Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"The Big Picture"

And here we are. The innaugural episode is about "Halo."

39 comments:

seigi ac said...

Love your videos, there's not enough of them on the interwebs.

Keep up the good work =)

Jacob Beck said...

Damn. I have ANOTHER reason to look forward to the coming weeks.

Dave said...

And bob makes another staggeringly ignorant video about a game series he knows little to nothing about and projects his own strawman onto it in lieu of doing 5 minutes of research.

Never mind a man who worships at the altar of Nintendo trying to criticise the storytelling of ANY game. The stories of the main halo games are of course simple, with bungie relying on books and supplemental materials to tie all the in depth stuff together. But they are head and shoulders above anything Nintendo has or is ever likely to give us. And I’d rather have a somewhat stereotypical tough chick than a simpering ninny like they turned samus into. Now I can’t expect you to put too much research into the inner workings of the halo universe, then again you tried to spend an entire video turning Mario galaxy into Christian allegory....

And it appears your ignorance isn’t just limited to video games. History lesson time: 300 is not a documentary. The historical Spartans were slave owners and used slaves as cannon fodder in that very battle. The Persians, by comparison, were actually more socially progressive, and allowed conquered states to retain much of their cultural values. Their army was largely a MERCENARY one. Your comparison is completely backwards. Oh and there’s that little tidbit about how the development fo the halo games predate the movie.
Hell, the entire basis of the second and third games is the need for people of different cultures to come together to do what is right. The elites are nearly exterminated by the prophets because they were speaking out against eradicating humanity. The brutes on the other hand had no such problems.

You literally boiled down the series to the exact opposite of the point it is making. You might as well say Avatar was pro mining and anti nature.

For a guy who likes to go about calling himself the overthinker and talking about the big picture...you might want to give these things a little thought. Or thought beyond “how can I warp this to fit the conclusions I already drew about it?”
Still waiting on a response on the spider-man issue, BTW.

jameshayes said...

@dave,

God, how I hate internet arrogance.

I think what Bob is doing with this episode of The Big Picture is a good thing. Regardless of whether his analysis and commentary is "right" (however arbitrarily you define "rightness" or "wrongness" when it comes to the analysis of video games), at least it brings awareness of intelligence and critical thinking to a medium that otherwise doesn't receive much of either.

Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, and, hell, if you must, everyone's allowed to be wrong. The fact that he sparks controversy with his videos is not bad. Definitely could be worse, right?

Debate is a good thing. The only time when either criticism or acclaim of any sort becomes caustic is when it refuses argument. That's not something I think Bob tries to do, does he?

Cevian said...

Thanks Bob. This fills out my week at the Escapist. Tuesday was feeling really lonely.

Dave said...

@jameshayes

Debate is fine, and I've said before he is not required to like the series. None of my freinds do. They are all about call of duty. No idea how that works. My problem is that he makes his points based on information that if factually incorrect and that could be rectified by a 5 minute google search.


He'll go on long ranst about how people don't give nintendo enough credit for story, but not grant a fraction of the same attention to detail to series he has already decided he dislikes.

Controversy is not bad in and of itself. Controversy as a result of intellectual laziness or deliberate dishonesty, is.

"The only time when either criticism or acclaim of any sort becomes caustic is when it refuses argument. That's not something I think Bob tries to do, does he?"

Its becoming increasingly likely that he does. Hell look at the spiderman reboot. he'll make a claim, it will be refuted, and then he'll ignore it. Either he has the most selective memory in history or he doesn't care about having accurate information, he cares about ranting.

Scott Glasgow said...

YES!
Thank You Bob!
This is what The Game Overthinker USED to be like, and this is what MovieBob USED to be like.
PLEASE keep intellectualizing things like this, it's why I love you. You've probably been drained or simply tired off of the last series, but perhaps this new series will bring you back to grand form. Thank you so much for this Bob.
Wow... that came off as more criticism than complement... sorry there. Hopefully you see what I'm saying though, and understand that I still love ys!

Popcorn Dave said...

I didn't think this was such a great start, to be honest. My first thought was "Halo? Really?" as I was hoping for something more than Game Overthinker Lite. Then you proceeded to try your hardest to show us racism where there is none. I haven't played the Halo games, but people in the Escapist comments thread have already explained quite nicely why the games clearly aren't racist or even particularly suspect.

In fact, you basically ADMIT that you're reading too much into it, but then you say "oh, but do you really think the average Halo fan notices all that context stuff?". Clearly you're trying to have your cake and eat it too. "Yeah, I know the symbolism's not really there but maybe someone will think it is, so I'm going to complain about it anyway okay?". It also sounds like you're chastising Bungie for not toning down the "suspect" imagery just in case those stupid Halo players get the wrong message. That's not only incredibly elitist, it's the same flawed thinking used by moral guardians use when they rail against sex in Mass Effect, violent movies and so on. You've said it yourself in your RE5 video (the original one) - story context is important, not superficial images.

I like the fact that you've been allowed to talk about ANYTHING on this show, and I look forward to hearing more from the series (preferably on a subject you're well-versed in, rather than an old rant about something you have a personal vendetta against) but that doesn't excuse making half-arsed arguments.

Ezenwa said...

Let's all remember this for one split second:

The Escapist Magazine is giving Bob a platform to say whatever he wants about whatever he wants that comes to mind. They want him to rant. Remember that! It's a rant. Not all rants have to be objective, and not all subjective, but if this is what they want (his opinion, or whatnot), then that's what they'll get. Listen to the first set of words he says in the vid: Escapist must be crazy to ask for his view on things, and I'm to assume it's in a rant form. That said, don't be surprised, discouraged, etc. It's what they want, right?

