time, I have to mimic Johnson’s exact tone of voice and intonation.

And I, as a self-proclaimed lady, do like the tank every time Johnson brings it.

Back-To-Back Buddies (H3)

Arbiter and Master Chief started out Halo 3 as enemies, but they ended it as friends. And they did this with practically no dialogue spoken between them.

The key defining moment is when Arbiter finally gets his revenge on the Prophet of Truth. He stabs that damn, dirty Prophet in the back, and then he and Chief share a glance. The Chief nods, and even though they say nothing, a whole conversation just happened there. I always picture it going something like this:

Arbiter: It is done. I have just completed my journey, finished the arc for myself as a character in this epic sci-fi opera. My enemy is defeated, and I am free.

Master Chief: Heck yeah, brah. I see that. I respect that. I’m here for it. But we still have work to do. There are two more missions to the game.

Arbiter: All right. Let’s do this.

I’m Not Surrendering Sh*t (H4)

Halo 4 has by far the most comprehensive story. That’s because things got personal between Cortana and the Chief. The two of you have been together for this whole time, and her slow decline into rampancy is terrible to watch. My heart hurt.

So when this dick-head officer named Captain Del Rio demands Chief turn in Cortana for “final dispensation,” you want to cheer when Chief slips Cortana’s chip out of a computer console and returns it to his helmet.

And when Del Rio throws a hissy fit about it, shrieking, “Surrender that AI!” and all Master Chief does is say, “No,” I wanted to roll around the floor giggling.

Take that whiny captain guy!

Locke Alone (H5)

Ugh.

It was hard to find a Master Chief moment in Halo 5 because there’s hardly any Master Chief in the whole game! And the parts where he is included do not have the oomph of previous games.

There is one moment I enjoy tremendously though.

It’s during the fight between Chief and Locke halfway through the game.

And no, before you ask, it’s not the fight itself. That fight was stupid. It was just a lame punching match.

No, the moment I’m talking about happens during the fight, and it’s the fact that every single one of Locke’s team is just standing around watching the fight, not helping.

Like, I get that they might not want to intrude on a cinematic one-on-one battle, or maybe they have a generic sense of honor about things, but come on, dude-bros. Your team leader got his ass whooped, and you only stepped in to help after Chief peaced out of there. I’m honestly surprised Locke didn’t curse you guys to hell and back again.

So those are some of my favorite Master Chief moments. If you’ve played Halo, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t you probably didn’t read this far. (And if you did, kudos to you!)

The In-Depth Halo 3 Synopsis That No One Is Asking For

Hah!

You guys probably thought I forgot all about my synopsis project to summarize every major entry in the Halo video game series. You’d be forgiven for thinking so, because it has been a long time since I wrote my Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 summaries.

But I’m back, baby! And I’m ready to give you a Below Average, not-so-short summary of my all-time favorite video game series once again.

Let’s get into Halo 3!

Last we saw Master Chief, he was on board a Covenant ship headed to Earth. Earth is under attack by a massive Covenant fleet, so yeah, they could really use his assistance.

Cortana was left behind, plugged into the space-faring Covenant city, High Charity. Chief promised to go back for her, and we’re sure she is currently holding her breath in anticipation.

Miranda Keyes, Avery Johnson, the Arbiter, and 343 Guilty Spark were on a Halo ring, aghast at the prospect of all the Halo rings in the universe being set to blow. After just barely managing to stop the Halo they were on from being fired, safety protocols now have every Halo primed to fire from a single location called the Ark.

Side note: Seriously, what kind of safety protocol is that?!

If you’re at all confused by what I’m talking about, then clearly you haven’t read my past two summaries which can be found here and here!

Halo 3 opens with Master Chief plummeting to Earth from space because he wasn’t smart enough to find a usable life pod. He crash-lands his body into a dense forest somewhere in Africa.

Johnson and the Arbiter somehow got to Earth before the Chief even though he was in orbit and they were on a distant Halo ring at the end of Halo 2. They find the small crater where the Chief landed and inspect the immobile body of our favorite Spartan. The Chief’s armor locked up on impact, so for a quick second, Johnson thinks the Chief is dead.

Side note: That could never have happened because then we wouldn’t have a game to play.

The Chief wakes up, and there is a friendly reunion between him and Johnson.

But then the Chief catches sight of the Arbiter. Master Chief didn’t play Halo 2, so he has no way of knowing that the Arbiter is one cool guy. He just thinks the Arbiter is a dangerous Elite lurking behind Johnson. Quick as a flash, the Chief pulls out a Magnum and jams it under the Arbiter’s weird four-mandibled jaw. Luckily, Johnson speaks up and tells the Chief that Arbiter’s on their side now.

The Chief grudgingly puts his pistol away, but you can tell he and the Arbiter are not entirely trusting each other.

The group makes their way out of the forest, and after some mishaps with some Brutes, Johnson, the Arbiter, and the Chief are picked up by a Pelican and taken to an underground bunker where the UNSC is holing up. Miranda is there, and I still can’t understand why it took so freakin’ long for Chief to land on Earth. Miranda had the time to set up an entire base of operations!

