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Finished the Master Chief Collection, and the one takeaway I brought from 6 full campaigns is that the Master Chief is one of the worst/dumbest protagonists in gaming history.

Finally finished the MCC last night, ending on Halo 4. For those that don't know, the MCC is all the shooter Halo games in story order, up to Halo 4, in order of Reach -> CE (Halo 1) -> Halo 2 -> Halo ODST -> Halo 3 -> Halo 4.

I'm not a new gamer, and I did play CE back in the day, so I can forgive the game for its primitive flaws. However, as the series marched onwards, certain transgressions became much less forgivable as advancements in video gaming progressed beyond what Halo began to seek out to do. Case in point: Sprinting didn't become a thing until Halo 4. Sure, you could sprint in Reach and 3, but it required you to use a special module to do so. That's… honestly pretty pathetic for FPS gaming.

I know the Halo story takes place over a very short period of time, but at a certain point, the games really start to feel the exact same. 90% of the content between games is recycled, and I mean that in the sense that you're nearly always fighting the same enemies, over and over, using nearly the same guns, over and over. Almost nothing was added to the formula once the DMR was put in in Halo 2. Additionally, it was pretty obvious, and unexciting, how they began to make all the weapons basically feel the same.

In Halo CE, the difference between the Covenant weapons and the Human weapons is immense. The Covenant weapons can't be reloaded (Needler aside) and use plasma or have some weird quirk, while the Human weapons are just shooty blasty (and unfortunately, kind of shit since you need to burn through shields, which only plasma weapons can do). However, once the series got rolling, you just had a Covenant DMR that worked EXACTLY like the Human DMR. Magazine and everything. No gimmicks. No tricks. Just a pixel-perfect rapid sniper. You even ended up with space shotguns. It was pretty clear they were trying to keep multiplayer balance simple by just making the weapons the same.

Stretched over 6 games this really starts to get goddamn old.

I also need to criticize Halo 1 and Halo 3 for being the exact same game. Even Halo 2 was somewhat guilty. All three games literally retread the same game pacing over and over. You fight each game on some kind of megastructure that they really do nothing interesting with, so it's just basically you fighting in Earth-like locales. The Flood shows up every single time so predictably you could set a clock to it. And Halo 3, its worst sin, has the exact same end-level as Halo 1: You race on a Warthog while everything explodes around you. At least Halo 4 put you in a freaking Thundersword for their vehicle 'chase'!

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All of this is small stuff though. The games, as they are, are still pretty fun. The story begins to get silly at Halo 4 where they took huge liberties with the expanded universe (which Bungie wanted nothing to do with), but overall, the whole Forerunner thing was more "unneeded", and it still made for a fun game. Also I love listening to Joshua Graham tell me the world is ending.

But we gotta talk about the Master Chief.

This dude, to me, ruins the franchise.

Every single video game has a "Mary Sue" component to the protagonist, because at the end of the day, the player pretty much has to 'win', and there's some kind of huge obstacle they have to overcome. The player (mostly) isn't going to die. They're going to win.

Master Chief, though, after 4 installments, takes Mary Sue to a level never before seen. Bungie and 343 felt a need to make every single installment of the franchise even more over-the-top and crazy than the last. On Halo 1, you defeat the Flood by blowing up the ring. That was basically the extent of your badassery. It felt very reasonable.

Halo 2 OPENS with the Chief literally throwing himself into space to football spike a Covenant nuke into a carrier a hundred kilometers away, and of course, he lands it absolutely perfectly.

And it's all leaps and bounds of absurdity from there. First of all, that move showed that Master Chief was a 12 year old's power fantasy, and that really basically explains everything he accomplishes in every game from that point on: Bungie asked a panel of literal children what cool things Master Chief should do, and they said stupid-ass shit like 'he should jump off of a spaceship from space and land on Earth! Oh and he surfed down on a piece of debris! And his armor locks so he's totally impervious to damage! And he leaves a huge crater! That'd be awesome! And Batman is there!'

