Wiretapping the Cosmos
I wasn’t the only person to give yelps of glee when I saw the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Terminal previews after HaloFest. They are, put simply, damn good pieces of expanded fiction woven into an otherwise discovered game. But I wasn’t the only person to notice certain inconsistencies in the terminals with some established fiction–namely, 343 Guilty Spark’s log from “Conversations of the Universe”.
Pity “Conversations”–in many ways, currently relegated to Halo history as a minor bonus for the Halo 2 Collectors Edition. But it could be so much more. Laid within its disparate letters are stories begging to be told. The excavation of a mysterious, alien artifact on Coral–most likely Forerunner, but possibly even Precursor, given the materials’ resilience to damage. What was its function? What happened to the dig site? Was it destroyed by the Covenant’s glassing? What battle was the Covenant warship Sacred Promise involved in? And what happened to its engineers, mysteriously disappearing during the ship’s plummet towards a nearby planetoid? More maddeningly, what is the Sharquoi the Elites planned to use against humanity? Did they ever use it?
Aside from questions, CFtU opened up the world of Halo, especially for those who had never touched a novel beforehand (and back then, there were only three!) Many of them set the tone for Halo 2 and its radical departure from Combat Evolved–small side stories that gave the Covenant a human face, for lack of a better expression: bickering Grunts, the increasingly corroding interactions between the Elites and Brutes and the stress fractures in the Covenant. With all the painful narrative cuts made in the final game, these samples gave us a wonderful amount of depth to augment what we played onscreen. In short, CFtU was more a boon than mere bonus for fiction lovers, and it is disheartening to see it neglected now, its stories left cold and untouched. This is, admittedly, one of the hazards of producing (what appears to be) disparate stories–some elements will be discarded or overwritten, like the Cortana Letters are now defunct.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With the possibility of more conflict with humans on the horizon, could the Sharquoi play a role for the Elites again? If Serin Osman could recover from her augmentation injuries, couldn’t Cassandra return to the field as a full-fledged Spartan? The content in CFtU could be just the beginning, especially if 343i follows the lead of Bungie and lays groundwork for coming threads, and to keep fans engaged. There have been promising signs that they might, particularly with the Data Drops ante Glasslands and Anniversary. Halo 4‘s marketing campaign has thus far been virtually nothing, so there remains plenty of time to do something similar. So lets hope that 343i takes a page out of Bungie’s book and keeps one ear to the galaxy.
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