By The Kopite
This week we decided to go all out Halo for the centrefold and keeping in line with it, we look at some of the soundtracks behind this billion-dollar franchise that has been the reason for countless waking nights for gamers. Let's face it, if you're ever out there battling Covenant forces, this is exactly the type of music you want to be playing in your head as you die numerous gruesome deaths. Fact of the matter is the game developers at Bungie and now at 343 Industries took their music quite seriously. Here we take a look at some of the best soundtracks to have come out of Halo, including its newer and darker instalment, Halo 4.
“Halo”- Well we couldn't possibly start off any list without the theme song. This is pretty much synonymous to Halo. Originally developed by Martin O'Donnell, there have been several tweaks made to this over the years but there's something about this that makes you connect with the game. Incidentally, 343 have made a total overhaul by bringing in Neil Davidge and he has added a whole new dimension of emotion to the soundtracks. Check out the new theme song “To Galaxy”.
“Heretic, Hero” - this track starts off eerily and is perfect for the gameplay of Halo 2. In fact, it's one of those tracks which portray the stereotypical 'suspense' music. But this one is unique for its chorus. Something to listen to when you wake up or go to sleep. And anywhere in between, too.
“Keep What You Steal”- this soundtrack is relatively unpopular with seasoned Halo fans but this is by far one of the most dramatic and inspirational tracks in the game. Not to mention eerie.
The piano solo at the beginning is one to die for and with music like this Halo 3 was rightfully hailed as a musical masterpiece from a gaming point of view.
“Ascendancy” - Halo 4 features a new story arc and a new musical director to boot. I've already mentioned Neil Davidge planned on adding more depth to Halo 4's music and he has done just that. He's employed the use of everything from a full orchestra to a 10 man bass choir. This is one of those soundtracks that adds to the personal storyline of Master Chief and yet manages to remain inherently Halo-esque. Give it a shot.
"Insignificantia (All Sloppy/No Joe)”- this one's relatively unknown because it comes from Halo Wars. Even then, it's one of the most innovative compositions I've heard in a while. There's a fusion of orchestra and electronica in this which might look weird on paper but the combination works quite well. It's one of the bright spots of the game.
With “Green and Blue”, we finally we come to the ending of the new Halo 4. Without ruining the game for anybody, let me just say that the music is absolutely fitting. There is extensive use of violins in this and I suggest you try it.
So, now Halo fans know what to do when they're not on their Xbox. Listen to these.
Rating : 8/10
The Halo Universe has become a beloved one, thanks to it being one of the greatest video game series ever made. Therefore, it was only natural that it spawned spinoffs in other forms of media. Comic books came, and so did regular books( the type with no pictures). Halo Legends is what happens when you take Japanese Anime and mesh it with Bungie's masterpiece.
Simply put: whether you're an anime freak, a Halo fanboy, an animation enthusiast with an affinity for gaming or just somebody who doesn't mind watching cartoons for two hours, this is for you. Halo Legends is a two hour anthology, collecting seven beautifully rendered short films put out by some of Japan's biggest anime houses.
It begins with “Origins”, a recounting of the Halo story as told by Cortana to an unconscious Masterchief aboard the Forward Unto Dawn. It spans from the Forerunners and their first encounter with the Flood, right through the entire conflict between the Humans and the Covenant. Should bring anyone new to the series up to date with the Halo mythology.
The Duel is far and away the best short. It's visually arresting, the imagery looks like a watercolour painting.
A touching tale of defiance and revenge, it's basically the origin story of the Arbiter, explaining how the name became a term denoting both shame and honour among Elites. Homecoming is a depressing tale of a female Spartan as she helps extract a team of Marines while recalling her days in the Spartan II program. Very dark. While Masterchief doesn't make an appearance, it gives an insight as to how he was made.
Odd One Out is a parody of the Halo universe, with the story of the hapless Spartan 1337 as he falls out of a Pelican and into adventure. It's pretty funny, and its slapstick, cartoonish battle is reminiscent slightly of DBZ. That being said, it feels slightly out of place in the stoic, sci-fi Halo universe. Prototype, while an interesting tale of redemption of a marine going against orders to save his comrades, just didn't hit home with the emotions like it could have.
The Babysitter and The Package are the most action packed of the lot. The Babysitter focuses on the rivalry between UNSC ODST soldiers and Covenant Elites, flows nicely into the Package; a kind of prequel story (in brilliant CG-animation) that follows Spartan-117 (Masterchief for all the ignorant heretics out there) aboard a Covenant vessel. This will get Halo fans fired up without fail. If this was a live-action Halo film, I wouldn't be disappointed.
Each story has its own character, and each is visually satisfying and smartly written. Well worth watching, for old Halo fans and new.
Review by Bareesh
'Spartans never die. They're just Missing in Action.'
