Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Halo 3: Holy War

I've had this post brewing in my mind for a while, but I haven't had time to post it properly so I'm just going to go for it. Basically, since I did a post discussing the issues that Assassin's Creed brought up I thought it might be an idea to do so with my other game reviews. This type of rambling won't be too present in most posts, with the exception of Power Trips, but since I'll only do game reviews every now and again it might be a good place to slot in my thoughts on SF, culture and how it affects us.

Video games are on the rise as a media and are developing as a means for storytelling. They are far more mainstream than they used to be, game ads are much more common on TV and the cinema than a few years ago. They are also big business now and some high profile games can even rival Hollywood productions - you need only look as far as the cast of Red Alert 3 or the sound and music directors of games like Mirror's Edge to see the crowd games can draw. So in a medium that is on the rise and reaching a lot of people- it might be good to look at what they say.

This is of course, nothing more than my humble opinion, and I would emphasise that these are musings, not researched conclusions.

Master Chief/Spartan/Reclaimer/Demon

I don't have an awful lot to say on this one, but something I find very interesting is the notion of the hero and what they mean to us. They days of champions and heroes who would fight on behalf of the army are long gone, yet we still cling to the idea of a hero figure who will lead and fight for his people. John-117 is the clear hero of the Halo franchise and has become a rather popular figure because of his exploits, but what is it that makes him resonate with the audience.

He is quite a detached figure, never taking off his mask and speaking little, which is often true of heroes, what they see and go through detaches them from the humanity they are trying to save. Yet we are drawn to that because we know he can go beyond a common person and, as he famously said, "finish the fight." He is also sacrificing, he goes beyond the call of duty pushing himself beyond the impossible to save Earth and recieves little in return, his only memorial when lost in duty is 117 scraped onto a crashed Pelican along with other fallen heroes. He is also feircly loyal and despite his detachment he sticks by his friends Cortana and Sgt. Johnson, though sadly he cannot save them all and a lot of his companions die along the way - the sad fate of the warrior.

I think that says a lot about us and the hero we need. Someone who can go beyond what we can do, yet who can relate to us fully. Someone who can go the whole way and sacrifice all to accomplish the task and yet save everyone he came to save, losing no one on the way. Thankfully that hero did come, and his true story is recorded in a book so that you can see how he can save you to.

I don't know a lot about the concept, but it might be interesting to look at the heroes you like and what they say about you or the person who created them.

The Covenant War

While I did express critiscisms of Assassin's Creed for their final spin on the coverage of the Crusades it is not my intention to do so here, though I may write critically. The background to Halo is a war between humanity and the Covenant an alien group united by religion. While I don't think the Halo team were trying to convey any particular message by this, and it is in fact a fairly common theme in Sci-Fi - look at the New Jedi Order books in Star Wars for example. But even though I don't think they set out to debunk or anathemise religion I still think the topic is worth looking at.

The war is lead by the Prophets, themselves a species, who call forth a horde of Elites, Brutes, Jackals, Grunts and Hunters as well as other races into an unrelenting war against humans. The war is misguided and the 'relics' they seek to complete their religious journey will actually end all life in the galaxy, but they press on, blind to the truth. Ironically they are lead by the Prophet of Truth who drives his army on, blindly ignoring the facts in his own quest for power until he is defeated by a formerly loyal soldier who sees beyond his lies.

Whilst I am slightly critical of the religious leader being 'blind to the facts' I don't think this, if anything, is what Halo3 is saying. It does provide an interesting comment on how religious beliefs are manipulated for political and military power and how that can lead to fanatiscism and how grave and deadly the consequences of that are - which is a present day reality that cannot be ignored. That is not to say that religion and politics can't mix, but people who manipulate religion for their own ends are very real and very dangerous.

I won't go beyond that as I'm hesitant to provide more than thoughts and ideas on this and certainly on a Sci-Fi based blog - but us geeks are thinkers and it cannot be denied. I hope this has been more thought provoking than boring and if there are any queries or objections please drop a comment and I'll be happy to take them into account.

Back to geeking out soon I promise!!

No comments: