Halo 3: ODST

This Week: Halo 3: ODST

Trying to convince unsuspecting buyers that he is Master Chief.

So I never played this game when it first came out. I bought it, but to this day it remains sealed in its original shrink wrapped packaging. And for that we mostly blame Halo Wars, but we’ll talk about that next week.

I knew a little about Halo 3: ODST. It was meant to run alongside Halo 3 and play as a character who wasn’t Master Chief. As a result you didn’t have the same armor and unstoppable power as a Spartan, so you had to be more cautious. So right off the bat, I’m thinking, “So you want me to die?” Going in like I’m a walking tank and beating people to death with my health bar is my go to move.

This guy gets it.

I generally go in hoping that I manage to kill everything else before my hit points run out. Not the best strategy for a first person shooter. . . or you know, anything, but

Blocking is for woosies!

So Halo 3:ODST just sat on my shelf not getting played. It was always on my to do list, but Halo Wars had to come first.

There were so many options, but this was the best.

So when Covid-19 attacked, and I finished Halo 3, I of course had to start Halo Wars next, right? Well, check the title. I had the Master Chief Collection which came with ODST and Reach, but not Halo Wars. I found out that Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition came with Halo Wars Definitive Edition, so I ordered that and decided in the mean time to play Halo: ODST, which was free with the Master Chief collection. So to keep the momentum going, I loaded up Halo ODST.

And it immediately took me to the Xbox Live Store to buy it.

I decided to avoid all the gifs that said F***, despite feeling it strongly.

So, when I first bought the Master Chief Collection, I knew it was just Halo 1-4. But when I started hearing about the PC releases of Master Chief Collection including Reach and ODST. So when I eventually found my missing MCC disc and loaded up, I saw Reach and ODST both listed. So I assumed that they were now included in for everybody who bought the game.

Nope, ODST was gifted to players who bought the game when it first came out and was buggy as all hell. Now it is $5. $5 for a game I already bought on the 360 and was shrink wrapped on my shelf?

Oh yeah, can’t take me for a sucker!

But. . . I would have to get up, find the game, unwrap it, open the box, eject the Master Chief Collection, load in Halo 3: ODST, wait for it to load, deal with the stupid 360 Emulator, and then do it all over again for Reach. Also, it’s just $5 and I got my stimulus check.

. . . don’t judge me.

Yeah, it was just simpler. So I loaded it up and HOLY F***BERRIES! IS THAT NATHAN FILLION?!?

The only way to respond to this gif. . .
. . .is with another gif.

Yeah, I had become aware that Nathan Fillion appeared in Halo 5, but what I didn’t realize was that he was in Halo 3: ODST. I probably would have played that game a lot sooner had I known. Or at least maybe watched some cut scenes.

I had my own idea of what Halo 3: ODST was supposed to be. I imagined you were an ODST who was participating in missions that ran parallel to what Master Chief was doing. While Master Chief was fighting the big fight, you were playing the smaller missions. I imagined that you were going to see some of the events from Halo 3, but you had your own job.

And to a minor degree that is true. You have your own mission, but it doesn’t really have ANYTHING to do with Halo 3. The ODST drop at the beginning of Halo 2 and then the final scene occurs just before Halo 3.

Honestly it is kind of confusing, because as far as I know, the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 seem like they could be one really long bad day for Master Chief. However, because Halo doesn’t delve into the realism of Master Chief eating, sleeping, and using the necessary, one should assume that whenever he isn’t immediately going from one threat to another, a sleep or two has passed.

At least we know this to be true in Halo 3: ODST. We begin the game as the unnamed Rookie who is sleeping, drops down in his pod, and then falls asleep again.

I think I figured out the Rookie’s name. . .

From here, a rather interesting game format occurs. You end up wandering around the abandoned city of New Mombasa at night trying to figure out what happened to the rest of your team. Somehow by looking at an empty can of biofoam, you can figure out that your team stole a Phantom and bailed out of the city. Are we sure that the Rookie didn’t die and was brought back by a big black bird?

First Crow Reference!

Every time he finds a clue, we cut to another team member and get to play as them for a mission. It’s a neat form of storytelling and gives us a way to prevent the Rookie from having any lines because he has no one to talk to. Win win.

I really don’t know why this was called Halo 3: ODST. It has almost nothing to do with Halo 3. It would have been fine as Halo ODST. And apparently I am the only one asking this question because google is giving me no answers.

Then again, a late night search while typing the article probably doesn’t count as research. Unless you’re [insert political new source of your choice]

My only drawback is the weird love story at the end and the engineers. It was weird having this new creature that we haven’t seen for three games suddenly make an appearance. Apparently they were in the books though, so what the hell.

Anywho, Halo 3: ODST. I recommend it, nice little side story that has nothing to do with Halo 3, but has Nathan Fillion, so 10/10!

Yeah ball of flammable gas, use that lighter.

Next Week: Halo Wars, the game that put everything on the back burner.

Heroes in Helmets: Origins

Special Shoutout to @PrimoPicollo for the Banner.

As I mentioned in my Halo reviews, I am a long fan of my heroes wearing full helmets. I always loved the air of mystery that a full faced helmet provided. Again, probably the psychology of it allowing me to put myself into the role and the joy of anonymity that a helmet can provide.

However, this is not going to be a broad topic covering every hero who chooses to wear a helmet. I do have a very specific subject matter in mind for these reviews.

This is the topic that I am generally very nervous about. I generally seek a safe space before I bring it up. I will slap my comic book nerd cred around like no one’s business. But even among nerds, I keep this card a secret. As open and exposed as I am about my other nerd interests, this is the one that I step out on a limb to talk about.

So understand, dear readers, this is me showing that I trust you and opening up. If anyone actually reads this. This is my deep secret.