It's stupid. Everything he does is so over the top by the end of Halo 4 that it… ruins the entire game world around him.

By the end of Halo 4, it's pretty apparent that Master Chief is a nigh-unstoppable god of war. And he's even more powerful than the actual God of War, because Kratos could cite literal divinity as a reason for being so powerful… Master Chief is just a dude who was given the Captain America super-serum decades ago. Which makes his feats even more inexplicably stupid.

Is Halo the prequel to the Doom games? Because at the current rate, Master Chief may actually rip open a portal to Hell itself and kill Satan. Is he going to eventually fight Cthulhu and win? Will he blow up an entire galaxy at some point? At the end of Halo 6, will he literally punch a sun into a supernova to stop the next enemy?

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The most inexplicable of Chief's powers is an example of the laziest writing and game design ever… Chief literally lucks his ass into every single situation with such a flawless degree of perfect certainty that it seems like the actual forces of the universe themselves are actually bending reality to make sure he always wins in some kind of incredible victory, and he of course always does it completely by himself.

You could actually just shoot him into a black hole, and he would probably just show up a week later telling grand stories about how he saved the universe again, because through some absurd magic, he'll have warped through the black hole to land exactly where he needed to be to, I don't know, defeat the Reapers in Mass Effect.

The writers rely on "Oh no! Some terrible thing happened to the Chief! Oh but look it all worked out" so often that by the end of the games, it was like 'who cares, I'm going to win anyway'. Nothing feels like a surprise or a twist. NOTHING. Because Chief is so laughably stupidly godlike that even the illusion of suspense doesn't work – not only do you know he's going to win, but he's probably going to go home and fuck the antagonist's wife on his way.

So I said he ruins the game world – what did that mean?

What I mean is that Chief himself basically invalidates the entire need for everything else in the game AROUND him.

Nobody's accomplishments mean a goddamn fucking thing. Everybody else is so weak and so irrelevant, and could never do the stupid shit Chief does, that it doesn't even make sense to even have a military at this point.

Like, why isn't Master Chief literally the High Lord God-Admiral of the entire UNSC? Why do people react to him when he shows up as if he were just a highly-decorated soldier, but aren't reacting to his presence like he's the guy who single-handedly, effortlessly, literally seriously actually destroyed the entire Covenant by himself in only a few hours, a foe the entire human race was losing badly to and had been fighting for decades? Think about what I just wrote. He literally destroyed the entire Covenant. The entire thing. He blew up their planet-sized mothership. He killed their leaders. And he did it on his first attempt.

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Why does the military even exist when he's around? Why does rank and protocol ever come into anything? In what world would anyone ever be giving him orders? He could literally decide to simply become the dictator of Earth and he could do so.

It's literally like having Superman (Homelander?) join the military. You wouldn't need a military, you just have Superman go and fly at the speed of light into the enemy's country and blow them all up and turn their cities into lava-filled craters. He could win any war in seconds.

By making the Chief so stupidly unstoppably powerful and having him accomplish even sillier and sillier feats, always without the game world around him stops mattering. Why do I give a fuck about this Didact guy? Nobody could even so much as make the goddamn Chief bleed, of course Chief is going to… are you listening? … detonate a megaton-scale nuclear weapon WITH HIS FACE and survives completely, 100% unharmed.

I seriously goddamn hate this guy.

But I have a secret.

You know how I make the Chief tolerable?

In my head, I tell myself that the Halo games aren't actually even remotely close to what happened. I pretend that I'm playing a story that the Chief is telling other people, while he sits in a retirement home spinning grand stories and wild lies to everyone who listens. Nobody believes him, because his stories are ego-tripping total nonsense. He'll tell people about that one time "I punched the Prophet of Regret to death." and the nursing home workers just roll their eyes and give him his dementia meds. He has no veteran friends because everyone got sick of him taking credit for everything and claiming he won the entire Covenant war by himself, when everyone else was like 'Dude I was there, you didn't do shit'.


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