We fight giant space circles in Halo: The Master Chief Collection (now playing: Halo 2)

The year is 255X. Humanity has been at war with a conglomeration of aliens known as The Covenant for thirty years. We’re not doing too hot. We had a bunch of big beefy supersoldiers, but now we’re down to one. Pursued by an attack fleet after a blind jump through hyperspace, the human vessel Pillar of Autumn stumbles across an alien superstructure of unknown origin. Forced to land on its surface, we take on the role of the aforementioned lone supersoldier The Master Chief as we blast our way across forests, caves, glaciers, and mysterious alien buildings we may or may not ever learn the purpose of. Then we do that a few more times over a fair handful of games.

Halo’s a real heck of a series, isn’t it? Seven main games, soon to be eight, with nearly as many spinoffs, all over the last nineteen years. They’re console’s biggest shooters, some peoples’ fondest memories, and currently the focus of our ongoing LP.

Hello all, I am Rekkin, or Gareth - one half of Cooperative Conversations, a ‘casually critical’ LP series where my friend Skelzor and I do a lighthearted examination of a game while playing through it cooperatively. We talk narrative, writing, level design, encounter planning, art direction, and where it all may have been inspired from. We ask questions, we try to figure out the answers, and we have fun doing it. We’ve got a lot to talk about, and we hope you’ll like to hear it. Join us every Wednesday at 12 noon eastern for the continuing adventures of the Master Chief and his cadre of colorful allies, and we’ll see this entire series through to the end, or at least to the end of what’s available on PC.

As a random additional note, while the Halo games pre-Halo 4 were all presented without subtitles during gameplay, 343 Industries, the people behind this collection, have added in-game subs to Halo 1. Unfortunately, this addition has not continued with Halos 2, 3, ODST, or Reach. As such, I have gone to the effort of adding these in myself. An unfortunately surprising amount of Halo’s dialogue is delivered by NPCs during combat, so hopefully my work on this front will help out. I’ve certainly learned a couple things that I’d never been able to hear before on previous playthroughs.

Spoiler policy:
Halo’s an old series by this point, but because part of what we’re doing is examining the narrative as it’s given to us, we tend to play as if we don’t know anything beyond what we’ve already been told. We might make some allusions to future events, but for the most part we’re kind of taking everything in the moment. As such, consider this a spoiler-light series, and maybe try to keep the discussion of larger plot revelations to a minimum for anyone unfamiliar.

The latest one: Halo 2, Lookin’ at Anniversary Graphics

The rest of them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday is upon us, and so is another Halo video from Cooperative Conversations.

Today, we go on a snowy road trip and take a scenic ski lift in Quarantine Zone. Exciting stuff!

The level Gravemind is where it becomes very obvious that Halo 2 was running out of time, money, or both. Right from the first cutscene, concepts and plot points are introduced that don’t get any payoff, retcons are flying left and right, and the level design reverts to Halo 1 levels of repetition and unimaginativeness. It’s kind of a shame!

Uprising brings us back to the Arbiter’s side of things, and there’s a lot going on. It’s a fun little level and to be perfectly honest, I think he gets the better version of the game’s final act.

We also turn our discussion back to Starcraft for a little bit as we mull over the big goopy guy who’s making us do all this in the first place. Over, Grave, all we know is that great Minds are written alike.

The first of Halo 2’s two endings is a bit of a disappointment, to put it lightly, as we accomplish very little and are rewarded with even less. Ah well, at least getting here was fun enough.

And just like that, Halo 2 is simply…over. The Arbiter easily gets the more interesting of the two endings here, even if the placement of some familiar faces doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s an infamous cliffhanger, and for good reason.

Luckily, our own coverage of the game doesn’t go away quite as abruptly, so check back tomorrow for us talking about the Anniversary treatment, just like we did for Halo 1.

Halo 2’s story might have come to an abrupt halt, but our time with it has a little gentler of an end. Like we did for Halo 1, it’s time to take a look at the game’s Anniversary treatment and all that comes with it. New cutscenes, new lighting, new designs, even new sounds! In general, we’re fans of what was done.

Next week… the big one, Halo 3!