Growing up, there were a series of shows that came out that I instantly became a fan of.

Yeah, you knew where this was going.

In 1993, Power Rangers hit the United States like a baseball bat the knee. EVERYONE loved Power Rangers. Well, everyone who was under 12 at least. It was a huge success and it had the merch to back it up. Of course all the parents of screaming and demanding children were not huge fans.

Gotta love these well timed Tiger King memes!

I had the first set of rangers(including green and white), the power weapons, the first three megazords, the Dragonzord, the White Tiger Zord, Saba, the Power Blaster, a couple of the quick morph figures, Finster, A set of gloves that made the sound effects when you moved, and the first morpher. I never got Titanus or the Turtle zord. I never really got any of the toys and merch after the first two or three seasons.

Around that time, many other series started popping up from the popularity of Power Rangers.

A series with a very loose understanding of VR
A series that didn’t know how to spell Cyber, but knew to hire Matthew Lawrence.
The reason Toei didn’t let us touch Kamen Rider again for 12 years.
And to be honest, EXACTLY what I would wish for if I encountered a genie ghost.

Yeah, although I was all over the toys for Power Rangers, I never really got more than the happy meal toys for the other series. Which I gotta admit, were kind of cool. One of the Happy meal toys for VR Troopers was the necklace morpher, which was pretty neat. There was also the Masked Rider car that also had the Motorcycle inside, so both vehicles in one.

I actually think I had all these.
I remember the necklace and the glasses, but don’t remember the other 2.

I was really into all these shows and loved wasting all my time watching them, acting them out, and imagining myself as one of the rangers. Of course, over time, all children grow up and put away their childish things. Only I wasn’t done playing yet. Suddenly all my friends were getting into comics, transformers, and wrestling and thought Power Rangers were just for little kids. As popular as Power Rangers once was, it was now considered a mark of shame. Imagine being 11 and being mocked by other 11 year olds for still liking a show about color coded superheroes.

Kids are mean. I now had to like a show in secret. How messed up is that?!? I kept watching the show. I am actually proud to say that I kept watching the season premiere of each Power Rangers season from the original Mighty Morphing Power Rangers to Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. By that point I was able to recognize that they stole the costumes from Starship Troopers.

However, there is only so much time that can pass trying to follow a show no one else will even talk to you about without mocking you (the internet and Bronies weren’t really a thing yet). Eventually I stopped watching. I had Wrestling, Football, and comics to keep me interested.

I remember occasionally seeing a ranger show here or there. I remember seeing Dino Thunder and mockingly thinking, “didn’t we already do dinosaurs?” In the scornful way of an adult who remembers when things were GOOD.

Eventually I started seeing Power Rangers pop up on disney channel. I left it on. And I was reminded of a fundamental truth. They were super heroes. I love superheroes. I talk about them ALL the time. Why am I ashamed of liking a superhero show? Because of other people?

Yes. Because to other people, Power Rangers and anything that remotely looks like Power Rangers is STRICTLY for kids. And to a certain extent they are right. Comics and cartoons were at one time seen strictly for kids, but they slowly aged it up so that the original fans could still enjoy it. Power Rangers still kind of skews to a younger audience. Hell, times when they try to reach a more serious audience either gets laughed out of theaters (Power Rangers 2014) or buried at a 3 o clock show time because Disney wants to kill it (Power Rangers: RPM).

However, I slowly started looking into Power Rangers again. I found out there were now a dozen or so seasons. I found out a brand new season, Jungle Fury, was just starting, so I decided to give it a shot. I instantly was infatuated with it. It was all about Kung Fu, and as I was still watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, this was a huge selling point for me. As I awaited new episodes, I began watching Dino Thunder, the show I had previously scoffed. I briefly glanced at the Japanese version of the show, Gekiranger and saw this:

Thankfully not the rangers, just the mentors.

And the first 30 seconds of episode 1 involves our Red ranger wearing a loin cloth and falling out of a tree while fighting pandas.

I apologize for the spanish subtitles. It’s the first thing I found. For all my spanish readers, Hola.

Grassy Ass

So yeah, I noped out. Until a few months later when Kung Fu Panda came out and my obsession with Kung Fu became too much to . . . bear.

Yeah, I’m sorry.

So after I got past the first bit and eventually got over having Kung Fu Tarzan as the red ranger, I ended up really enjoying the series. So much so that when I returned to the Power Rangers series, I was kind of really disappointed. What I originally saw as epic Kung Fu fight scenes by comparison were just the actors throwing their hands at each other while saying “HiYa!”

Yeah, Pretty much this.

So yeah, I ended up going all in on Japanese shows. Watched Gekiranger, then I watched the current show at the time, Go-Onger. From there, one of the serious characters in Go-Onger also appeared in a show called Kamen Rider Kabuto. It looked weird, but eventually I decided to check it out.

And I finally found my true calling.

Kamen Rider was a lone hero taking on a normal sized monster. There wasn’t a regular battle that then had to be refought in a giant Megazord just to sell the toys. And although as a kid the giant robot battles seemed cool, as an adult I just can’t separate the massive amount of damage and loss of life every time a building was destroyed.

Also it was slightly more grown up than its Sentai counterpart. In Super Sentai, most of the time the villains are trying to make people sad or ruin their day, or get them to cry to capture their sadness and grief. In Kamen Rider, they are killing people. Even in Den-O, where the goal was to grant a wish to go back in time, they went into the past and began rampaging and killing people.

So I found my calling, Kamen Rider and the genre Tokusatsu in general. Tokusatsu is a word that translates out to Special Effects. It mainly refers to movies and tv shows that use a lot of special effects. Godzilla is a prime example of this. However, in modern terms, it generally refers to shows like Power Rangers, Super Sentai, Kamen Rider and one other show.

