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Halo 4: Why the trilogy ends on next-gen

Michael Gapper makes the case for why it's Microsoft's own Star Wars...

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WAR WITHOUT END

Halo 4's official blurb warns of a new but ancient enemy. With the Covenant now allies and the Flood exterminated, that means we can expect to see the rise and fall of an all-new threat in Halo 4, but the Chief won't be alone in his fight on the artificial planet.

Forza 4's Autovista Warthog is a model lifted straight from 343's work on Halo 4 with voiceovers by Cortana, confirming the UNSC's involvement on the battlefield and Jen Taylor's involvement as a voice actor.

Somehow, before the Chief even arrives on Sigma 7, the UNSC are already in place, isolated from Humanity's forces and their new Covenant allies beneath the Shield World's impenetrable exterior. And if there are Covenant forces stranded on the Shield World too, who's to say anyone got the memo about the war being over? The Covenant and humanity are all smiles and handshakes elsewhere but beneath the steely shield, both factions will be isolated and alone.

And Cortana? Like Master Chief, she's been through some changes since we saw her in the last Halo, and in her case they're not for the better. "Seven years is the lifespan for a smart AI before it enters a state called rampancy," O'Connor says.

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"Cortana was getting close to the end of her natural lifespan at the end of Halo 3 but she has been exposed to far more information than any other AI in existence. She's going to develop some muscle from that process but it also contributes to her rampancy - that much information makes things worse."

Expect the "worse" part to play out in Halo 5. If Combat Evolved is the standard then Halo 4 (A New Hope) will climax with the destruction of Sigma 7 itself - a major victory before the inevitable setbacks of Halo 5's (Empire Strikes Back) bleak middle and Halo 6's (Return of the Jedi) triumph against all odds.

It worked for Star Wars, it worked for Halo's first trilogy, and it'll work again as another Halo trilogy plays out over two console generations. Like the originals, it's a story you'll start on one generation of Xbox but finish on another. However, even with a new team, a new story and a whole new world, Halo 4 retains that grand sci-fi opera feel, and that's what excites us the most.

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