Sunday, November 11, 2012

Silent Heroes

Pandora station: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. I'll miss 'em.
Now playing: In Amber Clad from the Halo 2 soundtrack.

It was Spirit Week and the elections last week, and while the latter was very important, I already spent most of my twitters on Tuesday freaking out and retweeting everyone who was speaking my thoughts and having panic attacks along with me.

(Curses, Florida!)

And I'll show the pictures for Spirit Week later, because right now, I'd rather muse about something else. (And that was technically not as awesome as this game).

The only thing making falling behind NaNoWriMo and freaking out about school bearable is Halo 4.

It's bloody awesome.

So there's this thing about Halo that I'm not allowed to say because I--like a lot of teenagers--am trying to be an educated lady who appreciates the arts without indulging in the mainstream's shallow preferences and views of popular franchises.

But I have always been a Halo fan. I like/love/adore it more than any other video game series out there--more than freaking Mass Effect or Bioshock or Assassin's Creed, and those were the series that convinced me I wanted to be a video game writer.

What Halo did was something much different. See, when I was six years old I was convinced science fiction was just a thing that the most awesome of the elite did. The level of research and creativity needed for it were just pillars I was never going to try to escalate, so better leave that sort of thing to the professionals.

Halo, however, has always felt like a modern day epic. And I know I'll hear blabber about how it's overrated and it's just a cash cow franchise for the mindless drones that populate the video game community. But nope. While I will certainly admit that there's a lot of crappy stuff that gets popular because it's crappy, franchises like the Halo games thrive because they can appeal to both the everyday, I-don't-really-care-'bout-character-development gamers and the ones who are constantly amazed and awed at the story line and characters as much as they area amazed at the gameplay.

I guess there's no need to point out in which category I fall under.

I think Halo was the one thing that tipped me into believing science fiction was the superior of all genres, and something I should definitely try. I know many will disagree, but there's so much wonder, possibility, reflections of the world and humanity, and so much room for epics like these within that genre. I'm sure it's not the only thing I will work on when I'm older, but I hope when I pass away I will have left some (please, high quality! >.<) science fiction novels behind.

I was worried about 343 and Halo 4. All things need to reach an end, and the way Halo 3 ended seemed to wrap everything up nicely (if a bit... ambiguously), but this game has not disappointed. I'll probably write a full review later on.

However, as always, after spending some time with the Chief and Cortana, I've found the little tweaks given to these two have been...bothering me. Just a little bit, though! Not enough to spoil the game, and not enough to make me dislike them. I still love them.

First, about the Master Chief...

Silent Heroes: There's always been this criticism about the Halo series that I never understood--and it goes hand in hand with the way in which people interpret characters like the Master Chief, Isaac Clarke (from the first game, at least), Gordon Freeman, etc.

I'd like to point out that I love Master Chief for the exact same reasons people dislike him and for completely different reasons that people like him. That doesn't make any sense yet, but bear with me.

I like faceless, nameless, silent characters. Sometimes the three of those put together don't work well, and indeed, John isn't really those three things all in one. He has a name and a title--albeit the former is just sort of used by those close to him--and he does speak every now and then. I've noticed lately, however, that in the 4th game, he's been given a lot more dialogue. And I really don't think that was needed. Just like I don't think it's ever needed to show his face.

I'm referring to Wikipedia for this"Some have described the Chief's silent and faceless nature as a weakness of the character, while other publications suggested these attributes better allows players to assume his role." so silly. On both aspects! Why would i even care about assuming the role of Master Chief? It is a video game, but I am not him, and he is not me! I guide him and I help him, but I am not the one battling hordes of covenant and flood enemies, or constantly leaping out of things and just flying through space until I crash-land over a planet or a spaceship like a brick.

In an interview with IGN, the Halo 3 lead writer, Frank O'Conner said, "He's also so quiet and so invisible, literally, that the player gets to pretend they're the chief. The player gets to inhabit those shoes - men and women can apply their own personality. In a way, that makes it very easy for the writer; they don't have to define the Chief's personality."

I also disagree with that statement (even though everything else he says in that interview I happen to agree with).

I never saw Master Chief's silent and faceless nature as some sort of weakness or a way for me to wiggle into his shoes and pretend he's me and I'm him. I always saw his silence as a statement for the character, as a reflection of just what type of man he is. You don't need dialogue to establish who the Master Chief is, you can get that through the little one liners he gives, the off-hand jokes he resorts to in the face of danger, the way in which he moves with confidence while never side tracking with bullshit, and in his relationships and interactions with the Arbiter, Cortana, and pretty much everyone else who has ever served with him or battled against him. I like that even though he speaks more often in the game, he hasn't really changed that much, it's just more of what we used to get in the previous games. However, I still don't think it was necessary.

Hearing him talk in this game is a little odd, especially when he goes on in long sentence. Actually, they're pretty much normal length, but they certainly feel long coming from the Chief. While you could make the argument total silence may ruin a little bit of the character (which is why I understand why they eventually supplied Isaac with a voice on the second Dead Space), there was a sense of who he was in the few words he spoke combined with his actions, his manner of acting, and his relationship to other characters.

That was most likely something else from him that translated into me as an artist. I ended up scrapping Anne's story--especially when poor Luna crashed for a second time and I ended up losing all the files--but I think after I'm done editing Enkindled With Chains, and after I finish Ataraxia, I'll work on Anne and Jane's tale, and though Anne is just a fourteen year old girl thrown into so much danger, she's lived in her streets all her life, angry, but closed away from the rest. She'll be of the opinion that babbling on about what to do will serve no purpose, for no one will hear her, and so she'll act without excuses.

(I mean, it'll have to be a YA in first person, since making semi-silent protagonists in third person may turn to be a little difficult for me, but screw it, I'll try anyways).

I guess I'll have to see just where they take Master Chief and how they develop him. I suppose if it does turn out that he's grown as a person for the better, I'll be willing to forgive this little tweak.

But one thing's for sure: they better never show his full face.

P.S: I'll talk about Cortana's side in another post. This one's getting kind of lengthy.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.