Anyway, once there, Miranda and Admiral Hood fill Chief in on what’s been happening. The reason behind the Covenant invasion of Earth is apparently some artifact that is buried in Africa, just outside the city of New Mombasa. Hood sends Chief to attack anti-air defenses the Covenant have set up around their dig site so that he (Hood) can bomb the shit out of them with his ships and stop them from recovering the artifact.

Chief does a fantastic job of taking out the anti-air defenses, but the Covenant get to the artifact first anyways. The artifact was this Forerunner portal opener, and the Covenant fleet, which is carrying the nefarious Prophet of Truth, goes through the portal without a second thought to Earth and its people.

With perfect dramatic timing, just as the Covenant depart through the portal, a Flood-infested ship appears above Earth and crashes near where the Chief is. He and the Arbiter have to fight their way aboard the Flood ship, and while in there, they find a broken recording from Cortana, who is still on board High Charity. In the message, she warns them that about the Flood and says she has found a way to get rid of them on the Ark.

Chief, who trusts Cortana implicitly, goes through the new portal with the Elite forces. The Elites, after breaking away from the Covenant, have a warranted vendetta against the Prophets and the Brutes.

Once through the portal, we’re treated to the sight of the Ark. It looks like a massive starfish in space.

Unlike most starfish, this place spells doom for humanity (and lifeforms in general). The Prophet of Truth is dead-set on activating all the Halo rings, so the Chief and his buddies immediately get to work on attacking the Covenant barricades Truth has set up around the activation room on the Ark. While trying to bring down these shields, Johnson gets captured.

It’s never outright stated (at least I don’t think it is), but only humans can interact with these Forerunner devices. This tidbit becomes mega-important in Halo 4, but for now, it’s only important because Truth needs to use Johnson to activate the rings.

Miranda Keyes tries to rescue Johnson from Truth, but there is no way she can get him out of there alive. Johnson tells her that she has to kill both of them since they are the only way Truth can activate the rings. Unfortunately, she hesitates to shoot her friend, and she’s spiked by Truth (goddamned bastard). Truth then takes Johnson’s hand and forces him to start the activation process.

Master Chief and the Arbiter have been running all over the Ark, shutting down shields and trying to reach the activation room. Their friendship has no doubt deepened after spending so much quality time together.

They get to the chamber too late to save Miranda, but they do get there in time to stop the activation process. Some Flood zombies come up to them and help them to the activation platform. Since firing the Halos would destroy the Flood, it’s in their self-interest to help the Chief and Arbiter.

Once the Chief reaches Johnson, he takes out the Brutes guarding Truth. Then the Arbiter takes up his energy sword and slices into the Prophet of Truth. It’s a double-whammy for Truth, because not only did the Arbiter literally stab him in the back, he was also in the middle of getting Flooded. Good riddance, I say.

The rings are stopped from firing, and that’s when the Flood decide to turn on their temporary allies. The Arbiter and the Chief then have to fight against the Flood forms who had just been helping them. They make it out okay, and they discover an awfully convenient Halo ring is being constructed on the Ark.

This Halo ring is special because it would get rid of the local Flood infestation without threatening the rest of the galaxy.

Before the Chief goes to this new ring to activate it, he finally returns to the Flood-consumed High Charity and rescues Cortana. She’s a little worse for wear, but it’s a huge relief to have her in the Chief’s head once again.

The two of them along with the Arbiter travel to this new Halo ring, ready to fire it up. The Flood start attacking them relentlessly, but they all make it to the ring’s activation chamber.

However, when Johnson joins up with them and tries firing the ring, 343 Guilty Spark goes crazy and lasers him. This entire time, Spark has been helping the humans in order to contain this Flood outbreak. But if the Halo ring is fired too soon, it will fall apart afterwards.

And Guilty Spark cares more about the Halo ring than he does about saving the world. Master Chief lasers the insane Spark in return, but it’s too late for Johnson. He dies from his wound, and it’s up to the Chief, Arbiter, and Cortana to fire the Halo ring alone.

Just as Spark said would happen, the Halo ring starts breaking down around them. The three heroes of the universe have to race to the safety of Johnson’s parked ship using a Warthog he left behind.

Side note: Johnson parked reallllllllllly far away from the activation chamber. Did he really walk all that way?

They miraculously make it onto the ship, the Forward Unto Dawn, and Arbiter rushes to the bridge to pilot the ship out of there. The Chief and Cortana are stuck in the loading bay because some wreckage cut them off from the doorway. Arbiter manages to pilot most of the ship through the portal they came through before it closes. However, only his half of the ship made it back to Earth. The Chief, Cortana, and the back end of the Forward Unto Dawn is left adrift in deep space.

The end of the war is celebrated on Earth, but the game truly ends when we see the Master Chief climb into a cryo-tube on the broken-down Forward Unto Dawn. He plans to sleep until someone finds his and Cortana’s beacon and comes to rescue them.

His last words to Cortana are, “Wake me if you need me.”

And then he goes to sleep, leaving poor Cortana to just sit in the ship by her lonesome waiting for someone to find them.

The Literature of Halo

For this particular post, I thought I’d give a shout-out to the expanded Halo lore that has sprung up in the bountiful form of books.

Halo is my all-time favorite video game, and part of the reason it has branded itself onto the chamber walls of my heart is because of those books.

