How much does realism matter to video gamers? Does it matter if the Humvee was replaced with a sniper-easy Warthog? So what if the Marines are dumber than a sack of Pizza Hut breadsticks? Some of these questions may not matter to most gamers, but a select few have noticed that Halo doesn't follow a believable realism. To answer some of these questions, I sat down with a buddy of mine in the U.S. Marine Corp who's a pilot in the proud squadron of AV - 8 Harrier jets that the Marines maintain, Captain Roy Luthan (name changed for privacy purposes). I asked him questions about the first level of Halo, the Pillar of Autumn, before he got shipped out.
skseifer: Hi, Roy. For the record, will you please state how long you've been in the service and your history in the Marine Corp?
Capt. Luthan: Well, I've been in the Marines for about eight years and during my first year I was a foot soldier. Then I tried out for Enlisted Aviations and I got to be a Harrier pilot.
skseifer: How long have you been playing Halo?
Capt. Luthan: I started playing it when it came out for the Xbox and I play it whenever I get a chance.
skseifer: How do you feel about the believable ness of Halo?
Capt. Luthan: I think it has an "okay" background that's strong enough to support the events that have since occurred in the Halo universe.
skseifer: Are you familiar with the campaign mode?
Capt. Luthan: Oh yeah, I battle through campaign mode when everyone else is off doing their own thing and doesn't want to play multiplayer.
skseifer: Do the events that unfolded during the assault of the Pillar of Autumn make sense to a type of military procedure?
Capt. Luthan: Well, I read The Flood it kind of seemed that even though they escaped Reach, they didn't take precautions to efficiently arm the PoA.
skseifer: What do you think would have been done by a Captain of a ship of that magnitude?
Capt. Luthan: I don't know much about what a Navy Captain would have done with a ship THAT big, but with a background that Captain Keyes had, he would have gotten the entire squad of fighters the PoA contained out of the ship for recon and protection. Then he would have probably got the Marines on alert and gotten the Pelicans prepped and ready to assist in case of evacuations. Since he was a Navy guy, I would think he might have asked for some assistance from the highest ranking Marine officer on the ship in engagement procedures.
skseifer: Okay, fast forward to where the escape pods are being launched and the Marines engage the Covenant on the ship.
Capt. Luthan: This is the part that throws me off. When Captain Keyes receives word that the Covenant are boarding the ship and he orders the Master Chief to get Cortana off the ship, the Marines seem to put up a pretty pitiful fight. They don't follow basic procedures that still should be used in the future, like using the corners and objects for cover or working together as a team, because it's teamwork that wins the battles. I'm also wondering what happened to the grenade launchers that were on the bottom of the assault rifles. Surely the military would have had the sense the keep that instead of a flashlight .
skseifer: Now to where the Master Chief is slowly trudging to the escape pods.
Capt. Luthan: If I were the Master Chief, I would have pulled some Marines out of the groups he encountered and left a small security element in place to secure the area. That would have been more logical; in doing so he would be traveling with a small force rather than single-handedly taking on the enemies. As smart as he is, he's making a bad mistake in traveling alone. His success rate would have been greater with a group.
skseifer: Do you have any problems with the weaponry in Halo?
Capt. Luthan: I'm still wondering about the assault rifle. It's automatic, that's it. It can't do single shot or anything for accuracy. I can understand a few Marines having it, but not as a main weapon. Usually a majority of the group has a weapon that relies more on accuracy, then a select few have a machine gun for covering fire and such. The pistol is okay, but it should be black or dark green because of visibility reasons. I think the developers put in the shotgun so the flood would be easier to kill, but I really doubt that anyone but Special Forces would use it. The rocket launcher is reasonable, but most rocket-propelled grenades travel faster. The sniper rifle is weird, it's gas powered and it gives away your location. The most powerful sniper rifles nowadays aren't gas powered but they're really loud. The bullets they fire can travel close to a mile and can penetrate armored vehicles.
skseifer: What about the vehicles?
Capt. Luthan: Whoever thought of the idea for the Warthog must have been on drugs or Flintstone vitamins. The humvee is used for a reason: because of its ability to completely conceal the occupants and its carrying capacity. The Warthog has no doors and it's just screaming, "Someone please pick off the driver". The gunner seat is also widely open to fire; the entire back of the gunner is revealed. The Scorpion is reasonable, but the side seats should only be used if you've got a death wish. Everything the Covenant has is acceptable because they're more advanced and they seem kind of "magical", like medieval-style.
skseifer: Is there anything you'd like to see improved or included in Halo 2?
Capt. Luthan: I'd like to see a more diversity in aircraft, the military couldn't have agreed on the Longsword as the official spokesperson of the UNSC. I'd also like to see a lot more teamwork involved, it seems the Master Chief is the only one who can fire a weapon properly. Maybe even a change in outfits, I'd like to see the desert outfit version of their armor. The biggest thing of all, though, is a battlefield level where Marine ground troops, the Master Chief, and aircraft team up together and kicks some Covenant butt.
skseifer: And there you have it, realism in Halo as seen from the viewpoint of a Marine. Just how real is Halo to you?