What Really Bugged Me About Halo 4

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What Really Bugged Me About Halo 4

After Bungie finished it's Halo trilogy, it set up future versions of the game - for failure.

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4 really was unnecessary. I thought 3 concluded Master Chief's story well. And even had a great sense of circular nature to it. Returned to a cryostasis pod, just like Halo 1. Drifting asleep, lost in space, was supposed to be a sacrifice of ending the flood threat. But waking Chief up undermines that.

The only great bit out of 4, was touching on the morality of how and why the Spartans were created. Abduction and indoctrination of children along with dangerous medical experimentation meant to enhance them.

Well thought out article, and its pretty much right on.

But my big problem with Halo 4 had very little to do with the story itself. Sure, it was all the things you describe. But Halo 2 had a weird disjointed story and it was still passable.

My problems with Halo 4 were gameplay related. And the biggest of all can be summed up in one word; Prometheans. They simply are not fun to fight. Every Promethean encounter plays out exactly the same. Pick off the dog enemies, down the hover-healers, then take out the big tank enemies. Every. Single. Time. It gets old very quickly.

Couple that with so many of the Promethean's weapons feeling like retreads, no new enemy vehicles since Prometheans have that cheap teleport, and how difficult the Battlewagons were to take down on Legendary and it adds up to a lot of less than fun encounters.

Spartan Ops was a good idea, but every time it was a Promethean level it always worked the same way. Go to spot, listen to chatter, hit button, now become completely and instantly surrounded. Then kill dogs, then kill hoverers, then kill those cheap transporting skull faced suckers. I enjoyed the mode and it's modular story telling design. But since it replaced Fire Fight, which was less context and more balls to the wall action, it ended up feeling like a consolation prize when it should have been the exciting new feature.

Halo 4, ultimately, was a complete disappointment. And this is from someone who has been a Halo fan since 2001. I spent a LOT of time being part of the Halo community even spent a year drawing a fan comic (117 comic strips! tee hee). And after Halo 4 ended I almost didn't want to keep going. Ultimately I got past the sadness, but I never went back to play Halo 4 again. To date, it is the only Halo game I only played through once. 1, 2, 3, and all the side stories I've played innumerable times. But 4 was a one and done (not counting multiplayer of course).

I have started to let myself be a little excited for Halo 5 finally. But it's not hype. It's a cautious animosity that I'm trying to channel into something positive. If all it does is allow for some more fun enemy encounters, I'll take it. But I really hope that 4 was limited because of the hardware and that with the X1 they can spread their wings a bit and hopefully get me 100% back on board.

Prolly not the best idea to lump King Arthur and Jesus into the same analogy, especially when it's in regards to fiction.

evilnancyreagan:
Prolly not the best idea to lump King Arthur and Jesus into the same analogy, especially when it's in regards to fiction.

Like it or not, they serve very similar roles in their respective tales. There's no religious commentary involved, only an analysis of the story.

Halo 4... Lets see.

Prometheans were bullet sponges, which weren't particularly fun to fight, but I got the hang of it. I liked the new weaponry.

The plot - I loved the new focus on Cortana. In a way, this felt like it was deliberately subverting the 'traditional myth' that Robert Rath refers to. Our hero is still human, and must face a very human - but nonetheless very terrifying - problem, a friend's mortality.

Individual missions... were forgettable. Nothing really held a candle to Halo 3 or Reach's more memorable maps. In some ways it felt like they were just going through the motions: Here's the Forerunner base, here's the base defence mission, here's the assault on enemy strongholds... Flying a Pelican was damn fun, though it was over far too quickly.

And then...

Spot on. Also, losing your sound designer when the music of the first three games was so compelling doesn't help!

Agayek:
Like it or not, they serve very similar roles in their respective tales. There's no religious commentary involved, only an analysis of the story.

I'm impartial but, some people might be offended by the connotation of the J-man being a fictitious entity.

evilnancyreagan:

Agayek:
Like it or not, they serve very similar roles in their respective tales. There's no religious commentary involved, only an analysis of the story.

I'm impartial but, some people might be offended by the connotation of the J-man being a fictitious entity.