I won’t go into the exact details of Halo’s story here, but if you want to, you can check out these Below Average synopsis posts I made for Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 by clicking on them links.

Side note: The synopsis for Halo 3 is coming eventually. I haven’t forgotten about it.

I will, however, talk about the benefits the Halo books lend to the games, my favorites, and how the games should incorporate the lore in the future.

The best kind of Halo books have little to do with the events of the games. They tell compact stories within the Halo universe revolving around characters we barely see in the games. For example, Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten tells the backstory of a side character from the first game, and damn if he didn’t make the character of Avery Johnson more popular by doing so.

That’s a great example of my favorite kind of Halo book.

A book like The Flood is the complete opposite of that.

The Flood by William C. Dietz is a retelling of the plot of the first game. I mean, I’m a total lore-nerd when it comes to Halo, so I did enjoy reading the book. Plus, it gave me some hints about secrets in the game. However, in terms of an objective reading experience, you could kind of tell that the novel was a bit derivative.

So the best Halo books add to a universe that we’ve glimpsed in the games. Playing a Halo game is like visiting an exotic new location. Reading a Halo book is like hiring a tour guide to tell you about the places you are walking through.

Now, if the average layman were to pick up a random Halo book from their local Barnes & Noble, I’m not going to lie, they’d probably get a bit lost. Many of the plots rely on the fact that readers will know certain aspects of the Halo universe. Since I have played all the games and been immersed in the lore since high school, it’s actually pretty difficult for me to discern what will be obtuse to a newcomer or what will make sense.

But if I were to recommend Halo books to anybody, here are the five I would choose:

1. Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nyland: This is a classic Halo book, perhaps the classic, and it would be the best start for a newcomer. It describes the events before the first game, setting up the story of the main character and the war he finds himself thrust in. You’ll learn what the SPARTAN program is and how the war with the Covenant escalated. I know certain Halo fans dislike how the story conflicts with the plot of the game Halo: Reach, but I like both, and I take them on as separate entities in the same universe.

2. Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear: This is the first book of The Forerunner Saga, and even though it’s a strange read, I adore it. The plot takes place millennia before the plot of the first game. It talks of the Forerunners, the ancient alien race that built the Halo rings and battled the Flood before Master Chief did. The book is written with a weird syntax which takes some getting used to, but after a while, I appreciated it. The Forerunners should speak and act differently from how a human would, and the book reflects that. A word of caution though: be prepared to interpret things freely as you read. And the best delight this book brought to me came from revelations that tied to the games. I would not recommend this book to a newcomer unless they are committed to reading more lore.

3. Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss: This is just a well-written book. Straight-up awesome writing. The Halo games have trouble translating the human nature of characters into the games (with a few exceptions), and this book excels at making these characters feel real. Traviss tells the story of a special ops group comprised of different members from different branches of the United Nations Space Command. They each have had different experiences in the Covenant War, and it shaped who they are and how they approach the situation they find themselves in.

4. Halo: Broken Circle by John Shirley: This book wowed me by making Prophets seem sympathetic. (Well, certain Prophets.) Any Halo fan can tell you that the Prophets are a race of aliens in the Covenant that only come across as religious fanatics or manipulative schemers in the games. The Prophets, or San’Shyuum as they call themselves, are not to be contained by such representations thanks to this book. It shows us what they were like before they became a political nightmare. It also gives a narrative for how the Covenant came together. (The Covenant being a group of different alien races that banded together to find the Halo rings and destroy humanity.)

5. Halo: Last Light by Troy Denning: I discovered Troy Denning waaaay too late. I have since been rectifying that, and several of his Halo books are on my to-read list. Last Light is my favorite so far. He gives us a closer look at the Spartan-IIIs, and he tells a close-knit story that is separate from the events of the games. It also helps that his main character, Veta Lopis, is an outsider to the UNSC. You get to experience her reactions to the Spartans as she sees what they can do for the first time.

Now, I love lore as much as the next person, but I do have problems when the games include too much of it. My favorite Halo games are the first one and Halo:Reach, and they both have a story that relies more on its setting than on plot points. It allows the player to draw conclusions on their own without shoving too much narrative down their throats.

Side note: I do like narrative-heavy video games. But Halo has never been about a heavy narrative, not in the in the original games at least. And I liked them that way.

Halo 5: Guardians handled its narrative all wrong. It made the mistake of trying to jam too much lore into every seam of the game. With so much lore dripping out of it, the actual story of the game lost its tightness. Plus, it made it so that only a person who had read every bit of lore could enjoy the game with a thorough understanding of the characters.

I believe future games should return to the story-telling habits of the first ones. Less can be more, show don’t tell, and, for the ever-loving love of god, GIVE US BACK COUCH CO-OP.

To come to a conclusion, I just want to say that the Halo universe is a rich one, oozing with science-fiction possibilities. If you want to get into it, don’t let the growing library of books supporting it daunt you. Pick one up and get ready for some excitement. (But seriously, at least start with The Fall of Reach.)

My Ultimate (Video Game) Firefight Squad

When I’m not playing video games by myself, I have a cool collection of people that I like to play games with. Playing a video game cooperatively with another person is an experience I live for. That might sound like a gross exaggeration, but I’m not joking. Besides, you can live for multiple reasons.

