Rise of Atriox, Issue #1 – Review

“Atriox, the legendary Brute under the command of the alien collective known as the Covenant, leads a Brute assault against a UNSC military outpost. Wave after wave of Brutes are lost attacking the human outpost defended by a group of UNSC marines, the ruthless Atriox soldiers on. As his comrades fall, Atriox’s hatred for the Covenant grows.”

This was something of an impromptu decision because I didn’t really plan to write anything for Rise of Atriox, but it has been a week since the first issue released and… I’m still thinking about it. It has actually stuck with me past the point of turning the final page.

And it’s begging me to write down some thoughts about why it hasn’t simply been a ‘one-and-done’ read for the sake of a monthly fix of background lore.

Be warned, we’re dropping feet first into spoiler territory! Continue reading

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In Defence of Halo 2’s Cliffhanger

The darkness of space twisted, warped, pulsed, and then exploded into a brilliant white light as the fragile walls between normal space and its dimensional subdomain rent apart.

Anodyne Spirit emerged through the slipstream, its divine engines speeding its way towards a planet that its fragmented heart had, over millennia, long yearned to find its way back to – in pursuit of truth, reconciliation… atonement.

This world was once known as Erde-Tyrene.

Earth.

Within the bowels of the Keyship, finally free from its long sojourn, the Master Chief’s COM systems immediately established a link with the UNSC battlenet.

A tumultuous mess of emergency alerts, evacuation orders, and distress calls filled the Master Chief’s HUD, cycling through the final messages of the countless lost souls aboard vessels that flash-vaporised under the immensity of super-heated plasma – detonating into what might have looked like a thousand new stars flaring into existence from the surface of the planet.

“This is Spartan-117, can anyone hear me? Over.”

A familiar voice replied, one which almost drove the Master Chief to feel relief – or, as much as he allowed himself to feel. Lord Hood was still on Cairo Station, and he was giving the Covenant hell.

“Isolate that signal! Master Chief? You mind telling me what you’re doing on that ship?”

“Sir. Finishing this fight. Continue reading

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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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