It Ain't Over Until The FAT32 Lady Sings - Let's Play The Halo Saga

Put your Let's Plays in here.
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Let’s be honest. If you’re reading this thread, you’ve heard of Halo. It’s one of Microsoft’s flagship franchises for the Xbox. It has spawned, as of writing this, 7 main games, 5 spin-off games, 31 novels, 15 comics/graphic novels, a handful of short films, and also action figures, Lego sets, and Nerf guns. It helped popularize console online gaming, start the stereotype of the frat bro gamer, and bring esports into the mainstream with Major League Gaming (MLG).

On a personal note, Halo is also one of the things that helped me make some of my closest friends, including my co-commentators Swordfishhh and Cletus. Countless evenings and weekends were spent playing co-op and multiplayer, or searching for secrets and easter eggs. Even as we went to university and moved away to different cities, we could always get together for a few games or send each other messages speculating on what would be coming next in the series.

For this LP, we’re going to be taking a nostalgic look back on almost all of the main games with the exception of Halo: Reach. While Reach is actually one of the better campaigns in the series, I don’t like how it “fits” with the other games. If there’s interest and I still have motivation after all this is done, I may LP it on its own. I’m also going to be gearing these videos towards viewers who aren’t familiar with anything Halo, so I would ask that no one posts spoilers or any deep dives into the extended universe canon (at least until it becomes relevant to what we’re showing).

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates if you’re into the bird site.


Previously Played:

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Halo: Combat Evolved, also known as Halo 1 or just Halo, was released in 2001 along with the first Xbox console. It was published by the new Microsoft Game Studios and developed by Bungie, who had been acquired by Microsoft just the year before. It was absolutely the Xbox’s killer app, and one of the reasons for the console’s commercial success. A PC version of the game was released in 2003, a remastered and graphically updated version in 2011, and then re-released another 2 times in a collection on separate platforms. The game had a very strange development cycle. It originally started as a Mac exclusive real time strategy game. From there it turned into a third-person shooter, and then eventually into the first-person shooter we know today. We play as the Master Chief, a cyborg supersoldier fighting aliens in the distant future, though I assure you it’s more interesting than that synopsis makes it sound.

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01 - The Pillar of Autumn
02 - Halo
03 - Truth and Reconciliation
04 - The Silent Cartographer
05 - Assault on the Control Room
06 - 343 Guilty Spark
07 - The Library
08 - Two Betrayals
XX - Warthog Jumping
09 - Keyes
10 - The Maw
XX - Alternate Warthog Run (April Fools)

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Original TV Commercial
Alternate TV Commercial (note the Marathon logo in the bottom right)
Promotional Video
Launch Party Intro Video

Currently Playing:

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Halo 2 is pretty obviously the sequel to the breakout hit Halo: Combat Evolved. Developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios, Halo 2 was released on November 9, 2004. The sequel seeks to continue the story of the Master Chief and humanity at war with the alien Covenant, as well as the new complications from the existence of a nearly unstoppable parasitic plague, The Flood, and ancient doomsday ringworlds, the Halos.

Halo 2 is an excellent sequel in a lot of ways. Bungie managed to improve the graphics and mechanics of the original Halo, and added new characters and game elements while keeping the general formula and feel that made the first game great. With the addition of online multiplayer, Halo's popularity further exploded and it was the most played game on Xbox Live for a full two years, and remains the best-selling game released on the first generation Xbox. However in other ways it's a little bit of a sophmore slump, what in hockey would be called a Stanley Cup hangover. Brimming with confidence from the success of Halo 1, Bungie was maybe not as focused or disciplined as they should have been. During development a lot of work had to be scrapped and restarted from scratch, sometimes even after having been shown to the public. Several levels and the original planned ending to the game were cut in order to save time. Deadlines and release dates had to be repeatedly pushed back, to the point that eventually a Microsoft executive, Peter Moore, had "November 9" tattooed on his arm to prove that was the real release date. Still, what we ended up getting was a great game that slots very fittingly as the middle entry in a trilogy.


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00 - Sgt. Johnson and the Journey Home
01 - Cairo Station
02 - Outskirts
03 - Metropolis
04 - The Arbiter
05 - Oracle
XX - Screwing Around on Earth
06 - Delta Halo
07 - Regret
XX - Humanity, the UNSC, and Spartans

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Announce Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
TV Commercial
E3 2003 In-Game Demonstration
Last edited by FrenzyTheKillbot on Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:41 pm, edited 21 times in total.