But of course, “cooperation” is a relative term.

Here is a list of my favorite people to game with:

Bubba: I’ve gamed with Bubba for ages. Since high school, I think. He is a better gamer than he’ll admit to being. (He’s also a supporter of my writing. HEY, BUBBA!) He takes to games the way a fish takes to water. When we play any game together, he’s the ultimate partner. We have each other’s back. If I’m rushing forward, he’ll hang back and cover me. If he’s the one who decides to yolo ahead, I’ll stay behind and try to keep him alive. One of the best things about gaming with Bubba is how he’s willing to just have fun with the game. I never feel like we absolutely have to win a match. We’re just there to have a good time. Plus, he’s the best person to goof around with. He’s an absolute must whenever I play a horror game. 

Mia: As my longtime childhood friend, Mia has played countless video games with me. She doesn’t own a PC or console of her own, so her only gaming experiences have been shared with me. Her skills with a controller are indicative of her unfamiliarity with gaming, but she makes up for it with enthusiasm. So while she might charge into a room blindly and struggle to adjust the camera when she moves, she’ll give out hoarse battle cries every time she does, guns blazing. Plus, she  gets really invested in the story. I truly believe that video games are one of the best ways to experience a narrative (and I adore books) because you are placed in a position where you are the main character. Mia is able to appreciate the story of a video game on an almost instinctual level, even in games where the narrative has taken a back seat to other gameplay elements.

Danny: I do play video games with my boyfriend. He’s pretty particular when it comes to his taste in video games. I’ve begged him to play certain games with me, but he staunchly refuses if he knows ahead of time that he won’t like it. However, the games he does choose to play with me are given his undivided attention. For a person who does not show enthusiasm easily, Danny sure does play these games with a relentless fervor. Wouldn’t you know, he’s a completionist. Plus, he is a bit of a strategist too. He considers ways we could improve our gameplay in order to achieve objectives. Once he sinks his teeth into a video game, he doesn’t easily let go.

Carlos/Fro: Carlos is my sister’s husband, and Fro is his best friend. Over the past few months, I’ve been playing games with them more often. I think Tuesday nights are our designated gaming nights. They are a rush to play with. They’re both extremely competitive gamers, which is usually not the type of people I like to play with, but they allow for my blegh-ness levels. They constantly trash-talk each other, and I have to admit, since I’ve started playing with them, my trash-talking skills have risen. They both seriously outclass me in terms of gaming. When it comes to arena matches in Halo, I’m always the bait/distraction. Fro and Carlos are the elite soldiers who wipe out the enemy forces. 

Alya: She’s my sister, so of course I would want to play video games with her. She is by far my favorite person to play video games with. It’s rare that I can get her to myself, but when I do, I always want to try gaming with her. She’s not as bad as she thinks she is. She just has the unfortunate situation of being married to a really competitive husband. She took to gaming quite naturally when she was younger. We used to huddle around our small TV and play the original Star Wars: Battlefront together. Whenever I got a new Halo game, she would be the person to play the campaign with me first. Like Mia, Alya gets invested in the game. She’s the type who will scream if she’s close to dying, exult if she kills someone, and whoop if the team wins. She’s also the queen of perfect timing. When we played Halo 3’s campaign for the first time and we had to go inside this creepy Flood-infested corridor, she muttered, “I’m afraid.” At that exact moment, the Gravemind spoke to Master Chief, rumbling out a throaty, “DO NOT BE AFRAID.” I bust a gut laughing at Alya’s expression. Hands down, she’s my favorite.

So who do you like to play video games with? ūüôā 

The Story of Halo 2: For Those Who Are Vaguely Interested

It’s that time again folks. Time for another¬†Halo¬†synopsis for beginners. You should probably skip right on past this post if you’re not inclined to read a fairly lengthy post on the events of the¬†Halo 2¬†campaign.

We left off in the first game with Master Chief and Cortana escaping the exploding Halo ring. The beginning to Halo 2 opens on the Covenant Holy City, High Charity.

Side note: Nearly everything that the Covenant gives a name to sounds religiously zealous.

An armored Elite is being escorted to the head of a throne room by these large, furry aliens we have never seen before. These big guys are called Brutes, and you’ll learn to appreciate the new dynamic they bring to game-play. They have a habit of going berserk and charging at you in a rage when their shields are down.

These sickly-looking aliens, also hitherto unseen, are waiting for the Brutes and the Elite on these floating chair things at the head of the throne room. These are Prophets, leaders of the Covenant, and they have gathered to give the armored Elite a talking-to.

Apparently, they blame the destruction of the Halo ring on this hapless Elite. See, the Covenant viewed the ring as holy, and its destruction is “unforgivable.”

Whatever. These pretentious ass-wipes can go suck an egg. Did they honestly expect a single Elite to stop the destruction of a planet-sized Halo ring?

So the Prophets upbraid the Elite and decide to punish him like the assholes they are.

Side note: For some reason, Halo 2 has the aliens speaking English even though in the first game they spoke in an unintelligible gibberish.

Meanwhile, conversely, the Master Chief and Sergeant Johnson are getting rewarded for surviving the shit-storm that was the first encounter with a Halo ring. They’re getting an official ceremony on an orbital station above Earth.

