Romances In Gaming Take Four: The Halo Series, Particularly Halo 4

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Now you may scoff and laugh at me for even suggesting Halo had a “Romance” to it, ludicrous or not, however hear me out before you do.

The romance I am referring to is of course between Master Chief and Cortana as let’s be fair, there couldn’t be anyone else, because no one in the entire series that have been characterised as those two have, apart from maybe Sgt Johnson but he doesn’t get a partner, perhaps they figured he’d make a world champion masturbator?….. I’m digressing slightly excuse me, the point im trying to make is if there was meant to be any emotion attached to the series apart from defending earth from the invading covenant menace, was going to be the steadily developing relationship between the Chief and Cortana.

You could call this relationship the utter epitome of the slow burner, but in a way this was a smart move on the part of Bungie as would we have taken the game as seriously if we thought they had juts shoe horned in a romantic relationship to seem edgy? People might have been switched off by it so by introducing it slowly was a good way to get more accepted until Halo 4 where its more open about it than any other game in the series. And I think the game really benefits from it, it sets it apart from your standard halo fare of your runny, shooty possibly drivey fun and as you know im a fan of romance and emotion in gaming, especially when its done well because it immerses you more than any other device the developers could use (in my opinion) it gives you that driving force other than wanting to shoot aliens in the face.

Halo 4 however is where the Cortana, Master Chief deals with loss because throughout the game the Chief is fighting to keep Cortana going as she is nearing rampancy (which basically means her program is destabilising). He doesn’t want to lose her and Cortana, almost resigned to her fate is hanging around by her virtual fingertips, and as the game progresses we see that the Chief gets more and more desperate to save her. Well about as desperate as we can see from a man who wears a face obscuring helmet.

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To add to this already emotional rollercoaster that the Chief must be going through, is the threat to humanity once again, coming in the form of a previously cryogenically frozen forerunner who blames humanity for the flood and is hell-bent on our destruction. I wont get into the nitty-gritty of the story as hey that’s not what this post is about, It seems our main bad guy left his wife behind when he was imprisoned, meaning another relationship or romance which is fundamental to a character. It’s another way that the writers of Halo 4 seem to be pulling the series gently into a more character driven game rather than as ive mentioned before the sole motivation for your character would be wanton destruction and shooting aliens in the face.

The best bit which also served as the climax (again in my opinion) was where Cortana and the Chief meet in some unexplained realm or place (bare with me if you havent played the game, but if you have you’ll know what i mean.) this also serves as our last goodbye to Cortana as she has reached her limit by helping and saving the Chief at the critical moment of the final level. Here though is where Cortana can actually reach out and touch the Chief, saying her goodbyes while the Chief is begging her to stay, however she can not, and leaves the Chief possibly for good. This is where the super man Chief really shows us that after all his combat experience and super-human attributes he is a man and not a machine, and that he had come to rely on her as his partner and took for granted that she would be there always despite ignoring the fact that, that simply isn’t true no matter how much you want it to be.

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So after this heart-wrenching scene, we see the Chief looking out at the stars on board a ship and we see something we’ve never seen before. Tears, as you see something slide down on the inside of his visor, which I am utterly convinced are tears that are being shed for Cortana. Considering that you can’t really show too much emotion while he is in full combat armour, they got around that particular problem rather well I thought.

This scene stands as one of my favourites in the entire Halo universe, I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear over it, and i expect that im not the only one to have done that 🙂

It just goes to show how romance again or indeed any kind of emotion that doesn’t involve mass genocide of a species can still enhance a game ten-fold, as games are just as capable as any medium of telling a story and taking you through a roller coast of experiences and emotions, in such a unique and thrilling way too.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Dave

P.S. Forgive me if I seem a bit jumbled today, I got to bed around 4:30 AM and im utterly exhausted.

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