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Halo 5 – An Explosion of Fun

Halo 5 released on October 27, 2015 for the Xbox One. IGN rated it 9/10 while Metacritic rated it 84/100.

Micheal Pereira, News Editor

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It’s not every year that a new Halo game comes out, so when one does, it tends to be over-hyped. Take Halo 5, for example, which was over-hyped for the wrong reason.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

In Halo 5, you play as the Master Chief and his team of Spartans, genetically altered super humans used in dire situations by the military. During the events of the story, Master Chief hears a message from his old A.I. companion, Cortana, who was thought to be dead. He and his team (Blue team), disobey the UNSC’s (United Nations Space Command) orders to return to base and let another Spartan squad investigate Cortana’s message. This is where the “hunt” begins, as stated by so many of Halo 5’s advertisements. The other Spartan team, Fireteam Osiris, is now tasked with hunting down Blue team and the Master Chief. The only problem is that the “hunt” isn’t much of a hunt.

In the first half of the campaign, the story stays true to the concept of Master Chief being hunted by Spartan Jameson Locke (Osiris’ leader), yet even then the interactions between the two Spartan leaders are never really explored, much less between the other squad members. The most heated moment is when the Master Chief and Locke have a heated fist fight while on the path to Cortana’s signal, which ends in Master Chief’s visor getting cracked by Locke, and Locke being trapped by a stasis trap that was originally intended to trap the Master Chief (with Fireteam Osiris simply watching their leader get defeated and Blue team leaving the area). Afterwards, there are no more heated confrontations, no more arguments, no more talking behind each other’s back. Of course, later on the two become friends and Locke saves Blue team, without much of a turning point where he sees Blue team as friends, not enemies. It seems as it simply happens without explanation, and the two automatically become friends. Not to mention that the whole second half of the campaign has nothing to do with the hunt, but rather trying to save Blue team as they get trapped in a whole bunch of Halo lore, which is a bit confusing. That brings me to my second problem with the campaign: the confusing lore.

Halo has never had an extremely clear story, even from the beginning with Halo: Combat Evolved. There is a whole backstory that if you are unaware of it, makes the Halo games harder to understand. Much of the lore comes from the Halo novels, which many people may not have the time (nor the patience) to read and fully comprehend. Even I, who read most of the Halo novels, except for a few recent ones, had trouble understanding some parts of the story. How did Cortana gain access to the Domain? What is the Domain? What is Warden Eternal? Why does he have a million bodies and can never be destroyed? Unless you read the novels, the lore can be confusing and may turn some people away from the game. However, no matter how confusing or how stale the campaign is, this is still a Halo game, and is still utterly fun.

Just forget what I told you about the games cons, and listen to the pros, which make this one of my favorite Halos. Yes, I said favorite, even after saying all of those negative things about it. No game is perfect, and this game is definitely worthwhile. And here’s why.

Although story-wise the campaign might not be clear, it is definitely one of the most action packed Halo games until now. The cut-scenes have more action, with Spartans doing flips and slamming the ground, crushing any enemies under them. In-game, Spartans can’t do flips, but they can do a multitude of over actions, such as the prior mentioned ground pound, a shoulder charge that sends enemies flying, cinematic stealth assassinations of they catch an enemy off-guard, activating a jetpack while aiming in mid air, dashing to the side to outmaneuver an enemy, and of course, shoot a gun. All of these new elements make this Halo one of the most fun to play. These Spartan abilities are available in both multiplayer and in campaign, and although extremely overpowered in multiplayer, they make you feel like some sort of god that smites his foes with ease. Some enemies, especially Grunts, will run away in terror as they see you slam the ground, sending their friends flying. They call you “demon,” and appropriately so.

