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The Halo video game and media franchise takes place in a science fiction universe, where there are four major factions players encounter or control. Halo's story has 26th century humanity, led by the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), caught in a war with an alien coalition known as the Covenant. In the 2001 video game Halo: Combat Evolved, the UNSC ship Pillar of Autumn discovers a mysterious ringworld known as "Halo". The massive installation was built by an enigmatic race known as the Forerunners, who have long since disappeared; the Covenant worship the Forerunner as gods. During the course of the game, players discover that the Halos were built as a weapon of last resort against the Flood, an extragalactic parasite which is driven to consume all sentient life. The Forerunners were forced to activate the Halo network, killing themselves and any potential Flood hosts, in an effort to starve the Flood to death. The Covenant leadership discovered Humans could interact with Forerunner technology, and decide to destroy humanity in order to suppress this fact. The Flood, meanwhile, escape the confines of Halo and threaten to spread across the galaxy again.

A large portion of the series' success lies in the creation of a believable world, and Bungie reinforced the fictional factions the player interacts with via a lengthy design process with the release of each game. The overall design of each faction was slowly developed before the release of the first game in the series, Halo: Combat Evolved, and continually refined in the later games' development.

Reception of Halo's factions has generally been positive. The Covenant were praised by reviewers as exciting and challenging enemies. Characters, weapons and vehicles of all the factions have been released as toys or promotional materials.

Development

Early in the video game Halo: Combat Evolved's development, Bungie environmental artist Paul Russel pushed the concept of three "schools" of Halo architecture for the main factions in the game—the humans of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), the alien alliance of the Covenant, and the Forerunner structures on which most of the game takes place. For future humanity, the artists and developers settled on a functional, industrial look.[1] Art Director Marcus Lehto said that the artists examined current technology trends and tried to extrapolate what future technology would look like.[2] Designs were molded by the desire for building a realized and distinctive feel for the human ships and buildings, but also to make the areas fun to play in. For example, the design team wanted a cramped, claustrophobic feel for the human ship levels in Combat Evolved.[3] Ron Cobb's work on Aliens informed some of the design for a "lived in" appearance.[4] In comparison to the visions of dystopia common in many other science fiction works, the cities and buildings of Earth which were first shown in Halo 2 were clean and functional, with parks and attractive structures.[5] Character design for the UNSC was more straightforward, with uniforms based on existing military outfits, ranks, and insignia.[6] All aspects of the game were designed to feel believable and cultivate suspension of disbelief.[7]

Weapons and vehicles

Due to Halo being a first-person shooter, significant emphasis was put into the design of human weaponry. The chief designer for human weapons was Robt McLees, who at the time of Combat Evolved's development was the only staff member at Bungie with knowledge of firearms;[8] McLees wanted to make sure that the weapons looked "cool", but were also grounded by real-world physics and considerations.[8] The game designers also wanted items that would be recognizable to players, yet futuristic-looking enough to plausibly exist in Halo's 2552.[9] In an interview, McLees noted that after human weapons had been vetted and the rough design worked out, "I went ahead and built the highest-res LOD (level of detail) – and this is where I get "bogged down" with all of the stuff that "nobody cares about" like correct barrel diameter, placement of safeties, sights, magazine release buttons, and making sure that the magazines are actually large enough to hold all the bullets they're supposed to, that they would feed correctly and that the casings eject out of the correct side of the gun."[10] Occasionally, technical restraints forced design changes; the submachine gun introduced in Halo 2 originally featured a transparent magazine which allowed players to see the caseless ammo feed into the gun, but it proved too ambitious given the time and hardware available.[11]

Vehicles play an important role in the Halo games,[12][13] and so vehicles were also given a long development stage. The UNSC's vehicles were designed by Marcus Lehto, Eric Arroyo, and Eddie Smith, and were designed to be functional and utilitarian.[14] Their use of wheels also led many players to feel that they were more fun to drive.[14] The addition of the Mongoose ATV made headlines,[15][16] after being cut from Halo 2.[17] The original Warthog was considered a fan favorite.[18]