At no point is Jesus referred to in the article as a fictitious entity, and anyone who reads into it that way is just looking to be offended intentionally so they can pick a fight.

Gizen:
At no point is Jesus referred to in the article as a fictitious entity, and anyone who reads into it that way is just looking to be offended intentionally so they can pick a fight.

Robert Rath:
The most important part of this myth isn't in the text, it's what the text conjures in the reader's mind. After the Pyrrhic victory, the story shifts from a tragic tone to a hopeful one. Though the hero is gone, he is not dead, and will one day deliver us from evil. But the key phrase here is one day. The hero's return, whether it's Arthur saving Britain or Jesus defeating evil and establishing his kingdom, always exists in the future. The story's whole function depends on it.

The context here certainly implies that Jesus is sourced from a work of fiction and his return is merely a literary device crafted with the sole intention of invoking narrative drama.

evilnancyreagan:
I'm impartial but, some people might be offended by the connotation of the J-man being a fictitious entity.

Pretty much this:

Gizen:
At no point is Jesus referred to in the article as a fictitious entity, and anyone who reads into it that way is just looking to be offended intentionally so they can pick a fight.

It's an incontrovertible fact that there are stories told about Jesus, regardless of what anyone thinks of their veracity. Mr. Rath is doing nothing but drawing parallels between the stories of Jesus, the stories of King Arthur, and the story of Halo. There is no commentary or claims either way on the veracity of the source of aforementioned stories.

Hell, the Catholic Church itself largely recognizes the Bible as a work of metaphor and story instead of hard facts. I'm not sure why someone else doing so would cause problems.

Yeah, I guess that's the main problem I had with Halo 4: everything up to that point let me believe my own story, and then 4 comes around and says "No, the Humans have always been the best species in the galaxy, and they always will be, and the Forerunners are just humanoid aliens, nothing special there, oh and Master Chief has the social development of a six-year-old." Letting questions go unanswered is a great thing in science fiction (remember the midichlorians?), and unfortunately Microsoft has more love for money than they do a great story that inspires the imagination.

Oh, and the new enemies had about four unblockable instakill moves that they could decide to use at any moment. That was pretty rage-inducing. And the Plasma Pistol, pretty much the most unique gun in the series, was in incredibly short supply, completely destroying the fun of energy shields. And the multiplayer let you spawn with plasma grenades and a shotgun. And Cortana didn't go nearly crazy enough (I was hoping for Wheatley-level crazy). And the Didact was never formally introduced, we were just supposed to believe everyone knew who he was.

I agree with the analysis, but it's just looking at more specific cases of the big problem (which you also point out): Halo 3 ended it. Nicely. Halo 4 had to un-end it for purely marketing reasons. Plotwise, there was no way that could go well.

evilnancyreagan:
Pretty much this:

Gizen:
At no point is Jesus referred to in the article as a fictitious entity, and anyone who reads into it that way is just looking to be offended intentionally so they can pick a fight.

It's an incontrovertible fact that there are stories told about Jesus, regardless of what anyone thinks of their veracity. Mr. Rath is doing nothing but drawing parallels between the stories of Jesus, the stories of King Arthur, and the story of Halo. There is no commentary or claims either way on the veracity of the source of aforementioned stories.

Hell, the Catholic Church itself largely recognizes the Bible as a work of metaphor and story instead of hard facts. I'm not sure why someone else doing so would cause problems.

This indeed. Many of the stories regarding Jesus are indeed fictional, and are acknowledged as such even by religions themselves, with only the most die-hard and fervent believers refusing to accept that. And whether these people are offended or not can't a basis whether to use an example or discuss something, because otherwise we'd be living in the dark ages still. The article is right to call upon those stories as metaphorical examples, since that's all they ever were. It still never implies that Jesus himself was fictional though, only that some (okay, a lot) of the stuff written about him was.