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01 - The Pillar of Autumn

Let's get this thing started. Out in deep space, under assault by an alien menace, and above a mysterious ringworld.

Also, make sure you take a look at the videos I have under Links. They are really interesting relics from the past.

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02 - Halo

With our feet on solid ground(?) we round up other human survivors so we can keep fighting the Covenant.

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Aw yeah, looking forward to the rest of this. I've got a lot of cultural osmosis of various phenomena (e.g. I know the plot and characters of every Final Fantasy game without ever having played them), but I never had that for Halo. Finally going to fill in that very import pop-cultural gap.

Haven't watched the first video yet, are you guys going to cover the non-game media (comics, book, etc) in any detail, or just kind of handle them as they come up in the canon story?

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Scaramouche wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:17 am
Aw yeah, looking forward to the rest of this. I've got a lot of cultural osmosis of various phenomena (e.g. I know the plot and characters of every Final Fantasy game without ever having played them), but I never had that for Halo. Finally going to fill in that very import pop-cultural gap.

Haven't watched the first video yet, are you guys going to cover the non-game media (comics, book, etc) in any detail, or just kind of handle them as they come up in the canon story?
lol I do actually bring it up in the first video, but for the most part I'm trying to avoid a lot of EU stuff until/unless it becomes important. That being said, I've already been working on a video essay style video to explain what happens between Halo 1 and Halo 2, so at least some of that stuff will be covered.

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Yeah I actually checked back on that and I didn't quite realize the .... scope of the extant work. I thought it was just the 4 Bendis/Maleev Marvel comics from 2007 but hoooley moley Dark Horse published like a million not very good looking comics after that. According to the wiki there's 31 novels/novellas/short story collections and 9 comics series consisting of several issues each. So uh maybe don't dive into that well too deeply for your own sanity's sake.

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As someone who has played every game up to Halo 4 save for the RTS Halo Wars games and somehow, Halo 2, I'm interested to see how this goes
Mechanically I think Halo Reach is an important bridge between 3 and 4

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Cloudmonkey98 wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:01 am
As someone who has played every game up to Halo 4 save for the RTS Halo Wars games and somehow, Halo 2, I'm interested to see how this goes
Mechanically I think Halo Reach is an important bridge between 3 and 4
Yeah there will be a handful of things where I'll be saying "this was actually introduced in Halo: Reach..."

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03 - Truth and Reconciliation

A dangerous mission, in unfamiliar territory, to rescue the Captain.

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I was thinking, and I think part of why "Sci-fi supersoldier fights aliens in sci-fi future" works well for Halo was simply its time of arrival and the surrounding decisions, it wasn't as thoroughly used an idea, so it didn't have that against it, and Bungie put a lot more effort into the world and such, some of it admittedly just retrofitting Marathon stuff but its a cohesive universe, rather then a series of murder hallways for Badass McAwesome to run through like they're Doom Guy x The Duke v23946
Pair this with amazing level design, some revolutionary mechanics decisions for the time, playing GTA on your enemy's in multiplayer was rad, especially jacking people who try and mow you down in a Banshee, or using a launch pad, you already talked about the compression of 'nades and Melee from weapons on a clunky weapon cycler, to buttons, and other little things

Also, I know its likely months and months away, but I'm eager to see how you guys feel about 3:ODST when it comes time, personally I find it an interesting and not altogether successful experiment, but a decently fun game overall
Also the only source of Firefight gameplay in Halo 3 style.... and a free copy of all the DLC Maps and Multiplayer, which was nice

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Cloudmonkey98 wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 1:41 pm
Also, I know its likely months and months away, but I'm eager to see how you guys feel about 3:ODST when it comes time, personally I find it an interesting and not altogether successful experiment, but a decently fun game overall
Also the only source of Firefight gameplay in Halo 3 style.... and a free copy of all the DLC Maps and Multiplayer, which was nice
I actually did an LP of Halo: ODST literally a decade ago, but it has all the associated quality issues that go along with that timeframe. It's probably better to wait until I get to it again, but spoiler: it's probably the best game in the series.

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04 - The Silent Cartographer

We're going to need a vacation after this particular day at the beach.

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MMM, and there it is, the theme I associate with Playing Halo, those drums, those strings, that is the theme that gets my blood pumping and used to put me in the fuckin ZONE, god I love Halo

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05 - Assault on the Control Room

On our way to the Control Room, let's take a walk through a winter warzone.

