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)
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!)
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.
It’s my absolute favorite video game of all time, and it holds a very special place in my heart. As such, expect more posts about Halo in the future.
Today, I thought I’d provide a commentary-laden synopsis of the first game’s story, just in case you don’t know squat about Halo, but you really want to fill that empty place in your soul that you never realized was empty until now, so of course, you want to fill it.
I am not in any way sponsored by Microsoft or anything, but I highly recommend this game to anyone who has a love for:
Immersive sci-fi universes
Space vehicles named after animals
One hell of a good time
Anywaysies, let’s begin!
Our story starts in an unknown region of space. A giant space-ship flies closer to us. This is the Pillar of Autumn (which is one of the best names for a spaceship EVER). We hear two voices from on-board discussing whether or not we “lost them.”
The first voice is that of Captain Keyes, the captain of the fine, rectangular ship we’re seeing. He’s a gruff-looking dude, but he’s just dripping with honor and duty and all that jazz. He’s a stereotypical ship captain. The next voice is female, and it is from the ship’s AI, Cortana. (Remember her, she’s important.) AIs get to select how they appear to people, and Cortana chooses to show herself as a naked, gorgeous-looking woman who is blue and covered in lines of data.
Apparently, Keyes, Cortana, and everyone on the ship is running away from an enemy alien force known as the Covenant. (Why the aliens would name themselves the Covenant is beyond me, but that’s what they’re called.)
The Autumn made a jump through slipspace (think hyperspace from Star Wars), but Cortana fears that the Covenant, with their uber-advanced space technology is going to follow them. Sure enough, Covenant ships appear, and there is no way the Pillar of Autumn can outmaneuver them all.
In front of the Autumn, Keyes and Cortana spot a strange object. (I’m gonna let you know now, it’s Halo.) It’s this giant ring-shaped world just floating in the middle of space. Since there’s nowhere else to go, Keyes decides to land on that.
(Honestly, I would have been a little more hesitant to land on a humongous ring. How would you even land on that anyway? The inside of the ring is covered in oceans and landmasses, and the outside appears to be made of this vibrant metal.)
While Keyes is readying the ship for the battle ahead, he tells Cortana to wake up the Master Chief, and the way he says it, you know that the Chief is going to be this bad-ass guy who solves everyone’s problems.
Master Chief is in some kind of cryo-sleep pod, but he was frozen while still in his suit of armor, which is fortuitously lucky because he’s thawed and woken up without so much as a cup of coffee, let alone a shower. The Covenant has begun their attack on the Pillar of Autumn, and some of them have boarded. Chief has to rush through the halls of the Autumn weaponless, dodging plasma fire left and right. He makes it to the bridge without a scratch because he’s awesome.
Once he appears in front of Keyes, the Captain tells him the situation. Since they’re landing the ship on the ring-world, Keyes wants Master Chief to take care of Cortana and stop her from falling into enemy hands. Cortana’s like this detachable hard drive with a personality, so if the Covenant got a hold of her, they could learn a bunch of human secrets, which would be not good, to say the least.
Master Chief’s armor comes complete with a USB port kind of thing, so he takes Cortana from the Pillar of Autumn’s control board and plugs her into his helmet. From this point on in the game, Cortana can speak to Chief (and us, the player) directly, telling him where to go and highlighting points of interest on his faceplate/visor/heads-up display.
Keyes then hands the Chief an unloaded pistol and sends him on his way. (We find ammo soon enough, but seriously, Captain, you just sent your best soldier into certain danger with an unloaded weapon. Shame. Shame. Shame.)
Chief and everyone else on the Pillar of Autumn make their way to escape pods and jettison themselves toward Halo.
Except for Keyes. He tries to land the Autumn manually. Those kinds of giant ships were probably not meant to land on a planet ever, but Captain Keyes sometimes makes decisions that aren’t rational. (Like giving his super soldier a pistol with no bullets.)
