How Halo 3 may involve the player more deeply in the game

My first blog post on Rampancy. I haven't been to this site very often (I'm mostly on HBO), but this is a nice place all right.

I've seen the Halo 3 trailer, like most, if not all, Halo fans. That trailer is considerably different from the two Halo 2 trailers we've seen so far, and it might just reveal the player's role in Halo 3 as being more interactive and deeply connected with the game than the other Halo games.

First, and most important, the events in the trailer don't pass off as happening entirely in the Halo universe. We have had the Cortana letters, in which Cortana emails the MBO fans directly; the Cortana letters aren't canon, Bungie was explicit about that. In the Halo 3 trailer, Cortana appears directly to us, and not to the Master Chief. Agreed, the Halo 2 announcement trailer: burning Earth, terrified battlechatter, "God-damn apocalypse", the Master Chief jumping off the space station) had several instances in which text would appear on screen, detailing the events of the past game, like, "OUTWIT ANCIENT AI CONSTRUCT.....COMPLETED", but these were clearly outside the game universe. The game environment and player environment were separate.

Now, for the first time, Cortana appears directly to her fans, in a manner not seen in any cutscene or cinematic. Master Chief walks out of the wilderness. What's he doing all alone? Shimmering heatwaves. Swirling dust. 'Grunt crossing' sign creaking in the wind. Broken, burnt structures all around. It all seems very strange, close to being dreamlike. In addition to Cortana's garbled, distorted voice and images, the Master Chief appears to move forward VERY quickly during the transmissions.

And then, the Covenant forces appear suddenly. You'd expect to see those big starships up in the distance or something. But then, the clouds and all the dust might have hidden the covenant from view. The Ark opens. Lighting, storm clouds, a super-powerful purple beam. The apocalyptic final words, "This is the way the world ends."

All this is weird. We've seen the trailer with Earth being consumed by plasma and nuclear explosions, terrified chatter among UNSC forces, all very realistic. But why is this so dreamlike in comparison? The object seen in the trailer is three miles across, but, judging from the size of the assault carrier, which itself is three miles across, it should be at least thirty miles(The Assault Carrier and Artifact size have been calculated by Stephen Loftus at HBO). Why should the scale be that off? Add the dreamlike imagery and you get a possible explanation: it's a dream. Gamespot's interview with Bungie revealed that the scene was taken from a point about a third of the way through the actual game, so that isn't the end of the game.

My conclusion? The whole trailer is meant to show Cortana's, or Master Chief's dream. I'm guessing that it's the former. Bungie/Cortana herself might want to reveal Cortana's state to the player, as well as what Cortana knows will happen, eventually. Note the Gravemind like-tones Cortana uses to describe her newfound power. The line, "I am your shield, I am your sword" comes from the Bible, and the one speaking it is God himself; and the almost motherly concern and care when she says, "I know you, your past, your future" or, "this is the way the world ends." This is for the player to know his character's(MC's) fate and the task that will have to be undertaken in Halo 3. The broken 'O' that forms the Halo logo and the faces of the Monitors show that the player has to finish the circle, to begin doing what was begun by the first firing of the ring.

Bungie has traditionally made deep, involved and immersive stories, and this time, they might leave the ending to the player's interpretation of the story and its characters, in the sense of knowing what kind of fate they deserve. That particular story arc will end, the player decides his fate, but no matter whether or not he gets to decide the fate of every other player at the moment, the fate of everyone else will eventually be the same. After all, Master Chief is an incarnation of Joseph Cambell's "Hero with a thousand faces", and whatever the hero does, destiny remains unchanged.

Comments

WOw. that was deep. especially in the end. I was considering the idea of the whole thing not being real, but being some sort of dream. like how the gravemind says: "if you will not hear the truth, then I will show it to you." this is in halo 2, and the gravemind never shows MC or the Arbiter what happens if the key is turned. (tartarus does, but thats different)