Halo 5, Cortana, and Ableism

Continuing the interlude between the Master Chief character analysis articles and the upcoming Halo Wars 2 level-by-level analysis is something that I’m sure isn’t going to be popular with a number of people – but, of course, if we were to restrict ourselves to ‘popular’ perspectives, there’d be nothing interesting to discuss.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a critical focus piece on Halo 5 (there has thankfully been a wealth of more positive things to discuss), but I was replaying some of the campaign the other night with a friend of mine – the illustrious author of the blog Halsey’s Journal – and this was a topic that was foremost in our discussions while grinding our way through the final mission.

That topic was ableist writing and how it applies to Halo 5‘s portrayal of Cortana. This is something that I and several others have covered before, but I don’t feel that I’ve done justice to explaining it from the ground-up.

Indulge me, or cry havoc against the wicked Tumblr SJW™ perspective. Your choice! Continue reading

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Ruminations on Halo: Legends – The Duel

As a bit of an interlude between the Master Chief articles, along with the (re?)arrival of Halo: Legends on Netflix, I fancied doing a little rumination piece on one of my favourite stories from that ever-divisive anthology…

The Duel is a short story that follows Fal ‘Chavamee, taking place some four hundred years before the ‘modern’ era (though the original intention with this story was that it would be much earlier in the Covenant’s history), and reveals the circumstances that twisted the rank and role of Arbiter from a badge of honour to one of shame.

Much has been talked about over the years on this particular epic, which makes it rather intimidating to approach, but I feel like there’s still a lot that has been left unsaid… Continue reading

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The Master Chief: A Character Study – Halo 3

“Wake me… when you need me.”

For Halo 1, we looked at how the Master Chief was a well-defined character and how the game articulated his fears, flaws, and demonstrated, through his movement and actions, his surprisingly expressive personality.

For Halo 2, a story that is half Shakespearean drama and half 80s action flick (with all the emotion, brilliance, and ridiculousness that that entails), we explored the ways in which the Master Chief’s characterisation was undone – how it was the origin of the whole notion that the Chief is just a “vessel” character.

And now, we come to Halo 3 Continue reading

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The Master Chief: A Character Study – Halo 2

“Sir, finishing this fight…”

In the previous article, we explored the characterisation of the Master Chief in Halo: Combat Evolved and the reception that had was everything I’d hoped! With the enrichment of greater context and a closer look at the cutscenes, the resounding sentiment was that there was definitely more to the Chief than one might expect to see on the surface.

He was not just a “vessel” or a cipher for the worldbuilding, which I tied back to Frank O’Connor’s recent statements regarding the approach to the future of the Chief’s characterisation in Halo 6.

No, he was a well-defined character with fears, flaws, and a deceptively expressive personality that was conveyed through his movements and actions – which I can only describe as antithetical to the notion of the Chief being this vapid, stoic, blank avatar for the player.

I ended on something of an ominous note, that it was all downhill from there for the Chief’s character writing across the rest of the original trilogy. Halo 2 was where this series truly consolidated its popularity and cultural ubiquity, and it just so happens to be the instalment that completely changed the overall presentation of the character… Continue reading

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The Master Chief: A Character Study – Halo: CE

“I think we’re just getting started…”

The Master Chief…

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over the last few weeks, following Frank O’Connor’s stated intentions of doubling down on the Chief focus in Halo 6 – but the angle from which he spoke about that particular ‘lesson learned’ from Halo 5 left me somewhat concerned.

“Chief we tend to think of as kind of a vessel for your adventure rather than necessarily this major character in the universe. He’s really just your entry into the universe.” [Frank O’Connor, WCCFTech interview (25/4/17)]

I have never personally agreed with this articulation of the Master Chief’s character, which is something that I’ve not really talked about in any great detail. And then, as if the universe was trying to further encourage me, just last week Halo: Combat Evolved was inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame. Naturally, I fired up the Master Chief Collection and decided to play through the games again from the beginning to renew my perspective on this topic.

In doing so, I decided it’d be fun to write an extensive character analysis, broken up into three or four parts, covering each major game, to really dig into the substance of this character.

Let’s give our old friend a warm welcome… Continue reading

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On Halo and ‘Heinlein’s Premise’

I don’t like Game of Thrones.

I don’t like Game of Thrones and 343 wants Halo to last for thirty years.

On its own, that sentence sounds extremely odd and the two things seem totally unrelated – and where exactly is Heinlein supposed to come into this? I’ve finally kicked it, gone off the rails; you might as well leave now and never come back because it sounds like I have nothing of value whatsoever to say (which’ll already have been the case for some people, I’m sure)…

But I reckon there’s one or two people who might be slowly nodding their head at that statement and I hope the rest of you will humour me as to where this is going. As you can see from the intimidatingly small size of your scroll bar, I am going… somewhere Continue reading

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Why Halo 3 Didn’t ‘Finish The Fight’

I have a pretty sizeable schedule for things I intend to write over the course of this year, but every now and then my genesong will nudge me towards putting that list off to make a little detour by writing a previously unplanned Halo article… This particular topic is something that I (and many others) have been arguing for the better part of a decade.

Halo 3 was many things, but the whole marketing angle about it being about us finishing the fight? The actual content of the narrative undermines that at every opportunity, to the point where I am compelled to argue that Halo 3 didn’t actually finish anything and, in fact, added plot points in the final act of the game that made a continuation of the story inevitable.

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’m going to step inside Kinsano’s Cyclops to withstand the firestorm I’m sure to be on the receiving end of for what I’m about to say. Continue reading

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