Daaaah Whoosh:
Yeah, I guess that's the main problem I had with Halo 4: everything up to that point let me believe my own story, and then 4 comes around and says "No, the Humans have always been the best species in the galaxy, and they always will be, and the Forerunners are just humanoid aliens, nothing special there, oh and Master Chief has the social development of a six-year-old." Letting questions go unanswered is a great thing in science fiction (remember the midichlorians?), and unfortunately Microsoft has more love for money than they do a great story that inspires the imagination.

The Halo lore always seemed pretty solid and well defined to me, sure the forerunners were a bit "mysterious" but none more than any other "precursor civilization" (except perhaps The Precursors from Jak and Daxter...heh), but I wouldn't say the lore was set up to have much room for you to make your own backstory.

I mean you can if you /want/, but 4 didn't seem to be any more "solid" in how the lore was than 1-3, it just introduced new elements. Master Chief...has always been quiet and essentially empty as far as a personality goes, 4 is hardly the game to start ragging on him for it. Heck, Chief had more personality in 4 than the others I'd say. As far as I can see, the Forerunners were always going to be hyper advanced aliens, it even felt like that's what everyone thought they were In Universe too. This isn't a universe with Gods and Magic.

I dunno, someone could likely correct me on a few of thse things, I'm limited to the games. But with something like Halo I think basing stuff on just the games is okay, as that is it's primary outlet, and the story presented in them shouldn't rely on stuff thats in the expanded universe without explaining it in the games.

evilnancyreagan:

The context here certainly implies that Jesus is sourced from a work of fiction and his return is merely a literary device crafted with the sole intention of invoking narrative drama.

It looks like you're just looking to blast it for the sake of it. He clearly does not state or imply that Jesus is ficticious, he just qualifies that by messiah he doesn't mean the typical Jesus imagary that's invoked by "Messiah", and more the literary trope of the sleeping Messiah, of which King Arthur becomes the better example.

If people get offended over this, that's their own insecurities and issues, not the writers, there's no religious agenda, no atheism pushing, just an article that invokes the similiarities in the stories of Jesus, King Arthur and Master Chief. Regardless of whether or not you think Jesus is real, a story is still a story, regardless of the events in them being real or not.

Even so, you can still point out similarities in "real" events to those of narrative structure in stories, because they're usually based on existing stories of events to begin with.

Besides, his beliefs could well be that Jesus /is/ ficticious, but we start arguing which religion or none of them is true, we're liable to start a war.

Thats it! Noone say anything to anyone about anything ever again, because someone out there is bound to get offended by just about anything. If someone genuinely gets offended by this, they need to grow a spine and reassess their priorities.

Gizen:
This indeed. Many of the stories regarding Jesus are indeed fictional, and are acknowledged as such even by religions themselves, with only the most die-hard and fervent believers refusing to accept that. And whether these people are offended or not can't a basis whether to use an example or discuss something, because otherwise we'd be living in the dark ages still. The article is right to call upon those stories as metaphorical examples, since that's all they ever were. It still never implies that Jesus himself was fictional though, only that some (okay, a lot) of the stuff written about him was.

So, you're saying that it's acceptable to invalidate any beliefs so long as they are contrary to the status quo.

evilnancyreagan:
So, you're saying that it's acceptable to invalidate any beliefs so long as they are contrary to the status quo.

No, he's saying that someone who perceives this article as an attack on their religious beliefs went in actively looking for something to attack their religious beliefs so they could be offended about it, and that censoring the article to account for that is both detrimental to the article and counter to effective discourse.

Agayek:
No, he's saying that someone who perceives this article as an attack on their religious beliefs went in actively looking for something to attack their religious beliefs so they could be offended about it, and that censoring the article to account for that is both detrimental to the article and counter to effective discourse.

so, if a person is offended it is only because they chose to be.

There's a huge margin between discretion and censorship. I don't see how this article is improved with the banality of a Jesus reference.

evilnancyreagan:
so, if a person is offended it is only because they chose to be.

Pretty much, yeah.

Halo 4 is where the series started to suffer from Bioware syndrome, where new developers are trying to innovate on patterns laid down by old ones without understanding those patterns and why they worked.

Having the Didact show up and be a dumb bond villain was a big mistake. The Forerunner stuff should have been left in the past, where it could remain mythical and interesting. What the series really needed was a new direction, not a muddling up of the old one.