It's been eleven years since one of the most iconic games in video game history came out. Halo: Combat Evolved did exactly what its sub-head said; it evolved First Person Shooters. The graphics of that time melted computers, the music was amazing and the story was capable of bringing about every emotion a gamer could possibly possess. Seven games through, and you still get just as freaked out when you meet a pair of
When I first heard that there was going to be a new Halo trilogy, like most Halo fans, I was sceptical. And even more so, with the fact that Bungie wasn't going to be doing it. The torch passed to 343 Industries, charged with the daunting task of designing a game that reinvents AND stays true to its legacy while being able to sell itself by the truckloads. And holy crap, do they deliver. You'll feel right at home from the get go. But play for half hour, and you start noticing what 343 has brought to the table.
The story takes place four years after the events of Halo 3, and Master Chief has been in a cryo-sleep while he and Cortana floated through space.
Suddenly woken by a strange signal; they find themselves orbiting a Forerunner (ancient race who were at war with humans) planet with a Covenant fleet around them. As they get pulled into the planet and start exploring, Cortana reveals that she is, to put it simply, dying (this is only right after the end of the prologue and you will already have tears swelling up in your eyes). Chief needs to get Cortana back to Earth, to her maker, Dr. Halsey. But due to his penchant for finding trouble and Warthogs, he ends up releasing an imprisoned Forerunner military commander and the Prometheans, extremely annoying warrior/servants of the Forerunners.
With new enemies, come new weapons. The diversity of firearms has never been something Halo has lacked for and they've decked out a game where you have a selection over 25 different weapons (not counting 3 types of grenades).
The Prometheans bring a whole new array of weapons. The Lightrifle as the best - practically just a DMR clone, but it looks sweet. The Scattershot (Promethean shotgun) disappoints though, as it promised much but in the end, the UNSC shotgun is still better. The Magnum though turned into the immensely overpowered sniper-shotgun death machine briefly in Halo: CE Anniversary, is back to being quite dispensable. The Needler though is faster and more lethal now. Tip to you all: when you see an Elite with an Energy Sword, get a Needler. Quick.
Halo 4 looks gorgeous as expected. It's still got the Halo universe's vibrant colourfulness but the shadow pockets and texturing are insane. But Halo 4 has a much grittier, darker feel to it. Each firefight is accompanied with the visible spilling of blue alien blood and each melee with a resounding “crack”. The Covenant no longer make cute, illegible noises that make you go “aww”; they snarl and hiss instead. The characters look sharper, the Elites actually look scary and even the Grunts look cool now. The Brute Stormtroopers are sadly exempted from the game. The new Promethean units come in three varieties: the Knights (Elites on steroids, capable of teleporting), the Crawlers (Grunt units that can climb walls) and the Watchers; the most annoying of the lot. Not only do Watchers fire down on you with an almost personal vendetta, they can revive Knights unless you can kill them quickly.
Since Xbox Live is rubbish here, let's skip the online multiplayer. There are two regulars this time: the War Games (usual multiplayer) and the Spartan Ops (up to 4 player co-op). Spartan Ops has a decent storyline and is well worth the DLC price. Loadouts are mandatory now for local multiplayer. No more random weapons on Slayer, you HAVE to take a preset loadout. The new feature is the Ordnance, which basically means you get weapons/grenades/power ups dropped in when you kill someone.
Looking for flaws in this game is a hard task. The only complaint may be that there's plenty of lore references that are cleared up in books, comics, Forward Unto Dawn and whatnot, but well, listen carefully enough and you'll get most of it.
The best one yet? Maybe not, but a very solid, oh who am I kidding, very brilliant showing from the new developers. Now excuse me, while I go play some more Halo.
Trivia: Master Chief ranked third in Guinness World Records list of Top 50 Video Game characters (Commander Shepard was not included for some reason). He also had the dubious honour of being ranked first in the most overrated character by IGN. We have subsequently become devout fans of Gamespot.
GAMEPLAY: 9.5/10 SOUND: 9.5/10 STORY: 9/10
GRAPHICS AND DESIGN: 9.5/10 OVERALL: 9.5/10
HALO 4: FORWARD UNTO DAWN
Whenever they make anything live-action based on a game, precedence tells us to be very, very wary. Don't believe me? Look at Alone in the Dark and Max Payne movies. But Microsoft pulled out all the stops for Forward Unto Dawn, a webseries for the promotion of Halo 4, the game.
The story is set before humanity came into contact with the alien Covenant and the United Nations Space Command was fighting rebel insurgents [“innies”]. We are introduced to Thomas Lasky, a cadet at Corbulo Academy of Military Science, who is overshadowed by the celebrated career of his mother and his brother, an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. His squad mates come from equally illustrious families and Lasky's reluctance towards being a soldier is evident, which causes trouble for the squad.
As these kind of simplistic plots are supposed to go, Lasky eventually ups his game while one of the squad members piece together classified military intelligence videos where UNSC soldiers and Innies fighting together against an unknown enemy.
And then one night, ODSTs start dropping in and things go to hell in a handbasket.
The five-episode show is about an hour and a half long and Microsoft spent $10 million on the budget. Considering the level of output, that's value for money. The acting can be a little stiff at times, but the characters are understandable and relatable. You'll recognise Anna Popplewell right off the mark [Susan from the Narnia series] and several other actors and actresses may tickle your memory from their small parts in other movies.
The CGI, the settings, the whole production quality is top-notch. A treat for the fanboys. And perhaps for newcomers as well.