The Twelve Days of Halo

GWH posted this on the HFFL forums. I just had to share it. He wrote one a few years ago and updates it every year as needed. This is 2014’s version.

The Twelve Days of Halo

by GoodWillHunter

On the twelfth day of Halo,
My new clan sent to me –
Twelve drop pods dropping,
Eleven snipers sniping,
Ten jackals creeping,
Nine wraiths advancing,
Eight grenades a-sticking,
Seven grunts exploding,
Six spartans slaying,
Five….bold marines,
Four falling drones,
Three pelicans,
Two armored gloves,
And a cartridge in my SMG!

-Sal

Halo 5 Guardians Cloning theory.

My good friend, PensHalo, has come up with a theory for Halo 5 Guardians that deserves some attention. Take a read and let me know what you think of his theory.

With the release of the new of Halo 5: Guardians last week along with the initial image, the anticipation for the next Halo game has started.  The questions are flying regarding who is the person in the top half of the image.  I started wondering myself who this could be.  As many have pointed out the person is possibly an ONI operative as the ONI logo can be seen on the chest plate of the armor being worn.  In addition, this person (who is not female as reported by Josh Holmes and Frank O’Connor) is male.  He has a slighter build than Master Chief which is why many, myself included, thought this could be a female character.

For some reason, I was reminded of the opening cut scene of Halo 4 that has Halsey being interrogated by someone.  During that discussion the following is spoken:

Interrogator: “Do you believe the Master Chief succeeded because he was, at his core, broken?”

Halsey: “What does John have to do with this? …you want to replace him.”

In the Halo universe after the war, ONI has been extremely busy trying to keep the Sangheili busy with their own Civil War so they can’t turn on Humans.  There also seems to be a bit of a struggle between ONI and the UNSC as seen in the Kilo-Five Trilogy by Karen Traviss and in the Halo Escalation #1.  So what would ONI need to help swing the balance of power in their direction?  Master Chief.  Or more specifically, the legend that Master Chief has become.  Without argument he is the greatest Spartan II and is a mythic figure, right up there with Achillies, Ajax, Roland, and the other great heroes of legend.  Whomever the public feels he is siding with, they would side with them.

However, there are two items that make this more difficult for ONI.  First off, as we saw in the early E3 trailer from 2013 it appears that Master Chief has gone rogue and is out there on his own.  The second item is that he, like the other Spartan II’s, see Catherine Halsey as a mother –figure.  As those in charge of ONI now and in the past have been at odds with Halsey it stands to reason that they would do whatever they could to take her greatest creation away from her.  So this ONI operative in the image is pursuing John like Actaeon is pursued by his hounds.  However they still need Master Chief.  How do they do that?

They clone Master Chief.

Now I know that the only cloning that is ever really mentioned in the Halo universe is Flash cloning.  This is a medical process used to clone body parts.  It uses a sample of a person’s DNA to grow a cloned organ which can be transplanted back into that person with virtually no chance of rejection.  This is the method used to replace the original Spartan II’s when they were kidnapped from their home.  The cloning of an entire human is illegal as per the UN Colonial Mortal Dictata 1.  In addition, those clones created by the flash method are highly unstable and in almost every case the clone dies from “metabolic cascade failure”.2

However, in this case ONI could just get their hands on Master Chief’s DNA and create the cloned embryo and then let it grow normally, which would avoid any of the problems that flash cloning brings.  Letting the clone age normally until he was 13/14 and then going through the augmentation process would explain the comparably slight build as compared to Master Chief.

During the campaign, I can see you starting off as Master Chief trying to stay ahead of the ONI Operative and then switching to the Operative in trying to track Master Chief down.  And in honor of Halo 2, the end is the two finally meet up and the screen cuts to black marking the end of this entry into the Halo universe.  This would then be followed up by a boost in the economy as gamers go out to purchase new monitors/TV’s to replace the ones that they threw their controllers at and broke.

This is actually very interesting. Considering the timeline, it’s quite possible. Mind you if the clone was say 20 years old, he would have been alive before the events of Halo Reach an on. Still, Master Chief’s career was quite impressive, even before then. Imagine a clone of Chief though. He’s younger which could mean faster. However, he’s not as experienced. The shape of the ONI “spartan” makes sense too as he would have the time to bulk up as much as Chief.

So what do you folks think? Master “Clone”?

-Sal

“A Fistful of Arrows” by Levi Hoffmeier, a review.