Agayek:

evilnancyreagan:
so, if a person is offended it is only because they chose to be.

Pretty much, yeah.

and the projection of your perception of reality is manifest in totality.

I always thought the biggest problem was the writing of Master Chief.

I mean he's a big, clumsy man child who literally knows nothing about anything but killing, killing and killing. Sooner or later someone has to confront that John 117 is not a functioning human being, I was hoping Halo 4 would have him becoming increasingly unhinged along with Cortana, she's always been his brains.

But alas no, stoic hero type it was.

Just once I'd like him to violently beat an elite to death with it's own plasma rifle, then turn to the horrified Marines with him and snicker about how much fun he's having...

I always felt it should have been about the arbiter, he was a much stronger character than the chief and was still actively in the universe, maybe its that I'm more of an RPG fan but I just never got the obsession with the spartans in it, their primary interesting traits have been done to death, I was always interested in the halo setting because of their interpenetration of existing themes and styles, but 4 just goes "d'aliens R bad so U shuut tham", whereas previous installments and expanded universe were more layered, with the aliens infighting and implications that human leadership might be quite evil, for me that was the issue, 4 felt like it didnt expect anyone playing to have a brain cell in their head, it points you in a direction to shoot but its excuse is basically it saying "because reasons"

Yeah, the adversity in Halo 4 felt off, and an aspect the writer didn't mention is the huge, clumsy and incredibly contrived foil in the shape of Captain Del Rio. For much of the game, Chief's struggle isn't against unstoppable hordes, or doomsday weapons, or ancient terrors, but... bureaucracy.

"Look, Captain, it's the hero who saved Earth a few years ago!"
"Throw him in the brig, because reasons"

It wasn't perfect, but I genuinely enjoy Halo 4 a lot. One thing I felt was done right was Master Chief being more vocal and getting more of a personality or rather lack thereof what with being "broken" and socially inept.

Even if the Prometheans weren't the most interesting enemies, the overall gameplay felt great to me. For one I was happy to have an effective Assault Rifle for once, and most of the weapons in general had a good feeling for lack of a better description.

My only real problem was the "final boss fight" if you could call it that. That was an extremely lame way to possibly kill of the Didact. I know many people think he survived, but that still does not make it a good ending.

evilnancyreagan:

Gizen:
This indeed. Many of the stories regarding Jesus are indeed fictional, and are acknowledged as such even by religions themselves, with only the most die-hard and fervent believers refusing to accept that. And whether these people are offended or not can't a basis whether to use an example or discuss something, because otherwise we'd be living in the dark ages still. The article is right to call upon those stories as metaphorical examples, since that's all they ever were. It still never implies that Jesus himself was fictional though, only that some (okay, a lot) of the stuff written about him was.

So, you're saying that it's acceptable to invalidate any beliefs so long as they are contrary to the status quo.

This is horrendously off-topic by this point, but in the end you're going to horribly offend somebody no matter what you say and you can't allow that to negatively impact rational discourse by letting it limit what you can and can't say. All the same, there's no need to be unnecessarily mean-spirited and intentionally try to piss people off, but it shouldn't be difficult to determine the difference between an attack on somebody else's beliefs/way of life and a simple point of discussion. This article was clearly the latter, and if that still offends you anyways then you're just going to have to learn to deal with being offended sometimes because it's ultimately unavoidable, especially when discussing a topic where both science and respected religious leaders alike are not going to back you up.

fix-the-spade:
I always thought the biggest problem was the writing of Master Chief.

I mean he's a big, clumsy man child who literally knows nothing about anything but killing, killing and killing. Sooner or later someone has to confront that John 117 is not a functioning human being, I was hoping Halo 4 would have him becoming increasingly unhinged along with Cortana, she's always been his brains.

But alas no, stoic hero type it was.

Just once I'd like him to violently beat an elite to death with it's own plasma rifle, then turn to the horrified Marines with him and snicker about how much fun he's having...

Now you see, this is what I got out of Halo 4. Near the end, Cortana points out that John seems more like the machine and she is more like the person. That's why John worked as a character, Cortana was the soul and John was the body. She was his conscience.