See? Humanity appreciates its heroes.

So while Chief and Johnson are getting medals, the Elite back on High Charity is getting branded as a heretic in front of a raucous crowd of aliens.

The contrast is not lost on us.

Anyway, all good things must come to an end (Valar Morghulis). The medal ceremony is interrupted by a sudden attack on Earth by the Covenant fleet.

Questions as to how the aliens discovered humanity’s home planet are ignored in the face of the destruction the Covenant immediately begin wreaking on the planet. Chief and Cortana get back to work immediately, taking down a Covenant cruiser with their own dirty bomb and then traveling down to Earth’s surface to bring the fight to ground-level.

Helping the Chief are Sergeant Johnson, the guy who knows what ladies like, and Miranda Keyes, the daughter of the unfortunate Jacob Keyes from the first Halo. 

Thanks to Master Chief’s awesomeness, the Covenant invasion is repelled, and the Prophet who was leading the attack, the Prophet of Regret, beats a hasty retreat. Miranda, Johnson, and the Chief decide to follow him through the slipspace jump he makes, and the whole bunch of them end up at¬†another¬†Halo ring.

How convenient.

Meanwhile, that Elite who was wrongfully disgraced is brought before two other Prophets. They have decided to give him the mantle of Arbiter. This position is given to Elites who devote their lives in service to the Covenant and who always take on the most high-risk missions. It’s a position of honor, but it’s also a guaranteed suicide attempt.

Like I said before, those Prophets are assholes.

The newly-named Arbiter is appreciative of his chance to redeem himself though. He is given his first mission to track down an escaped Elite who is called the Heretic. This Heretic leads a band of rebel Elites and Grunts who fight against the rest of the Covenant.

I like this guy already.

While the Arbiter fights the Heretic, the Heretic hints that the Prophets have been lying to the rest of the Covenant. However, instead of getting to the truth of this statement, the Arbiter just kills the Heretic anyway.

343 Guilty Spark makes a surprise appearance. He survived the explosion of the first Halo, and he encountered the Heretic afterwards. Spark’s teachings were what convinced the Heretic the Prophets were deceivers.

You think for a moment that maybe now the Arbiter will listen to what Spark will say, but a Brute shows up and zaps Spark down before a longer conversation can be had.

This Brute has a name, and it’s Tartarus. And no, we don’t like Tartarus.

Back with the Chief, he and his friends land on the new Halo ring, still in pursuit of the Prophet of Regret. No matter how many guards are thrown at the Chief, he shoots them all down and then punches the Prophet of Regret to death.

Side note: No, seriously, Chief punches the Prophet to death. It’s in the game. You get close to the guy in his stupid floating chair, you hop on, and then you start whapping him in the face. It’s pretty funny.

After this, the Chief falls into a lake and is yanked further down by this weird tentacle thing that appeared out of nowhere.

The game then chooses to have players play as the Arbiter after that cliffhanger of a mission. The Arbiter has been sent to the Halo ring as well to back up the Prophet of Regret. (He’s a tad too late.) Since the Chief is partially responsible for the Arbiter’s disgrace, the Arbiter can’t wait to confront him again.

But that all takes a backseat to political maneuvering. (Because we all play Halo for the politics.)

The Prophets have decided to replace the Elites in the hierarchy of the Covenant with the Brutes. This pisses off a lot of Elites.

The Arbiter mostly stays out of this debate. He’s already been demoted if you think about it. The Prophets of Mercy and Truth send him to find the Index to the Halo ring. If you recall from the first game, the Index to a Halo ring can be used to set it off, which would destroy nearly all life in the galaxy. The Arbiter doesn’t know this though. He thinks, as does most of the Covenant, that firing the Halo rings will initiate a Great Journey. (Which it kind of does, if you think of death as a great journey.)

Since the ring poses such a threat to all life, including humanity, Miranda Keyes and Johnson are also on the hunt for the Index.

They get to it before the Arbiter does, but the Arbiter steals it from them.

This victory is short-lived for the Arbiter because Tartarus shows his ugly mug and steals the Index from the Arbiter, right before kicking him down into a bottomless chasm. Turns out the Prophets don’t want to simply subdue the Elites onto a lower hierarchical rung; they want to eliminate them from the ladder completely.

Don’t worry. The Arbiter didn’t die.

Turns out that the tentacle creature that took the Chief also rescued the Arbiter. The tentacle creature is none other a Gravemind, a collection of Flood organisms that talks. Yup, the Flood is back too.

The Gravemind talks to both the Chief and the Arbiter and tells them that they need to stop the firing of the Halo ring. It’s in all of their interest to do so. He finally shoves in the Arbiter’s face that the Prophets have been lying to everyone about this Great Journey.

Side note: The purpose of the Halo rings is to destroy the Flood.

The Gravemind then teleports the Chief and the Arbiter to different places so that the two of them can separately work together to prevent the ring from firing. Chief ends up on High Charity. As he walks through the bowels of the city, he and Cortana realize that she has to be left behind in High Charity’s network. Cortana destroyed the last Halo ring by blowing up a ship’s reactor core, which caused a big enough explosion to tear apart the ring. Both she and the Chief realize she might need to do the same thing with this Halo ring if all else fails. (Arguably, High Charity would cause an even bigger explosion than the Pillar of Autumn.)

