This post contains massive spoilers if you haven’t already completed Halo 4 (and, to a lesser extent, the other games in the series). Continue reading at your own risk.
As a long-time fan of the Halo series across all media, be it games, books, or videos, the fourth video game installment in the Master Chief/Cortana story arc really piled on the feelings. (“Dem feels” as I believe the kids of today refer to such things.) Interestingly, I haven’t played through the game myself—the timing of the release wasn’t good for me and in the end impatience won out and I instead watched the playthrough published to Youtube by PauseUnpause. That first time I just sat back and absorbed the story. Recently, however, I watched through a compilation of the cutscenes, along with some important moments during player control, and considered what factors caused the game to really hit the target emotionally. I believe that it comes down to three essential factors, as described below in no particular order.
Ok, this is very old news for those on the scene, but I haven’t been following very fanatically 😛 This is related to one of my current projects, but not one you’ve seen yet.
I have walked the edge of the Abyss.
I have governed the unwilling.
I have witnessed countless empires break before me.
I have seen the most courageous soldiers fall away in fear.
[I was there with the Angel at the tomb]
I have seen your future.
And I have learned.
There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy.
I HAVE WON.
Oh, and your poet Eliot had it all wrong:
THIS is the way the world ends.
That’s a message (apparently sent back in time) from Cortana who appears to be either in one of her deep and slightly over-dramatic moods or going a bit insane, with both being very possible given her personality and experiences. Now, this is the first of a series of messages and they are very interesting. They appear to be sent back in time, as noted above, presumably using Forerunner tech, from a time after Halo 3 when Cortanan is near the end of her life.
The last line is the one I find most intersting currently, apparently TS Eliot’s “it ends not with a bang, but a whimper” is wrong. And what’s the biggest “bang” available in the Halo universe? The Halos themselves…
Of course, this isn’t official cannon as they decided that the Marathon universe should be kept seperate, but nonetheless I like big explosions and suchlike and it still sounds like the Cortana (and Master Chief, the Covenant and the Flood when she refers to them in the other messages) that I know and love.