Halo 5: what in the name of the Emperor is this?!
Well it has been a while has it not? Worry not dear readers I am still kicking, albeit a bit occupied with other responsibilities in life, as well as budgeting time and allocating it where appropriate. Yet you did not come here to read about my life, oh no you can here to read about Halo 5 and my thoughts on the latest installment of a beloved franchise – time to dance!
First off, I was devilishly excited for the release of said game back in October, and when it came out I jumped over to a friends place to plow through the entire game (sadly alone, because 343 took out splitscreen so we had to take turns on missions). After spending a good four to five hours shooting my way through the entire story from start to finish, I was left in a bit of a disappointed phase. The game had delivered well on the spectacle – plenty of beautiful vistas, lots of action during cinematics, and of course the sound and graphic assets were top notch. Yet with all that said, I was left without a sense of completion – like a huge chunk was torn from the story and left to drift in deep space for the next three to four years. Now a fair warning for you readers out there, this is entering spoiler territory so stop reading if you are worried about this: the rest of us will march onward into the horizon!
Okay so Chief in this game is sort of a side show – Spartan Locke and Osiris are the main actors this time around. The advertisement campaign for this game made it seem like Chief had gone AWOL and it was a climactic battle to bring him to justice. However upon loading up the game and entering into the universe once more, it felt like a wild goose chase with all the backstory from the Sangheili civil war to Blue Team crammed into the cracks of the pavement just to fill in those spaces and do little else. Being a fan of the franchise since Halo 1, I felt betrayed by the poor storytelling this time around: I mean sure it makes sense that Cortana goes all Skynet on our rear ends but could they have made it so another Forerunner threat loomed in the distance? Instead what we see are the same old robots and Covenant enemies from level to level, and to make matters worse there is no splitscreen. Now some spokesperson from Xbox came out and stated that people these days with their busy schedules and so on do not have the time to go visit friends and thus splitscreen is a useless feature (paraphrasing).
What?! Sure people may be busy, but it’s call time budgeting you numbnuts. Watch they will put splitscreen back into Halo in the next installment citing: “we are introducing this new feature to the game where you can play with your friends on the same system in the same room – it will be glorious,” or something like that whenever they choose to release the 6th game.
Returning to the story arc, if they had made it so Chief was placed as a tormented soul and when he finds Cortana she is near her end and is about to sacrifice herself to save the Spartans from this new awakened Forerunner threat, that would have been more enticing to say the least – on top of that Locke could also come to an understanding with Chief as to why he went AWOL. Halo 5 could have started the same as the present state, but instead of a rampant Cortana going Skynet, she gets Chief to help her one last time. Meanwhile Locke thinks Chief is hostile, even going as far as to actually do a boss battle (instead of the stupid 2-punch stun grenade scene we got), only to stop last minute as the Spartan lies broken at the feet of some statue and Cortana stops Locke to inform him that she was performing one last act of service before ending herself to stop a Forerunner construct. Afterwards the two Spartan teams could join up and together fight to the Forerunner threat, only to have it escape and then the game can end with the same tempo as Mass Effect 2 did – the Forerunner invasion begins!
The feeling of awe when playing a Halo game is gone – utterly absent this time around. Halo Reach gave us a sense of discovery, Halo 4 was quite amazing in its own regards, and Halo 2 and 3 were fantastic games with the story being something you wanted to replay over and over again. Halo 5 however fails in this regard, with a story arc that feels shoved into place rather than carefully crafted and painted before being placed on display, and a missing vital component that made a game like Halo worth playing with friends. The Xbox One is starting to look less and less enticing, and it is with a feeling of betrayal that I now look to PS4 to fill in the console gap in my household. The Xbox 360 shall remain as a permanent fixture in my living room, but I think this console generation I might avoid the Xbox One simply because the two franchises I enjoyed the most are going downhill by the looks of things. Gears 4 is returning to its Gears of War 1 roots (a game which was not as enjoyable for me as Gears 2 and 3), and Halo is starting to show signs of lackluster design. The cliffhanger ended will be answered by game cutscenes I watch online next time – I am sick of companies removing features from titles that made them fun, and producing stories that feel poorly put together and shoved out the door, they are not getting my money anymore.