I’ve known about this fan-made comic book for sometime. However, I hadn’t taken the time to check it out.

For those who don’t know, “A Fistful of Arrows” is a comic book created by Levi Hoffmeir. It’s the story of what happens directly after the events of Halo Reach. Specifically the story revolves around Spartan Jun A266.

Without further ado, let’s get into the review of this fun comic book! (click images to make bigger)

fist-ffoaThe first thing I’m going to say is that it’s clear this comic book was created by a fan who is passionate about Halo and his art. The cover alone gives you that sense. The story opens up with a scene from well before the fall of Reach. As to exactly when, it’s not given, however, it deals with Innies (Insurrectionists), so I can only assume it’s some time before Reach. The only thing is, curiously, the former Noble 6 isn’t represented in this comic book. So perhaps the events take place between the time of his death and the start of Reach (the video game). I’ll have to ask Levi about this.

AFoA 05
From the first page’s panels, you can already tell that Levi has put a great deal of effort into creating a fantastic comic book. You get the sense that there is a conflict in Jun that needs to be resolved. All of his fellow Noble teammates sense it.

With efficient pacing Levi moves his tale back and forth between this early Innie event and the battle of Reach.

AFoA 13

Above is but a sampling of his amazing artwork throughout the comic book.

Below we see Emile in all his glory, without the now-classic skull carvings on his helmet that we came to know in Reach.

AFoA 19

Levi does a masterful job of portraying each of Noble’s team members as we known their personalities from Reach. In this respect his writing is fully in keeping with the Halo universe.

His take on an AI superintendent is SPOT ON, as seen by the follow page from his book:

AFoA 28

That page gave me the feels I had from Halo 3: ODST. So here again, Levi has done a great job on blending together the Halo universe we know from the games, into his comic book.

AFoA 30This breathtaking two-page spread in his comic further illustrates his artistic talent. I’d LOVE to have this as a poster without the text bubbles! Levi???

At that point we’re roughly mid-way through the story and Noble squad is pursuing the Innie from the beginning of the tale. Liberal uses of  dark greens and blues help to convey an environment which is currently being hampered by a rainstorm. Couple this with the red colors he uses, it helps to illustrate the important mission Noble is undergoing.

AFoA 41

The page above shows what I was talking about with regards to the greens and blues. IN the story, Jun is keeping an eye on the mission’s target, utilizing several Spartan skills.

Shortly after this page, we jump back to the future events that take place right after Reach, with Jun escorting Halsey away from the action. I don’t want to spoil that part for you if you haven’t read it, so I’m leaving out the bulk of the description of what happens here. I’ll give you these two pages though:

AFoA 65AFoA 68

Again, Levi’s artwork is fantastic. The immediate above image is a testament to that. Classic Armor Lock. The page has strong contrasts of dark and light with bold use of color in the right areas. (Did I just sound like one of those uppity art critic here? Sorry, LOL)

As the story comes to an end, we’re treated to a small event that is reminiscent of one that happened in the Forward Unto Dawn mini-series. (Again, I’ll save that spoiler for you to view yourself.)

The comic book isn’t over though. Levi then continues on details of some of the characters in play in the comic book, as well as showcasing the city of Quezon, where some of his story takes place. There is yet more, but I’ll leave that to you to discover.

A Fistful of Arrows is just about one of the BEST pieces of fan-fic I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Now that it has been revealed that Jun escaped and is ALIVE, via a Halo avatar item, curiously:
Commander Palmer Armor

can we hope that Levi’s tale will be intertwined with and become official canon?

This Halo fan hopes so!

If you’d like to read the comic, download it here.

To see more of Levi’s work, go to his official site here.

-Sal

Halo 5 – 3 Reasons Cortana May not be coming back. A rebuttal for her death.

The following is an article published on gamingillustrated.com. Along the way, I’ll include my comments in light blue to separate them from the article.

Cortana

Article by Alexandra Mangen

Cortana, faithful AI companion to Spartan 117 A.K.A. Master Chief, has sparked a lively debate amongst Halo fans in the months since Halo 4′s release. Will she be coming back or won’t she? It seems that Cortana, scantily-clad and full of sass, managed to charm her artificial way into the hearts of gamers everywhere. Now that she’s gone, the five stages of grief are nowhere more apparent than on a Cortana thread of a Halo fan forum.