You see, back before Kamen Rider, Masked Rider, BeetleBorgs, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, VR Troopers, and even Power Rangers, there was a show that came out in 1992. A full year before Power Rangers took the US by storm. This was the origin story for my love of Tokusatsu.

ULTRAMAN!

Ultraman is likely my first foray into the Tokusatsu genre. I would say this even over Godzilla due to when I started watching Godzilla, I thought Jet Jaguar was Ultraman and I wanted to see him in more Godzilla films.

What can I say? I was stupid.

Ultraman was never really popular and never had a home media release. So if you didn’t see the original release, you likely didn’t see it. Unless you went to your local video store and rented the only Ultraman video they had which was this cartoon.

Yeah, this was also awesome.

I had a few of the toys, I had Ultraman, this weird Mantis monster, and a couple more that defy description.

I had Bogun, Majaba, and Barrangas.

This show always held a fond place of nostalgia in my heart. Just like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, there are many iterations. Over the years, I found many of the shows sitting in the DVD sections, mainly Ultraman Tiga and Dyna. But I never found MY original Ultraman. A few years ago, the Ultraman dvds came out. It was the original japanese series. I figured if I bided my time, they would eventually get around to re-releasing Ultraman: Towards the Future.

Sadly, they have not. However, they have started releasing more of the series on bluray. I decided to try and show my support by buying the first five series of Ultraman.

I dumped $120 on five bluray sets for a show I saw once when I was kid. I have only watched one other Ultraman show to completion.

I clearly should not be in charge of my own finances.

But damn are those cases pretty.

Fortunately, some benevolent individual has put out Ultraman Towards the Future on Youtube. So. . .

Next Week: We start with the series that started it all for me personally.

Sadly no gif.

Halo 3

This Week: Halo 3

This is Master Chief trying to figure out how to tri-wield guns.

The Ad campaign for this game was insane. They had these old soldiers talking about how Master Chief saved their lives, they had live action trailers of battles, and even a giant diorama detailing the battle.

Chilling

The ad campaign was enough to make me pre-order my copy and get my lazy butt in gear finishing Halo: CE and Halo 2.

As a result, this is one of the few games I was ready day one for. I attended a midnight release party at GameStop ready to pick up my copy of Halo 3. I went ALL out and bought the

Standard version, that came with nothing.

Yeah, by the time I was fully invested in the Halo series, it was too late to get any of the fun and fancy editions. And I was two years into college, so I was broke as all hell. I believe I was working walmart at the time.

I had either class or work in the morning, so after picking up the game, I played 1 level and then went to sleep. After completing my obligation for the day, I then burned through the game in about 2-3 sittings. I would say it is probably my favorite Halo game. It focused completely on Master Chief, the ending was satisfying, I liked the Warthog run in this one much better than in Halo:CE, and it decently wrapped up the story while also leaving the possibility for more.

I played a little multiplayer, but again, was not very good at it. Having the ability to play online allowed people from all over the world to T-bag my face. One time I started a match, everyone on my team bailed and I was fighting alone. I think I managed a kill or two. I figured since I was obviously fighting alone, the other team would be cool and let my corpse lie alone.

Nope. . .

Now, this was back on the Xbox 360. Achievements were a fresh thing with the system and I remember looking over my gamer score and found after playing all the way through Halo 3, I had only one achievement. Fear the Pink Mist. For killing 5 enemies with a Needler.

Yeah, you got NO achievements for beating the game on Easy. Halo 3 did not spare your feelings. You want to just play the story and call it a day, then do so with no gamerscore like the b**** you are!

One of the things that was introduced in this game that I got very little use out of was all the extra gear beyond grenades and guns. I almost never used the bubble shield, the flare, the EMP, none of it. Playing on Easy, I was never in enough danger to actually need it and in multiplayer, I was so bad that I couldn’t effectively use them in a tactical way.

It’s like that one time I was playing some fighting game and after getting my but handed to me for the 15th match in a row, I paused the game and asked, “How do I block?”

Is it this one? No. This one? No. Maybe. .

After playing Halo 3 and getting my butt kicked in multiplayer for a week or so, I put the game away to finally rest and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe.

Maybe I should take up farming. Is lead farming an actual thing or was that just a joke?

After Halo 3 we had Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST. I bought both and because Halo Wars came out first, I had to play that before I could play ODST. Well, I got 2 levels in, lost a level, and then never picked it up again.

So resulted in me missing out on Reach, despite buying it, Halo 4(didn’t buy that one, I don’t think), and Halo 5. I kept wanting to catch up, but in my own. . . my own. . .

So when I got the Master Chief Collection, I figured my comeback was in place. I would play from first to last. And this time I would balls to wall it on LEGENDARY.

And after getting my ass kicked in Halo CE on level 2 and giving up for 5 years, I finally dropped it back down to easy and did the replay.

Now after playing with the God-like graphics of Halo 2, Halo 3 came as a shocking downgrade. Getting a near photo realistic Master Chief and then taking several steps back was disheartening. I heard from a coworker that supposedly the graphics were good enough on Halo 3 that it would be too much to upgrade the graphics for only a minor improvement.

Halo 3 Anniversary please!

Once I got past all my characters not looking as good as they used to one game ago, I really enjoyed playing Halo 3 again.

Also, this time around, I got a bunch of Achievements for beating it on Easy, so suck it 360 version that simply wanted me to do better.

I earned this!

This time around, I finished Halo 3 and kept my momentum up by going right into Halo ODST.

I’m not dead. . . I’m feeling fine

Next Week: Halo can still be fun without Spartans or Halos, right?

Halo 2

This Week: Halo 2

It’s 2 because now he can shoot 2 guns.

