Finding that bit of common ground with something can make all the difference when pursuing a new hobby or interest. That’s why we started Beyond the Console. We’ll help you explore mediums away from your controller all while keeping it connected to what interests you the most: Gaming!
GUYS. That E32014 announcement that got us Halo fans all riled up? Well, it’s finally hitting the Xbox One on November 11th. That’s just a little over a week from today, giving you plenty of time to prepare your self for the definitive Halo experience. Even if you’re not a long time fan, and were able to bypass the zealous Halo Nation throughout your gaming years, The Master Chief Collection is definitely something you should be excited about. i343’s gaming compendium is probably the most ambitious to date; it contains Bungie’s original story arc (Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3) as well as 343 Industries’ first venture, Halo 4. Admittedly, some may grumble at the fact that these games are already out there, floating about in PC libraries and past-gen consoles, but it doesn’t matter; The Master Chief collection packs all 4 games onto one disk, rendered at 1080p, 60fps (except for Halo 2 which is running slightly below 1080p) and includes every single multiplayer map to have come out for these games, all for the price of one game.
But Halo is so much more than just about the gameplay. It has a rich and compelling story; it’s science fiction military core coincides with ancient, mythical beings and a theocratic alien alliance that has declared humans heretics, and aims to wage a genocidal war to destroy all of humanity. In short, it’s sci-fi epicness.
So how does one immerse oneself into a deeply complex world? If you’re anything like me, a glazed look passes over your face during cut scenes only to find yourself reanimated when the action starts. This leads to missing plot points and story elements, leaving you only partially integrated into the story.
And today’s Beyond the Console is all about that. Here are my favourite Halo spin-offs, stories and visual aids that’ll truly allow you to immerse yourself in the Halo Universe. I’ve even added a video of Halo 2 complete soundtrack to give you some music to listen to while expanding your Halo knowledge.
Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Contact Harvest
Science fiction literature is probably my all-time favourite genre. Because the works of Sir Arthur C. Clark, Aldous Huxley and Philip K. Dick have informed my imaginary, I have always been apprehensive of mass-produced, and mass-authored book series. But surprisingly, the Halo books are pretty fantastic. While there is a chronological order to which you can read them, my two favourites that can act as stand-alones are Halo: Contact Harvest and Halo: The Fall of Reach. Penned by Joseph Staten, Halo: Contact Harvest is set around 25 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. This book delineates the moment the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) first encounters the theocratic alien alliance known as The Covenant and marks the beginning of humanity’s war against the Prophet and the threat of genocide. Also, you get to meet the infamous Sergeant Major Avery Johnson for the first time.Eric Nylund’s Halo: The Fall of Reach, my favourite of the two, has you encountering John-117, otherwise known as the Master Chief, for the first time when he was kidnapped as a child for a secret experiment spearheaded by Dr. Catherine Halsey. Dr. Halsey, as some of you may already know, used her own brain makeup as the basis for the construction of the AI Cortana, Master Chief’s inseparable companion. The also introduces you to the last remaining UNSC Spartans, and the obliteration of humanity’s last stronghold colony planet, Reach. It’s a fantastic read even as a stand-alone, as it brings up questions of ethics, morality and human nature. Both books can picked up for pretty cheap over here and here, or you can do what I did and find them for $.99 at my local Salvation Army.
The Halo Graphic Novel
As with any popular series, there is a shit ton of Halo comic books out there, some good and some bad. Of all the choices, the Halo Graphic Novel is by far the best. Published by Marvel Comics in 2006, it features four short stories penned and drawn by different artists and writers within the gaming and comic book world. The four short stories aim to give readers different aspects and viewpoint of humanity’s ongoing war with the Convenant, further deepening the Halo Universe. Of all four, Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa is my favourite. Rather than materialize the doings of war through military perspectives, this story humanizes the devastating effects of war by following a reporter who is in the midst of the Covenant attacking earth.
The Halo Graphic Novel tries and succeeds in telling Halo’s story through the medium of art, and collectively boasts a book worthy for both Halo fans and comic book lovers alike. Head over to Amazon to pick it up for pretty cheap.