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So today I'm not releasing the next level of Halo. Instead I've published a handful of videos, and I'm doing a history post to give them some context.

In 1997, after releasing the third Marathon game and the second Myth game, Bungie decided they wanted to do something different. Under Jason Jones, they started a project with the idea to merge the real-time strategy gameplay of Myth with the sci-fi shooter genre of Marathon. Essentially they were thinking Starcraft but without all the resource gathering and base building. This project went through a few different codenames: "Armor", "Monkey Nuts", and "Blam!". We've mentioned in the LP that Halo started as a Marathon game, but this a little disingenuous. Bungie has stated that they never intended this new game to be a Marathon sequel, but I don't know if I believe them exactly since they were using the Marathon logo in their UI partway through development.

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There's not a whole lot of footage available of the early work, but you can see some of it in this video that Bungie showed at their Halofest at E3 the year after Halo launched. Just note that the later parts of this video will overlap with the rest of the history post.

The Evolution of Halo

A few of the big features that Bungie was focusing on were 3D level geometry, major vehicle integration, and a physics engine so that the vehicles would interact properly with that geometry. Things were going well, but during testing they kept coming back to a little "game" where they would put some marines in the Warthog, attach a chase-cam to it, and then drive it around jumping it off hills and cliffs. They realized they needed to make the game more like that instead of the strategy and tactics game they had envisioned, and Project Blam! tranisitioned into a third-person action/adventure game instead. At this point they didn't have a whole lot of the details nailed down, but they did know there was a ringworld, aliens, space marines, and supersoldiers. They managed to get an audience with Steve Jobs and convinced him to let them present at Macworld 1999, where they showed this:

Macworld 1999 Presentation

It's very interesting how you can see so many elements of Halo in that presentation. The green-armored, gold-visored supersoldiers and their Warthog, and the Elites and their Banshees. Even the flag at the end (or similar) shows up as a multiplayer asset in the final game. The vehicle physics make a big impact, but the seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor environments was revolutionary at the time. This was around the time of Half-Life and I'm sure everyone knows how awful the loading times were in that game. Bungie was saying they were working on an entirely open-world map for the game, as well as native flora and fauna and day/night and weather cycles. Unfortunately, none of that ended up in the final game, but the impressive environments and vehicle physics remained. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere but the soldier's gestures in the presentation make me wonder if the game still had some strategy elements in it at this point; something more like the squad-based tactics of the Ghost Recon games. In any case, they continued to improve and refine the game and almost a year later they presented at E3 2000:

E3 2000 Presentation

This build looks a lot more like the Halo we ended up with, so many of the characters and assets look almost final. Despite that it's probably worth noting that they really didn't have much of an actual game at this point. The E3 presentation (and the Macworld one for that matter) weren't actually finished and ready to go until the day of the presentation, and they had to rely on some tricks and band-aids in order to get the demo working correctly. And even though they clearly had a lot of concepts and assets realized, they had no idea what story they were even going to tell. Bungie was also dealing with some money troubles. They had made an agreement with Take-Two to license their older games for console release, and even at the time of the E3 presentation where they advertised Halo for PC and Mac, they were pretty deep in negotiations to be acquired by Microsoft. Obviously the acquisition went forward and Halo was eventually turned into a first-person shooter, completed, and released as a launch title for the Xbox and the rest, as they say, is history.

I want to leave you with one last video, from when Bungie still planned on releasing a PC game. Enjoy!

Halo Surprise!

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06 - 343 Guilty Spark

We investigate a spooky swamp, the last known location of Captain Keyes.

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07 - The Library

There's a whole lot of Flood between us and the Index, the key to controlling Halo.

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08 - Two Betrayals

Things are not as they seem, and the battle for control of Halo is getting messy.

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XX - Warthog Jumping

A whole bunch of shenanigans based on a literal blast from the past.

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09 - Keyes

Once again we have to rescue Captain Keyes, but things are a little different this time.

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10 - The Maw

Time for the big finish. Let's go out with a bang!

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XX - Alternate Warthog Run

Did you know about this alternate Warthog Run in Halo?

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Nice Halo LEGO set there, and thanks for more videos!

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Cloudmonkey98 wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 4:38 pm
Nice Halo LEGO set there, and thanks for more videos!
Thanks! It's actually Mega Construx, not Lego, but I'm actually quite impressed with the Warthog. It looks really good and a lot more accurate than I was expecting.

