The Big Picture: Combat Evolved?

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Bob has a habit of being pseudo-intellectual when he talks about things he's unfamiliar with.
One of the main characters in the Halo series is black. The elites defect from the covenant as early as Halo 2 and fight alongside the humans. Fighting the same thing over and over again in a video game is not fun.

Bob took an incredibly large leap and made himself look like an idiot.

So it's like the Gameoverthinker?

Anyway it's prehaps unfair to take away context to make your point about diversity, but the human government is not nice people with context.
Before the Covenant showed up we were busy putting down separatists, in not-so-nice ways. The Spartans were created to kill anybody who didn't want to be part of the whole UN thingy.
ONI in particular is quite, evil, but ONI is also the reason we are not dead.


Bob has a habit of being pseudo-intellectual when he talks about things he's unfamiliar with.
One of the main characters in the Halo series is black. The elites defect from the covenant as early as Halo 2 and fight alongside the humans. Fighting the same thing over and over again in a video game is not fun.

Bob took an incredibly large leap and made himself look like an idiot.

He's aware of those things, and I think you've missed his point.
The difference between a black man and a white man is nothing.
A Grunt and a Hunter?
Hell in Reach you can find more difference between two different grunts than any two marines. They have colour, form, species and mindset. We have personality.

I honestly don't know what to say, it felt like I was watching a car speed down a straight highway, suddenly decide to take a turn and ended up crashing and bursting into flames, and I just sat there dumbfounded on wtf just happened.

Wow so many remarks, guess it's because it's something new. At any rate, interesting movie and I'll take anything to anger those squeaky voice 10 year old fanboys that ruined halo for me.

Not looking forward too, but very curious as to what Ole Bob will do next week.

I see where ya was going with that mate, but really, saying that the UNSC represents the "pure master race" is probably (by which i mean most definitely) blowing things Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! out of proportion especially seeing as the in the Halo Universe the Human colonists and SPARTANS are largely ethnically mixed. Just seemed a bit like a typical rant about Halo... nothing new and original, it seems to be that Halo is all people complain about, when really it blows Half-Life and COD right out of the water (single-player and the novel universe that is). It's like Yahtzee says, if you notice something has depth and immersion then it's gone, but I rarely have that trouble with the Halo universe, there is so much story and background in there that I think most modern pretentious ...... (cant think of a better word here so I shall leave it blank) totally skip over, before going on to give crap like Limbo and Half-Life 10/10s and such and praising till the cows come home.

Obviously I respect the fact that these are my views and everyone is entitled to their freedom of speech (except Mudokens) but I just feel it's about time that this lame ass Halo-Hating needs to stop.


It works great as a bridge between the video and the weekly issue parts of the site. And Bob's certainly a great guy to fill the role: even more fun and cerebral content from him is always welcome.
I'm a bit concerned by the wide range of listed potential topics, but this first video? Perfect!

TBH, when I played Halo 1 and 2 when I was little, I loved the covenant. Bungie did too, which is why you fought with them in the second and third. Not throughout the game, of course not, but the bad guys were technically the brutes -excluding the prohpets- and their facist-extremo views against the rest of the races. So it was more like a civil war than anything. The only reason why you don't see this in Reach is because it takes place before Halo 1, where these ideals you speak of were probably true throughout the staff.

God dammit, I'm going to make a game now. It's going to be a very crappy game and will probably crash every 2 minutes, and it's not going to be very big or advanced because I'll probably make it in Blitz3D instead of an actual, professional game engine, and the animation will be almost nonexistant and the art will suck, but at least it will have a good story and plot driving it. Both on the surface, and beneath.

I'm not sure I buy what you're selling Bob-o (I only played Halo 2 with a friend and we skipped most cut-scenes), but I enjoyed hearing about it. I'm always in favor of the Escapist adding more shows.

You know I watch Escape to the Movies every week and while I dont agree with some of your reviews and sly comments *IE: Every mention of Halo is met with contempt* this show certainly started off very badly. I mean what a swing and a miss!

For starters Bungie gave the people who made the commercial (who was hired by Microsofts PR division) certain information and templates to make the commercial. Which was a simple albeit somewhat erroneous idea of how a spartan is made.