Of all the written works I own on Halo, this encyclopedia is by the best thing that has ever come my way. Maybe it’s because I tend to fangirl over Halo, or maybe its my academic indoctrination to enjoy reference books, but this enormously comprehensive compendium literally has everything you need to know about the Halo Universe. It describes in detail the various races, factions and structures that one encounters while playing the Halo games and gives precise description on all the weapons that are possible. It fleshes out the mysterious Forerunners and their creation of the Halo rings, their war with the flood and any other minute detail you may wonder about in the series. I picked up a copy for myself and my dad at a convention one year, but you can still find them over here. Needless to say, if ever you find this book anywhere, don’t hesitate and pick it up: it’s an essential for any fans, collectors and those who are new to the Universe.
This one can be a hit or miss for most people, but I personally really enjoyed Halo Legends. Produced by 343 Industries in conjunction with various Japanese studios, including Toei Animation. It’s a compilation of seven different stories all taking place within the Halo Universe. Most critics were skeptical of Halo’s marriage with Japanese-style animation which led to some pretty lackluster reviews. But if you’re like me, and you enjoy your compilations with a twist of anime, you won’t be disappointed. To boot, the stories don’t only focus on Master Chief but on the Arbiter, the Prophet and the Helljumpers (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers). If you pick it up, or find alternative means to watching it (ahem), keep an eye out for the story “Origins” where you can listen to Cortana narrate the origins of the ultimate universal threat, the Flood.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
Before 343 Industries’ Halo 4 hit the Xbox 360, they released a series of live-action shorts in order to both promote i343’s first Halo venture and to give an introduction into the universe for those unfamiliar with the story and the games. Forward Unto Dawn takes place on a human colony planet known as Cirnicus-IV, where high-ranking officials send their children for military training at a young age. The events happen during the early days of the Covenant war, when one of their fleet attacks the base causing chaos and confusion due to the relative secrecy the UNSC had been shrouding the Covenant threat in. Again, the series functions to deepen the Halo story while giving you a taste of what a full-lenght live-action Halo movie could look like. And the shivers you get once the Elites appear with their energy swords.So good. You can head over to Netflix to watch its entirety.
Red vs. Blue
Okay, so I’m pretty sure 99% people reading this are familiar with Roster Teeth’s Halo parody. While Red vs. Blue (RvB) has absolutely nothing to do with the Halo Universe, it still points to the immense influence the Halo series had on pop culture. The popularity of this web series was unbelievable; they have to date over 250 episodes and garnered multiple awards and a spot on Netflix. What Rooster Teeth did was kind of brilliant; they filmed all the episodes through a number of networked xboxes, which each person puppeteering their own Halo character, while the different camera angles were commandeered by another xbox user. The dialogue and stories are absolutely ridiculous and hilarious: RvB revolves around two groups of Spartans that are in a civil war with each other, and confined within the inescapable canyon “Blood Gulch”. If you ever wanted to know the thoughts and feeling of those Spartans you put through deadly rounds and rounds of Slayer, look no further. You can either watch them on Netflix, or head over to Rooster Teeth’s website.
Remaking the Legend: Halo 2 Anniversary
And finally, we have the latest video released by Microsoft and i343 called “Remaking the Legend: Halo 2 Anniversary”. Released for free last Friday through Xbox video, this hour-long documentary shows the process of reimagining Halo 2 for the Xbox One while reflecting on its original creation and the impact it had when it first released. While this is obviously a calculated promotional tool aimed to heighten the hype, there were some pretty cool tidbits and despite all, you really feel the passion that people have for the Halo franchise. My favourite part was about the music, and there was quite a lot of surprising facts about it that I had no clue existed. Whether you’re planning to pick up the Master Chief Collection or not, this short documentary gives you a glimpse into the processes of making a gaming phenomenon. You can either view it on the Xbox 360 and One dashboard, or you can head over here to view it.
Do you guys have any suggestion for Beyond the Console Halo material I may have skipped out on? Sound off below and let us know!