Halo Again

I preordered the original Xbox at Gamestop (then EB Games) in the mall. For $500, I got the system and three games. Two of those games were Dead or Alive 3 and Project Gotham Racing. The third? Like almost everyone else, it was a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved, and it changed my gaming life.

I love Halo. Maybe not as much as I did, but I always have a soft spot for it. Whether it was the multiplayer over LAN or over Xbox Live starting with Halo 2, I played games in the series a lot. More than that, I loved the single player. The original Halo felt revolutionary compared to other FPS games I had played. It had vehicles and big open sections. The enemy AI felt somehow more real. I even grew to like Master Chief, despite having little personality, and love Cortana for her snark.

I was a big enough fan to even read a few of the books.

Halo 4 was not a bad game. As 343 Industries first attempt at a new Halo trilogy, it did not upset things too much. I mean, I kind of hated seeing the Forerunners return and the main villain was a snooze, but it was more Halo and that is what I wanted.

However, my love of all things Xbox faded quickly after Halo 4. The Xbox 360 and I had some good times, but I also liked having a gaming PC around. With it, I only needed an Xbox to play Halo and without more Halo, why keep an Xbox?

I skipped the Xbox One entirely. It was the first Xbox system I did not own. When Halo 5: Guardians came out in 2015, it was tempting, but I ultimately opted to keep playing games on my Playstation 4 instead. Ever since though, I wanted to play Halo 5. Me and Halo? We are old friends, and I needed that old friend feeling.

I bought an Xbox Series X at launch. There were no launch titles that sold me. Instead, I bought in entirely on the merits of Xbox Game Pass. It is by far one of the best deals in gaming, and I wanted its convenience in my living room (in addition to the office). I also knew I could play Halo 5 with it.

And I think I hated it.

Halo 5 starts off where Halo 4 left off … I think. There were a bunch of characters I either forgot or was never introduced to. You spend most of the campaign not playing Master Chief. There is a new team – Fireteam Osiris – starring Nathan Fillion as himself along side some other people.

Actually, let me do a brief side rant here first: Nathan Fillion is okay but I hate hearing him everywhere. I am sure there are counterexamples, but he seems to always play the exact same character. Plus, I hate using real actor faces in video games. It somehow makes them feel more fake to me.

I have nothing wrong with any of the actors playing team members in Halo 5, but the fact that they are there on every mission bothered me. This game does not feel like Halo.

I know I am rusty, but I never felt like that bad ass Spartan of old. More often than not, I would get shot down by overwhelming firepower from dumb enemies, and then I would be forced to wait for an AI teammate’s pathing to not break so they could resurrect me.

Rinse and repeat. Die and wait.

If you were the one fan who loved fighting beside the marines in the first Halo and said, “Why can’t this be the entire game?”, then first of all, I hate you. Second, Halo 5 is your fault. In Halo 5, you are only allowed to feel badass in the cutscenes where physics cease to exist. It is cheesy and goofy. Otherwise you will make your AI partners look bad.

The story also sucks. It is hard for me to put a finger on exactly why, but it is the same issue I had with Halo 4 and a similar concern I have with Destiny 1 and 2. Everything is “The <Noun>” and it is supposed to be this grand, epic, universe-spanning idea. Every name, plot point, and story beat sounds like a cheesy game of mad libs and it grates on my nerves.

But, I finished it. That says something. The guns were fine. The vehicles were fine. It was a perfectly average game with the production turned up to eleven. Finishing it has made me less excited for Halo Infinite though. I think the series needs a reboot, not the epic conclusion to a trilogy with no real purpose.