However, the Chief has to follow one of the Prophets, the Prophet of Truth, to his departing ship. Truth is heading back to Earth, and who knows what kind of mischief he’s planning back there. Chief has no choice but to follow him.

So Cortana and the Chief part ways, with the Chief promising to come back for her.

Sad face.

The Arbiter gets the cooler end mission. He rallies a bunch of Elites to his cause, and he and his buddies attack the Covenant forces. He saves Johnson, Keyes, and 343 Guilty Spark, and together, the three of them stop Tartarus from firing the Halo.

But only just in time.

Unfortunately, since Tartarus actually put the Index in to activate this ring only to have the procedure suddenly halted, the Halo rings everywhere have been placed on standby, ready to be activated from another remote location as a kind of fail-safe. This means that if someone gets to that remote location, they could fire every existing Halo ring with the press of a single button.

Side note: What kind of fail-safe is this?!

Halo 2¬†ends with the Prophet of Truth’s ship appearing back near Earth, the Master Chief hidden aboard it.

That was the worst cliffhanger of my life.

 

Pew! Pew! My TOP TEN Favorite Halo Weapons

As anyone who knows me can verify, I am super fond of lists. So as I was brainstorming ideas for what to write in upcoming blogs, I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t you put lists on your bloggy-post-thingy?’

Welcome to the first of them!

And of course, the first list on this thing should definitely be a¬†Halo¬†one. (Seriously, who doesn’t like¬†Halo?)¬†

Here’s the usual disclaimer: I’m a below average person, and my opinions are not sanctified facts, ‘kay?

10. Needler (Halo: Combat Evolved)

Yup, I’m going to catch some flak for this (probably). But before anybody unleashes the hounds on me, note that I am NOT talking about the Needler from¬†Halo 2.¬†This is the OG OP Needler. For those of you who don’t know, the Needler is a gun that fires a stream of pink needles that just follows whoever you’re aiming at. The needles stick into your enemy on contact and then explode a few seconds later. And honestly, when I first played¬†Halo,¬†the Needler was the most unique gun available for use. No other game had it. It’s iconic. (Halo 2¬†Needler can suck it.)

9. Boltshot (Halo 5: Guardians)

This gun is on here because of how much I hated it in Halo 4. I loathed it in Halo 4. I just did not like the way it felt or fired. It was like a wannabe Plasma Pistol. But one of the things Halo 5 got right was fixing up the Boltshot. It became a mix of the Needler and the Battle Rifle, firing short bursts that curved toward whoever was in your sights. In Halo 4, I avoided the Boltshot like the plague. In Halo 5, I actively searched for this little baby on the battlefield.

8. Needle Rifle (Halo: Reach)

You know what’s better than a Needler? A Needler that has a scope!¬†Halo: Reach¬†made my Needling dreams come true. (Yes, I have had dreams where I’m using a Needler. Play a video game long enough, and it will infiltrate your dreamscape.) I never would have thought that prancing around maps and popping headshots on unsuspecting Jackals could be so fun. Unfortunately,¬†Reach¬†was the only¬†Halo¬†game to give me a Needle Rifle. What’s up with that?

7. Beam Rifle (Halo 2)

I get performance anxiety whenever I pick up a sniper rifle (in a video game). There’s so much onus on you when you do. When you have a sniper rifle in your hands, if you’re not good with it, it’s uber apparent. (I don’t do too well under pressure usually.) One exception to that is the Beam Rifle. The Beam Rifle is the Covenant equivalent of the sniper rifle, but instead of a bullet, it shoots out a — you guessed it — beam. It feels lighter to me, less heavy-duty, and I’m much more likely to do well with it than with a human sniper rifle. Plus, that New Mombasa map where you’re introduced to it is the bomb.

6. Fuel Rod Cannon (Any Halo game)

It’s an alien rocket launcher that fires giant green blasts with delicious spread damage and can hold up to five rounds in one “clip.” ‘Nuff said.

5. Gravity Hammer (Halo 3)

What’s funny about this entry is that I’m pretty bad at using the Gravity Hammer. For those of you who don’t know what it is, a Gravity Hammer is a giant hammer that you hold in two hands. It’s almost as tall as a person. When you swing it, even if the swing doesn’t connect directly, the force of it can take down an enemy’s shields. It just feels cool, looks cool, and sounds cool. It’s my sister Alya’s favorite weapon to use.

4. Shotgun (Halo: Combat Evolved)

I know, I know. How ordinary to have a shotgun be on a top ten list of video game weapons. But the shotgun from the first¬†Halo¬†was special. It was a powerful close-range weapon, as per usual, but it had a surprisingly good range. When you’re dealing with the Flood (Halo¬†zombies, basically) the shotgun is an absolute must.

3. Plasma Pistol (Halo 2 and beyond)

I almost wasn’t going to put the Plasma Pistol on this list because I’m not overly fond of it. But by god, it’s the most useful weapon to have, and as Danny pointed out to me when I was coming up with this list, I use it all the damn time. If you charge the Plasma Pistol up, it lets out an EMP-esque burst. It can get rid of shields in a single shot, and it can temporarily disable vehicles that are nearby you. Plus, you can lock on to enemies and ships with it. You can never go wrong with a Plasma Pistol.

