Not Liking Halo on Halo 4′s Special Day

I had a dream about Halo 4 last night. I cannot tell you the details of the dream, for I cannot really recall any. All I know is that Master Chief featured heavily, and I woke up with nothing but Halo on my mind. I’m not a fan of Halo, and I have not been excited about Halo 4′s launch. In fact, a copy has been with me for a while and I didn’t even put the disc into the Xbox 360 until last night, where I gave the first chapter an obligatory playthrough. It says a lot about just how huge a new Halo release is, that even those who can’t claim to be fans are subconsciously obsessed with it.

Obsessed I may be, but I’m not going to play anymore of it. I’m just not interested. I’ve tried to like Halo many times in the past. I’ve played Halo, Halo 3, and Reach, and my conclusions have always been the same — it’s mechanically sound, it does what it does very well, but it absolutely does not speak to me. There’s something about Halo that I just can’t connect with, and every experience I’ve had with the series has been marked by a complete lack of emotion and a blank-faced stare.

I find something utterly alienating about Halo. There’s an artificial feeling to its world and characters, like everything’s made of plastic, and I feel like I’m playing with action figures based on an obscure Saturday morning kids’ TV show. Being able to believe a game’s world is a key component to my being interested in it, at least when it comes to narrative-led campaigns, and I just never get the sense that anything in Halo is actually real. It all looks and sounds so fake to me. I realize that, yes, it’s a videogame, and none of it is real — but even the most fantastical of fiction can be believed so long as you craft an involving enough universe, and Halo consistently keeps me at arm’s length.

None of this is to say that Halo is a bad game. As I said, whenever I play a Halo title, I can recognize that it’s built incredibly well. It does not surprise me that millions of people around the world enjoy it so much, and to an obsessive degree at that. I can see the allure of Master Chief, Cortana, and the war against the Covenant. I just can’t feel any of it.

Today is a difficult day for a gamer like myself. Not difficult in any meaningful or important sense, but difficult in the context of the gamer community. Today is the day everybody’s talking about Halo (in between commentary on Obama vs. Romney, of course!) and I feel like I’m missing out. I can talk to you about LittleBigPlanet Karting and Lucius — I have reviews for those coming up on Destructoid — but who gives a shit about either of those on Halo 4′s special day? When the launch of a big game comes and you don’t happen to like that game, you tend to feel as if your contributions to the next few hours of discussion are a little bit meaningless. You also can’t help but feel a little envious of those who do enjoy the series and are genuinely excited for the launch. I wish I could be that excited today. Who doesn’t like being excited for something they genuinely love? Today is not my turn for such excitement.

That said, more power to those who are fans, and are going to have an enjoyable day.

There seems to be a growing trend among certain gamers to actively hate people who like the games they don’t like. I can kind of see the appeal in that. I think it’s natural to envy those who are enjoying something you can’t, it’s like they own something you want and aren’t allowed to have. There’s going to be a level of satisfaction in calling those people out, accusing them of stupidity, and saying they’re dumb for liking the dumb thing that is dumb and you don’t even want it anyway because it’s dumb. It is, of course, far simpler to rationalize that, if you dislike something, anybody who doesn’t hate it is flawed. We all want to be the superior guy, and nothing makes us feel more inferior than being left out of a club that’s seemingly open to everybody except you. Far more soothing to simply suggest they are the lesser mortals, crawling in the dirt while you sneer down at them from your magnificent sky cloud.

I don’t like that attitude. I don’t like it when we judge other people for enjoying different videogames. I don’t like Resident Evil 6. I think it’s a vapid waste of time with terrible controls. However, I’m glad for the people who have enjoyed it. Good for them. We should be celebrating diversity in taste, and that goes for folks that don’t like popular games, as well as lovers of the mainstream. Whether we’re talking about Call of Duty or Thomas Was Alone, from big to small, I am glad that every videogame has at least some audience, even if that audience, sadly, may not be big enough to sustain some games that really need support. At least somebody loved it at some point. Except Thundercats DS. I don’t think anybody will ever love that one.

Is there a point to this article, or is it just pretentious drivel? More likely the latter. All I know is that I woke up with Halo 4 burned with scarring depth into my mind, and all I could think of doing was writing about it. Thank you for humoring this pitiful little non-Halo fan on Halo 4′s special day.

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14 Comments on Not Liking Halo on Halo 4′s Special Day

Air Jimma

On November 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

I’ve been playing Halo since Combat Evolved and you are not getting the point of Halo if you are concerned with the campaign. For me and many people I know the campaign is an after thought. Combat Evolved was the only one which I ever enjoyed the story. The rest of the campaigns have been short and fairly generic. Multiplayer is why people buy these games and why they continue to play them years after their releases.

I think Halo 2 has been the pinnacle thus far, but based on some of what I’ve been hearing about this installment I have high hopes.

Where you went wrong is the first thing you should have done when you put Halo in was get a couple of friends in your party and head in to matchmaking.

Jim Sterling

On November 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’m not a big fan of the multiplayer either. Again, I totally “get” why people love it. But it’s not for me.

Rigatoni

On November 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

You mentioned about the voting day, (today.) Do you have an idea why Halo 4 would be released on the same day as the final day for election? I always wondered about the choice of dates.

Hunter

On November 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

I was surprised that you found Halo so impossible to get into. The Halo series and its universe has immersed me more than any other. I never felt I was playing Action Figures: The Game. The original trilogy feels like an old friend I can go back to. The games feel wholesome to me in ways other games still don’t.

I was only about 9 when I first played a Halo game, and now I’m starting to wonder why I was so deeply enamoured. Is it because I was so young? Does every gamer have a first love like this? Do you have a game from your childhood that you still love unquestioningly, and does playing it make you feel like something is wrong with today’s games? That’s my experience with the original trilogy.

