Under Fire: Preparing for Halo 4

I mentioned in my review of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary that I am a very new fan of the Halo series. I went into that review dreading having to play, and I left the game wanting more. I’ve wanted to continue playing the games in between my heavy review schedule, but I didn’t have proper motivation until earlier this year when Halo 4‘s release date was announced. I have nine months to play four games (Halo 2, 3, ODST, and Reach) and keep up with new releases? Piece of cake, right?

I burned through Halo 2 and 3 with little problems by the time I had to leave for E3. I still wanted to play ODST and Reach eventually, but at that point, I figured it would be no problem if I didn’t. Right?

Halo: UprisingFrank O’Connor said wrong. In my meeting with him at E3, he said that all fiction and lore would have some part in Halo 4, including books and comics. Remember how I said that I couldn’t get into comics because I have to know everything about a series? Yeah, just imagine how my heart sank at hearing this news. I thought I would read the Halo books eventually, especially since Karen Traviss has moved from writing Gears of War books to the Halo universe, but I had no plans to read them before Halo 4 came out.

Aw, crap.

So ever since E3, I have been trying to read these books as fast as I can, which has been hard because they’re massive and I don’t have much reading time. I have to say though, that I wish I had read Halo: First Strike before I played Halo 2, and I wish I had read the Halo: Uprising comic before I played Halo 3. At least now I can look back and retroactively understand a little better what happened in those games.

The first book, Halo: The Fall of Reach, was about more than just the day that the Covenant wiped out Reach. It told the story of how Master Chief came to be Spartan-117. Most importantly, it gave him a name–John–and a real personality. One of the biggest problems I always had with Master Chief was how boring he was. Then again, with Cortana constantly yapping, he never really had a chance to say much, did he? Thanks to The Fall of Reach, I understand why he’s the quiet, kind of boring man in the MJOLNIR armor. More than that, I learned of the Spartan-II creator, Dr. Halsey, who makes an appearance in Halo: Reach, and I learned why John is the last living Spartan.

Or is he? In Halo: First Strike, which takes place in between Halo and Halo 2, before the Covenant found their way to Earth, the reader learns that John’s team of Spartans he left on Reach were not killed when the Covenant glassed the planet. First Strike also gave more glimpses into the seemingly minor characters of Colonel Ackerson and Sergeant Johnson from the games.

Halo: Ghosts of OnyxI recently finished Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, which jumped back and forth between before the first Halo game and after Halo 2. Master Chief is not entirely present (he’s a little busy jumping down to Earth from a Forerunner ship), and surprisingly to me, I missed him the most. The story always seems more grounded and believable when Master Chief is around, and the ending to Ghosts of Onyx completely jumped the shark, even for a Halo game. If you’ve read this book, you already know what I’m talking about.

This is the last book that Eric Nylund wrote, and its insane ending reminded me of the last season of the TV show Angel. The writers of Angel learned before the final season that the 5th season would be the last, so they really went nuts with episodes and in particular, the ending. This book feels like that, like Nylund knew this would be his last book so he went bonkers with the ending. Even more disappointing for me, Glasslands picks up on this crazy plotline and runs with it.

I have about 60 days before Halo 4 releases, and I have four more Halo books to read–Contact Harvest, Glasslands, and the two Forerunner saga books. Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach still sit in my stack of shame, reminding me that time is running out. Am I the only one actively trying to prepare for Halo 4 this way? Sometimes I’m too big of an obsessive mess, even for me. Oh well, no time to think on that. I have books to read!

Under Fire is a weekly Gaming Angels column that celebrates the shooter genre of gaming, written by our beloved Keri Honea a/k/a crunchychocobo.


The Forerunner books are a great addition to the Halo universe. If you get a chance - check out Halo: Waypoint for clips of the new webisodes Forward Unto Dawn; can we say goosebumps;)