"Halo: Reach" released at 12:01am this morning, but you can be sure there will be plenty of people playing straight through to the credits before tomorrow's dawn. A certain percentage of those hardcore "Halo" fans have probably read "Halo: The Fall of Reach," a novel which released in 2001 and told of the doomed fate of the planet of Reach.
By the time the credits roll in the "Halo: Reach," those who read the novel may be left scratching their heads, as there's a pretty big inconsistency between the events of the game and the events of the book. I spoke to Marcus Lehto, the Creative Director of "Halo: Reach," about what sort of work they put into making sure the game and the book blended, and what should be considered true "Halo" canon.
NOTE: THIS IS A HUGE SPOILER. IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED "HALO: REACH" AND DON'T WANT THE END OF THE GAME RUINED, STOP READING NOW.
The final objective of "Halo: Reach" has your character, Noble 6, making a mad sprint to the Pillar of Autumn with a very important A.I. in tow. Yep, it's Cortana, and she's loaded down with valuable Forerunner data, which will be used throughout the rest of the "Halo" games. This makes Noble 6 an extremely important part of the "Halo" mythos. Arriving just in time, 6 hands Cortana over to Captain Keyes and sees the Autumn escape certain doom from a Covenant warship before making the fateful slip-space jump which will end at the first Halo installation.
In "Halo: The Fall of Reach," however, Cortana was chilling on the Autumn with Master Chief a full day before they had to escape from the Covenant, and her arrival had nothing to do with the heroic Noble Team members.
So who's right? "We did take some liberty," said Lehto. "In the book, I believe the Pillar of Autumn is in orbit at a docking station. We talked to [Eric] Nylund [the author of "The Fall of Reach"] about the whole event structure and we got the chronology of it down to where we felt comfortable with the little bends we were taking to make sure it worked best for the game and best for our game's fiction. We've had discrepancies with Nylund on what we believe is canon and what should be made sacred in the canon. But that's always the case when you have others outside of Bungie building the fiction for the "Halo" universe."
Basically Bungie wanted to serve the story of "Halo: Reach" as much as they could, and if that meant creating a few contradictions, it's worth the sacrifice to have a better game.
"There's a ton of deviation outside of Bungie's canon that our fans and other writers have created. While we certainly had no interest in making a literal adaptation of "The Fall of Reach" book, we were cognizant of the event structure and the historical time line within that book, and we wanted to play nice with it as much as we possibly could."
According to Lehto, the "Halo" games are considered prime canon, and anything outside of the games is supplementary, so if there are contradictions, the game's events supersede anything else. So yeah, you can toss your copy of "The Fall of Reach" in a fireplace or something. (Don't actually do that. It's quite good and apart from that Cortana thing, it's a totally seperate story from "Halo: Reach." Also, burning books is bad.)