Halo 2 – Additional Commentaries

September 16th, 2009


One of the perspectives that often gets overlooked between warring factions on either side of the Halo argument is the fact that the franchise itself is the offspring of a modest Mac developer being thrown into the spotlight of a burgeoning industry and then asked to perform. It’s no wonder then that once you dissect the franchise, despite strong structural foundations and strong individual pieces, the game cohesively feels awkward and conflicting.

In keeping with that tone, here are my b-side commentaries on Halo 2 which I didn’t manage to squeeze into the other, primarily Halo-centric articles.

Cultural Representations

The Covenant and UNSC space marines conform to eerily familiar identities, don’t you think? The Covenant playing the role of the religious zealots and the UNSC space marines as the typical frat boy army types. I’m going to take a stab at the metaphor presented here; the Americans are the militaristic UNSC and the Covenant (particularly the heirarchs) represent the countries of the Middle East. Hmmm…if we remove ourselves from the implicit view that one race is human (and therefore pertains qualities of humanity) and the other alien (sub-human, less than humane), I think the cultural representations are quite fair. Despite their alien embodiment, the Covenant aren’t represented in anyway less than humanity itself. They’re diligent creatures with wonderful articulation, entrenched in a deep cultural tradition. It’s for these reasons that I personally ended up taking a real affection to the Arbiter (Covenant) whilst feeling great disdain and annoyance towards Master Chief. Considering the metaphor, I believe that says a lot for an American-made production.

Halo 2 Ending

Halo 2‘s ending received a lot of flak for being rather uneventful. I’m not sure that I agree with the masses though. Halo 2 daringly split its narrative down the middle by giving Arbiter a slice of the pie. This makes deciding on a conclusive ending for both characters a trifle bit tricky.

Arbiter’s story, having begun in Halo 2, finished in Halo 2 – it’s a largely self-contained narrative. Master Chief on the other hand is the central protagonist, his tale extends through all three games. Master Chief doesn’t really have a self-contained narrative in Halo 2, as he remarks at the end game it’s all about finishing the fight. He is an avatar for the fighting and his story is therefore about the skirmishes along the way and not an overarching thread. What people might infer as this thread is actually the story of the UNSC in which Chief plays a lead. His story therefore concludes once humanity no longer requires him, which I suppose is what happens in Halo 3. In Halo 2 there is more fighting to be done, so was it really such a bad ending for the chief to just announce that? I wasn’t fussed personally, but it was probably because I was interested in the Arbiter and didn’t care much for the chief’s story.

Additional Readings

Revisiting Halo: The prehistory