So, my memory is really kind of fuzzy on this one. I’m pretty sure I didn’t play this one until Halo 3 started getting advertised. But considering they were two different console generations, it just seems weird to me. But that is the narrative that I remember best, so that is what we’re going to go with.

I remember 2 came out and I just passed it by considering I hadn’t even finished CE yet. Then the map packs and stuff came out and I was kind of relieved I didn’t get tied up in that. I just remember a bunch of gamestops had that Halo 2 statue of Master Chief. It was cool, but I would have rather had the Tobey McGuire Spider-man.

Sorry Chief, of the two statues I couldn’t afford, I chose not to buy Spider-man over not buying you.

One of the things I do remember was seeing the “What if you miss?” Trailer. At the time, I wasn’t too invested in reading the text that was popping up too quick to read and just enjoyed the trailer where he jumps out of ship.

And the only reason this stuck with me is when this same scene happens, it is accompanied by, “I’m going to give the Covenant back their Bomb.” Which was just awesome. Watching the trailer now, having played most of the games, the opening text means more. At the time I originally saw it, I hadn’t even finished the first game. So it was cool seeing a trailer for a sequel game to the one I hadn’t finished. It is always nice knowing you are falling further and further behind.

Assassins Creed also taunts me, at least that has a new hero each time and is quite good at hiding what happened the previous game. Halo 2’s trailer spoils the hell out of Halo: CE.

But like I said, 3 paragraphs ago, I didn’t bother reading, so yeah, jokes on you.

Also not knowing what they spoiled helped.

I did play Halo 2 once around the time it came out. I was at my local gaming store and they had Halo 2 in the back room. I hopped on one of the Co-op controllers and played about five minutes. Probably until I died. Like usual.

When I heard Halo 3 was on the horizon, I decided to play catch up. So getting a very satisfying wrap up in Halo: CE with everyone dead except Chief and Cortana, I loaded up Halo 2.

One thing I do remember people telling me was that the ending sucked in Halo 2. But I ignored that, because obviously they aren’t me. I have previously held that I enjoy things that other people don’t. (See previous entry mentioning Shadow The Hedgehog) I’m happy that I just finished a game while other people want a deep meaningful ending. Again, this was also back when I didn’t have the same critical mindset that I do now.

Well, after playing it, I get it. Story wise it’s fine, and it is definitely neat to see more of the story from the point of view of The Arbiter.

No, not that one.

It’s a fun campaign, but my biggest problem is the ending. I’ve always held it as one of the weaker entries for me because the ending left a poor taste in my mouth.

There are essentially two final levels in Halo 2. One as Master Chief and the other as The Arbiter. In Master Chief’s final level you finish off a prophet and then hitch a ride on a ship headed for Earth. Then you switch to The Arbiter and finish off Tartarus. After doing that, we cut back to Master Chief coming back to Earth to Finish the Fight! And it is over.

It wasn’t as bad for me as others. I finished Halo 2 a few months before Halo 3 came out. I already had a release date and pre-order set up and everything. But there were 3 years and console generation between Halo 2 and Halo 3. Also, in what universe do we want to end on The Arbiter?!? Me and my house, we serve The Master Chief!

Your Assault Rifle and RPG Launcher, they comfort me.

Yeah, if they gave us one more level, or at least finished on a Master Chief level, I think it might have been better. There was just a strong, “What? That’s it?” feeling to that ending. So for me, Halo 2 was always the forgotten middle child of the original trilogy. Not even a warthog run to finish it off.

So just like with Halo:CE, I picked it up again for the quarantine with the Master Chief Collection.

In anticipation of Halo 5, they completely redid the graphics and cut scenes of Halo 2. And oh GOD IS IT PRETTY!

SO
DAMN
PRETTY
Well. . . most of it, anyway.

Yeah, I forgot how fantastic certain scenes in this game were. Every cut scene was amazing and I spent a lot of the replay wondering, “Did we do this in the original?” I honestly don’t recall the fight with the heretic in the first Arbiter mission. But then again, it has been over a decade since the last time I played Halo 2.

However, when I got to the end of Halo 2, I still had the same reminder of, “oh yeah, this is why I didn’t like it.” It just wasn’t a satisfying ending.

I think a lot of people really loved Halo 2 because the multiplayer opened up so many more options with the pick ups and the ability to duel wield weapons, but considering I never really played much multiplayer, it didn’t do a lot for me.

I still love the story and the campaign, but it feels incomplete. Like a teaser for a bigger story. At the end of Halo: CE, you destroyed a ring and closed the chapter. In Halo 2, it feels like you stopped short of the final mission. It’s not like Empire Strikes Back or Endgame where you end in failure and have to find a way back in the next movie. It would be like in Star Wars: A New Hope, cutting off as everyone is approaching Yavin 4.

And ROLL CREDITS!

Yeah, Halo 2 was my first game of major story disappointment. I wanted to enjoy it despite the naysayers, but it just left me wanting.

Fortunately, my wait wasn’t long.

Couldn’t find an Anniversary version.

Next Week: We finish the Fight with Halo 3!

Halo: Combat Evolved

This Week: Halo: Combat Evolved

Yeah, I played the original, so I can use the original box art. As long as Bungie doesn’t sue.

So, am I video game blog now?

No, I am not so broadly well versed in video game lore and history that I think I could do an effective gaming site. I leave that to the pandas.

However, I did want to discuss my history with a few franchises of my past and how I am revisiting them now. Let’s begin with the one that will leave me in financial ruin every time they decide to launch a new console based around him.

So, since the dawn of time, I have loved helmets. Power Rangers, Knights, the Guards in Judge Dredd, Motorcycle helmets, Iron Man, the whole shebang. I particularly preferred ones that covered the whole face. Sorry RoboCop and Dredd.