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Alright, no actual LP content today, but I am posting some old Halo 2 promo videos to start the hype.

Halo 2 - Announce Trailer - The original announce trailer for Halo 2 from late 2002. For an unplanned sequel they were moving pretty quickly considering that's only a year after Halo 1 came out. Despite being mostly just the MC walking around with radio chatter in the background, there's a lot of implied plot points and new content in this video. Enough to keep us nerds talking for years when we should have been paying attention in computer class.

Halo 2 - Theatrical Trailer - This is the "theatrical" trailer, that was shown in movie theatres in late 2004 as part of the last big marketing push. Most of the content for this trailer actually comes from an E3 video, which I won't be posting just yet. Having it be a pre-roll trailer that you had to buy a ticket to see was a little bit of a dick move, since if you're paying attention, something weird happens to the URL at the end of the trailer....

Halo 2 - TV Commercial - And this is the regular old TV commercial also shown in late 2004. This trailer is mostly made up of actual gameplay clips and dialogue from the final game, which can give you an idea of what to expect. There is actually a minute-long version of this commercial out there, but I didn't include it because the best original resolution I could find was 180 vertical pixels (!) after removing black bars and my upscaling efforts looked awful.

Hopefully this gets you guys excited for Halo 2, but again, try not to post any "spoilers" for those who don't know what's going on. Some of what's in the trailers should be recognizable if you had read the books up until this point, and that's safe enough, but these are teasers and you're supposed to feel teased!

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00 - Sgt. Johnson and the Journey Home

Ok, let's get Halo 2 kicked off here, although there's no actual gameplay yet. This video is an explainer to fill in the gap story-wise between the end of Halo 1 and the start of Halo 2. We'll be back at it with the first actual level next week.

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01 - Cairo Station

In the aftermath of Halo, the Chief is honored at an awards ceremony, but the Covenant show up to crash the party.

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02 - Outskirts

Time to head to the surface, repel the Covenant invaders, and figure out what it is they want on Earth.

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03 - Metropolis

With the help of some heavy armor and heavy weapons, the Chief continues to push through obstacles on his way to the Prophet of Regret.

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I guess I should post that E3 Demo Video like I said I would. I still think this would have been such a cool level.

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Heck yeah, thanks again Frenzy for more fun, gun, and and trivia for one
Loving this series and loving the various trivia bits and extra videos, thanks a lot man and I hope you manage to see this all the way through, its a meaty project

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04 - The Arbiter

We get a new perspective, as the Covenant try and deal with some troublemaking heretics.
Cloudmonkey98 wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 1:45 pm
Heck yeah, thanks again Frenzy for more fun, gun, and and trivia for one
Loving this series and loving the various trivia bits and extra videos, thanks a lot man and I hope you manage to see this all the way through, its a meaty project
Thanks! I'm still feeling pretty good about the project and keeping up my productive inertia.

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The Covenant, a group that thinks their ultimate elite warrior should..... use shoddy outdated gear, and then go die as a martyr intentionally
What a fucking group eh? And we know this isn't just for Mr. Lost to Protagonist here, every Arbiter has been a martyr, and probably intentionally so, yet still achieved amazing things
In shitty centuries old armor

No wonder the Master Chief can win if their honor makes them do stupid shit like this

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You have to be impressed by the strength of the Covenant's control though. This guy gets all the blame for Halo's destruction, gets tortured publicly, and then gets sentenced to death by being useful and he goes with it.

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05 - Oracle

The situation with the heretics gets messy, and the Arbiter takes drastic steps to clean it up.

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XX - Screwing Around on Earth

We're getting into the second act of the game and that's prime time for bonus videos. For this one I'm showing off some of the cool secrets and tricks that can be done on the Earth levels of Halo 2.

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06 - Delta Halo

The Master Chief continues his hunt for the Prophet of Regret in new, but familiar, territory.

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07 - Regret

After a scenic tour, the Chief finally catches up to his target.

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XX - Humanity, the UNSC, and Spartans

Before you can know your enemy, you must know yourself. Let's take a look at humanity in the Halo universe and the origins of the Master Chief.

Halo 2 is very much about expanding our understanding of the Covenant and the nature of humanity's war against them, but we haven't really been given that much information about humanity's side of things. They're humans and they wear green, so they're the good guys, but surely there must be more to it than that...

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