People in multiplayer probably won’t call you a “demon”. They’ll either call you a “hacker” or a “god.” You know you are doing something right when you are doing so good the other team thinks you are hacking. This is the case with Halo 5’s multiplayer, which may be the most entertaining Halo multiplayer up to now. Ditching the loadout style of Halo 4 (and of Call of Duty), Halo 5 has regressed to it’s original “everyone starts with the same gun” style of multiplayer. Thus, everyone starts on an equal playing field. To obtain better weapons, the player must find them on the map, such as a sniper rifle on a sniper nest (surprise) or a rocket launcher in the middle of the map so both teams can compete for it.This is the case in standard Arena, but Warzone is where the multiplayer really shines.

Warzone is a totally different beast than Arena. Think of a League of Legends-type leveling system mixed with FIFA Ultimate team gold packs and Halo gameplay. In the beginning of the match, players start with the same guns, but over time players gain access to better guns and vehicles that they have purchased from Requisition packs (similar to FIFA packs but instead gives access to new guns, power ups and vehicles). The teams must capture objectives and defend their respective bases, with A.I. companions there to help. When not attacking or defending objectives, players can chose to divert from the beaten path and attack A.I. enemies, like the enemies from the campaign. From time to time there will be a mini-boss, and at the end there will be the final boss: Warden Eternal (who appears in the campaign as the protector of Cortana), and by killing him, a team can net a huge amount of points. This game type has the perfect balance of PvP elements as well as PvE elements, all put is a blender for a player’s enjoyment. Although it may seem a bit strange that the final boss is spending his time in this skirmish between two Spartan teams rather than, you know, protecting Cortana, the reality is that the whole battle is a simulation with the UNSC Infinity (the flagship of the UNSC fleet), and is thus technically canon with the rest of the campaign.

While the campaign might seem ambiguous, it is clear to see that significant events are at play. When Guardians (huge alien machines that protect and keep the peace in their sector) awake, the earth trembles, buildings collapse, people run in terror and confusion, and a huge metallic screech goes through the air. This creates on one the most epic moments in Halo history. The Covenant-Swords of Sangheili war is another event that is epic in scale. The remains of the Covenant (the alien enemies in the original Halo trilogy) are in war with the Swords of Sangheili (a sect of the covenant that broke away and now fights against the Covenant and helps the UNSC), and the end of the war is brought by the player. Locke helps the Swords of Sangheili (Sangheili is a race of aliens that used to be part of the Covenant, but the Swords have other races in their ranks) in the struggle against the Covenant, and after saving the Arbiter (the Swords’ leader), he and Fireteam Osiris participate in an all out war in the final Covenant occupied stronghold. This part of the campaign is the least confusing, and one of the most enjoyable. I did, however, feel satisfied about the ending.

Warning: EXTREME Spoilers Ahead

After dealing with the war, Fireteam Osiris goes back on track to saving Blue team. Blue team eventual meets up with Cortana, although this is not the same Cortana as in previous Halos. She has been corrupted with the technology of the Forerunners (an ancient alien race) and has gained A.I. immortality, which was previously impossible. She has gained the favor and support of thousands of A.I.s in the solar system and her main goal is to maintain peace throughout Earth and her colonies with use of the Guardians. This all seems very tempting, but the Master Chief is no fool, and asks himself “at what cost?” He finds out that Cortana plans to destroy any who do not bend to her will. This is one of the greatest plot twists in Halo history, and possibly in current gaming history: the companion of the hero who saves humanity now plans to oppress it and destroy and who gets in her way. This seems like a situation similar to that of Star Wars’, where the heartfelt hero Anakin Skywalker becomes the evil Darth Vader. I felt extremely satisfied with this ending, as Cortana tries to Imprison Blue team and awaken them after she has completed her mission, but is stopped by Fireteam Osiris, who jump in on time and save the day. A classic ending.

All in all, I think Halo 5 is a great game. Although certain parts of the campaign are lacking, other parts shine, and the multiplayer is truly outstanding. I’d give this game a 9/10, a game definitely worth your time if you own an Xbox. Who knows, maybe after playing it, you may like it just as much as I do.

Halo 5 is out now for Xbox One at $60 (suggested retail price).

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Halo 5 – An Explosion of Fun