Intermission: “Five Great Movies About Video Games” – http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/moviebob/7217-Five-Great-Movies-About-Videogames
Escape to the Movies: "Halo Legends"
17 thoughts on “Escape to the Movies: "Halo Legends"”
B-b-b-But Bioshock. B-b-b-but Mass Effect.
B-b-b-but Fallout 3. B-b-but System Shock 2.
B-b-b-but everything Valve has made which isn't Half-Life…
I think the west is gaining another whole identity in game with Bioware. To me I haven't been legitimately interested in a JRPG since Final Fantasy X, and for awhile I didn't play any new RPGs after that. That was until a friend introduced me to Knights of the Old Republic for X-Box.
After I played that I went through their whole catalog and played practically every new release, I even got into Fallout along the way and Fallout 3 came out and I really enjoyed that.
To me, the west has taken the RPG ball and has run away with it.
I will state for the record that while I don't particularly like “Halo,” I certainly don't think it's bad. And I also think the armor designs are good, if not particularly inventive.
Definitely looking forward to “Homecoming” the most, since it looks like it has the most solidly “anime” visuals of them all. Surprised it was done by Bee Train and not Production I.G., since the few snippets of it I've seen looked very much like something Production I.G. would do.
B-b-b-but Half Life…
No, seriously, you can't just handwave away one of the games that justifies the genre. Yes, most FPSes are visually uninteresting, meandering, drudgework romps.
But I could use the above description to describe most JRPGs, fighting games, brawlers, shmups, and any of the other genres viewed by many as being the solve purview of Japan. Yes, Japan is viewed as doing it better. That does not mean they've never done it WRONG. Hell, it doesn't mean they've only rarely done it wrong. They release as much crap as the West does. And the examples that justify the genres are few, compared to the volume of games that exist in each genre.
As for the review itself? Well, I might need to rent this, just to see The Duel. You did your job there, at least.
As a pre-Escapist, pre-ScrewAttack fan of yours, I have to say that the one issue with which I consistently, and respectfully, disagree with you on would be the Halo Franchise.
Granted, my knowledge of pre-Halo science fiction, particularly the niche genre that appeals to 'nerds/geeks', lacks in comparison to yours, I disagree with your assertion that Halo fails to delivery a powerful story about perseverance in the face of obliteration, an individual against a conspiring, powerful enemy, and a hero in a time of need. I also disagree with your implications that the good people at Bungie are guilty of creating static, one-dimensional characters that are not subject to character development, growth, or expression. The story's main protagonist, John “Master Chief” Spartan 117, was described as one of the middle of the pack Spartans, who had no outstanding qualities among his peers other than his dedication and persistent fortune. For the most part, I find this description to be fairly easy to obtain or infer from the games but there is literature out there that confirms this. Given that the game establishes the character that you play as the last of the best (who wasn't particularly proficient in comparison to his now dead peers), it allows a certain connection to be made with the protagonist; not because he himself is essentially the most interesting of characters, but rather because of the normality he shows, in spite of his exceptional qualities. By giving the main character limited dialogue, back story, and unique characteristics, it allows the player to imagine his/her own vision of John, creating a character/player relationship that I had never previously encountered. The supporting cast, Cptn. Keyes, Sgt. Johnson, Cortana, and the Arbiter each bring to the table a different mentality and personality that adds to the overall theme of the game; different peoples (and aliens) united against a common threat. On a not-so-serious note, they cast Nathan Fillion as one of their voice actors for Halo 3 ODST, so there.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that you claim that Halo lacks originality and emotion in its visual presentation, to which I disagree entirely. You associate Halo with Gears of War, Call of Duty, and other 'standard palette' FPS games on the market, but to do so proves to be superficial, at best. The aforementioned games go for a hyper-realistic feel, the sort that forgoes players imaginations in order to bring them closer to the immediacy of the environment, or 'closer to the action.' “It's like you're really there” and all that jazz. I find that the Halo games, in contrast, strike a subtle balance sci-fi realism and fantasy. As far as the uniform goes, iridescent green, standard black, and a golden visor seems somewhat extravagant in comparison to the marines' garb but it retains the feeling of feasibility, the possibility that somewhere in the future, someone will be ordered to wear this. Weapons like the needler, energy sword, and the plasma rifle are all detailed with a futuristic, otherworldly flair that gives Halo its uniqueness among other sci-fi shooters while retaining a reasonable and conceivable perception of realism. Each enemy has a unique (if inspired) design, complete with a wide range of blood and gore of all different colors and shades. There are blue, red, yellow, neon green, and brown enemies, a reality that seems to undermine any connection between Halo and its realism-comes-first shooter competitors.
At any rate, sorry to take up so much of your commenting space. I feel inspired to right an essay/blog on the subject. If you're interested, it'd be happy to forward it to you.
I hope you continue to do your work and I wish you the best of luck.
@ Nick. Hey thanks, you posted 90% of my comment for me. Man is that a time saver.
@ bob. I'm honetsly trying to post this in a way that doens't come a cross as hostile, but I think this review would be more interesting if you talked about what halo is rather than what you want to think it is. Because the sheer volume of misconceptions and stuff that is simply out and out wrong is pretty bad. Its about par for what you'd get from skimming through a message board dominated by peopel who have never actually played the games or read any of the fiction.
Look, I get that not everyone likes the same things. I'll never be able to understand how people can enjoy psychonauts. Never found it funny, and I thought the platforming was easily sub mario 64. But I never had the bile for it you seem to have for a series you've had maybe 2 hours of experience with.