I mean geez could you have chosen a worse way to get context about the story??? A television commercial even...

If you want proper context about the story its entirety read the books and play the games.
You would know that The reason the Covenent want kill the entire human race is because the Prophets (aka leader caste) discovered that the gods they worship (ancient species that was wiped out by the Halo effect) were the ancestors of humans IE contradicting their entire religion and said knowledge would literally destroy the covenent (IE the bonds between the Elite caste and the Prophet caste) Rather then lose power and dissolve the Covenent the prophets chose to hide all knowledge of the relationship between the Forerunners (aka ancient gods they worship) and wipe out all of humanity to retain their power and their Covenent.

Seriously you barely scratched the surface of the story and from that scratch you have come with the most craziest conclusion and over depth analysis I have ever heard.

Next thing I hear is how Smurfs is just another story with hidden ties to Racism, fascism, and bigots.

Well this was pretty lame. I guess it makes sense though, trolling a popular franchise is a good way to gain some early notoriety.

Congrats on the new show. I will take more Bob musings every week.

As for the subject...

Who am I kidding, I know the audience here, dialogue and discussion are out of the picture, people will post their piece and get out, so who cares, really? I'm better off mailing Bob directly.

Oh, well, very quickly, yeah, Bob's kind of overreaching here, but he has a point in that games have perpetuated this notion of militaristic groups as heroic by definition. Yes, this would benefit from some critical thinking.

In all fairness, this is more due to the repetition of functional clichés in entertainment than a manifestation of a stronger underlying cultural thing, which is likely why multicultural teams all over the world are creating stories based on these premises, which, strictly speaking, are a Reagan era Cold War leftover regurgitated by the Bush administration to justify a couple of wars of aggression in a post-Vietnam world.

Hey, at least Halo has elevated its discourse over time. In Reach there are even civilians you need to protect. And they speak a foreign language, so that only the soldiers who care enough to learn to speak it can empathize with them, functionally going from accidental protofascism to heavy handed topical commentary in one fell swoop.

I always thought you were supposed to be playing as the, erm, guys on the moral low ground in the Halo games. But then again, I never made it though part 2 without getting bored, so I might be wrong.

Anyway, I see nothing wrong with the depiction of the two factions. Yeah, you're playing a genetically-engineered pseudo master-race representative who busies himself mowing down hordes of ethnically diverse aliens. Of course you're the bad guy. I always thought that was the point of the Halo-games, but maybe I've been overthinking it from the start.

Yay now we can get a show where someone bends over for Nintendo and says how xbox and ps3 are unoriginal, and have bad games.

Always awesome to see new stuff from you Bob, keep up the good work :D

First of all, hooray, moar Moviebob! Now all they need to do is port over 'The Game Overthinker'

Now to the actual rev...discussion:

(I'll make my disclaimer here that I'm a fan of Halo. Caveat: I detest multiplayer against anyone except my friends. So yes, I'm one of the mythical few who play for the campaign)

Point 1: Despite my disagreement with Moviebob on a lot of his main arguments in this video (see below), I'm gonna have to agree that Reach was very meh in terms of characterisation. I actually knew who Kat and Carter were before playing (they feature in 'Ghosts of Onyx'), and I still had zero interest in the characters. The whole 'Jorge is like Chief, so he thinks Halsey is his mum' interactions were handled clumsily etc. This is coming from someone who religiously follows the background, reads all those pulp fiction add-ons to the universe, comics etc so I can quote worse examples (the whole 'token space time distortion alien artifact' in First Strike springs to mind). Also, Reach's relentless focus on these bland and uninteresting characters, when they could've had maybe a handful of Covenant cutscences (Halo Wars did this ok, yes I know it sucked) to break up the tedium, is especially annoying. Halo 3 moved the series in that direction, Reach completely blacked out the Covenant as having any motive or depth to the reasons for their invasion other than 'we hate humans'. Halo 1 introduced us to the Covies with a lot of mystery, Halo 2 actually developed things from their perspective, then Halo 3 and Reach take us back to square 1. What gives?