Paul Russel is considered the architect of the Forerunner's design.[19][20] In an interview, Russel stated that creating the Forerunner's "visual language" was a tough process which only came together "like five months away" from the game's completion;[21] much of the design was finalized on a single level, "The Silent Cartographer", which features both exterior Forerunner structures as well as deep interior chasms.[22] Concept artist Eddie Smith is also credited with helping hone the Forerunner's direction, and said that he started work by reading the game's mission synopsis. "I knew what human and Covenant architecture looked like, so I tried to make the Forerunner concepts different," Smith said.[22] The result was a sleek angular design[23] which was distinct from the curves of the Covenant's architecture and the functional human designs. For Halo 2, designers wanted to refine and elaborate on the Forerunner design, without abandoning the style set by Russel;[24] environment artist Frank Capezzuto found that looking at the Forerunner structures as sculptures rather than buildings helped to drive the designs for Halo 2.[24]

The Flood were added early in the game development stage of Halo: Combat Evolved, and life of Halo was specifically tailored to increasing the surprise of the Flood's sudden appearance, halfway through the first game. At one point, Halo featured large numbers of terrestrial dinosaur-like creatures, but Bungie felt the presence of other native species would dilute the impact of the Flood and removed them.[25]

Covenant technology, architecture, and design continually changed throughout development, occasionally for practical reasons as well as aesthetics; one piece of alien technology, a "gravity lift", was created so that a Covenant ship's low-resolution textures were not so obvious.[26] In comparison to the other factions, Covenant architecture is smooth and organic, with the use of purple or blue tones throughout.

Ecumene

Main article: Forerunners (Halo)
Forerunner concept h2

Concept art by Eddie Smith for ecumene structures in Halo 2, showcasing the Forerunners' ancient, angular design

The ecumene is the translated name for the Forerunner empire which existed over 100,000 years ago. It stretched across the galaxy and consisted of three million habitable planets.[27] The political center of this empire was known as the capital, a massive structure containing multiple cities. Forerunners are a long-lost species which are first cryptically mentioned in Halo: Combat Evolved. Little is revealed about the Forerunners in the games, but for unknown reasons they consider humanity to be "special"; humanity is thus the only race which can reclaim the keys which activate the Halo network. According to the official backstory to the series, the Forerunners came to power after the extinction of an even more ancient race, known to them as the Precursors,[28] and formed a galaxy wide empire more than 100,000 years before the events of the main Halo story arc.[29] The ecumene took it upon themselves to protect all life in the galaxy, but were threatened by the parasitic Flood. The ecumene took action, but the parasite was unstoppable. A group of Forerunners conceived a plan to stop the Flood once and for all, building an installation known as the Ark that created seven ring-shaped megastructures called "Halos". The Halo Array, when activated, would destroy all sentient life within range—depriving the Flood of its food. After waiting as long as they could, and travelling the galaxy to collect species from planets, which would later be used to "re-seed" the galaxy, the Forerunners activated the Array and vanished.[30] Although the parasite's spread across the galaxy was halted, the Forerunners paid a terrible price as they, and all sentient life capable of sustaining the Flood in the galaxy, were annihilated. The Covenant worship the Forerunners as deities and relentlessly search for Forerunner relics. The reason for the Forerunner's disappearance is revealed in Halo: Combat Evolved, when the artificial intelligence Cortana enters one of the Halo's computer networks and learns the true purpose of the Halos.

Flood

Main article: Flood (Halo)

The Flood (originally called the shaping sickness) is a parasite which is driven by a desire to infect, kill or consume all sentient life it encounters. The Flood first appears in Halo: Combat Evolved, when the Covenant release some captured specimens from stasis on Installation 04; the parasite spreads and threatens to escape the ring, until the Master Chief destabilizes the installation with a massive explosion coming from the Pillar of Autumn.

Covenant

Main article: Covenant (Halo)

The Covenant Hegemony

The Covenant Hegemony is a theocratic-hegemony covenant-coalition of multiple alien races that controlled a large portion of the Orion Arm in the Milky Way Galaxy. Originally a mutual alliance between the San 'Shyuum and the Sangheili, the Covenant Hegemony expanded to include at least six other races united in the worship of the Forerunners and the Halo Array.

