I saw the new Halo 4 viDoc last week. I love Halo video documentaries. They are always made by people who obviously love what they do. It’s so clear and impossible to miss. Back when it was Bungie, we got an insight in ‘the Bungie Way’ I suppose you could call it. They were one of the only companies who had the moxie and power to take as long as they wanted when making games on the console side of the industry. Blizzard is famous for it, but with a cash cow called World of Warcraft; they are a bit of an anomaly. Bungie said ‘we’re going to do it our way’ and it was a wonderfully crafted ride.
I’ve had reservations about 343 studios, frankly from Day One. I was looking at the past and wondering how anyone could do what Bungie did, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day as the saying goes. It’s clear from the start of the documentary that the people working on Halo 4 are invested in every part and parcel of the game. You can hear the emotion behind every word they speak, especially the actors.
It’s also clear that this game more than any other Halo is about the Master Chief and Cortana. Sure they’re going to be saving the universe... again, but Halo 4 is striving to show the costs of the decade long struggle on both of them and the echoes of their mortality. There is one scene where Master Chief is clearly arguing with a superior officer and adamant that he’s going to do what he’s going to do. Cortana on the other hand is showing signs of distress through loss of control. She has always been the Master Chief’s guide, his shield, the foundation of his struggle again humanity’s extinction and yet here he must be her protector.
To some extent I suppose it surprises me that it isn’t Bungie making this game, the idea that our heroes are fragile and have doubts and feelings of loss is not something a startup studio usually tries the first time out of the game. In the end both Master Chief and Cortana were forged in the same manner, they are instruments of war, made to be weapons and again it falls on them to be humanity’s saviors.
I’d say in the end, its one of things I’ve always liked about the Halo series, it always leaves room for your imagination. Pieces of the story are set in stone, but it leaves the rest of the story up to you. When I finished Halo 3 I pondered what would have happened to Chief and Cortana if they had returned to Earth as living legends. I finally set on the idea that they were better off away from a Mankind that might not welcome two great weapons such as they. Now with Halo 4, I can imagine new chapters in their story, and I for one am very much looking forward to it.