What I really wanted to see in Halo 5 is that John slowly takes more and more dangerous missions now that he no longer has his "conscience" to tell him to stop. You could still have MC be a messianic hero, but you then make it hollow. He is doing more and more legendary things, but it's becoming borderline self-destructive. However, I'm not holding out hope for that sort of deep writing, but I can dream. ...Or I guess I could try getting a job as a writer with 343 :S

To bring it back to the topic of the article, another problem with bringing John back or any sort of Messiah figure is that when they come back, everything is solved. There's no more conflict because John is supposed to show up and solve everything.

elvor0:

...I wouldn't say the lore was set up to have much room for you to make your own backstory.

I mean you can if you /want/, but 4 didn't seem to be any more "solid" in how the lore was than 1-3, it just introduced new elements. Master Chief...has always been quiet and essentially empty as far as a personality goes, 4 is hardly the game to start ragging on him for it. Heck, Chief had more personality in 4 than the others I'd say. As far as I can see, the Forerunners were always going to be hyper advanced aliens, it even felt like that's what everyone thought they were In Universe too. This isn't a universe with Gods and Magic.

I dunno, someone could likely correct me on a few of thse things, I'm limited to the games. But with something like Halo I think basing stuff on just the games is okay, as that is it's primary outlet, and the story presented in them shouldn't rely on stuff thats in the expanded universe without explaining it in the games.

I liked when Master Chief was quiet. I believed it was because he was like me, full of interesting thoughts about life, the universe, and everything, but with the understanding that no one cared. Kinda like Clint Eastwood's characters, they always seem to know what's going on, but have absolutely no intention of bothering anyone with it. In 4, Chief was a stupid child who didn't understand his own limitations.
As for the Forerunners, it's like they said in the article- they were better in my imagination because they never got pinned down to anything real. This trend keeps on happening- the Space Jockeys were explored in Prometheus, the Observers were explained in season 5 of Fringe, the Reapers were justified at the end of Mass Effect 3, and the Force was measured in Phantom Menace. Each time, a strange and slightly terrifying thing beyond our understanding turned out to be incredibly mundane. The Forerunners in Halo 1 were an alien race no one knew about who left behind massive structures that often featured beautiful earthlike landscapes, a parasite capable of toppling civilizations, and a weapon capable of wiping out said parasite along with a big chunk of the galaxy. We didn't know why they did these things, and we didn't know where they went, and we certainly weren't a part of it. In Halo 4, we're shown that the Forerunners almost got beaten by prehistoric humans, who they'd already been living with. Considering how powerful they make out the humans to be in Halo 4, it's like there's nothing left to fight. There's no tension any more, because I already believe that the humans can beat the Forerunners. I went from feeling incredibly small in Halo 1 to feeling like the biggest thing in the universe in Halo 4, and like I said before, I like Master Chief to be as small as possible.

The significance behind "wake me when you need me" lies in the fact that the war was over. Chief was bred for war. It was his singular purpose. He would never be "needed" ever again. He would never wake up. That is the implication.

That said, I don't know why anyone anywhere would go into Halo 4 expecting it to be good. Halo without Bungie is a hilariously awful idea and anyone with the capacity for critical thought should have been able to recognize that.

Bungie desperately needs to stop whoring themselves out to publishers. I'm sure Activision will continue to make soulless sequels to Destiny long after Bungie has left it as well.

Halo 4 was an interesting game. However, I have three main problems. First they didn't give enough custom games options. They gave us this incredible new version of the forge editor, but then gave us FEWER custom game options than Halo: Reach did, which in turn gave fewer than Halo 3. Why can't we disable sprint? Why can't we have unlimited grenades anymore? These things sound small, but they really limit what custom game makers can do. Hell, they actually disabled sprint for certain game modes they made, why not let us do it? All they had to do was add a menu option, the ability to remove it was already there.