In many Halo video games, they fill an antagonistic role. They waged a genocidal campaign against humanity until they were defeated in December of 2552. The alliance worships an ancient alien race known as the Forerunners and search for their gods' relics. The novel Halo: Contact Harvest reveals that the Covenant's luminaries, devices which search for Forerunner relics, discovered a massive cache of the relics on a human colony, Harvest. The Forerunner artificial intelligence Mendicant Bias awakens and reveals to three Covenant politicians that the "relics" are in fact the humans themselves—Bias identifies them as descendants of his makers. Worried that the discovery of such a secret would destroy the Covenant, the leadership instead directs the Covenant to destroy humanity as an affront to the gods. This leads to the search of the Forerunner's powerful weapon called Halo. Despite being ostensibly the most powerful military force in the known Milky Way galaxy, internal conflict combined with stubborn human resistance were formidable enough to shatter the bonds that held the empire together. In Halo 2, the Covenant splits apart in civil war when the Sangheili learn of their leaders' treachery; the Sangheili eventually ally with humanity to stop the rest of the Covenant from activating the Halos in an attempt to follow the Forerunners into godhood.

While the Covenant's original leadership was lost either during the Flood infection of High Charity or during the Battle of Installation 00, a prominent remnant faction which maintains many of the ideals of the Covenant's religion as well as many of its former subject species, continues to exist after the conclusion of the war.[31][32]

Covenant Remnant

The Covenant Remnants[note 1] is an umbrella term for members of the former Covenant who remain loyal to the Hegemony's ideals in the wake of the Human-Covenant War, the Great Schism, and the disappearance of the San 'Shyuum. The de facto leader of the remnant's main body is Jul 'Mdama.[33]

After the Human-Covenant War and the initial phase of the Great Schism, the Covenant's former member races returned to their home systems. Many Sangheili and Jiralhanae continued to fight, steadily dwindling both sides' military resources, though some Jiralhanae remained loyal to their Sangheili masters.[34] A great number of Sangheili began to forsake the Prophets' false religion. The Sangheili soon fell into civil war, sparked by Arbiter Thel 'Vadam's desire to make peace with humanity. In March 2553, a loose coalition of keeps opposed to the peace treaty launched an assault on State of Vadam, though the timely intervention of the UNSC ship Infinity turned the battle in the Arbiter's favor.[35]

Jul 'Mdama, a former Shipmaster and an affiliate of the Servants of the Abiding Truth, became disillusioned with the Arbiter and humanity after being kidnapped by the Office of Naval Intelligence; his resolve was strengthened when his wife, Raia 'Mdama, was killed in the civil conflict. After escaping ONI custody on the shield world Trevelyan, Jul gained a small following of Sangheili on Hesduros. Feigning religious devotion to the Forerunners, he resolved to recover Forerunner technology from the shield world Requiem, much as the humans had done on Trevelyan. Though he believed it unlikely that any Forerunners still lived, 'Mdama also planned to find the Didact, the leader of the Forerunner military, with whom he shared disdain for humanity.

'Mdama's fleet arrived at Requiem in 2554, though they could not gain access.[33] By July 2557, the group had gathered a formidable fleet, consisting of at least sixteen battlecruisers and a single assault carrier as their flagship. The presence of Reclaimers near the installation caused an entrance portal to open. 'Mdama's expeditionary forces engaged UNSC personnel who had become stranded on the shield world.[33] The Covenant still maintained a presence on Requiem in February 2558.[36]

As in the original Covenant, the Sangheili serve as the remnant's military leadership caste. The Unggoy still serve as cannon fodder.[37] Likewise, the Kig-Yar, are still deployed as skirmishers and light infantry. The Mgalekgolo are also a member species of this faction.[38]

Although certainly a less formidable force than the original Covenant, the remnant have amassed a considerable amount of military assets as of its occupation of Requiem. The faction primarily uses equipment formerly belonging to the original Covenant, as well as more recently developed weapons like the Storm rifle. Infantry are equipped with armor that appears to be a mix of new variants and styles used by the original Covenant; for example, Unggoy Storm troops are equipped with rebreathers modeled on traditional Unggoy diving apparatuses, whereas Sangheili Commanders wear armor that is very reminiscent of armor worn by Sangheili Officers of the Covenant.