There is probably some psychological thing in there about me preferring the hero to be an every man so I can self insert myself into that role, but nah, I just think helmets are cool.

So when I got the Xbox, I’m not one hundred percent sure how quickly I got Halo. It might have been bundled in with it, or my parents might have bought it later, but I’m pretty sure I got it fairly quickly.

Oh and I can tell you right now, when I started playing that bad boy I didn’t stop until I got to the second level and put the controller down for like several years.

I kid you not, Halo 2 had already been out for a while before I ended up finishing Halo: CE.

For one, I never was a big fan of First Person Shooters (FPSs). I played Goldeneye on the N64 and got pretty good at setting traps for my friends with a room FILLED with proximity mines, and I finished the game a couple times, but games like Doom, Hexen, Turok, and Duke Nukem all got played for a little bit, but eventually I got killed and gave up.

Finishing games wasn’t a conditioned past time. I died way too often to think games could be finished or had a story. Sonic, Mario, and Tetris all taught me to play the beginning, die, then play the beginning again. The N64 tried to fix me of this with finishing Super Mario 64, Goldeneye, and StarFox, but these were outliers, right?

Also, I was never a multiplayer guy. I didn’t bring my Xbox over to other people’s houses and link up to do a LAN party. That requires, like, friends. Which in the early 2000’s I did not have.

(Oh so you had friends in the late 2000’s?) Shut up.

So I played alone. I played Halo for the story instead of getting my butt kicked in Multiplayer ALL the time.

I actually think I might have had the 360 and been awaiting the release of Halo 3 when I finally dusted off Halo: Combat Evolved. I think I had to relearn how to hold the massive controller after getting used to holding the 360 controller.

Not to brag, but I beat the whole game on Easy.

That’s a lie, I stopped counting after 87.

I never cared much for the multiplayer. I’ve always understood and accepted that I am a low quality wretch of a gamer. Everyone else out there is much more dedicated and have finely honed their skills to become masters of death. I’ve at best developed the habit of shooting until I run out of ammo and then throw a hand grenade to buy time to reload.

I can snipe the hell out of you if you have put down your controller to go make a hotpocket.

So in 2015 when I moved back into my parents house for 2 weeks 4 months while trying to buy a house, I got the Master Chief Collection and decided to try my hand at Legendary.

Interestingly enough, I made it to roughly the same spot I died at the first time I played Halo on easy. I beat the first level, then I made it to the base first base on Halo and kept dying horribly. All the marines I was trying to save were long dead. I eventually was just not having fun and decided to try and decrease the difficulty. I found out I would have to restart the level/game and just went back to Dark Souls.

Because I wasn’t having fun dying, if you recall.

After I moved again, I couldn’t find my Master Chief Collection at all. I kept looking at prices for a new disc, but they weren’t low enough for me to justify buying it again. So for several years I just carried around my empty case and watched as more news about Halo games came out and I still wasn’t ready to pick it back up again.

Then everything changed when the Covid-19 attacked.

I decided I wanted to finally push through my block of playing Halo. I decided to ask my dad if he found the disc and even prepared to buy the Master Chief Collection did not resurface.

Then I opened my old Dark Souls case and guess what was inside?

As you should expect from opening Dark Souls, but no.

There it was, my Master Chief Collection. So I called off the search that I initiated twenty minutes earlier and loaded up Halo:CE.

I switched back to my comfortable mode that makes me feel like a god and only died maybe a dozen times the entire playthrough. Most of them coming from that damn Warthog run at the end of the game.

It was really neat to see the graphics upgrade between the original Halo:CE and the Anniversary edition.

I never really took to the Covenant Weapons. Except for the Ghost. I like just driving around and shooting everything to death. The Scorpion tank is fine for just blowing everything up, don’t care for the warthog because you either drive or shoot, not both. Except when you stop, get out, shoot everything for 10 minutes, then move on.

Banshees I have yet to fly effectively across any of the games. Just like the Warthog I have to choose between flying effectively or shooting things to death.

Favorite weapon would probably be the Sniper Rifle when I am in a situation where I can snipe everybody and then move on. However when I am running and gunning, I like the Shotgun and Assault Rifle combo. Only downside is how few shots the Shotgun carries and how long it takes to fully reload.

Now, it is really difficult for me to judge video game stories. Hell, most movies I judged as “good” as long as I finished them. It wasn’t until I started watching online reviews that I actually decided North maybe wasn’t the masterpiece I thought it was simply because I saw the credits.

However, games are a bit different. If you go through the effort of finishing the game, it means you probably enjoyed it enough not to give up. Doesn’t necessarily mean the story is good, but at least the gameplay is enough to keep you interested enough to finish. Am I a good judge of whether a video game story is good?

Well, I enjoyed Shadow the Hedgehog’s story. All 50 of them. So if you want to use that as your-

NO! WAIT! SORRY! I CAN CHANGE!

Nah, there were some things I found weird about Shadow, but I did enjoy the game. But that is for another review. I enjoyed the characters and the overall mythos of the Halo universe enough to keep playing it across 9 soon to be 10 games, 2 movies, 2 mini-series, and 3 books. Is it a good story? I’ll let the more snobbish critics decide, but I enjoy it.

Halo: Combat Evolved is the starting point of a great series. Although I was mainly in for the story rather than the multiplayer madness that everyone else was in for, it was a fun ride.

Yeah, I wasn’t legendary, so no alien groping for me.

Next Week: Halo 2. We get to use 2 GUNS AT ONCE!

“My Console History” or “I Survived Captain Trips and All I got was this Lousy T-Shirt”

When I was a young Warthog, I had the original Nintendo.