Denial, Cortana can’t be dead She’s a critical part of the Halo storyline. Master Chief is going to find a way to bring her back. Anger, 343 Studios made a big mistake killing off Cortana. No one is going to want to play future Halo titles without her. Bargaining, Cortana can make fragments of herself, there has to be one hidden around somewhere and if there isn’t, there has to be a way to make another Cortana. Depression, the game won’t be the same without Cortana. Who could ever replace her? Acceptance, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe the developer could give Master Chief a younger, hotter sidekick? While many fans still mourn Cortana’s loss, others are beginning to contemplate a Halo future without Cortana and for 3 good reasons…

Reason One

Artistic Integrity has become a hot topic since the ending of Mass Effect 3. Many fans of the Mass Effect franchise felt slighted by it’s less than happy ending. Though BioWare was receptive to the fan campaign to get the ending changed going so far as to release DLC which modified and extended the multiple ending options, they stuck to their guns. The argument made by BioWare for Artistic Integrity poses an interesting question, can video games be considered art?

Merriam Webster defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced”. This can certainly be applied to video games as the gaming industry thrives on technological skill and creativity. If the goal of art is to make the viewer or reader feel something, good or bad, then the anger of fans post-Mass Effect would indicate that video games are steadily forging a place in the art world.

The death of Cortana at the end of Halo 4 did more than elicit an emotional reaction in fans, it performed an essential artistic function, it inspired conversation and more than that, caused fans to ask questions. Her loss caused the player to question the mortality and humanity of Master Chief. Viewing Master Chief’s grief at Cortana’s loss firsthand reminds the gamer that despite all his skills and training, he is not infallible and he will not always save the day. Creating a convoluted storyline about the Master Chief rescuing Cortana or a duplicate of Cortana being found would devalue Cortana’s death and negate all that it accomplished. Gamers would again be lulled into a false sense of security and forget that Master Chief is more than an elite killing machine.

HFFL: The thing is, we’ve come to know Master Chief as the culmination and perfection of what humanity has to offer. Yes, he has had loss earlier in his career. But killing off Cortana? I’m still with the group that thinks she is a VITAL part of the Halo campaign. And yes, I want to see her back, convoluted story or not. Gamers being lulled into a false sense of security? Come on, this IS NOT real life… why can’t we feel secure in our video games? And Master Chief IS an elite killing “machine.” Ms Mangen, the writer of this article uses Mass Effect to illustrate the point of Cortana’s death as ME’s ending was finite and only had additional content after fans created an uproar over it. The thing is it’s WE gamers who invested the gaming time and money to pay for these games. Yes, I understand the studio created/put in the work to bring these to us, but without our dollars this couldn’t continue. I felt wholly CHEATED by Mass Effect’s ending, wanting my Commander Shepard to ride off into the sunset with his Liara. Now while that would be more than cliché for Master Chief and Cortana, I still feel they should be together forever. So in this sense, I feel cheated. Yes, we all knew that in the Halo-verse AIs have a shelf life of about 7 years and Cortana surpassed that. But 4 years of that time was taken away from us in between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4. Also, I’m not the only one in thinking that Cortana is unique and could find a way to overcome rampancy. I STILL believe it’s possible.

Reason Two

The popularity of Spartan Ops Season 1 has shown that Halo fans have an interest in the world outside Master Chief and Cortana. With a successful series of novels a few movies and a television series in the works, Microsoft clearly has plans for the further development of the Halo franchise. Killing Cortana is a logical solution to prevent the storyline of future titles from becoming stagnant. Yes the gamer could continue killing Covenant aliens and saving the world with Cortana at their side as they’ve done in the last four Halo titles but how will we ever come to know Master Chief better unless we see how he interacts with other characters besides those currently in his UNSC comfort zone?

Cortana’s death leaves room for the introduction of new characters who through their interaction with Master Chief will give players a clearer picture of the man behind the Mjolnir. There are many characters auxiliary to the conflict between the Covenant, the Forerunners and the humans including other AI. Other alien races too have the technological capabilites of UNSC AI like the Huragok/Engineers, lovable methane filled balloon creatures we have yet to see in a Halo game. Yes we could keep the same old but wouldn’t new characters and missions related to those characters be more interesting and provide more room for plot development and character growth?