As in the Covenant, the Ghost, Wraith, and Banshee are mainstays of the remnant's ground and air forces, in addition to the Lich. The faction's armada is composed of vessels formerly used by the Covenant, including several battlecruisers and at least one assault carrier.[33]

The remnant use a streamlined version of the Covenant's long-standing rank hierarchy. Veterans of the war with humanity are organized into cadres of higher-ranked personnel. The highest-ranking Sangheili, most notably Zealots, also hold sway in the restructured Covenant's civil arena.[39][40]

Covenant Separatists

The Covenant Separatists were the Sangheili-led forces that seceded from the Prophet-led Covenant during the Great Schism. In November 2552, the Prophet of Truth had the Sangheili removed from their former position and replaced by the Jiralhanae as the Covenant's main military caste, resulting in an open war breaking out between the Jiralhanae-led Remnant Forces loyal to the Prophets and the Sangheili. After the Sangheili learned the truth about the Halo Installations near the end of the Battle of Installation 05, they allied with humanity on their mission to stop the Prophet-led Covenant.[41]

As they no longer looked to the San'Shyuum for leadership, the separatists had no defined leadership, although Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum led their forces in the deciding battles of the war.[42] With the Covenant dissolved, the separatists effectively ceased to exist as a unified force. The Sangheili returned to their homeworld, Sanghelios, and splintered into various factions, with the Arbiter and his policy of cooperating with humanity retaining a solid following, although many Sangheili disagreed with his ideals, planning to overthrow the Arbiter and rise against humanity.[43]

Humanity

United Earth Government

The Unified Earth Government (UEG), is the central civilian world government that administers Earth and its colonies throughout a portion of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. It houses the Colonial Administration Authority and the United Nations, which in turn governs the United Nations Space Command.[44] During the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC has assumed the governing function of the civilian UEG in the face of possible extinction from the overwhelming Covenant threat.[44][45][46] The UEG still exists by January 2553, though whether it has regained Executive, Legislative, Judicial, or Constitutional branches of power from the UNSC is unknown.[47]

The Unified Earth Government traces its origins back to the Interplanetary War of the mid- to late-22nd century in the Sol System. With numerous Earth governments fighting independent battles against Frieden and Koslovic forces, the United Nations became involved, eventually using the war to absorb most, if not all, Earth governments into itself to form a global government to combat the terrorists and stabilize the planet and its off-world colonies. The UN won the war in 2170 and the Unified Earth Government was formed, with its primary military, scientific, and exploratory force being the newly established United Nations Space Command. In January 2553, Dr. Ruth Charet took office as the President of the Unified Earth Government. She called for a new era of peace, progressiveness, and rebuilding in the wake of the Human-Covenant War.[47]

The UEG is headed by a President.[47] A number of other executive offices are known to exist, among them the Minister of Information,[48] the Secretary of Defense,[49] and the Minister for the Colonies.[47] Based on the first and last positions, the UEG would appear to be based around a parliamentary system. It has been noted that Earth is in a privileged position over the colonies in the election process, which has been a source of discord with some colonials.[46] The Colonial Administration Authority is the government branch that administers the various colonies that belong to the UEG. It keeps extensive files on every colony world and city under the UEG, available to UNSC members for planning missions.[50] Even though it originally formed the UEG, the United Nations has been absorbed into a branch of the Earth government by the 26th century. Its exact function or role is unclear.[44]

United Nations Space Command

The United Nations Space Command (UNSC) is the military, exploratory, and scientific agency of the Unified Earth Government. The United Nations Space Command Defense Force (UNSCDF) is the defensive military force of the United Nations Space Command, consisting of the UNSC Air Force, UNSC Army, UNSC Marine Corps, UNSC Navy, and UNSC Spartan, which serve as a joint air, land, sea, space, information and intelligence force.[51] After the Human-Covenant War, a fifth branch, simply called Spartan, was commissioned.[52]

The UNSC was formed in the 22nd century, a time when remnants of old cultural ideologies clashed for supremacy in the Sol System. The UNSC served mainly as overseer of United Nations military operations in space. After initiating massive militarization propaganda throughout its off-world colonies, through the UNSC, the UN defeated communist and fascist Insurrectionist Forces in a conflict generally known as the Interplanetary War, which consisted of several side-battles that took place on Mars, the Jovian Moons and the South American rainforests. Although the Interplanetary War brought a great deal of suffering to both the colonial population and the residents of Earth, it also united most of humanity's military forces by the end of the 22nd century.