Point 2: The accusation of 'multi-cultural cooperative vs lily-white fascists' charge levelled against Halo is a complete misrepresentation of the background. If you're going to make broad sweeping statements about themes and subtexts, at least know the game universe well enough to qualify it. And, though this does sound weird, a playthrough of the games (especially Reach, which is the weakest story-line wise) doesn't really give you that. Its the novels and comics that can (not always, there is chaff out there) elevate the background from 'mildly interesting' to 'wow thats pretty interesting and deep'. Halo 3 is especially guilty of this, as it does jack-all to bring in the more interesting elements of the background (its one of the blandest videogames I've ever played, and its supposed to be the big finale!).

In-game, there is a variety of accents you hear from allies (and weirdly, always at least one Australian), although I will concede most of the main cast are white, with one notable exception. Sergeant Avery Johnson is black, he's pretty much equal to Chief in terms of bad-assery, and he plays an important role in the events of the game universe (everything from his weird resistance to the Flood, to his first contact with the Covies on Harvest, to him aiding the Chief and Arbiter at critical junctures in the plot). His death in Halo 3 is to provide closure for the character (I wish they'd done the same for Chief), and it's a lot better handled then, and I quote Yahtzee, ' the most epic death competition' of Reach.

So, I think it's grossly unfair to present the UNSC as being white supremacists. Lets take a look at the Covenant by comparison.

The Prophets, who are deceitful, cunning and manipulative, rule the Covenant in a nominal alliance with the Elites (I'm using game nicknames here, cos the actual 'alienspeak' names would be too obscure to most). The Prophets are the ones with an affinity for technology and knowledge, while the Elites are smart, tough, capable warriors (whose entire culture is very similar to Spartans). Below them exist the conquered. The Jackals are pirates and scavengers, who aren't as good fighters but more numerous than Elites and less skittish than Grunts (thus performing as auxiliary support, snipers etc). Grunts are the cannon fodder, who get bullied and pushed around by everyone else, because they are by and large stupid and easily intimidated. Hunters are worm conglomerates who are too simple (not stupid, just unambitious) to rise up (and they've already been threatened with annihilation once, so they play along). The Brutes are a recent addition, and compete with the Elites in the 'loyal warrior' category (the Elites have the annoying trait of thinking for themselves, whereas the Brutes virtually never question their orders). Drones are hive-mind workers who are only pressed into combat roles unsuited to Grunts, and even then only because of a lack of alternatives.

So, with all this variation, where are the fascist, supremacist overtones? The whole concept of the Great Journey, where those who lack faith (or whatever else is required, as determined by the Prophets) can't join the faithful in paradise. When you realise that the Prophets know from the start that they're trying to unlock a galaxy-wide degreaser (where grease = sentient beings), you see how ruthless and dangerous the Prophets really are. They are going to take only a chosen handful of obedient slaves with them, leaving everyone else to die. The fact the same artifact they're using to do this with is human-built makes them even bigger hypocrites. The justification given to the war with humanity is eerily similar to other ethnic cleansing campaigns from real historical events (ie the enemy is inherently evil cos I say so).

You can look at the treatment of the Grunts, Drones and Jackals. They are all killed with impunity by the Elites and Brutes whenever they displease. They are true slave races, whose only purpose is to fight to advance the cause of the Prophets. Elite commanders expend all three like bullets to wear down an enemy before making surgical strikes with their own, more valued warriors.

You can also look at the complete intolerance for dissent or alternate views. The Prophets want everyone toiling towards their goal, not distracted by other ideas or worse, opposed to them. To be fair, the UNSC is guilty of similar sins (the creation of the Spartans was to put down human rebellions surgically, avoiding all-out wars to bring worlds back into compliance), but at least its not a totalitarian theocracy.

Having said all that, I think the actual games have been uneven in terms of quality (storywise, we could argue all day about gameplay, graphics, AI etc). Halo 2 was kinda the peak for me, cos it actually presented things from the Covenant perspective and shed light on the reasons behind their holy war on humanity. Forcing the player to use the Arbiter in parallel to the Chief was a good idea executed relatively well, and they made sure it wasn't just a gimmick by giving the final boss battle to the Arbiter. Yes, it did leave on a cliffhanger, but any middle part to a trilogy has to do that to be relevant. You start with expectation of the first installment, you develop and build it up more, and you leave things uncertain for the third act to resolve.

