Finish the Fight… For Now…
…this single player was brutal. I went in with low expectations, and I was not disappointed. The game play/control was good, I’ll give it that. But A.I.? Level design? Storytelling? Two words: Phoned in. All those things aside, though, it’s the ending that irks me the most. Halo 2 has immortalized itself for me as the only game to give Soul Reaver a run for its money for the worst cop-out-ending-to-make-you-buy-the-next-game ever. Only one thing keeps it out of the top spot: Soul Reaver’s ending actually said “to be continued…”
Is it just me, or are cliff-hanger endings the worst media creation ever? Honestly, there was nothing good about the entire summer we had to endure to find out what would happen next when Picard was turned into Locutus – It was probably the worst summer holiday ever. And nowadays, this torturous practice is commonplace in television; I think every show I watch ended their respective seasons with a “to be continued…” Film is notorious for throwing in an after the credits hook to remind you that, yes, there will be a sequel, and yes, you will pay them to see it. But our videogames, they’re immune to these underhanded marketing ploys, right? No sir, they are not.
Why can’t a game be strong enough on its own that you WANT to buy the next one ‘cause the last one was just so much fun to play? Instead we’re forced to buy the next game to find out how the story ends. Halo 2 is a prime example: it didn’t need to be Empire Strikes Back’d, there’s just not all that deep of a story there. I understand that there are a slew of novels that really delve into the ever expanding “Halo mythos,” but a game shouldn’t need the support of external materials to give us a complete story. In the context of the game, the story is generic, underdeveloped and intentionally truncated. This last move is just to make sure that those of us who aren’t plugged into the H2 multiplayer machine will still buy our copies.
And that’s what frustrates me the most. There are plenty of game series out there that get by without the cliff-hanger and keep us coming back – The Legend of Zelda, Ghost Recon/Rainbow Six, Resident Evil, just to get the list started. You don’t rush out and get the next game in these series’ because you need to know what happens next – that was taken care of in the LAST game! You rush out to grab these games because the last one rocked, and you’re hoping the next one does too.
If my decision whether or not to play Halo 3 was based solely on how much H2’s single player “rocked,” I guarantee it wouldn’t see the inside of my Xbox 360… I doubt I’d even pick up the box to read the back. Sadly, however, their marketing ploy has grabbed me by the nostrils and is now leading me where it wants me to go. I mean, how can I not play H3? I can’t just assume that Master Chief is going to go out there and kick some ass – maybe take a few names – and save the day. I have to play it to find out for sure (and no, I can’t just read about what happens somewhere else – everyone knows that’s just not the same), and that means THEY win. I hate it when they win… Fie!
Fortunately, rumour has it that Bungie has beefed up the single player for round three – I can only hope. But I won’t be at all surprised if my Halo 3 experience ends with the image of Master Chief standing on some rocky outcrop, facing a whole mess o’ the Covenant, and saying, “Okay then! NOW I’m going to finish the fight. And this time, I mean it!”