I love Spartan Ops, but I have a major issue with the recent ending of season 1. I’ve kept the first part of this post clear of spoilers, but the second half reveals massive details of the ending, so don’t read the latter part if you don’t want it ruined! You have been warned…
Spartan Ops is Halo 4’s free DLC (available to everyone that owns Halo 4 and has a Gold Live account), available in eleven weekly instalments, each containing a superbly animated CG short setting up the story for the week, five missions to play through – each of which moves the story along – and a raft of achievements, geared towards co-operative team play. It also extends the playability of the game massively, by effectively giving you another campaign to play through, drawing you in to another story that takes place just after the close of the Master Chief campaign, and moves the whole narrative along – it also nicely ties in to the latest novels in the series, notably Glasslands by Karen Traviss which sets the stage for the head bad guy in the Spartan Ops saga, the Sangheili (Elite) radical Jul M’Dana.
The idea is superb, as is the implementation. Rather than the almost obligatory play through of the campaign followed by months of multiplayer (don’t get me wrong, the multiplayer is good too!), until you get bored/something better comes along, you now have a second story-driven campaign to play through, one which, unlike some similar initiatives, actually progresses the overall story along. This isn’t something taking place in the shadow of the main storyline. This campaign is an integral part of the main storyline, and the outcomes of the events taking place are setting up either the starting point for a second series of Spartan Ops, or the start of Halo 5. Either way, you really get the sense that the campaign matters, and look forward to seeing where the story will go next, and what will happen to the characters (some new, others returning from H4, and others from way back) involved.
And it’s a detail with one particular character which I have an issue with.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
Dr Catheryn Elizabeth Halsey; creator of the Spartan II’s and the “Smart” AI Cortana, genius… and now – we are to believe – traitor. In the final cinematic of the current Spartan Ops season, we see Dr. Halsey (minus an arm after the failed attempt on her life by Spartan Commander Palmer) talking with Jul M’Dama, the leader of the fanatical Covenant splinter sect, the Storm. After giving one half of the key to Spartan Thorne, she is snatched away by M’Dama. It seems that at some point after that she realises Commander Palmer was there to execute her for her perceived crimes, and aiding M’Dama. Then she tells M’Dama she wants revenge, and that’s where we’re left.
But that to me seems terribly out of character for Dr. Halsey. Throughout her history she has remained almost totally impassive. She’s broken laws, crossed moral boundaries, and made uncounted sacrifices, all for the survival of humanity. Hell, the Spartan II’s that were largely responsible for humanity surviving the Covenant war were abducted by her as children, brutally trained, genetically and physically enhanced and pushed out into a vicious war as killing machines, many of them not surviving the process, and most not surviving the war. Even when she believes that ONI have come to arrest and execute her on Onyx, after she “kidnaps” a group of Spartans, she’s resigned to the fact that she has to face the punishment for her crimes, almost welcoming it.
Now, after she gets a reprieve and becomes heavily involved in the UNSC Infinity project, and is drafted in to help then UNSC forces at Requiem, she gets shot and suddenly seems to turn on humanity? I don’t buy it. It seems ridiculously out of character for her. It has been pointed out to me that perhaps she only wants revenge on Spartan Commander Palmer who actually shot her, or against the UNSC, but the former seems terribly petty, and the latter is the same as turning against humanity, since if you destroy or hurt the UNSC, then you’re destroying or hurting humanity’s only defence against a hostile universe. I can see that the creative minds behind Spartan Ops (343) – and indeed the whole new Halo saga – wanted something big, and to create a cliffhanger, but this just seems badly thought out. I mean it’s made clear in at least two novels that Halsey thinks of the Spartan II’s almost as her children, and she commits high treason to “kidnap” the Spartan II’s & III’s on Onyx in what she believes to be a last ditch attempt to save them, and now we are to believe she’s going to turn against them – including Master Chief John-117. She’s furious when she discovers John’s alive and no-one told her, so there’s no way she’d turn against him or the others.
Anyway, maybe I’ll be wrong and I’ve read this all the wrong way, but I’ve ranted enough for now!