The escape pod the Chief is in makes a rough landing, so rough, in fact, that everyone else aboard it dies from the impact. Master Chief and Cortana have to behold the splendor of Halo all by their lonesome. (And I’m telling you, it looks phenomenal. When you look up in the sky, you can see the inner surface of the ring stretch up to each side of you. It’s freakishly beautiful and unforgettable.)
They don’t have long to take in the surroundings. The Covenant, damned fast bastards that they are, have landed on Halo too. They hound the Chief everywhere he goes. Cortana leads the Master Chief to several pockets of human survivors, and it’s while they’re getting them to safety that Cortana overhears from some Covenant chatter that Captain Keyes has been taken prisoner. He managed to land the Autumn, but the Covenant got to him before he could regroup with Master Chief.
The game then takes the Chief to this midnight mission where he has to sneak aboard a Covenant cruiser and take back the Captain. He gets to use the sniper rifle prolifically, picking off Covenant Elites (the tall human-ish aliens), Jackals (the shield-carrying aliens), and Grunts (the pathetic small aliens).
Master Chief meets Hunters on this mission too, these giant armor-covered aliens that shoot giant, green blasts of plasma at him that can take down his shield faster than Cortana can scream, “Chief!”
Once on the Covenant cruiser, Cortana and the Chief make it to the brig. The cruiser is a damned maze. Without Cortana, Chief would have gotten lost. And every surface appears to be purple. (Is purple the Covenant’s favorite color?)
Chief rescue Keyes. While he was in captivity, he learned from his Covenant captors that Halo is a weapon, and they want to use it against humanity. Keyes can’t have that happening, so he decides that they (and by they, he means the Master Chief) have to get the controls to Halo before the Covenant do.
Keyes then sends Master Chief and Cortana to look for a Map Room, which will tell them the location of Halo’s Control Room. Without any breaks, he sends them to the Control Room as soon as they know where it is. Master Chief is a one-man army. (Some of the credit goes to you, the player, for handling the role of the Chief so well.) He takes on waves of the Covenant. Friendly soldiers might join him occasionally, but they drop away like flies. (Especially if you’re playing on the Legendary difficulty setting.)
Once Master Chief and Cortana get to the Control Room, he plugs her in to the system. (I don’t know how or why a human AI is compatible with the console, but that’s just how the story goes.) Turns out, Halo was made my an ancient race of beings called the Forerunners, and they built it for a specific purpose.
Before Cortana can tell Chief exactly what the purpose is, she flips out. She starts shouting at him to find Captain Keyes and stop him from whatever he’s doing. (Apparently, there was no time for a simple explanation.) But Master Chief is an awesome super solider, so he just runs off to do as he’s told.
Cortana sends the Chief to Keyes’ last known location. It’s in this weird, swampy area. (The environment is clogged with moss-draped trees and eerie fog, and you immediately start getting the heebie jeebies.) To make matters worse, Keyes was checking out an underground part of Halo, so the Chief has to take an elevator down to these gray, subterranean hallways where everything looks the same.
As he makes his way through these hallways, he catches sight of Covenant bodies. They’re just lying everywhere. Master Chief just arrived, but already, it’s ghost town. (No way, you think to yourself, did Keyes take care of all of these guys.) Since Master Chief left Cortana plugged into the Control Room, she’s not around to tell him where to go. (You really start to miss her nagging and bossiness right about now.)
Eventually, he enters a room sees a collection of dead human soldiers. He goes to an abandoned helmet nearby and watches a recording of what happened. Keyes and company stumbled onto a door the Covenant had apparently been trying to lock immediately after opening it. Not using any sort of logic, Keyes ordered his soldiers to open the door again. Inside was something worse than the Covenant. A bunch of skittery little creatures with tentacles that can worm their ways inside your body start pouring out, and you watch in horror through the recording, as Keyes and his group is overrun.
Enter the Flood.
The small Flood creatures that infect people (humans or Covenant, it doesn’t matter which) are known as Infection Forms. Once they’re inside you, they turn you into these zombie-like creatures, known as Combat Forms. Instead of Covenant, Master Chief now has to fight these guys.