I had a handful of games that I don’t remember. I think at one point I had a Jaws game that we rented.
Then we got the Sega Genesis. I played Sonic 1,2, and 3. Sonic Pinball, Mortal Kombat, and whatever I rented from our local video store, Video City was one, maybe Video Zone the other? Then the Blockbuster attacked. We still went to the other stores more often, because Blockbuster was expensive, but eventually we converted.

Anywho, because we had the Sega Genesis, we skipped the Super Nintendo. For the time at least. We even upgraded the Sega Genesis by adding the Sega CD attachment. We didn’t play a lot of games on it, my favorite was this space shooter game where your ship would transform into a gundam like robot.

We got the N64 for Christmas one year and it was my favorite console.

Actually, due to the ad campaigns, I thought the old Super Nintendos were just going to autoupgrade to N64s, because I was stupid. My sister’s friend had a Super Nintendo and I was convinced that when the N64 released, that her system turned into it. I wasn’t convinced this wasn’t the case until I eventually saw it was still the same system.

Anywho, we got the N64 and I immediately delved into Mario 64, Goldeneye, Shadows of the Empire, StarFox 64, and the Mortal Kombat Trilogy. I was kinda miffed that I kept seeing characters in the Mortal Kombat Player’s guide that was Playstation only.

Because I wanted to play some Super Nintendo games I never got to play because we chose the Sega Genesis side, my parents got me a Super Nintendo years after the N64 had come out. I played a few games on it, like Earthbound, but other than that, I don’t remember much.

As I entered middle school, Xbox and Playstation 2 were coming out. I asked for one of them for Christmas. What I also wanted was a DVD player so I could watch DVDs in my room, but I didn’t want to straight up ask for that. So looking at the two options, I figured I would go with the PS2, because that included a DVD player built in without having to buy anything special to make the dvd player work. The Xbox required you to buy an extra remote.

I don’t know why it would have been beyond the pale or suspicious that I wanted a DVD player in my room, but that’s where my head was for some reason.

Well, Christmas came and I had no idea what my dad had chosen. I was hoping for a PS2 and opened the wrapping paper to find an Xbox. But low and behold, it was also bundled with the DVD remote, so VICTORY ACHIEVED!

As a result, my Dad set me down the path of the Xbox. I played Halo, Simpsons Hit and Run, Altered Echo, Justice League Heroes, and a whole slew of other original games I’ve forgotten about. Everyone complained about the size of the controllers, but because I already had fairly large hands, it was no problem for me. Everyone else immediately switched over to the smaller controllers when they came out, but I remained faithful to the old school controllers until The 360 came out.

My dad ended up getting a used Playstation and Playstation 2 a year or so before the PS3 came out. I only remember playing Megaman Adventures 2 on the original Playstation. I played exactly 5 minute of Final Fantasy 7 before I realized it was a turn based RPG and I noped the hell out.

The only game I remember playing on my Dad’s PS2 before I moved out was a Yu-Gi-Oh game where it was reenacting the War of Roses.

Then I went to college and ended up buying an Xbox 360. I actually bought a 360 game long before I ever had the system. I bought Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Actually the game I was most excited to play on the 360 was Dead Rising. It was what convinced me to get a 360. And I played it once. Died super quickly, and never played it again.

When the PS3 came out, I wait in line for 3 days to buy it. I actually was working at the store I was buying it from. I managed to get my friends and family to help sit in line for me while I was working. I saw people starting to sit in line and then I parked a chair and waited with everyone else. So I bought the top of the line PS3 and IMMEDIATELY sold it on Ebay.

Someone offered me $1200 cash on the spot for it, but I wanted to sell it for more. I actually had it bidding with a Buy It Now option for $10000. One person actually clicked buy it now, but backed out of the sale. I only sold it for about 1,000.

I used that money to buy a big screen for my 360. I also ended up buying a PS2 in order to play one thing and one thing only. The Devil May Cry series. I borrowed my dad’s PS2, but I couldn’t get it to work, so I bought the PS2 Slim.

I also ended up buying a later version of the PS3, but I never really played any games on it. I played God of War a little on it as well as Demon Souls, but it just sat there.

I had a gamecube I never played, a Wii I barely played, a Wii U I played even less, and now I switch I played Breath of the Wild and Pokemon Sword on, but Nintendo has been a backburner for the console wars for me.

Then came the console war of Xbox One VS PS4.

I decided early on that my loyalty was with the Xbox line. I won a $1000 visa gift card through Spectrum and decided to buy an Xbox One. I was excited for a game called Scalebound that looked fantastic. Yes, the PS4 had several games that I wanted to play, but I was sold on this one.

Scalebound went through delay after delay and eventually canceled. I regretted buying my Xbox One. Bloodborne was about to come out and I still had no PS4 to play it on and there were almost no other games I was interested in playing on the Xbox One that were exclusive. I felt like I backed the wrong horse.

So I bought my copy of Bloodborne and had no PS4 on which to play. I decided I would pre-order a PS4 that was coming out. I decided to get the Arkham Knight PS4. It was silver and had the bat symbol on it. It also allowed me to pay in installments rather than all at once.

Then I got a girlfriend right about the same time as the console comes out. And I never play it. I mean seriously, I have had this console for 5 years and I think I played about half an hour on it total. And that half hour was on Elder Scrolls online. What a freaking WASTE!

So now the PS5 and Xbox Series X have both been announced.

I have seen trailer after trailer for PS5 exclusives. Godfall, Demon Souls Remastered, and Spider-man: Miles Morales! These all look great!

Once again I’m looking at the Xbox lineup and see almost nothing.

Almost. . .

I can almost hear the music from this gif.

I keep thinking this will be a tough decision, considering how I felt buyers remorse before, but having an at launch Halo title makes this a no brainer.

