Halo is a multi-billion dollar fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as theCovenant. The Covenant are led by their leaders, The Prophets, and worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished in combat with the parasitic Flood. Many of the games center on the experiences of Master Chief John-117, a cybernetically-enhanced human super-soldier, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana. The term "Halo" refers to Halo megastructures: large, habitable ringed structures, similar to the Orbitals in Iain M Banks' Culture novels, or author Larry Niven's Ringworld.
The series has been praised as being among the best first-person shooters on a video game console, and is considered the Microsoft Xbox's "killer app". This has led to the term "Halo killer" being used to describe console games that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and immense marketing campaigns from publisher Microsoft, its sequels went on to break various sales records. Halo 3 sold more than US$170 million worth of copies in the first twenty-four hours of release, breaking the record set by Halo 2 three years prior. Halo: Reach, in turn, broke the record set by Halo 3, selling $200 million USD worth of copies on its first day of release. The games have sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and all Halomerchandise has grossed almost $3 billion.
Strong sales of the games led to the franchise's expansion to other mediums; there are multiple bestselling novels, graphic novels, and other licensed products. Beyond the original trilogy, other "Halo" games have branched off into other video game genres, including Halo Wars, a real-time strategy game produced as developer Ensemble Studios' last project. Bungie also contributed the expansion Halo 3: ODST and a prequel Halo: Reach, their last project for the franchise. A high-definition remake of the first game entitled Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was released in November 2011. A new installment in a second trilogy of games, Halo 4, is currently in development.
In the distant past, an intelligent race called the Forerunners fought an alien parasite known as the Flood. The Flood, which spread through infestation of sentient life, overran much of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Forerunners conceived a weapon of last resort to combat the Flood. Using an installation known as the Ark, they built seven large ring-shaped megastructures known as Halos. The Halo Array, when activated, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy—depriving the Flood of their food. Delaying as long as they could, the Forerunners activated the rings and disappeared.
Tens of thousands of years later in the 26th century, humanity—under the auspices of the United Nations Space Command or UNSC—colonize many worlds thanks to the development of faster-than-light "slipstream" travel. Tensions escalate between the older and more stable "Inner Colonies" and the remote "Outer Colonies", leading to civil war. The UNSC creates an elite group of enhanced supersoldiers, known asSpartans, to suppress the rebellion covertly. In the year 2525 the human colony of Harvest falls under attack by a theocratic alliance of alien races known as the Covenant. The Covenant leadership declares humanity heretics and an affront to their gods—the Forerunners—and begins a holy war of genocide. The Covenant's superior technology and numbers prove decisive advantages; though effective, the Spartans are too few in number to turn the tide of battle in humanity's favor.
In 2552, the Covenant arrive at Reach, the UNSC's last major stronghold, and launch an invasion of the planet. The last Spartans and UNSC military are unable to stop the Covenant from bombarding the surface with plasma. Following directives to avoid leading the Covenant to Earth, the artificial intelligence (AI) Cortana aboard the fleeing UNSC ship Pillar of Autumn selects random coordinates that lead the ship to a Halo installation. The Covenant follow, damaging the Autumn and leading its crew to take the fight to the ring's surface. The Covenant accidentally release Flood imprisoned on the ring; in order to nullify the threat, the ring's AI caretaker, 343 Guilty Spark, enlists the help of the Spartan, John-117. Before the pair can activate Halo's defenses, however, Cortana reveals that Halo's activation would mean their own destruction. Master Chief and Cortana instead detonate the Autumn's engines, destroying Halo and preventing the escape of the Flood. They and a few other human survivors return to Earth, warning of an impending Covenant attack.
Soon after, a Covenant fleet arrives at Earth. Most of the fleet is destroyed, but a single ship under the command of one of the Covenant's Hierarchs, the Prophet of Regret, breaks through the human defenses and invades the African city of New Mombasa. Before the humans can assault Regret's carrier, he retreats through a slipspace portal, pursued by the Master Chief aboard the human ship In Amber Clad. Regret travels to another Halo installation, where the Master Chief kills Regret. Inner turmoil in the Covenant leads to civil war between the various member races. Learning that the activation of the Halo Array (a central tenet of the Covenant religion) would lead to their extinction, the Covenant warrior Arbiter and his brethren ally with humanity to stop the rings from being fired. The aborted activation of the ring puts all the Halo installations on standby: the remaining rings can be activated remotely from a location known as "The Ark".