Initially, it was the unified command structure for the multinational military forces supporting colonies in space during and after the Interplanetary War. After rebels of the Koslovic movement gained control on Mars in 2163, the United Nations Security Council drafted a resolution, recommending that members of the United Nations provide assistance to colonies in space to repel the armed attacks and to restore colonial peace and security to the area. The resolution, adopted later that year, recommended that members providing military forces and other assistance to the colonies make such forces and other assistance available to a unified command under the United States of America.

On December, 2163, the new UNSC was initiated, with the Argyre Planitia Campaign. The United Nations Space Command and the Frieden and Koslovic commanders signed the Callisto Treaty in 2170, ending the heavy fighting. That same year, the United Earth Government or UEG was established as an extension of the International Court of Justice which was a direct result of the Interplanetary War.

The UNSC is the military arm of the UEG. According to Halo story architects Frank O'Conner and Robt McLees, during the 26th-century events of Halo, the UNSC exercises considerably more power than its civilian counterpart.[53]

Before the beginnings of the war with the Covenant, humanity was in turmoil, with the remote colonies fighting for independence from the UNSC. To help quell the revolts, the UNSC commissioned the highly classified Spartan Project, responsible for the development of four generations of unique special force infantry, collectively called Spartans, who operate in performance-enhancing armor known as MJOLNIR. The Spartans undertook classified missions against rebels and insurrectionists. When the Covenant began decimating the outer colonies, these Spartans became humanity's best hope against the technological superiority of the Covenant.

One of the UNSC's unclassified Special Forces units are the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or ODSTs. They are also called Helljumpers after their motto "Feet first into hell." They specialize in orbital combat insertions via single-occupant exoatmospheric insertion vehicles or SOEIVs jettisoned from ships in low orbit. The 105th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) are labeled as the 'Helljumpers'.[54] As characterized by author William C. Dietz in Halo: The Flood, the future Corps shares thematic similarities to the present-day United States Marines.[55] The most important Special Force unit in the game is the SPARTAN project, more importantly, the second generation of Spartans within the project - a group of specially trained supersoldiers who are eventually wiped out. The main playable character in the main trilogy, John 117, is the sole known surviving Spartan. The UNSC also has an Army, which serves as a ground defensive force within the UNSC military along with the UNSC Air Force. The UNSC Navy and Marine Corps are mainly responsible for space combat.[53]

The UNSC also field various ground vehicles for combat. Among these is a general purpose scout 'jeep' dubbed the "Warthog" or simply the "'Hog". A real working replica of which was created by special effects company Weta Workshop for a series of shorts by director Neill Blomkamp.[56] This vehicle had fully functioning four-wheel steering, machine-gun, digital displays and air-bags.[57]

Prior to first contact with the Covenant at Harvest, the Unified Earth Government kept no foreign relations, with the exception of battles against Insurrectionists on rebellious colonies, whose independence the UEG did not recognize.[58][59] As of 2553, the UEG maintains its earlier truce with those members of the Covenant separatists who remain loyal to Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. However, tensions remain as the UEG must again deal with elements of the weakened Insurrectionist movement, with worlds like Venezia actively seeking to secede.[60]

The United Nations Space Command is the UEG's primary military, exploratory, and scientific arm. The military arm, known as the UNSC Defense Force, is intended to protect innocent colonists and colony worlds from attack by privateers, Insurrectionists and other threats, such as the Covenant. It includes various special forces, and colonial militia organizations, but consists mainly of the UNSC Marine Corps, UNSC Navy, UNSC Air Force and UNSC Army. The UNSC also maintains a number of scientific organizations, among them UNSC Astrophysics,[61] while the UNSC Engineering Corps is devoted to surveying viable planets for colonization or terraforming.[62]

The UEG's member nations maintain their own standing militaries. It is unclear how they are maintained in relation to the UNSCDF, though they are presumably coordinated by the latter. Prospective members of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers are drawn from the ranks of national special operations groups as well as from the UNSCDF's own special forces.[63]

The initialisation "UNSC" has occasionally been confused with the United Nations Security Council. For example, on 24 May 2012, a BBC news report on the UN used the Halo UNSC logo, as opposed to the United Nations Security Council logo, as a background image.[64]

UNSC Spartan

Spartan, also referred to as Spartan branch,[65] is the fifth and newest branch of the United Nations Space Command, responsible for command of special operations undertaken by the Third and Fourth generations of augmented soldiers.[66] This branch was established in the years following the apocalyptic Human-Covenant War on the orders of Admiral Margaret Orlenda Parangosky, Commander-in-Chief, Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Its activities across the galaxy are classified much like their predecessor organizations.