Make mine Marv- I mean Xbox!

And honestly, I have bought 3 generations of Playstation and the most playtime I spent on ANY of them was the damn PS2 with Devil May Cry, which I have on Xbox now. I gotta learn the lesson that I just don’t play Playstation at SOME point!

And it will probably be the PS6, because I will definitely pick up the PS5 sooner or later. Demon Souls is calling my damn name!

So first post of the new year, just 6 months late. Isn’t even about movies, just my history of consoles. I’ll try to get back to movie reviews here soon. Still got Stephen King and Christmas to finish.

My bad.

Favorite Holiday Movies HD-Remastered!: The Polar Express

TEMPLARKNIGHT’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES

7. The Polar Express

When this movie came out, I originally didn’t want anything to do with it. The animation looked bad, and I was much more into The Incredibles(which I saw 3-4 times in theaters). I went years without seeing it until 2012 when I was strongly gripped in the Christmas spirit and more willing to enjoy bad movies for the sake of trashing them.

It actually is fairly heartwarming and can hit the spot if you are in the mood for Christmas joy. And the animation is pretty good, as long as you only pay attention to the main characters. If you look at say, the waiters on the train serving Hot Chocolate, you see the deadfaced soulless faces of the damned, forced to live on the train for all eternity for sins of a most egregious nature.

The story follows a young boy known only as boy. Played by Tom Hanks. Yeah, I kid you not, they have his voice altered to sound like a young boy. Why can’t we have voice actors do that ALL the time instead of having women voice them all the time? Oh right. Money.

Yeah, Tom Hanks gets around in this movie. Most of them are obvious, but it wasn’t until I was watching Tom Hanks do the motion capture that I realized he was also playing the boy.

Well, Boy is having doubts about there even being a Santa Claus. He doesn’t send a letter to Santa and his parents are worried about him.

The kid from The Santa Clause and this kid need to swap families. It would divert the entire plot of both movies.

As Boy is about to slip off to dreamland, a Train pulls up outside and he goes out to investigate. Tom Hanks the Conductor greets Tom Hanks the Boy and invites him onto the Polar Express.

The Boy continues to be dubious, but decides to get on. They make another stop to pick up the only kid with a name in this movie, Billy.

Billy annoys me. Apparently, Christmas just “never works out for him.” Which I understand. However, he continuously excludes himself from everything. He almost decides to not get on the Polar Express except at the LAST minute, causing the whole train to come to a screeching halt. Then he decides to sit in the back of the train away from everybody.

Being antisocial myself, I get that one wholeheartedly.

Later he decides he won’t even get off the train to see Santa Claus. Until Boy and Girl convince him to go(before going into an entirely different adventure). He finally sees that he WILL be getting a present, but he refuses to let the present go, causing further mayhem and padding the movie out further.

I just find him annoying in his pessimism.

So going back to after they pick Billy up, the train conductor has the waitstaff of the damned serve hot chocolate to the children onboard. It is a fun little song and dance, but the song gets kind of annoying without the visuals.

As disturbing as those visuals can be. . .

The Girl notices that Billy didn’t get any Hot Chocolate, so her and the Boy take him back some. This is where we get the best song of the movie, “When Christmas Comes to Town.” It’s a nice duet between The Girl and Billy where The Girl talks about all the magical moments she experiences during Christmas and Billy lamenting all the things he has missed out on Christmas.

Through a weird series of events, the Boy somehow loses the Girl’s ticket and The Conductor seems like he is going to throw her from the train. The ticket goes on its own adventure before returning to the Boy. He decides to climb on top of the train to fight terrorists to return the ticket.

While climbing on the train, the Boy meets Hobo Tom Hanks. Hobo Tom Hanks is the voice of doubt in the Boy. But he also helps the Boy get to the front of the train. Just in time, because Thanos just snapped his fingers and Hobo Tom Hanks isn’t feeling very well.

The train nearly runs into a pack of caribou, then has to go ice skating to get back on course. They finally make it to the North Pole. Once there, Boy, Girl, and Billy all end up taking an unsupervised back lot tour of the toy factory and due to Billy’s clinginess, get caught up in Santa’s sack.

The elves who are loading the sack onto the sleigh manage to get them out and the children join the others waiting for Santa.

This last 15 minutes is honestly the heart of the movie. And honestly that is how most good holiday movies are made. The first 80% of the movie can honestly be absolutely bonkers insanity, but it is usually in that last 20% that the feeling of the season takes over and usually where the good movies separate from the bad.

The Boy sees the bells of Santa’s Sleigh being brought out and everyone can hear them except for him. Everyone is saying they are the greatest sound they ever heard, but he hears nothing. Then Santa steps out, but the Boy can’t get a good look at him due to the crowd. A bell falls off the sleigh and rolls to the Boy. He shakes it and hears. . . nothing.

Finally, the Boy chooses to believe and when he shakes the bell again, a ringing sound comes out. And Santa is right behind him.

Santa chooses the Boy as the one to receive the first present and the Boy asks for the bell. After Santa flies away, the children return to the Polar Express. Once back on the Train, the Boy realizes the bell fell out of the hole in his pocket. All the children are returned home.

The next morning, the Boy finds a present under the tree from Santa containing the missing bell. The parents can’t hear it, but the Boy and his sister can. The narrator tells how the bell fell silent for everyone, even his sister, except for him.

I honestly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it. If you get the chance to see it in theaters in 3-D, even better. Like I said, The visuals are amazing as long as you stick to the main characters and not the background stuff.

Next Time: An animated Movie where you should look at EVERYTHING. . . though technically an easter movie.

Favorite Holiday Movies HD-Remastered!: Mrs. Santa Claus

TEMPLARKNIGHT’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES

OH DEAR GOD NOT THAT ONE!