Now when I see footage of Halo 4 I start to angrily type into the comments things like “Cortana looks stupid, the phantoms fly wrong,” and “this isn’t Halo anymore!”. I was adding fuel to the hate filled war of binary opinions that plagues the internet, but I felt so angry that someone else was doing Halo and it wasn’t going to be the same anymore.

I tried for a while to objectively criticise Halo 4, but I think I was mostly just trying to stop people from liking it. Halo 4 is probably great. The reviewers seem to think so. As someone who grew up with the original trilogy and truly loved it, I don’t think I’m going to get much joy from Halo 4. Even with this in mind, I still get angry when reviewers claim that Halo 4 is the best game yet. I have to keep reminding myself that Halo isn’t for me anymore, it’s for everyone else. And everyone else is going to love it, too.

Even though I was a fanatic of the original trilogy (I even read and loved two of the books, First Strike and Fall of Reach), I find myself standing at the window with you looking in at a crowd who enjoys this in a way I just can’t.

I still have mixed feelings of envy and hate for them, but trying to take away their excitement and enjoyment is the wrong way to deal with it. I still have the memories of how the story, gameplay and music made me feel, and maybe one day I can create something that will make at least one person feel the same way I did, even if it alienates some (or most).

I’m sorry if this was pretentious or melodramatic, but it’s 5am in Australia and I can’t stop thinking about Halo either.

Devin

On November 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

This article makes me want to sip tea and enjoy a soothing video game next to a roaring fire.

Roy Batty

On November 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

How strange, I find I can’t get into it either and I have tried. It just seems bland no great risks taken but also follows a good formula and has a marketing juggernaut behind it. I have always thought that why people like it is because of multiplayer and not much else. It also might be that parents let their children play this as the violence is more fantasy/abstract and as my nephew put it “there are no naked people” (as of the version he is playing).

It is just weird I can’t get into it but I want to. What is really strange is I was having this exact conversation with another gamer today.

Maybe I will try Halo 4 and finally think differently but I got that uneasy feeling.

Adam Grove

On November 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I understand what you mean. I have never been a large fan of Halo, it’s always seemed so two-dimensional to me, no real depth in the world itself. I’m a fan of the mechanics, but just can’t become invested in the world enough.

Sean

On November 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I bought Namco Museum for DS on the day that game came out.

Patches

On November 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Maybe, like me, you just suffer from a Multiplayer-FPS Overdose…
And then you just can’t see another of these games, however good they may be…

Years after years, games after games, a team of soldiers shooting another one (or AI bots in Coop games) with small variations (WW2 era, gather credit and buy new weapons, drives vehicles or not, respawn or wait for the next round, etc…)

Only in Mechwarrior Online I invest my time these days… Because I’m a fan of the BattleTech universe, the slower pace is a nice change from other FPS-like games and the fact that you’re armor is strong enough (unless you remove armor tonnage in the Mechlab so you can put bigger weapons…) than rarely you can be killed with one shot, even when piloting a light Mech…

R.J.

On November 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I’m largely the same way. Several of my friends have 360s and they were rather surprised to find out I didn’t despite being an avid gamer. I’ve played things like Halo and Gears with them and I can totally see why they like them so much. Mechanically speaking, I can’t really dispute them. MP speaking, again I see what they like, but I think I just look for other things out of my games. I don’t especially care for MP in any game beyond some dabbling, and if a story doesn’t hook me I won’t stick around. Even watching my friends play through the single player in Halo left me feeling, “meh.” Where MP is the big focus in a game, I just can’t maintain interest. But the thing is, my friends and I don’t let that become an issue. There are plenty of other games that we all like for other reasons. We’re all mature enough to recognize that friends can have different tastes in things.

Kazoo

On November 7, 2012 at 6:52 am

I’ve loved all the Halo games.. and have only completed Reach. I’m a total loss at Multi-player and can usually blunder through the campaign on Normal (though I am current stuck on the initial two hunters in ODST).

I normally end up quitting when the Flood show up. I’ll admit it.. I get too damn scared. Yes.. that’s how immersive the game has been to me. Maybe it’ll be different now. I’ve played the entire GoW series since then so maybe I’m less affected. Or, maybe GoW wasn’t as immersive.

And, finally.. I love the music. Always have.

Bruce

On November 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

This is sort of a shame, cause Halo 4 is the most emotionally weighty of the series provided you can follow along.

The chief was always supposed to be “action-figure”-ish, he’s killed tens of thousands of covenant, thousands of humans too probably (not talking about team kills), and has always had to keep pushing forward. He is the epitome of sacrifice, and this game is the first time we actually see that weight on him, albeit only at the end.

Zach

On November 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

First; the way Jim feels about Resident Evil 6 and the Halo series is how I feel about Street Fighter and Call of Duty respectively.

I understand the appear of them and I respect most people who enjoy them I just do not get enjoyment out of them myself.

@Air Jamma

Your comment about not getting the point of Halo is such an over used excuse for why people don’t like any FPS. If you sell your game as multiplayer only {a-la Team Fortress or Counter Strike} it can indeed still turn a profit.

If no one is supposed to play the single-player and it should not be considered when offering an opinion in the game then it should have never been there in the first place. If the creators of the series didn’t mean for you to play single-player they would not have wasted thousands of man hours working on it.

quicktooth

On November 14, 2012 at 12:22 am

You know what? I feel EXACTLY the same about the Halo series. I feel NOTHING from it; it all feels fake. I just… can’t… CARE about it. I tried Halo 1, enjoyed about a half hour, then said: “Right; that’s it for the rest of my life”. And stopped. Tried ODST; I think I liked the gameplay more than Halo 1, but stopped playing after some hours. Never went back; and never regretted it. I wonder what all the fuss is about…