HFFL: Killing Cortana prevents the story from being stagnant? No, I dare say not. Look at any number of sidekicks in pop culture. Many have been there since the hero’s beginning and continue to be and are NOT stagnant. Do we REALLY need to KNOW Master Chief? His early career has been well documented in Halo Novels, comics and graphic novels. We know his plight. We do not need story to create his humanity. WE the gamers are Chief’s humanity. This is something I think 343 missed the mark on. We know Chief is human. We do not need to have him further humanized. I prefer my Master Chief as the elite killing super soldier we all came to know. 

There is PLENTY of room for new characters while still having Cortana alive. In fact, reintroducing Chief to his fellow Spartan IIs that are still alive is one option that many fans would like to see. Cortana being alive would not in any way hinder that. We can still have new characters introduced with missions pertaining to them giving way to plot development and character growth, without the need to kill Cortana.

Reason Three

Bringing Cortana back without a cliched or complicated storyline poses some difficult problems. Creating a new Cortana would require the UNSC to reacquire Dr. Halsey. ONI issued the order to have Halsey executed in Spartan Ops Season 1 making her understandably reluctant to help the UNSC. Even if the UNSC chose to make another clone of Halsey’s brain, as Cortana points out to the Master Chief in Halo 4, a new AI might act and talk like Cortana but it wouldn’t be Cortana. Could Master Chief find a Cortana fragment somewhere? Fragments created by smart AI are left behind to perform specific tasks and are reintegrated by the AI once those tasks are completed. While the fragments may retain the general personality of the core AI, they are nowhere near as capable or intelligent as the core AI. Would fans really want to have Cortana back if she was only a hollow shell of her former self?

Ultimately, Cortana provided an emotional foil to Master Chief’s stoicism and it is probable we have not seen the last of Cortana. Future titles may choose to explore events prior to Cortana’s death but her death also provides fans with an opportunity to become more connected with Master Chief. While John-117 may never become the comrade in arms that other FPS games set their protagonists up to be, he has the potential to become more than the stalwart savior of humanity, he has the potential to become legend and it seems like 343 Studios understands that too.

HFFL: Difficult problems bringing Cortana back? No indeed. She said, “Most of me is down there.” This could mean any number of things. Down on Earth? It could be VERY possible she downloaded her remaining non-rampant parts to ONI servers, thereby saving herself until she could be reconfigured/realign/added to a new AI core that is devoid of personality, so that Cortana could take that over. There, done, NOT complicated…

As for another Cortana, especially that of one from Halsey, this could be a VERY interesting story. Halsey, while in Jul M’Dama’s “care” could create a new Cortana to help her achieve her goals. This Cortana could eventually come to “fight” the old Cortana, with the old one winning and integrating herself to this new one, taking over and becoming whole again. There, BAM, cleaned up story. This ISN’T HARD FOLKS! 

As far as Cortana’s death allowing we gamers to be more connected with Master Chief?? Bunk! As I said earlier, WE are Master Chief. Regardless that there has been numerous stories written of his early life and we know his name, it is WE the gamer who PLAY as Master Chief. It is WE who take on the Covenant, Flood, Prometheans and win.

While I appreciate this article, I feel the author is out of touch with Halo itself. John-117 IS the savior of humanity in the Halo-verse, he already IS legend. The write makes it seem like he isn’t either of those and his (OUR) previous accomplishments in the past Halo games have amounted to little or nothing, especially having Cortana at our side. 

I love that 343 has continued the Halo franchise, but killing Cortana, in my humble opinion was a MAJOR misstep. Bringing her back will appease those fans like myself who want her back, while also bothering “fans” like the author who see Cortana’s death as necessary.

Master Chief had already LOST so much. He lost his childhood, his home, his planet. He lost many of his fellow Spartan IIs. He saw many of humanity’s planets lost to the Covenant. We did not and still do not need to see any more suffering of Master Chief to realize his humanity. In his training, he became a super soldier with the capacity for killing on a near unprecedented scale. We saw his humanity during the events of the mini-series “Forward Unto Dawn.” We continue to see it in novels and other written media. Cortana’s death wasn’t necessary and in fact lessened the story for me. Seeing him on that deck looking out toward Earth, he just seemed a SHELL of his former self. Not at all human. If that is what 343 was going for, they achieved it. But now, we have a Master Chief that seems to have lost his direction. THAT IS NOT MASTER CHIEF. Master Chief and Cortana go hand in hand, or in this case chip in brain…

Cortana Blue-Sci-Fi chick

I’d like to thank HFFL subscriber “JNubb1” for pointing this article out to me.

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