(Once the suspense is gone and you know what you’re fighting, the Flood aren’t that hard to deal with. They’re still creepy and gross, don’t get me wrong, but you’re the Master Chief. You don’t need to panic when you’re the Master Chief.)
After getting a bit lost a couple of times, Chief makes it back to the surface. The Flood are attacking from all sides now. It was preferable fighting them in the metallic hallways underground than in the misty swamp above. But suddenly, as if from nowhere, these floating machines emerge from the fog and start zapping away at the Flood.
Another machine appears, happily humming, and it tells the Master Chief that the Flood has broken out and it needs his help to contain it. Then, without permission, it teleports him away.
This machine is called a Monitor. It’s a robot the Forerunners (makers of the great Halo, remember) made to keep an eye on the facility. His name is…343 Guilty Spark. (I know, it’s a weird name.) The other machines zapping the Flood are called Sentinels. They just seem to exist to zap things.
Guilty Spark teleported Chief to a place called the Library, so that he can collect an Index. This Index, when placed in the Control Room, will activate the Halo and then destroy the Flood.
Spark seems a little off-kilter as he leads Chief through the Library. He keeps humming to himself and randomly saying, “I am a genius.” Meanwhile, Master Chief has to fight a flood of Flood around every corner. The Library is infested with them.
After what feels like hours following 343 Guilty Spark through countless corridors, the Chief finds the Index, and Spark teleports him back to the Control Room.
(Wish he could have teleported us right to the Index, but then a whole mission of the game would be gone.)
Once at the Control Room, Chief walks right up to the panel where he plugged Cortana in and puts the Index there. The rooms buzzes with some kind of energy, but then the buzzing fades away, like something was turning on and was then turned off. Guilty Spark is confused, but then lo and behold, Cortana appears, royally steamed at Chief. She was the one who stopped the activation of the Halo from within the system.
She berates the Chief for being a moron (essentially) and tells him that Halo does not destroy the Flood. Rather, it destroys the Flood’s food. Any living organism that the Flood could infect within 25,000 light-years is eradicated with a single burst from Halo.
Chief is like, “My bad.”
Spark doesn’t see what the big deal is. He insists on firing the Halo. However, with some quick thinking on Cortana’s part and some quick moving on the Chief’s part, the two run away from the Control Room with the Index still in their possession.
So now, not only does Master Chief have to fight the Covenant, he also has to fight the Flood and the Sentinels (those machines that zap the Flood, but now have no compunctions about zapping Chief).
Quite randomly, Cortana gets a message from Keyes. (He’s alive? What? How did he survive the Flood? Short answer: he didn’t.) He was absorbed by a Hivemind, a goopy collection of Flood parts. The Flood, as a collective, wants to know where more living and infectable organisms can be found, so they’re trying to probe Keyes’ mind to discover where Earth is.
Like a champ, Keyes holds on to that information long enough for Cortana and Master Chief to make it to his position. Once there, Chief punches a hole through Keyes’ skull, removing the Captain’s neural implants (which have the codes to the Pillar of Autumn, conveniently enough).
The Chief and Cortana return to the downed Pillar of Autumn. Cortana’s master plan is to blow the ship up, which will cause a large enough explosion to destroy the ring-world and everything on it.
The last battle is a tough one. 343 Guilty Spark sends a gazillion Sentinels Chief’s way to stop him, but with enough perseverance, he and Cortana set up the ship to explode. Master Chief then has to race through the ship to get to a hangar bay before the ship blows up in order to find a ship that’s capable of flying in space. (You literally race through the ship. You get in a vehicle and drive your way to the end. It’s funny, but when we were walking through the ship, the hallways didn’t seem large enough to drive through.)
The Pillar of Autumn blows up.
Halo is destroyed.
Master Chief and Cortana live to fight another day.
Phew! That was a lot. But you just can’t condense greatness.