The characterization of Halo as the uber example of the hyper macho action hero military circle jerk fantasy game of your nightmares is particularily strnage given the praise you heaped on Modern warfare 2 which is every single thing you mentioned to the nth degree.
The continued characterization of the halo fanbase as a pack of homnophobic, semi literate troglodytes is especially egregious as a HELL of a lot of us it for the story and the music and the fact that it ISN't just anpother generic brown colourless storm of the f word.
As a big fan of anime I was looking forward to legends. And if not for some incredibly stupid plot/canon problems and the really anemic quality of the action, I might well have. As it stands, it falls well below the par for Halo lisceneced products. Oh and the girl spartan idea? Present since the first prequel novel in 02. Not new, not shocking to anyone interested in the franchise fiction.
I've gone on for awhile so I'll finish. I remember one of your better Overthinker segments. The one about Kirby. I'm sure you know the one. All I can say is I wish you'd heed your own advice.
I found the Halo Fanchise moderatly enjoyable that is until i got to the flood levels.
anyway, some good FPS's you should check out: Brothers in arms series, this is the saving private ryan of video games, and I'm dead fucking serious I actually cried during the first game, it's gut wrenching.
Fallout 3 and Bioshock have already been mention and there are others but it's late and i'm tired and i'm going to bed
I'm not going to go on about Halo.
So, War Games? Seriously?
A “super computer” that has less power than a standard desktop is hacked by a kid with a Mac that has less power than your average cell phone.
Tron is OK, I'm not going to dignify the inclusion of “The Wizard”, and The Last Star Fighter is good enough that I can enjoy on a nostalgia trip, but War Games?
Also, I point to the 90% of everything is crap rule, concerning ANY video game genre.
Totally off topic here, but any chance you will be reviewing “The Crazies”? I just got back from seeing it (really enjoyed it!) and am curious as to your opinion!
I'm not a fan of the Halo games even in the slightest, but I'm getting tired of hearing how western games are generic while Japanese games are super-amazing and creative. It's arguable that Japanese games are more stagnant creatively than western.
Compare Team Fortress 2, Portal, HALF-LIFE 2 and the Metroid Primes to Star Ocean 43, Final Fantasy XXVII and EmoKid-SuperHair Destiny Adventure 5 next time.
@Anon. Now you are falling into the same trap. There are ups and downs to both. Thogh I do agree with your most basic point. Japan has been stagnating creatively for awhile now. And their solution seems to be to try and make their games more 'western', but only superficially.
Ie: MGS becomes a bad third person shooter. RE becomes a decent third person shooter with crap controls. Final Fantasy becomes mystic quest.
Most of the 'creative' japanese games I've played are part of that same noxious award bait brigade that seems to think that if you make things weird enough, people will assume it is innovative.
I've been reading this blog for a couple of years and have been listening to your Gameoverthinkers since the beginning. I just have to ask; did Master Chief give you a swirly or something when you were a kid. The Halo bashing was kind of endearing about a year or so ago but it has now become annoying. I know that we all have different preferences, but Halo is not as shallow as you believe it is, nor is it the bland game artistically that you constantly claim it is. Halo's enemies are fucking neon blue and purple, speak in a myriad of voices including a high chipmunk squeak and Master Chief is not nearly as one dimensional as, say, Squall Leonheart and Cloud Strife. I know, I'm picking on the maudlin nature of Final Fantasy characters post VI, but I feel the whole pretentious, maudlin phase that has infected all Japanese protagonists have done more damage to video game culture than the hyper masculine western protagonists which were really created in reaction to said “emo” phase. I know, there doesn't really seem to be much variety in game protagonists anymore, but the whole game industry is responsible for this. Stop blaming the western companies for a problem that was created by the Japanese in the first place.
On a final note, have you played the original Mass Effect yet?! That game contains all of the creativity that you've been demanding modern graphics engines to portray and you never seem to mention that. You do know that Shepherd doesn't have to look like the guy on the cover, right? Don't mean to sound obnoxious, but you never mention it when you bring up western games.
One more thing; Homecoming sounds rather derivative of about 1000 other anime the way you've described it. Seriously Japan, enough with the fucking “war is really, really bad” cliched theme. It stopped being profound at least a decade ago. It was bad enough when you guys started injecting that shit into Ace Combat, and I'm sure that the upcoming Lost Planet 2 will have a whole fucking segment of the story that is dedicated simply to that theme. I know FFXIII already does.
One word: “Haloid”.
Seriously, watch it.
I'm clearly just echoing the crowd this late in the game but… seriously? Brushing aside an entire discipline of game design because of WHERE THE CAMERA IS IN A FEW OF THEM?
I just… Goddamn, isn't this the sort of blind one-sided ignorance that YOU'RE supposed to be opposed to? Have you already forgotten that Bioshock and Portal– two of the games that you yourself praised as 'bringing new ideas to gaming' not long ago– are first person games from THE WEST? Are you seriously going to boldfacedly claim that Japanese games/anime are ENTIRELY ABSENT of one-dimensional hyper-masculine douchebags, or that a one-dimensional character is BETTER just because 'hey, they look really weird and shit'?
I would expect this kind of crap from any WAAAHH ALL MODERN GAMING IS CRAP AND NINTENDO IS JESUS AND NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT WELL AND FRATBOYS ARE RUINING EVERYTHING tinhat that's frustratingly common anymore, but not from someone claiming to be The Game Overthinker. That kind of mindset, you're absolutely no better than the type of gamer you constantly stand up as a strawman.