2. Magnum Pistol (Halo: Combat Evolved)

Anyone who has played the original¬†Halo¬†will know why I chose the Magnum from the first game. It was just TOO powerful (in a totally awesome kind of way). In subsequent games, developers went out of their way to make it weaker; that’s how powerful it used to be. But in¬†Combat Evolved,¬†the Magnum was all you really needed to take down foes. It had incredible stopping power, held up to twelve rounds, and came with a scope. The chunkiness of that pistol still gets me excited every time I decide to plop in the original game and play for a few minutes.

1. DMR (Halo: Reach)

No other DMR in the history of DMRs makes me feel the way¬†Reach’s¬†DMR made me feel. It was the perfect weapon to take control of. It had more reach and power than a Battle Rifle, and the sound of it was so satisfying. Ask anybody who plays¬†Halo: Reach¬†with me. The two weapons you can always find me with is a DMR and a plasma pistol. One burst of the Plasma Pistol takes down a shield, and then a quick headshot with the DMR finishes them off. That DMR was¬†Halo-gasmic. The DMRs in¬†Halo 4¬†and¬†Halo 5¬†pale in comparison. I spit on those DMRs.

Agree? Disagree? Have no idea what I’m talking about? Let me know in the comments!

The Tale of the Legendary Warthog-Riding Sniper

Humiliation is not a rare thing when you’re playing a competitive multiplayer game, especially if you’re a below average player like me. You really learn to swallow your pride in these kinds of situations, and you learn to accept that there will always be someone better than you.

This is a story of a player who really drove that home.

I’ve never been a competitive person. For me, competition feels like conflict, which I try to avoid as often as possible. That didn’t stop me from feeling the bitter sting of defeat.

I was at my friend Bubba’s house with my friends Bubba, Bobby, and Ed. We were all crowded around one TV monitor, playing¬†Halo 4¬†online matches. That meant that the screen was split into four squares, one for each of us. All of our chairs were pushed forward so that we could properly see what was going on.

We were going to play Capture the Flag (8v8) on the map Ragnarok. (The Halo 4 map Ragnarok was just a remake of the Halo 3 map called Valhalla. Who comes up with these name changes?)

Ragnarok was an oval-ish map, a valley nestled within canyon walls and an oceanfront. There were two bases for each 8-person team on each side of the valley, one by the beach and one by the canyon walls. In between these two bases were caves, rocky outcroppings, a creek, and other natural obstacles. The flag was located within each base.

As the title implies, the game type of Capture the Flag was simple to understand. There is a set time limit for the match to take place, and during that time period, each team has to try and steal their opponent’s flag three times. If your team managed to capture the flag, you had to take it all the way back to your own base. Once you did, the flag would disappear and reappear back at its spot in its home base.

If a team captured the flag three times, the match would end. If the time ran out before that happened, the final score as it stood would be final.

Bobby and Bubba were the best players on our team. (I did not even have to know anything about the other four people on our 8-man team to know that.) Plus, they were childhood buddies, so they had spent years playing video games together. They could coordinate seamlessly.

Ed and I on the other hand…well, I think our greatest contribution was simply not being the worst on the team.

We were all pumped to play when the match began.

We had no idea what was in store.

It seemed as if almost immediately, the enemy team was swarming our base. We were situated in the base by the canyon wall, but those guys must have bolted to our side as soon as the game began. I think all four of us died in an instant. We were shocked, but quick to recover our senses. Bubba and Bobby always believed that the best defense was a good offense. The two of them took a Mongoose (a small, two-person vehicle) to attempt to steal the enemy’s flag. I’m not sure what Ed was doing, but I decided to stay at the base and try and protect our flag.

It was a fruitless endeavor. I was the only one there, so I was swarmed by four opponents.

Once they had our flag, it was a race to see if we could stop them before they took it back to their base. Ed dropped whatever it was he was doing, and the two of us threw ourselves at the guy who was carrying our flag. Unfortunately, he had a well-armed escort. We perished in the attempt.

Bobby and Bubba had had no success trying to steal the enemy’s flag. They had been killed, and they spawned back at our base around the same time our flag was taken to the enemy base.

The score was 1-0 in our opponents’ favor.

It was at that point that things got embarrassing. For us.

Someone on the enemy team had gotten their hands on a sniper rifle, and someone else on the enemy team decided to give that guy a ride on a Warthog. (Typically, a three-person vehicle with a driver’s seat, a passenger’s seat, and a turret in the back which a person could man.)

So this Warthog began circling our base, and the sniper in the passenger seat began to pick us off as quickly as he could spot us WHILE SITTING IN A MOVING VEHICLE.

None of us could believe it. How was he doing it? His driver was not making any attempt to drive smoothly and steadily; in order to avoid getting grenaded into oblivion, he was swerving his Warthog every which way. But that did not stop this sniper from getting head-shots on our team, practically as soon as we spawned.

