By TheAcidSkull 7 Comments
Halo: Fall of Reach
I'll be honest here, when I'm reading, after I get past a few chapters, I seriously need to mentally recharge. It's not that I can't keep going, but I really like to savor the content I consider good, which is something I can't do when I get tired. That said, there are moments when I'm so drawn into something that I stop really noticing what is going around me, which, is pretty rare since I usually keep track of everything due to a busy schedule. Reading Halo: Fall of Reach was one of the few cases where I got past 7-8 chapters without realizing that I had been reading for quite some time. I think the rough estimate of time was about 2 AM by the time I was done (I started reading late.)
It's also worth noting that in my personal opinion, spin-offs that take a step outside of the selected medium, like when video games are based on movies, or when books/comics are based on video games, the final product, most often than not, turns out to be mediocre or turns out to be a bit out of place. That's not an accurate assumption, obviously, but I'm sure many know what I'm talking about. Luckily, this is not the case, in fact, it's in a certain way, quite the opposite.
When one looks at the vast universe Halo encompasses, it's hard to fathom how we reached this point. Well, I'm quite certain that the instigator for the creation for such a vast world was Eric Nylund, and since we're on the topic of lore, I think it's a good way to start exploring why is Halo: Fall of Reach awesome.
Back in Halo Combat Evolved, you had all the necessary details you needed to know to play the game, and as many of you are familiar, CE blew everyones minds. But with the created universe, there were some details we still required, which weren't exactly provided in the single player campaign. Fall of Reach provides the much needed background on who the Spartan IIss are, and for what purpose were the originally created. What will probably strike most fans right away is the vivid and world building descriptions Nylund provides. From the super power MAC guns to the covenant destroyer ships, everything is described in such vivid detail that I could almost make an argument that if anyone hadn't played the game, they'd still have a pretty good idea on what the world looks like. Sadly, I've not only played Halo games, but I've spend hundreds of hours exploring the maps in the multiplayer, as well as played through the campaign more than once, so I was quite aware of what the areas looked like.
So having my experience with Halo in mind, I'm about to say something even I didn't anticipate. The covenant are seriously menacing. I know that sounds were, and any Halo fan would think to themselves "Well OF COURSE they are menacing, they are an intergalactic group of alien species who nearly brought the human race to extinction."
However, be honest, which brings about more tension, experiencing something first hand in first person perspective, or listening to someone describe the whole scene through words. While this is subjective, in the end, most people would probably chose the former, since video games make it so much more personal. Having said that, I was baffled at how well Nylund captured the presence of these alien creatures. The introduction of the hunters is particularly vivid in my mind. Hell,I can still remember biting my lip from the tension and excitement I felt as I was putting certain clues together, and this is coming from someone who frequently watches horror movies.
Moreover, what solidified the books experience, or better yet, what made the book truly stand out in my personal opinion was the brilliant characterization. I think most casual games are familiar with John-117, better known as Master Chief. What they don't know, that when it comes to the games, Chief has a very basic character. Though that's not to say it's a bad thing, since the developers, Bungie, found a good way to maintain the main protagonists personally while allowing the player to integrate themselves into the game by cutting back on Johns characterization, but when it comes to video games, it's best to showcases a fully developed protagonist, even if in the end, Master Chiefs badass attitude worked out for the best. Anyways, Eric Nylund paints a very interesting picture of the main hero without eliminating his cool reputation, but most importantly, Nylund creates layers by which we can define 117. John is determined, brave, tough, absolutely adores to win, and cares deeply for him fellow men; however, due to the indoctrination had had gone through due to the SPARTAN II program, he does not have a good grasp on reality, and is restricted within the codex all soldiers are ordered to follow. I won't spoil how all of these qualities are developed, but I will say how I wish I had read this book earlier, since it would make me appreciate the major developments 343 tried to execute In Halo 4's campaign.
Furthermore, when I said that the character portrayal was "good", I wasn't only referring to John 117, in fact, throughout the course of the book we get to see the progression of the plot through multiple perspectives, minor and major characters included, who all play into the big picture at one point or another. Speaking of which, the general story, or better yet synopsis is pretty easy to follow, but the journey itself is intricate, interesting and very well developed. There are multiple twists and turns, as well as some breathtaking moments.
And on that note, what would a Halo book be without great and detailed action sequences? It's pretty fun to blow through and mow down alien hordes in video games, but books require a more subtle angle, which, I'm happy to say, is provided with flying colors. In it's very diverse too, I might add. Space Battles, close quarter combat, mowing down cannon fodder, you name it, it's all here. Personally, my favorite fights still consisted of the ones that took place on solid ground, but that's all due to preference and it in no way undermines the rest of the great spectacles.
In conclusion, Fall of Reach is a bestseller for reason, and that reason is that it's a sci-fi epic brought to life. It has descriptive and detailed locations which draw you into the Halo universe, great characterization which explores and creates multiple layers for established Halo characters, epic battles, and tons of lore. Literally anyone who is even remotely interested can pick this book up. If you have never played a Halo game before, you will not get lost for a second, in fact, this is where it all started, so you have nothing to worry about.