By now, you’ve had a chance to check out the two minute-plus trailer for Halo 4 from producer David Fincher and director Tim Miller. Beyond showing off a group of the new Promethean enemy type, the trailer is actually pretty slim on details about the story of Halo 4, serving instead as a refresher on the Master Chief’s backstory.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key bits in the trailer and where they fit in the Halo canon. This won’t be super-exhaustive, and might bump up against some of the conflicting pieces of fiction that have come out since 2000, but of course, I’m sure you’ll let me know if I got anything wrong via Facebook or Twitter.
So let’s dive in.
00:05-00:11: Here we get a look at the Master Chief’s updated visor view. Bungie liked to tweak and reconfigure the Chief’s HUD between games and it looks like 343 Industries opted to take their own stab at it. We’re also getting brief, tantalizing glimpses of who or whatever the big bad is here.
00:27-00:35: Presumably John’s childhood on the colonial planet Eridanus II, probably around the age of six. According to the Eric Nylund novel The Fall of Reach, he was born around 2510, placing this somewhere around 2516.
00:36-00:38: A look at early model Pelicans, the troop and vehicle transports used throughout the Halo series. During this period, some of the colonized planets were rebelling against the rule of the central, earthbound government. The Spartan-II program was initially conceived as a covert response to the increasingly brutal reprisals by the insurrectionists.
00:39-00:41: According to the novels, John doesn’t remember much about his mother. In fact, I don’t recall anything about the character even remembering his own last name.
Something curious to me: director Miller decided to pair the image of his mother with the image of Cortana. I’ve always thought of the Cortana-Chief relationship as more like partners and less romantic (but some fans read into it a little differently), but I’ve never thought of her as especially nurturing. This could be me reading too much into things and it simply being used to echo the calm of his early life with the seemingly dire circumstances of his present situation.
00:44-00:50: This would be John getting kidnapped from his bed in the middle of the night and replaced with a fast-grown duplicate. These cheap clones typically contained the memories of the originals, but would suffer gradual physical and mental deterioration.
00:53-01:04: After several years of combat training and effective indoctrination under Spartan-II mastermind Dr. Catherine Halsey and Officer Mendez, the candidates were rounded up at the age of 14 and given surgery to augment their physical strength with cybernetic enhancements.
01:07-01:11: Of the 75 candidates who started in the program, maybe a little under half survive the augmentation process, some of those horribly disfigured and unfit for duty. The ones that remain received enhanced strength, coordination, vision, and reflexes.
01:24-01:34: Which brings us to the suit. The MJOLNIR Mark IV armor could only be used/controlled by augmented soldiers like those in the Spartan-II program, the increase in strength in reflexes requiring a user who could deal with the enhanced movement speed. Dr. Halsey accelerated the deployment of the new armor when the Covenant began their full assault on human colonies, seeking Promethean/Forerunner artifacts and attempting to “cleanse” any world with the taint of humanity.
Reading Greg Bear’s Halo: Cryptum we find that the indoctrination/armor process has an antecedent in Forerunner culture.
01:40-01:56: Nothing historical here–just wanted to point out the Chief rocking a big, shiny new gun.
So what did I miss? Are you hyped for the game so far? Note, while I had a lot of this committed to memory, I did cheat and use some details from fan wiki Halo Nation.
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