THIS one!

8. Mrs. Santa Claus

I’m not sure how many people are aware this movie even exists. For me the most memorable song was where the evil toy factory owner was singing about how the toys only needed to last until Christmas.

Obviously back before return policies.

Angela Lansbury plays Mrs. Santa Claus. And of course she is the epitome of grandmotherly grace. She is so heartwarming I would let her bake me into a pie and feel good about it.

We seriously need to have Angela Lansbury and Betty White do a buddy cop film before one of them dies.

Mrs. Clause(DAMNIT)-Claus appears to be the soul behind the toyshop in the North Pole. She is the one the elves credit with keeping everything perfect. However, she feels neglected and that she could be doing more. Santa is busy reading all the letters because they are addressed to him and he doesn’t want to shortchange the writer by delegating it to someone else.

Mrs. Claus suggests that he take a different route this Christmas in order to save time. Santa ignores her because he’s busy. So Mrs. Claus steals the reindeer and sleigh and decides to test run her route.

She ends up crash landing in Florida and getting help from the Ice Cream Bunny New York in year 1910. One of the reindeer sprains its leg and she has to stay in New York for one week while it heals. Oh and this is a week before Christmas.

So Mrs. Clause(F***!)-Claus decides to go under the Pseudonym Mrs. North which will thankfully be easier to not misspell in this review.

She ends up working in a Toy Shop called Tavish Toys run by a man who looks a LOT like Hugh Laurie, but in fact played Bob in the Dresden Files TV series. He sings a song mirroring the opening Mrs. Santa Claus song where instead of the elves singing her praises, he sings about the toys will break immediately.

Mrs. North is staying with Tzeitel from Fiddler on a Roof and her Suffragette daughter, Sadie. Mrs. North assists Sadie with her cause, and Sadie in turn gives advice on how to deal with Tavish.

Throughout the movie, they break into several musical numbers. No other real commentary.

Back in the North Pole, Santa has noticed that the Hot Cocoa tastes bad. This results in him finally noticing that Mrs. Claus has been gone for two days. This results in him getting depressed. The elves try and break him out of it with a surprise dance number, but it just results in a lot of awkward stares.

Returning to New York, Mrs. North decides to enact a slow down at Tavish toys. They manage to stick together and route Tavish’s threats. For about 30 seconds. Then forces them to work Christmas day. Then they sell out Mrs. North immediately. She gets fired.

Mrs. North then decides to not only steal the plot from Mary Poppins but Newsies as well. She inspires all the children in New York to Strike! Sadly no awesome strike song, but I can imagine it being cut in later. Tavish is seen fuming.

Mrs. North goes to the Policeman’s ball where she is dubbed “The Mrs. Santa Claus of Avenue A.” Throughout the movie she nudged a few couples together, but now she is finally missing her Mr. Santa Claus. So she decides it is time to go home, now that the reindeer is all better.

But the Reindeer ARE GONE! Mr. Tavish has stolen them, after detailing out how he figured out Mrs. North’s TRUE IDENTITY! Dastardly clever of him, even to admit Santa is real. Apparently his brother stole his teddy bear as a child and thus he hated the Holiday ever since.

Mrs. North convinces him to give up evil and he agrees. CHRISTMAS IS SAVED! Mrs. Claus makes it back to North Pole. Santa decides to let Mrs. Claus join in on the sleigh ride this year.

Honestly, it is a nice little movie that I recommend most people check out.

Next Time: Animated Musical next. . .

Favorite Holiday Movies HD-Remastered!: The Muppet Christmas Carol

TEMPLARKNIGHT’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol

There are dozens of Christmas Carol adaptations, and this one is my favorite. It has songs, it has double the Marley’s, Michael Caine as Scrooge, and of course MUPPETS!

I do enjoy the fact they make new muppets for the spirits instead of converting existing characters into the spirits(such as the Micky Mouse version).

Honestly, the thing that clinches this for me is the songs. My favorite being “Marley and Marley.”

Of course, Michael Caine doesn’t do the best job singing, but what Caine ya do?

Sorry, I had to.

So my runners up for A Christmas Carol are the George C Scott version and the Jim Carrey animated version.

The George C Scott version is just an absolute CLASSIC. When I think of A Christmas Carol, this is honestly the one I think of. It has some very neat effects and portrays all the characters perfectly.

The Jim Carrey version on the other hand is honestly very creepy and frightening at times. It gets balanced out with humor and is just amazing in its animation quality at times. However, it loses some points because some aspects are CLEARLY just to show off its 3-D effects.

However, the most disappointing Christmas Carol for me was the one with Patrick Stewart.

I honestly wanted to like it so much because I love Patrick Stewart, but I was just disappointed. It has been so many years, I can’t even tell you why, but I just remember it not being up to my Christmas Carol snuff.

Next Time: While on the subject of Christmas musicals. . .

Favorite Holiday Movies HD-Remastered!: Scrooged

TEMPLARKNIGHT’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES

10. Scrooged

Like everybody else, I love A Christmas Carol, particularly representations of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Whenever a new version comes out, I just eat it up. Due to there being SO MANY versions of it, I decided to stick to only 1 version of A Christmas Carol on my list, to avoid just having a dozen different versions and clogging the list.

This is NOT that version. This is a modern retelling of the story without a Scrooge, Crachets, or even properly named spirits. So loophole bitches!

Honestly, despite this largely being a comedy, at the end when Bill Murray is filled with Christmas spirit, it actually is fairly joyous and heartfelt. Heartfelt at gunpoint, but hey, it worked in Christmas Vacation.

Yeah, not a lot to change here, take your gifs and get out of my face.

Next Time: And my Favorite Version of the A Christmas Carol is. . .