Polarizing Halo 5 campaign
Before we get started, let me go grab my Kevlar vest and riot helmet, because this article will no doubt be controversial among hardcore Halo fans. You guys ready for this? Here we go…Halo 5 is one of the best if not THE BEST campaign in Halo history. Ok now that I’ve angered most of our Halo super fan readers, just give me a moment to state my case. Before I continue, let me mention that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!! If you haven’t completed the campaign yet, best you go entertain yourself elsewhere.
Let me just get the negatives out of the way before getting to the real meaty goodness. Yes we are all in agreement that you spend far too little time as the cyborg badass that’s Master Chief, as the story seems to focus more on Spartan Locke and Osiris team. Lets face it, Chief is THE face of the Halo franchise and him taking a supporting role is kinda like Blade in the Blade Trinity movie! It’s bizarre that they decided to take that route with the narrative and down right criminal. A massive misstep, but is it a deal breaker? Let me reserve further comment for later. Next… and this one really rubs me the wrong way, the so-called-boss-fights! Or should I say lack there of? Facing off against the Warden the first time was kinda challenging and fun. Then facing him again and again with only his numbers increasing was a very lazy way of handling boss fights. In fact you don’t even need boss fights when you have the dynamic, challenging combat that Halo demonstrates throughout its campaign. While I’m on the subject of the Warden, he spends the entirety of the game protecting Cortana from John 117 and Blue team, only to be dispatched by Cortana herself without even breaking a sweat. So what the hell was his job if he’s protecting someone who can clearly take care of herself and seemingly all powerful, more so than him….absolutely pointless!
So why do I still even bother with this argument that its potentially the greatest campaign ever? First off, without a doubt, Halo 5 is the most gorgeous Halo ever produced and arguably the best visuals displayed on the Xbox One console. The art direction is superb, classic Halo, yet with so much more depth to it. The colour pallet is constantly changing and different as to never get boring. In the first few minutes of the game you can already tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into polishing this gem to perfection. Technically speaking, the game runs at a silky smooth frame rate through 343’s technical wizardry and it never seems to falter, regardless of how much is going on at any given time. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The gameplay is second to non. I know some of the decisions that were made didn’t sit right with purists, I’m talking about adding semi iron-sights to a halo game, but in the same breathe, those were necessary changes to add to a game that would be in danger if feeling a little old hat. Times are changes folks and we must change with it. Even with that addition, I just love how you could literally play the game without it and it would still function perfectly…is it a pointless addition then? Not at all, once you start using it, you get extra little depth to the gameplay that was never there before, Like the Hydra and its Lock-On function, or the assault rifle gaining that sweet looking HUD when you aim down. How about new Spartan abilities? They’ve gotten rid of the pickups from Halo Reach and Halo 4 and turned them into part of the mechanics. They add a new dimension to the way you tackle your enemies, constantly on the move…getting to higher ground only to pounce down on what’s below, its fantastic really. Speaking of higher ground, the new found verticality adds so much scale to a game that already had huge playgrounds in its predecessors and keeps the action interesting and fluid.
Most of all, while you’re playing Halo 5 you don’t care about the stupid Warden, you don’t care that Locke is a little wooden and devoid of much needed character…No! You are far too busy having great fun. Not to mention some pretty spectacular set pieces. How can you forget running down the outside of a Massive Guardian, plummeting to the world below while taking out tons of enemies? And come on people, having beloved Cortana turn evil for seeming understandable reasons was a huge shocker. After she’s unexpectedly gotten all AI constructs in the universe on her side, the Halo universe was never the same again. Like it or not, Locke is a badass too, can you name anyone else in Halo franchise who has cracked Chief’s Visor??
Perhaps, a time will come when Chief needs to pass the torch to a new generation of Spartan, and perhaps 343 is just prepping us for that day with the introduction to Locke and Osiris. This game was fantastic, it was different enough to feel fresh while capturing all the classics that make Halo special and keeping age old fans happy. Do yourself a favour, go play it again, and just pay attention to the details, and see just how much you are actually having fun even with those annoying little things. No Halo game is perfect. This is by no means an exception, but its by far the one that took the most risks and I’ll always love it for that.