Then in Halo 3, he gets relegated to supporting character status, and the focus is back on the 'insert your alter-ego here' Chief. I actually like the Master Chief, but the Arbiter is more fascinating in many ways. While the Spartans are all (essentially) heavily augmented children whose lives are expended by the military, the Arbiter is a failed commander who is given another chance at redemption. It's a pity we only get half a game to explore the Arbiter as a character, as in many ways he's more interesting than Chief. Don't get me wrong, I love the moral ambiguity of stealing children for a secret black-ops unit (so they can be sacrificed for the greater good), but the lack of allusion to that in the games does risk turning the Spartans into generic space marines at times (Reach comes the closest to this).

tl;dr UNSC is more inclusive than you think, the Covenant are racist and totalitarian, Reach did suck storyline-wise, and moar Moviebob = a better tomorrow

I liked the "ubermensch" approach to spartans.

Bleh, started reading the comments then noticed that there is 12 bloody pages...

I thought what made the Covenent evil was thier Religious based Genocide rather then being Multicultural, hell some of the races defected to the Humans side the moment the Religion was proven false.




Then im not sure what you mean.
John was the main character, so you played as him.
Is that somehow bad?

Well, what's-his-name said that the different alien races were all there to just give you more variety in the stuff you shoot at. I wondered why we couldn't get more variety in the playable characters, in that case. Just a thought...

well i always thought that from a First Person perspective it wouldn't matter who you played as.
You would still be running around and killing lots of Aliens with whatever weapon you were given or found on the ground.
So having a larger variety of Targets makes more sense to me than having more characters.

Possibly, but then games like Mass Effect show how you can have a highly diverse team of goodies versus a diverse (but less so) team of baddies. It probably would have been more interesting if the Halo "Noble" gang are made up of various aliens with interesting cultures, even if they only have a small role to play in FPS genre.

I would agree with his point except for the fact that it never even seems like Halo makes a point of the fact that the covenant is composed of different races outside of the primary gameplay sense. Grunts = standard foot soldiers, Jackals = quick and nasty snipers/skirmishers, Elites/Brutes = Leaders/match for the Spartans in combat ( most human-like ). While if the covenant were humans, all of these different positions could be portrayed by different varieties of humans, the same is usually not true of aliens in sci-fi. The different races seem less about showing the covenant as diverse, but rather because of the simple fact that in most sci-fi, alien races are portrayed as being largely the same within each species in comparison to humans ( such as how almost every grunt and elite are exactly the same as each other ).

And, as Bob partially pointed out, the creation and use of Spartans in Halo lore is mainly portrayed as a necessary evil of the human race rather than something that every human should strive for ( as far as how it's portrayed to us, not how the government in the story makes them out to be grand heroes in order to boost the morale of the troops ).

I think dishing on entertainment because it appears to conform to some unrelated subtext is self-defeating. Assuming for a moment that we are giving the Halo storyline literary cred, why should this accidental bullsh!t subtext have any relevance to a game that is essentially about (inasmuch as it as "about" anything apart from killing stuff for fun) heroism, religious dogmatism and self-sacrifice? You're simultaneously giving Bungie too much credit as storytellers and too little credit as game designers (when it should probably be the other way around).

Your argument is wrong for two main reasons:
-Don't dish on narrative elements that are the result of gameplay decisions. There are lots of kinds of Covenant because this makes them more interesting to fight. They expanded this idea into the main storyline because it made things more interesting, then took the implications of this and ran with it. Plot-wise, it was one of the better decisions they made.
-Don't accuse Bungie's story of having fascist racist subtext by drawing on social standards that do not exist. Almost any game you can name on the market today has unfortunate implications of one kind or another, and most of these stem from having enemies (or allies) who are homogenized and racially stereotyped, both of which being things that Bungie managed to avoid. "Homogenized good guys versus evil, diverse enemy" is just not a thing. In this case, the good guys were "homogenized" because they were all human; the enemies were alien and so it only made sense to have a lot of different kinds. Simple.

Lastly, you don't like Halo, and that's okay. But please shut up about it now. Your critiques don't bring anything to new to the discussion and I think we'd all greatly prefer it if you moved your ass along.

