Halo is a game about war. And death. That’s why I choosed the screenshot of dead corpses in New Alexandria -from the Exodus chapter of Halo: Reach- to represent this section of my blog. Covenants, spaceships, heretics and spartans are just the main characters of a greater story. One of the greatest in gaming history, if you ask my opinion. In modern movies, it seems directors and producers want to meet all tastes. So they put in just one movie all the action, adventure, humor, death and love possible. It seems they do not understand that to meet an audience unconditional love sometimes it’s better a few well focused concepts, rather than a bland mix of everything. Well, to be fair in the Halo franchise there’s also a lot of love but it’s hidden between the concepts of belonging and reacting, defending and protecting, among friendship, respect and camaraderie and its greatness lies in the ability of diluting everything related to feelings into a game where running and gunning play the biggest part. A few concepts, perfectly blended, in a game about war. And death.
Cinema (Theater) Mode, introduced by Halo 3, is a game in the game. It could possibly end up being a lazy work (i.e. MotorStorm: Pacific Rift photo-mode) but it turned out to be pure.distilled.genius. And even if there are thousands billions of Halo pics in the net, only a few can use all the available options. This brilliant software records a whole gaming session from the start recording everything: time, space, any movement on the map, every bit of sound. Entering Cinema Mode and pressing the Y button on the Xbox pad unlocks the camera which is by default anchored to your spartan and you are free to go anywhere on the map disregarding the action. That’s how I took my Postcards files. By pressing the B button you remove any HUD on screen and by clicking the right stick (almost noone uses this option) you can virtually add telephoto lens to your camera, compressing the space between distant objects or characters for a very cinematographic photo-shot. One of the most genius aspects of Cinema Mode is the fact that you can go safari among the covenants and you will hear them chatting, screaming, giving orders, praying the prophets and doing lots of random actions. And the same thing happens if you fly the camera between your fellow army troopers. Except for the praying thing. Pretty glorious stuff.
Bungie has recently left the franchise in Microsoft Studios’ 343 Industries hands, which wil be responsible for any future Halo Installment after Halo: Reach. It’s hard to forsee if this will mean evolution or rather involution. Halo -the franchise- is a well-oiled machine, but it needs all the care in the world to keep up with everyone’s expectations. A wrong decision under any tag: gameplay, art design, music, whatever, can mean disaffection. And disaffection is death. I hope this franchise will still be strong 10 years from now, and I wish all the best to 343i, thanking Bungie for their love and legacy.
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