The Covenant begin a full-scale invasion of Earth and excavate a Forerunner artifact in the African desert that creates a slipspace portal to the Ark. The Master Chief and Arbiter travel through the portal to kill the last High Prophet, Truth, and discover the installation is building a new Halo ring to replace the one destroyed previously. In order to destroy the spreading infestation led by the Flood intelligence Gravemind, the Master Chief activates the incomplete ring—as the Ark lies outside the Milky Way Galaxy, the blast destroys the Flood but spares the galaxy at large. Because the ring's construction is incomplete, the resulting pulse destroys the ring and damages the Ark. The Arbiter escapes the explosion through a slipspace portal, but only half the ship makes it through before it closes. The Master Chief and Cortana are left drifting in space, trapped in the severed rear half of their ship. The Master Chief cryonically freezes himself as he and Cortana wait for rescue while floating toward an unknown planet.
The covers of Halo: Combat Evolved, the Halo 2 Limited Edition and the Halo 3 Legendary Edition Main articles: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 3. Originally developed as a real-time strategy game for the Mac OS platform, Halo: Combat Evolvedwent through several iterations before arriving at the console first person shooter for which it is recognized. When the developers, Bungie, were bought by Microsoft in 2001, the game was rapidly finished and became an Xbox launch title and platform exclusive. Released on November 15, 2001, the Xbox version of Halo: Combat Evolved is the first Halo video game. The games of the main trilogy are first-person shooters, with the player experiencing most action from the protagonist's perspective. Combat Evolved introduced many gameplay and plot themes common to the whole trilogy. Players battle various aliens on foot and in vehicles to complete objectives, while attempting to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo. One concept introduced in Halo: Combat Evolved, is limiting the number of weapons players could carry to two, forcing them to carefully select their preferred armament. Players fight with ranged and melee attacks, as well as a limited number of grenades. Bungie refers to the "weapons-grenades-melee" format as the "Golden Triangle of Halo", which has remained fundamentally unchanged throughout the trilogy. In Halo: Combat Evolved, the player's health is measured in both hit points and a continually recharging energy shield. A Windows and Mac OS X port was later developed by Gearbox Software, and released on September 30 and November 11, 2003 respectively. A stand-alone expansion, entitled Halo: Custom Edition, was released as a Windows exclusive, and allowed players to create custom content for the game.
Its sequel, Halo 2 was released on the Xbox on November 9, 2004 and later for Windows Vista on May 17, 2007. For the first time, the game was released in two different editions: a standard edition with just the game disc and traditional Xbox packaging, and the Collector's Edition with a specially designed aluminum case, along with an additional bonus DVD, extra booklet, and slightly different user manual. Halo 2 introduced new gameplay elements, chief among them the ability to hold and fire two weapons simultaneously, known as "dual wielding". Unlike its predecessor, Halo 2 fully supported online multiplayer via Xbox Live. The game uses "matchmaking" to facilitate joining online matches by grouping players looking for certain types of games. This was a change from the more traditional "server list" approach which was used to find matches in online games at this time. Upon release, Halo 2 became the game played by the most people on the Xbox Live service that week; regaining this title every week for over two years — the longest streak any game has held the spot.
Halo 3 is the final game in the main Halo trilogy, ending the story arc begun in Halo: Combat Evolved. The game was released on the Xbox 360 on September 25, 2007. It adds to the series new vehicles, new weapons, and a class of items called equipment. The game also includes a limited map-editing tool known as the Forge, which allows players to insert game objects, such as weapons and crates, into existing multiplayer map geometry. Players can also save a recording of their gameplay sessions, and view them as video, from any angle.
At E3 2011, Microsoft announced the development of Halo 4, as the first entry in a new series of Halo games dubbed the Reclaimer Trilogy.
