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Reviews
1/29/2002
Weapons Factory Arena v3.3

1/25/2002
3DAP Book Review, Part 2

1/25/2002
3DAP Book Review, Part 1

1/19/2002
Bid For Power

1/17/2002
Halo: The Fall of Reach

1/11/2002
Star Wars: Obi-Wan (Xbox)

1/9/2002
Max Payne (PS2)

Halo: The Fall of Reach
Want to know the backstory behind Halo? This prequel should answer many of your questions.
By - Sal "Sluggo" Accardo | January 17, 2002

It’s not often we talk books here at 3DActionPlanet, especially with the recent glut of new consoles and great games for them. However, if you played through one of this season’s most popular titles -– Halo -– you may have found yourself intrigued by the story and wanting to know more about the conflict between the humans and the Covenant.

Halo: The Fall of Reach, by Eric Nylund, does just that. A 340-page novel, the book does more than provide simple background for the popular Xbox game. It literally establishes a universe for an entire franchise, spanning 35 years and numerous worlds, and makes it clear that there’s a much bigger story yet to be told.

In The Beginning

If you’re just joining us, Halo told the story of one super-soldier’s fight against countless aliens on a mysterious artificial ring-shaped world. While the game story raises – and answers – numerous questions of its own, it leaves much of the larger story untold. Who are these soldiers fighting you’re fighting with and for? Where did the aliens come from? And who is the hero known simply as Master Chief?

The Fall of Reach answers all of these questions (and more) in a story basically presented in five acts. Set in the 26th century, you first meet the future Master Chief as a six-year old boy named John, and follow the recruitment and training of him as well as the rest of the elite SPARTAN soldiers.

The story then jumps ahead to the squad’s mid-teens, where they undergo a series of experimental procedures that give them superhuman abilities (those of them that survive, that is). The soldiers are further outfitted with an experimental armor system, and hastily pushed into service when an alien threat known as the Covenant makes first contact with the human race and systematically begins wiping out any human colonies they can find. And as you may have guessed by the title, the story climaxes with the destruction of a major human base on the planet Reach, and the discovery of Halo.

Background Check

One of the best things about the book is that it provides a good deal of background information on all the major characters from Halo -– Captain Keyes, Cortana, and the Master Chief himself. While I questioned Keyes’ loyalties at various times playing the game, the book makes it perfectly clear that he is a lifetime servant of the UNSC.

Of course, it’s quite interesting to meet the mysterious Master Chief a six-year old boy, and watch his life progress throughout the book. We first meet him as John, and then “Number 117”, ascending rapidly through the ranks of the military. We also get to see the evolution of the Spartans from the military’s perspective –- it’s obvious this is a pet project not liked throughout the military, and they’re kept so isolated that it’s all other soldiers can do to keep from staring when in Spartan presence.

Lots of small touches are inserted throughout the book, suck as background on items like the Cole Protocol, which plays a large part in setting up the future plot of Halo. At the same time, The Fall of Reach also has a number of well-written action sequences. The Spartans engage in a number of missions throughout the story, and there are a series of large-scale ship-to-ship battles as well. It would be easy to see the book converted to a movie, or (even better) a mission pack for the game.

No Poster Children

One of the more interesting aspects of The Fall of Reach is that it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture as far as the history of the Spartans. The children determined to be the best candidates are literally taken away at age six and put immediately into boot camp. By age fourteen, the children are bona-fide killers, and are written about as if they were lifetime soldiers…which, in effect, they are. There are some moments where those in charge question the morality of their actions, but never for very long.

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay The Fall Of Reach is that I was never really sure if it was written afterward to explain away Halo’s universe, or beforehand to give the game a rich universe to draw from. The book does a great job of selling many of the less plausible parts of the game –- frankly, it should be included with every copy of Halo.

Epilogue

As you might guess, The Fall of Reach isn’t going to win any Pulitzers anytime soon. It’s well written, and a solid page-turner, but it’s still basically an action movie presented in book form.


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When all is said and done, though, Fall is more than a simple prequel to Halo. It presents Halo as only one chapter in a much bigger story, and really a side story at that. While the game’s conclusion hinted at the possibility of a sequel, The Fall of Reach offers no such ambiguity – it makes it perfectly clear that there’s a war with the Covenant to be won or lost, and we can only assume we’ll be hearing more about it before too long.

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