The beginnings of the fourth generation of the venerable Spartan programs began shortly before the end of hostilities in the Human-Covenant War.[67] Admiral Parangosky, who had signed off on the previous SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III generations out of necessity, believed that the kidnapping of children for years of harsh training, especially the flash cloning of covert replacements, was unethical.[68] Because of this, the elderly director of Naval Intelligence ordered that future Spartans would be consenting adults, all of whom handpicked by Beta-5 Division for their exceptional service during the war, mainly from special operations units from across the UNSCDF's armed forces;[68][66] the only other supersoldier program to use adult volunteers were the ORION soldiers of UNSC Naval Special Warfare Command, who were created to suppress the growing Insurrection in the Outer Colonies.

Parangosky was to give command of the SPARTAN-IV program and ultimately Spartan branch to the UNSC Army veteran and ONI confidant Colonel James Ackerson - the mastermind behind the Third generation program which trained, augmented, and graduated nearly a thousand Spartans into her command between 2531 and 2552.[69] Serving under him, presumably in a scientific role to enhance the augmentation procedures and spearhead new technologies, would be Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, MD, PhD, matriarch of the Second generation program.[69] However, neither would come to serve the SPARTAN-IVs; Colonel Ackerson was executed as a war prisoner aboard the Triumphant Declaration following his defeat at the Battle of Mare Erythraeum in November 2552[70] while Dr. Halsey became trapped within the Forerunner shield world Trevelyan, later to be exiled to Ivanoff Station orbiting Installation 03[71] and then onboard the UNSC Infinity by Admiral Parangosky.

Due to the overwhelming successes of CHRYSANTHEMUM and its near-zero mortality rate, it is likely that all fourth-generation candidates survived as well. It is unknown how many Spartans have been augmented with fourth-generation protocols, or the number of distinct training classes, but it is noted that a number of candidates were given gene manipulation therapy prior to 2552. Training was conducted in various places, particularly the virtual reality deck aboard the highly advanced warship Infinity, then located in the Oort cloud beyond the Sol system.[67] The surviving SPARTAN-III supersoldiers were requested by Admiral Parangosky and Naval Intelligence for reassignment to Spartan branch in early 2553.[72] The active SPARTAN-IIs, the iconic legends of the Class of 2525, were given the choice of "pulling together" the remaining SPARTAN-IIIs and integrating them into the SPARTAN-IV program,[73] but it is unknown whether or not the SPARTAN-IIs themselves were asked to join the command or if they did.

Insurrectionist

The Insurrectionists, also known as insurgents, separatists, or rebels, are groups of human individuals devoted to complete liberation from the influence of the Unified Earth Government and the United Nations Space Command. They were the UNSC's main enemy during the Insurrection, an undeclared civil war between the UNSC and the several insurgent factions. The various Insurrectionist cells made up a loose alliance, which was led politically by a single head of state,[74] while its military was run by a triumvirate of generals.[75] They are commonly called Innies by the UNSC Marines, an ironic name, as they actually "wanted out."[76]

Most insurrectionist movements stirred in the Outer Colonies in the late 25th century, where many colonists started to demand independence from the Earth government, which they considered to be oppressive and imperialistic. However, over the next two decades, the fighting spread to some of the Inner Colonies, particularly the Epsilon Eridani system, the heart of the UNSC military. At the early years of the Insurrection, the rebels used a variety of tactics to combat the UNSC, ranging from terrorist attacks to ship-to-ship combat.