Second, they failed to bring back a lot of very good content from the old games. This was just stupidity in my opinion. Why is there no assault mode or invasion mode? Why is there no needle rifle, when it was so much more unique and interesting than the covenant carbine? Why did they get rid of the Falcon, which was by far the most interesting vehicle in the game? I understand their removal of certain things that were not great, like the plasma launcher or headhunter mode, but some of the stuff they failed to include was excellent.

Third, a lot of the new content is really brilliant but not well thought out. For example, letting players pick their starting loadout is great. It lets them use weapons like the storm rifle or the covenant carbine that otherwise would never be seen in multiplayer and lets players play the way they want. It made the maps less cluttered by standard weapons like the battle rifle, making powerful weapons stand out more. However, starting with plasma grenades or a plasma pistol is just completely unbalanced. A plasma pistol will almost always be a better starting weapon than a magnum. Then there are the forerunners - they were a really cool way to keep the campaign fresh and new and to inject new guns into the game. So why are all their guns just pallet swaps of existing ones (and the same can be said of most covenant weapons.) For the new guns to really be worth including, they should be as different from their human counterparts as the plasma pistol is from the pistol. Otherwise there is no reason to have them. Also, why did they even include thruster pack? It is clearly supposed to be the new evade ability, but you actually move slower than walking when you use it. Did they even test this?

However, there were a few things that the game did really well. The magnets in forge mode were a stroke of genius (although they need tweaking). The sticky detonator is one of the coolest guns in the whole series. The pulse grenades, while underpowered, are very iconic and unique. And the sound design, ohhh gods the sound design is just so much better! The plasma pistol doesn't make a generic 'pew pew' noise anymore, the assault rifle feels so much more satisfying, the narrator sounds better than ever, and everything else sounds just a bit better. Plus, having actual lighting in forge mode is a godsend.

I think that Halo 4 was not good overall, but that it laid the path for better things to come. If Halo 5 can learn from it, I think it will be a great game.

The annoying thing is that they had to go with the Forerunners in the first place. Why not follow the Elites and their continuing campaigns against the Prophets and the Brutes? Oh right, because then we couldn't come up with a contrived reason to start shooting Humanity's newfound allies again.

Gizen:

This is horrendously off-topic by this point, but in the end you're going to horribly offend somebody no matter what you say and you can't allow that to negatively impact rational discourse by letting it limit what you can and can't say. All the same, there's no need to be unnecessarily mean-spirited and intentionally try to piss people off, but it shouldn't be difficult to determine the difference between an attack on somebody else's beliefs/way of life and a simple point of discussion. This article was clearly the latter, and if that still offends you anyways then you're just going to have to learn to deal with being offended sometimes because it's ultimately unavoidable, especially when discussing a topic where both science and respected religious leaders alike are not going to back you up.

Yo,

I be straight chill'n, dawg.

But y'all need to recognize that some old school, sunday folks could be gettin straight-up ill in here when you be dissin hard on the J-man like he's just some punk ass, harry potter bitch from a book.

I don't know about you guys but I'm waiting for Halo 3 to come to PC and refuse to play it until it does; that or when the 360's proce drop below $100.

Halo 4 could only have worked if it wasn't Master Chief you played as. There was a whole race of new Spartans, and Reach didn't suffer any for the lack of Chief, so...why Chief?

evilnancyreagan:

Gizen:

This is horrendously off-topic by this point, but in the end you're going to horribly offend somebody no matter what you say and you can't allow that to negatively impact rational discourse by letting it limit what you can and can't say. All the same, there's no need to be unnecessarily mean-spirited and intentionally try to piss people off, but it shouldn't be difficult to determine the difference between an attack on somebody else's beliefs/way of life and a simple point of discussion. This article was clearly the latter, and if that still offends you anyways then you're just going to have to learn to deal with being offended sometimes because it's ultimately unavoidable, especially when discussing a topic where both science and respected religious leaders alike are not going to back you up.

Yo,

I be straight chill'n, dawg.

But y'all need to recognize that some old school, sunday folks could be gettin straight-up ill in here when you be dissin hard on the J-man like he's just some punk ass, harry potter bitch from a book.

It didn't "Dis the J-Dawg" and I doubt old school sunday folk are on this site anyways.

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