Here’s why Halo Infinite is the most fun game in the series

No one jumps into battle more gleefully than the creatures from the Halo franchise — and especially the creatures from the Halo Infinite campaign, a sort of reboot of the massive sci-fi franchise after the impenetrable intergalactic worlds flourished in 2015. war with what was “Halo 5: Guardians”.

After all, it’s hard to calm down a controller in desperation when, after seeing the master chief turned war machine killed by an invisible alien beast with a pulsing blue sword, the reptilian rodent-like creature howls with a shrill voice. , “I got bucks on the helmet, guys!”

The whole of Halo Infinite is somewhat ridiculous. There are times of “Halo” trying to be seriousalthough these moments are best left at the tip of the eye roll. But when “Halo” poses as sci-fi gibberish, wrapping its sugary dialogue in warm hugs and reveling in the quirkiness of the storyline of a one-man relationship with female AI holograms, it soars like a beefy, timeless space opera fantasy. .

So far, every minute I’ve played in the Halo Infinite campaign has been flying by.

Back in shape, rebooted – whatever descriptor you use – “Halo Infinite” sounds like something of a Halo greatest hits hit, merging the Master Chief’s narrative existentialism of the very fine Halo 4 with the patient level of early games. design, goofiness, and sci-fi slickness. As an interactive text, it’s still primarily a celebration of shooting various space guns, but even as someone who doesn’t often gravitate towards the so-called “shooter” genre, “Halo Infinite” portrays the category at its best. accessible form.

The Microsoft-owned Halo franchise itself has become a symbol of the modern video game shooter over the past 20 years – less insane than “Doom”, stripped of the seriousness of “Call of Duty” and striving to balance complex storytelling with over-reliance on space lore best left for 30 or so. of books that try to understand this universe. Star Wars, but more militaristic in its mix of fantasy and sci-fi, is an easy cultural comparison, as “Halo” turned Xbox game consoles into a powerhouse and is just as vital text for video games as “Super Mario” Bros.

Those who have managed to purchase a next generation Xbox console will be happy to hear that Halo Infinite is indeed a showcase of the new Xbox Series X/S. This is a magnificent huge world in which style is more important than realism, and cruelty is shown with a smirk. The aliens are cartoonish thugs, the vehicles are wildly controlled, and our fellow Marines are unenthusiastic in their excitement of going to war, most notably with the Halo villains known as the Exiles.

Animated armed figure holding a gun

The Master Chief’s headspace is the focus of Halo Infinite.

(343 industries)

However, Halo is not a sneak game; this is a game for enthusiastically swapping weapons, shooting static energy bolts from rifles, throwing force fields, and generally making a mess wherever there are bad aliens. Try to be quiet, for example, and inevitably someone will see Chief’s hulking presence, or a marine not controlled by the player will run away in flaming bombs. But this time, the Chief is more mobile, as the grappling hook allows players to climb mountains like the Chief is a lightweight and not the dude he is. It’s also handy for escaping unmatched battles, fighting weapons from a distance, or simply electro-stunning opponents with nasty stealth abilities.

Over the decades of its existence, Halo has become so closely associated with interactive environmental storytelling that attempts to turn it into a film have often failed. A Paramount+ series is in development. due to launch in 2022, but any cinematic or TV adapters have a problem. Much of the appeal of Halo lies in these more abstract aspects. “Halo” is dominated by its tone, feel, and player navigation – or lack of it, I admit, I smiled as my three-seater military vehicle got stuck on a rock.

But from the small details – the “buzzer” of the Master Chief’s suit restoring his strength and shields – to the grander elements of technological mysticism and exploration of our relationship to artificial intelligence, Halo Infinite understands the series’ fairy-tale heroism. just as important as the running and shooting scenes.

When we encounter visions of the past—or perhaps a nightmare—in Halo Infinite, for example, we are asked to consider what is real and what are “clusters of recursive code.” And when we first meet the new magical enemy known as the Harbinger, they say, apparently not cringing under their helmet, “I am the harbinger of the true truth.”

This doesn’t mean there’s no meat, other than Chef’s witticisms (when he was told early in the game that he and his space partner might be the only two people left alive in the game’s area, he replied, “There’s still hope then,” and most players are expected to gasp). Halo Infinite ultimately wants to balance the intimacy of Halo 4’s storytelling, which focuses primarily on the Master Chief and his relationship with his now estranged AI friend Cortana, with a more sprawling approach to the open world of modern video games, where the main story is augmented by various side missions and mini-quests.

With 18 or so hours of play, I think Halo Infinite succeeds in achieving that goal. As a general rule, when reviewing a game, it’s common to focus on key story missions first, but I wanted to take my time with Halo Infinite and didn’t bother to rush it in five days. The optional tasks tend to be shorter than those that form the core of the narrative – find Cortana, restore humanity – but are well-suited for lighter gaming sessions.

More importantly, they complement the main story. Here, Chief is stuck in the “ring” – a floating cosmic sphere that in the Halo universe is filled with mountainous ecosystems, underground caverns, and cold imperialist space corridors – trying to uncover the mystery surrounding Cortana. The ring world is built by aliens, but more or less like a planet built around metal structures and on top of them rather than on sediment. Not wanting to go it alone, I spent some time rescuing some game-controlled marines from the Exiles, tracking down rare weapons, and generally just making it easier to move around the field as the Cortana mystery deepens.

I like “Halo” the most when it takes time to explore the Chief’s relationship with Cortana, and here he has a new AI companion – we’re introduced to her as “Weapons” – which adds some wrinkles and questions to the story. Cortana, in short, got out of control and should have been removed, but we wouldn’t be playing the game if it was that easy. Once again, Chief balances his patriotism with affection for Cortana. Look, when you’re an enhanced human living in a clanking, super-powered suit, you get intimacy wherever you can.

But there is soul here too. A wonderful animated scene appeared when Chief rescued a fallen peer. The Chief doesn’t take off his helmet, so instead the camera focused on the reflection in the goggles surrounding our hero’s eyes, zooming in as our fellow soldier spoke his final words as we watched his eyes get implanted where the Chief’s eyes should have been. The message was clear: we saw what the Chief felt, and it was all impressively expressed through the Series X.

While not knowing how this story will end, I can still say that so far I have not had as much fun playing Halo as I did Halo Infinite. Hokey? During. Silly? Definitely, but space combat seems to live on in many of our childhood dreams, and “Halo Infinite” conveys it with tension, camaraderie, and silliness that’s akin to weekend afternoon laser tag.