Main articles: Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: ReachThe success of the main Halo trilogy spurred the creation of spin-off games. Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game developed by Ensemble Studios for the Xbox 360. Set in the year 2531, the game takes place 21 years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Much effort was spent on developing a control scheme that was simple and intuitive, unlike other console strategy games. The game was announced atX06, and released in February and March 2009.
In a July 2008 interview with MTV, Microsoft’s head of Xbox business, Don Mattrick, stated that Bungie was working on a new Halo game forMicrosoft, independent of other Halo projects. An announcement of the new Halo project was expected at the 2008 E3 game exposition, which Bungie stated "has been building for several months", but was delayed by their publisher Microsoft. The Halo announcement was to be part of Microsoft's 150-minute E3 presentation, and was cut to trim the presentation down to 90 minutes; Microsoft stated it wanted to give the game its own dedicated event. After the release of an ambiguous teaser trailer on September 25, the project was revealed as Halo 3: Recon, later changed to Halo 3: ODST. Set between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3, players take control of elite human soldiers called Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST). The game was released on September 22, 2009.
Announced at E3 2009, Halo: Reach is a prequel to the main trilogy and Bungie's last Halo game. Players control Noble 6, a "Hyper Lethal Vector" who is one of the members of the Spartan squad "Noble Team" as they defend Reach against the Covenant. The ending of the game leads directly into the events of Combat Evolved. The game was released on September 14, 2010.
Alternate reality games were used to promote the release of the games in the main trilogy. The Cortana Letters, a series of cryptic email messages, were circulated by Bungie prior to Halo: Combat Evolved's release. I Love Bees was used to promote the release of Halo 2. The game revolved around a website created by 42 Entertainment, commissioned by Microsoft and endorsed by Bungie. Over the course of the game, audio clips were released that eventually formed a complete five-hour story set on Earth between Halo and Halo 2. Similarly,Iris was used as a viral marketing campaign for the release of Halo 3. It featured five web servers containing various media files related to the Halo universe.
Spin-off titles were planned for release on handheld systems, but did not progress far in development. Rumors of a handheld Halo title for theGame Boy Advance surfaced in 2004. Bungie denied the rumors and commented that such a project between Microsoft and Nintendo would be "very unlikely". At a Las Vegas consumer technology convention in January 2005, rumors spread about a version of Halo for the handheld Gizmondo system. Bungie denied the rumors stating they were not making a game for the system. A former Gizmondo employee later revealed development only extended to basic story and game structure concepts to obtain funding from investors. In 2006, a concept video for Microsoft's portable Ultra-Mobile PC featured footage of Halo and caused speculation for a handheld title. Microsoft later stated the footage was for demonstration purposes only; Halo was included because it was a Microsoft-owned property. In January 2007,IGN editor-in-chief Matt Casamassina claimed he played a version of Halo for the Nintendo DS. He later demonstrated on-camera, in-game footage of an early-development style version of Halo DS. The demonstrated work featured dual-wielding and a version of the Halo 2 map Zanzibar. On October 5, 2007, Bungie employee Brian Jarrard explained the Halo DS demo was in fact an unsolicited pitch that was never taken on.
In 2006, Microsoft announced an episodic video game to be developed by film director Peter Jackson's Wingnut Interactive. The game, dubbed Halo: Chronicles, was confirmed to be in development in 2007, and by 2008 was still hiring for positions on the development team. Jackson told game blog Joystiq in July 2009 that the project was no longer in development. Jackson's manager Ken Kamins explained that the project was cancelled as part of budget cuts tied to job layoffs in January 2009.
Before the company was shuttered after producing Halo Wars, Ensemble Studios had been working on a Halo-themed massively multiplayer online game. The project was cancelled internally in 2007, without a formal announcement from Microsoft.
Elements from the Halo universe have also appeared in other games. A Halo-based character, SPARTAN Nicole-458, appeared in Dead or Alive 4, a product of the collaboration between Tecmo's Team Ninja and Microsoft's Bungie Studios. The Halo themetune was also available DLC for Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock.
The Wikipedia Article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_(series)