Nice first show Bob and I hope to see more. This was a very interesting point of view to the popular series and it does bring up some interesting questions. Still, judging from the number of replies being 400 and just being released, I doubt that many of the replies are going to be well meaning or constructive. My only opinion about this new show is that the face cut outs are a bit odd to me considering that all of them are unfamiliar to me. I guess if I knew who the faces were, I could have a stronger grasp on their use. Oh well, keep up the good work Bob.

Seems like this is gonna be his nerd rage show, dont think for a second thats a critisism, just an observation, i prefer Scape to the movies thus far, but it seems harsh to make perminent judgements on the first episode, just seems to me EttM is more smartly written (which i prefer) but that doesnt really make this one 'bad'

Great new show. I know I'm gonna be a weekly watcher now. I enjoyed it.

Huh i never seen that way before, thank movieBob.

OT: Please god do a warhammer.


I'm sorry but I think Movie Bob needs to do a little more research for future videos because he openly admitted he hadn't played Halo 2 or 3. The games in which the humans team up with the elites for the sake of a common goal.

Now im all for saying movie bob is reading into this WAAYYY to much, but in both Halo 2 and Halo 3 the Arbiter is basically a stand-in for "The token black guy" older movies would have. He's "The token good alien". BUT as i have said earlier, i think the variation in the covenant comes more from wanted varied dudes to shoot at more than anything. It's a game design choice.

I wouldn't actually say that the Arbiter was the one good alien though, he was just amoung the first of the elites to realize the prophets were starting a war against the elites. This meant he was also one of the first to join the humans because after all, the enemy of your enemy is your friend. After the rest of the elites learned about the covenants plans to kill them off, they were happy to jump on the humans side.

Although I wholeheartedly agree with different targets in the shooting range point. One massive army of grunts or fighting the brutes on planet of the apes wouldn't be as fun as a wide array of species of covenant to kill.




Their soldiers the wear uniforms, also theres normally only like 2 or 3 or them on screen at a time and in spite of that they still have a surprising amount of diversity (they were even given names.)

not all soldiers look the same. Say that to a US military officer and he will bitch slap you back to the stone age. As i said before, soldiers mean MORE than just a guy with a gun, they have different ROLES, UNIFORMS, AND WEAPONS. All halo soldiers are just jackasses who run around shooting things with the same armor and the same gun. Just because modern warfare shows soldiers running about quick-scoping doesn't mean that's how actual war is. try that in a war zone and that will get you blown to bits. diversity in halo: combat evolved in the starship trooper look-a-likes? bull shit.

I didn't say they did now did I?
In halo they didn't give the soldiers alot of diversity, because they aren't the primary focus of the game. If i'm a 3D modeler i'm not going to break my back working on something that the player isn't even going to be looking at.
That being said there is still some diversity in the halo support characters, at the very least you have the marines and ODSTs on the battle field with you, all of whom have carry a variety of weapons including covy weapons they've found lying around.

On a seperate note, don't assume that you know more about warfare then I do. If games were an authentic recreation of what battle was really like, they wouldn't be much fun would they?

only if you're the commanding officer it is. You just sit on your ass, coordinate it, then watch.

I don't even know where to start with this. Half the criticisms of this I want to make, you make already before arguing, which perplexes me. Are you intentionally ignoring the explanations against your arguments, or are you just trying to troll as many people as possible for views? Not watching any more of this shit...



Well, what's-his-name said that the different alien races were all there to just give you more variety in the stuff you shoot at. I wondered why we couldn't get more variety in the playable characters, in that case. Just a thought...

well i always thought that from a First Person perspective it wouldn't matter who you played as.
You would still be running around and killing lots of Aliens with whatever weapon you were given or found on the ground.
So having a larger variety of Targets makes more sense to me than having more characters.

Possibly, but then games like Mass Effect show how you can have a highly diverse team of goodies versus a diverse (but less so) team of baddies. It probably would have been more interesting if the Halo "Noble" gang are made up of various aliens with interesting cultures, even if they only have a small role to play in FPS genre.

But that wouldn't make any sense.
Comparing Halo to Mass Effect is useless anyway because of how different they are.

