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What’s already happened: Master Chief, the one and only survivor of a genetic super-soldier training program known as SPARTAN, finally managed to end the galactic battle between humanity and Covenant aliens. Although he’s not dead, the trilogy does close on him – and his A.I. companion, Cortana – lost in deep space, light years away from home.
What’s coming next: Technically, this is what’s come before, as Halo: Reach is definitely a prequel and not a sequel. Any true fan of the franchise can tell that just by looking at the title; as described in the companion novels, “Reach” was a planet destroyed at the start of the war, years earlier than the game trilogy. Another obvious clue? The silhouette lineup from the single piece of official art includes more than one SPARTAN.
Master Chief is not alone… yet.
He will be, though, and this will be the story of how, where and why that happened. You’ll play through missions on pre-glassed Reach as a younger Master Chief, but also as his diverse, specialized companions: an eagle-eyed sniper, a knife-wielding scout, a gruff heavy gunner and even a – shock! – female soldier. ODST proves that developer Bungie is capable of fragmented, Rashomon-style storytelling; in Reach, however, the multiple protagonists will be different in more than mere name and helmet color. They’ll feel different, too.
That will extend to the multiplayer, which we expect to see somewhat class-based like Team Fortress or (to a lesser degree) Modern Warfare. Why would Bungie risk messing with a proven and beloved formula? Because Halo: Reach is supposedly the company’s last contribution to the series. We imagine the original creators will want to leave on a reinvention bang, not a retread whimper.
What’s already happened: Kratos, mentally anguished hitman for the gods of Olympus, has been through a lot. He’s battled Persians and rescued the sun-god Helios from the clutches of the sleep-god Morpheus. He opened Pandora’s box just so he could murder and replace the existing god of war, Ares. He’s killed the Sisters of Fate, slightly altered his own destiny and freed the Titans from the pit of Tartarus. And he’s died and escaped from Hades no fewer than three times.
At the end of the second God of War, Kratos set his sights on no less a target than Olympus itself. If the gods can’t free him from the pain of accidentally murdering his wife and child, Kratos decides, then he’ll just destroy every last one of them.
What’s coming next: We already know a fair amount about what’s ahead this March, when God of War III is set to release. While we haven’t specifically seen it in action, we’re told that most of the action is going to unfold on the bodies of the Titans themselves, who will be massive, continually shifting landscapes that move around freely in a large, more or less open world. We also know that Kratos will fight and kill at least several of the gods (as he does, gruesomely, with Helios in the downloadable demo), with the ultimate goal of executing his crappy father, Zeus.
However, the demo hints at a less-than-friendly relationship between Kratos and his supposed allies, the Titans. While at first he helps a magma-skinned Titan defeat Helios, that same Titan shows up later to menace him while he’s trying to fly out of an air shaft. Given Kratos’ personality – he’s a brutal rebel who only does things that suit his own brutal ends – it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if he threw his alliance with the Titans out the window and turned the war for Olympus into a three-way battle, pitting gods against Titans in the hope that they’ll simply destroy each other.
Given the world Kratos inhabits – in which the gods rule humanity with an iron fist, promising prosperity in exchange for obedient slavery – that’d neatly sidestep the pitfall of replacing one oppressor with another. After all, why would Kratos settle for simply replacing the old order when he could obliterate it entirely, leaving humans, at last, to find their own way?
Next page: Grand Theft Auto V and InFamous 2