Around 2511, the rebels based in the Eridanus system had overthrown the colonial government of Eridanus II and largely controlled all activities within the system. The UNSC responded harshly, seeking to put down the rebellion forcibly. Also in 2511, a major insurrectionist terrorist attack occurred on Mamore, when rebels detonated a nuclear device in the Haven arcology, killing two million people and injuring 8.3 million.[77]

Starting in 2513, Operation: TREBUCHET was one of the largest and farthest reaching operations ever conducted in UNSC military history. It was devised in order to rid UNSC-controlled space of the insurrectionists once and for all. In 2513, a space battle occurred between the Eridanus rebels and the UNSC as part of Operation: TREBUCHET. During the battle, the UNSC achieved a Pyrrhic victory with the loss of four destroyers. Unfortunately, elements of the rebellion escaped into the nearby Eridanus asteroid belt.[78]

In 2525, the Office of Naval Intelligence reported that it had uncovered a breach within UNSC Fleet Command: there were several spies for the Insurrectionists within FLEETCOM. They had also discovered that the rebels were led by Colonel Robert Watts and that they had connections to the outside world and were being supplied by outside sources such as the cargo freighter Laden.[79] That year, a group of SPARTAN-IIs underwent a covert operation and captured Watts from the very heart of the rebel operations base, the rebel stronghold at Eridanus Secundus, killing many rebel soldiers and civilians who were present at the base.

Following the beginning of the Human-Covenant War in 2525, Operation: TREBUCHET was promptly abandoned due to the Covenant threat. Despite the common threat for all mankind, many Insurrectionist movements continued to live on, still causing problems for the UNSC and forcing them to fight a two-front war: one against the Covenant and one against the insurrectionists.[80]

Sometime around 2526 UNSC forces were sent to put down Insurrection forces on Jericho VII, ODSTs were sent there for over 131 days, at some point they dropped into the area of an Insurrectionist stronghold.[81] At some point in 2526 an unknown group of Insurrectionists were engaging UNSC Marines and Spartan-II's when both sides came under attack by the Covenant; the two groups subsequently fought together against the aliens.[82]

By 2531, the Insurrectionists' operations had been disrupted by a four-man team of SPARTAN supersoldiers known as Blue Team. The team disrupted rebel operations including Station Jefferson, the destroyer Origami, a saboteur cell on Reach, an incident in Micronesia, and a high-explosives manufacturing facility at an unspecified location.[83] In response, the rebels gathered three stolen FENRIS nuclear warheads at Camp New Hope in a way so sloppy that the Office of Naval Intelligence easily noticed, then contacted the UNSC and offered to trade the nukes in exchange for medicine for their people suffering from Boren's Syndrome. They then set a trap for Blue Team, whom they anticipated would be sent. During the raid on Camp New Hope, the rebels successfully ambushed John-117, Frederic-104, Kelly-087 and Linda-058 by using an antigravity plate. However, the rebels were unaware of the presence of a fifth SPARTAN; a new addition to the team, Kurt-051, who had avoided the trap. Kurt was able to free the other members of Blue Team and they then retreated from the camp with the recovered warheads before the camp could launch a proper counterattack. General Howard Graves was killed in the process.

During the Human-Covenant War, Insurrectionists from the Outer Colony of Madrigal colonized and inhabited the Rubble, a sophisticated asteroid habitat orbiting the gas giant Hesiod. In the Rubble, an uneasy truce existed between the humans and the Kig-yar who had originally helped the Insurrectionists build the habitat. While the most of the Rubble's population were Insurrectionists, the Rubble also protected most of the surviving civilian populace of Madrigal.

During the Battle of Psi Serpentis in 2543, Insurrectionists actually helped Admiral Preston Jeremiah Cole. During the battle, an insurrectionist fleet led by the Bellicose suddenly entered the battle and launched a blitzkrieg-style attack against the Covenant fleet, decimating it, then just as it appeared the insurrectionist fleet jumped right back into slipspace. Ironically, this was the same ship Cole engaged three times earlier in his career.[84]