It was around then that Bobby realized we were being messed with. At any point after this Warthog and sniper duo appeared, the enemy team could have stolen our flag again. But instead, they just kept our team contained, never letting any of us escape the confines of our base by more than a couple of feet while simultaneously making no attempt to capture our flag.

They were toying with us.

The game ended with them winning 1-0.

I can’t remember if Bobby, Bubba, Ed, and I decided to call it quits on playing after that match or if we pressed on to another game for a bit of a palate cleanser.

But I have never forgotten the mastery of that one sniper. Or the utter humiliation we suffered at his hands.

The Doubles Story

Sweat began to form over my palms. I shifted nervously in my gaming chair and tilted my headset’s mic closer to my mouth. “Are you sure about this?” I asked my friend Bubba, who was sitting in a chair twenty miles away in his own house, staring at the same¬†Halo¬†loading screen that I was in my house.

“We’ve got this,” he replied with utter assurance in his voice.

Thus began Bubba’s and my epic conquest in a match of¬†Halo¬†Doubles.

Though it sure didn’t start out epic.

A Halo Doubles match means that two players go up against another two players. These kinds of games always feel more intense to me than a regular 4v4 match or a Big Team Battle because every move you make matters. Every death you rack up counts for more against your team. The pressure to do well is insane.

Let me tell you now, I’m an enthusiastic¬†Halo¬†player, but I’m definitely not the best. Bubba convinced me to engage in the madness that is Doubles.

The game started, and right off the bat, the two players against us killed us like it was nothing. One of them had got his hands on a Needler, a gun that shoots tiny pink needles that stick into your armor and then explode. He annihilated the two of us.

Each kill was worth 10 points. The first team to 300 would win the match. Downing Bubba and I got the other team a 20-point lead.

They maintained that lead for a good long while. We killed them back, sure, but when they returned the favor, Bubba and I were back where we started. The slate-grey hallways of the map became claustrophobic as we didn’t know when an enemy player would pop up from around a corner.

I apologized to Bubba profusely every time I died. I felt like my mediocre playing skills were holding us back. He would always say in return, “We’ve got this.”

Eventually, the score was 270 to 250 in their favor.

That’s when (of course) one of them got their hands on a railgun.

A railgun has to be charged before it is fired, but when it is fired, an explosive bolt of energy lances out from the weapon that can kill a player in a single shot.

So this guy, I’ll call him Reginald (just for fun), came dashing around a corner and began firing at Bubba and I with this railgun. Blasts came rocketing from it, and I began jumping like a madman, trying to dodge the incoming fire. Bubba and I brought Reginald down with our puny assault rifles through sheer luck. The score was now 270-260.

Quick as a flash, I snatched up the railgun for myself. Bubba and I decided to hunker down right where we were now that we had decent firepower. The next time Reginald and his friend, who I shall call Frances, came running over, I was able to blast them both to oblivion with the railgun while Bubba distracted them. The score was now 270-280.

We were finally in the lead.

That didn’t last long though. The railgun ran out of ammo, and the next time one of them charged us, Bubba got downed. The score was now tied, 280-280.

When your teammate dies, they spawn at a different place on the map. Which means you’re separated. And if, while you’re all alone, the enemy team shows up to fight you, you have no chance in the world.

In a panic, I began sprinting around the map, practically screaming at Bubba over the headset, asking him to tell me where he spawned at so that we could join forces once again.

The map we were on was comprised of two levels, an upper and a lower. Bubba told me in a rush that he was on the lower level. We agreed to meet at the bottom of the ramp that connected the two levels.

I ran as fast as I could, sprinting down the hallways and keeping an eye on my motion tracker that would let me know if an enemy was nearby.

Just as I turned the corner that led to the top of the ramp, I saw one of the enemy team, let’s say it was Frances, sprinting down the ramp. Gunfire sounded, and I knew that Bubba and Frances were engaging in a gunfight. I continued sprinting, and just then, Reginald also came sprinting towards the ramp.

Reginald had not noticed I was running after him.

Bubba shouted in dismay as Frances continued hounding him with bullets.

I neared Reginald. His back was to me.

Bubba shouted in exultation. He had downed Frances in the one-on-one fight. But he didn’t know that Reginald was coming down for a fresh attack. 280-290.

Reginald took a running leap down the ramp.

I leapt after him.

[Pausing for a moment to give you some information. In¬†Halo,¬†when you melee someone, that means you hit them with your weapon, like a punch almost. If you press the melee button while you’re facing an opponent’s back, you perform an Assassination. It’s rather violent-looking, but at the same time, it’s totally bad-ass. Your perspective shifts from first-person to third, and you can watch as your character yanks your enemy backwards and shoves a combat knife down on them hard. If you press the melee button while you’re facing your opponent’s back¬†and¬†you’re in the air while you do it…well…]

Halo Air Assassination
via: funnyjunk.com

I jammed my finger down on my melee button as Reginald and I were suspended in midair for a brief moment in time. The hit connected

While in midair, my character pulled out her combat knife and slammed it down on my opponent, performing the ultimate coup de gr√Ęce, an Air Assassination.

The final score was 280-300, in our favor.

I felt bad for Reginald and Frances. They were undeniably the better players. But I couldn’t help feeling a surge of exhilaration. Bubba and I had won.

All Bubba said was, “I told you so.”