Halo 4’s True Storyline – Master Chief’s Humanity

In case you missed it, we reviewed one of the biggest games of the year, Halo 4. The game is superb, probably the best Halo game ever, which is due in large part to the story. While the review of the game is fairly spoiler free, this article seeks go go a little deeper into the strengths of the Halo 4 story for those that want to know. It’ll still be relatively spoiler free, but it’ll give a little more insight into what this new game does to freshen up the series. Be warned, some of the game’s narrative themes will be discussed and may be considered spoilers.

Halo 4’s main story, the driving force behind your action packed escapades, is the story of Master Chief and Cortana and the events that follow entering the Forerunner planet. The story that has much more impact in terms of both tone and emotional effect is the one of Cortana’s increased Rampancy.

In the Halo universe, AI’s have a shelf life of around seven years, after which they are decommissioned. This happens because as an AI continues to evolve and grow it will reach a point where it’s trying to keep track of more things than it can handle. It will think itself to death. At the start of Halo 4 Cortana has been in service for eight years and the signs of Rampancy are starting to show. She is becoming less coherent, loosing the ability to keep herself on task and having increasingly frequent emotional outbursts. As Master Chief’s primary companion, he takes this news badly and wants desperately to help her overcome Rampancy. Cortana becoming rampant serves to strengthen the player’s isolation in the world, as well as helping to drive forward the game’s story at set points, but most importantly it is key in the humanisation of our gun totting protagonist.

Master Chief has always been the silent soldier, acting to do the most good for the most number of people. Emotions have never been his driving force, more the will to protect and serve humanity. While Cortana is suffering from Rampancy however, she begins to dwell on her own existence. She weighs up what it means to live, whether she herself is truly alive, and most importantly she brings up the question of who is more human, the emotionally driven AI or the emotionally stunted soldier. This is something that has a real effect on Master Chief as the story progresses and looks to be by far the most interesting development 343 Industries has made to the game.

I’m very excited to see how his narrative arc continues through Halo 5 and 6 and to see how far 343 will be willing to take the game’s hero. There is a lot of new room to develop Master Chief as a relatable and human character and I can’t wait to see more. 343 have taken a big risk with this approach to the character, who has previously been all about being a vessel the player can place themselves onto, and I have a huge amount of respect for that.

What do you think? Would you rather Master Chief remained faceless and emotionless? Does the idea of a more humanised Master Chief get you excited? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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