By 2552, most remaining Insurrectionist factions had ceased active aggression against the UNSC in order to concentrate on surviving the seemingly unstoppable Covenant advance. Still, some rebel movements actively opposed the UNSC on worlds such as Harmony and Reach as late as 2552. In 2552, the SPARTANs returned to the Eridanus asteroid belt aboard the Ascendant Justice hybrid vessel to make repairs. Governor Jacob Jiles was the leader of the rebels at that time. Jiles engaged in a brief "showdown" with UNSC Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb, in which Whitcomb threatened to fire Ascendant Justice's plasma turrets, while Jiles claimed to aim nuclear weapons at Ascendant Justice. The two soon revealed to one another that all but one of Whitcomb's plasma cannons were nonfunctional and that Jiles' nukes were fake. Suddenly, a Covenant cruiser that had followed the trail of the vessel appeared in the system. After a short fight, the Covenant ship was destroyed after dealing severe damage to the Gettysburg-Ascendant Justice. Several days later, three dozen Covenant vessels appeared in the system, forcing the Gettysburg-Ascendant Justice to retreat. The Covenant then eradicated the base entirely. The Eridanus rebels were massacred in the process.

After the end of the Human-Covenant War, many Insurrectionist movements which had ceased their operations during the war began to resurface. Entire colonies under Insurrectionist control had intentionally cut themselves off the UNSC's communications relay network during the war.[85] Despite the UNSC's attempts to broker peace with the surviving Outer Colonies and Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood embarking on a diplomatic mission to discuss reconstruction, entire colonies refused and cut all ties with the UNSC, which, according to them, had abandoned them during the war.[86] After the end of the war, many Insurrectionist cells were also able to acquire copious amounts of Covenant and UNSC weapons and equipment circulating in the black market.[87]

Of particular significance to the reemerging Insurrectionist movement was the colony of Venezia, which had become a nexus for rebel operations during the war, its Insurrectionist government having declared itself sovereign and eliminated the local CAA authorities.[88]

The MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor/Wetwork, a variant of the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor (GEN2), was tested against the United Rebel Front on Talitsa.[89]

Cultural impact

Merchandise

Halo has a volume of affiliated merchandise. A version of the strategy board game Risk was released based on Halo Wars with game pieces being modeled after UNSC, Covenant and Flood. A mix of human and Covenant vehicles and weapons were also featured in the Halo ActionClix tabletop game[90] and a series by McFarlane Toys.[91] Game journalists have even noted the similarities between the Warthog and the Hummer HX, which GM denies.[92] The merchandise includes several series of action figures. The first series of figures were created by Joyride Studios, and featured characters, weapons, and vehicles representing all of Halo's factions. The task of creating Halo 3's action figures fell to McFarlane Toys;[93] in an interview with Bungie.net, Todd McFarlane stated that the challenge of creating figures for a franchise was that designers had to accommodate and integrate both articulation and attention to detail, "without compromising one or the other too heavily".[94] A total of three series of figurines have since been produced, featuring UNSC, Flood and Covenant forces.[95] Manufacturer Kotobukiya also produced "high-end statues" for Halo 3's debut.[96] Other merchandise based on the weapons of the Halo universe include die cast weapons replicas[97] and a set of Covenant weapons used for Laser tag.[98]

Critical reception

Halo's universe and the factions in it have been well-received, both from a storytelling point of view and from game play. Gamasutra lauded Halo's artificial intelligence. For example, Covenant or Flood forces never spawn in the same places when the player restarts from checkpoints, which gives the player "the sense that the [alien] creatures have things to do besides killing humans".[99] Bungie's goal of making characters behave realistically in the games[100] has led to the behavior of the Covenant, Flood, and Forerunner units being praised in each game of the series. A point of criticism has been the AI of allied UNSC characters; reviewers noted that in Halo 3, they were often more of a hindrance than help.[101][102]

The various factions that make up the Halo universe were each received differently. The Flood have been alternatively praised as terrifying foes, and lambasted as annoying zombie-like enemies; the literary adaptations of the Flood, particularly their representation in The Halo Graphic Novel, have been best received.

Notes

  1. In-universe, this group is known simply as the Covenant; the "remnant" title is merely a descriptor to distinguish the group from the original organization. According to an article by Official Xbox Magazine and Examiner, the Covenant forces encountered in Halo 4 are known as the Storm. However, this arose due to a misunderstanding of the Covenant's streamlined "Storm" ranking system. The articles also claim that the "Storm" follow the religion of the San 'Shyuum; while they do continue to worship the Forerunners, most have forsaken Covenant's religion.

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Bibliography

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