I have more to add

First off it seems like false advertising that you name the video 'combat evolved?' and then don't discuss the combat in Halo at all.

Second off your main problem is that you are oversimplifying Halo. Yes one side is diverse the other team is not. But there are other improtant elements and factors that go into play and to ignore them all and pretend this is a battle of diversity vs. ...non-diversity, seems really dishonest.

Third use some Occam's Razor. They could've made the aliens diverse because they subconsciously think that diversity is bad. Or maybe they did it because not having to fight the same enemy over and over is good game design. I'm sticking with the latter and even if you aren't you can't pretend that 'they secretly don't like diversity' is the only good explanation.

oooo, new show, I'm liking it.

It's great that you gave Halo a shot for once and gave your position on it.

I think that right now, story telling in games are still too juvenile and basic compared to other works. This isn't to say that every game (or every medium out there) should have a grade-A, Oscar-nominating, story to tell, but so far video games are lagging behind other mediums in terms of storytelling and themes and whatnot.

Obviously, as you've said, Halo isn't really the prime example to cite with storytelling in games, with it being mainly a multiplayer game n' all, but video games in general still have a long way to go with telling stories with themes, morals, symbolism, etc.... kind of like how an author pays attention to every little element to form the story he/she wants out of it.

This series has the potential to be good--I enjoy Escape to the Movies and consider Bob's opinions usually pretty valid--but Godwin's Law applied to Halo might not have been the best idea for a first episode. He's sounding an awful lot like the nitpickers who come up with ridiculous theories to bash video games, regardless of how truthful they are or how much they're reading into it. I'm no great Halo fan myself, but I hardly think Bungie intended to inset a subliminal master race message into their games. And also, "I'm just sayin'" never works to lessen the reaction to an opinion. Slow down, Bob. Try and make a better first impression.




Go to the army and tell me if they look like a rainbow

They do. You don't realize that there are MORE than just a shotgun guy and rifle guy. who heals the injured? who coordinates artillery shelling? who refuels the helicopters? who repairs the tanks? who drives the supply trucks to forward outposts? who BUILDS the forward outposts?

An army is more diverse than you think.

That has nothing to do with their uniform, they all have something to distiguish but it isnt all that much, you wont see the color scheme changing drasticly from one ocupation to another.

Also, the aliens diverse in species, we are only one specie, and Halo Reach in particular even has multiple races so they did made variety on the allies, they have multiple colors and diferent body structure. There is a russian (I think) chick, a black guy, a eastern huge dude, the tipical white guy and our character, all with their own colour and body sizes.

actually yes the color scheme would change depending on occupation. You don't expect the mechanic to have camo and heavy weaponry do you? not every occupation gives you an assault rifle and colored body armor.

Yes, Bob, you are taking this too far. Bungie just wants to give players alot of variety in the enemies they fight.

But the blue-eye thing was pretty funny.

Seriously though. This is the first episode of your new series. Why does it have to be a halosux rant? Why can't it be something more constructive and positive? You could've analyzed the Super Mario Galaxy games and tried to predict where the series will go next. You could've discussed the merits of the art stlye for the next Zelda game. But just call Halo shit...again...

Really, isn't it time to move onto something else now? Something much more bland, much more overrated? Like, I don't know, Call of Duty!

And once again, you ignore facts in order to make Halo work worse, simply because of your hatred for it.

But I guess I shouldn't be too harsh. You're doing something knew here. Taking things way to out of context to make Halo look worse.

... Oh, wait a minute... I guess you're the same narrowminded asshat as you've always been with this series.

The one, ONE thing I will agree with you on, is that the characterization in Reach was atrocious. Halsey is the only interesting character, Jorge taking a far-gone second place, and the thing is her character is only interesting to me because I know her back story from the novels and her journal.

So, let me just make this clear. You wrote this:
a beautiful article which encourages looking at intimate details before passing judgement on a story.

Yet you never, ever take a look at the intimate details of the Halo story, and instead, call it "been there, done that, boring."

This'd be forgiveable if you were talking about the gameplay. But you're talking about the entire Halo story.

You're a fucking hypocrite.

That was awesome! Great show!

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