That said, if a video form of what Bob does here and on gameoverthinker.blogspot.com is what he'll be paid for, then let's see where it goes.

Aaron said...

WOW! Congratulations Bob! I've never lost all of my respect for someone that fast. That's quite an accomplishment.

The Dude said...

Isn't it possible that the reason the enemies are so diverse is that it's more fun to have multiple types of enemies with multiple AI configurations instead of samey bland character models over and over again? Isn't it possible that the reason they made the main character an armor wearing badass is so you could play as an armor wearing badass? Isn't it possible that a game could have a mediocre or non existance story and still be fun? Why can Mario fight a diverse group of monsters and not have it be some metaphor for fascism or whatever? (fascism did start in Italy. Coincidence?)

Timothy said...

@The Dude

Well there is the fact that in the Mario game there is only one person and not a whole group. I suppose technically "one person" could be argued as "always fascist" since when there's only one person, only one person ever makes all the decisions.

James said...

Well, I suppose you would start with Halo. I gotta say, I was very disappointed when I saw the title, but then I saw the video (along with the new TGO) and you were much fairer than I thought you'd be. That said, there are still some issues.


The key arc of the Halo series, as it was, is Humanity and the Covenant working together to destroy the Flood. The fact that you didn't mention them is a glaring omission, since they're the principle villains of the Halo universe. See, your analysis would be right if Reach was the only game, instead of being a Gaiden game for the original trilogy. The second Halo massively switched your perspective by forcing you to play as the Covenant and realizing that "we aren't so different". All of the other tropes are just generalized military sci-fi tropes: the supersoldier fascist regime, the zombie-bug-hivemind, etc.


It's missing points like these why the more intelligent readers are disappointed whenever you bring up Halo. Your analysis are always interesting, but remain flawed by your (seeming) bias against the series and refusal to engage with it on anything more than a superficial level.

G0kiza said...

Humanity is almost extinct by the way, thanks to these overtly religious, world purging fascist you so love called the Covenant. Spartans are comprised of all races and genders, and it is there heroic sacrifice (all of this you missed out on because you didn't play the fucking games or cared enough about the story to fairly judge) that moves you to care about the story.

And don't start with that Industrial Complex shit mister, "Proud to be an American, I liked Avatar/300, violence and tits = good movie, substandard reviewer and hypocritical ass troll in general."

RanX3roX said...

I still love your videos and enjoy your commentary.

However, Your dissertation on the Halo saga sounds like Roger Ebert explaining why video games are not art.

ZAENGO said...

It also doesnt help that the forerunners thought of humanity as "special" and only gave them the ability to reclaim the keys which activate the Halo network. This basically makes humanity the "master race".

but i like the Halo games anyway, i think that once you read all the books and really pay attention to the story of the franchise, the story makes alot more sense, and is much more interesting and original than the games themselves let on. For instance, the fact that the UNSC seems pretty fascist and evil when you get right down to it is completely intentional. its like, "yeah, these guys kidnap children, turn them into faceless killing machines, and act like dicks to everyone, but the covenant enslave and forcibly convert entire races of people for the main goal of destroying the entire fucking universe." The fact that the humans are fascist dicks is not meant to make them look good. And i thought Reach was pretty damn good. Bob, i know you dont love online multiplayer, but this game does it really well. and how bout that color scheme huh? did you like those new primary colors on the spartan armor? i know i did.

The Dude said...

@Timothy

I know that, I was being facetious. My point is that moviebob is barely looking at the games themeselves. What did he say that could not have been infered through just watching the trailer? The only reason he seems to hate Halo is because the protagonist wears armor, and by the way, while Halo was obviously not the first to do that, it was done before they were mandatory for every game. It just seems a little unfair of him to keep bashing on it for every reason except for what it actually is. Halo is not about deep messages and political implications. Bungie isn't staffed by skinheads looking to take over the world or whatever. Just because Halo was an early Xbox live game, doesn't make it responsible for the countless idiots who play it online. Masterchief may not be the most well rounded character in video games, but he's big, tough, has a badass voice, and spouts one-liners. He's video game's Arnold Schwarzenegger! I know everyone doesn't like Halo, but at least make your arguments relevant and not some weird tangent about subliminal messages or whatever.

untra said...

Eh,I feel you Bob. But after all, on Bungie's list of importance in regards to Halos aspects, the first on the list is the multiplayer. At least halfway down is the story.

Great new series Bob! I can't wait to hear the episode on politics!

Q said...

Good show, Bob! The first episode of your new series and you use it to call an entire fanbase a bunch of crypto-fascist.

akkuma420 said...

Halo....... Again.......

yay......(sigh)

Arturo said...

I like the show's jazzy vibe.
Nice work, Bob

Dave said...

@ the dude. Oh I am so blogging about that. It fits so well. The only good kind fo mushroom peopel are the white subservietn toads, whereas the goombas are mindless monsters than must be crushed under your heel. The koopas are so evil even their CHILDREN must be killed. And wario's big nose and lust for money make him an horrific stereotyped covetous jew.

Hell, his moustache even resembles the stereotypical peyos....and waluigi's upside down L looks like quite a few hebrew letters....

@ Zaengo.

Humanity never benefits from their 'chosen status'. In brings down decades of methodical genocide from people jealous that their gods chose them instead. There's definietly a master race vibe here, but not it ain't humanity.

It also bears mentioning that the UNSC isn't fascist. It's run by the UN-hardly a far right wet dream there. The moral implications fo the spartan program are agonized over by the people who oversee them, and it is only because human civilization is being torn apart by a civil war caused by isolationsit extrmists who come off alot like teabaggers with high explosives that it is used anyway. And only because the prvious iteration of the program to train existing soldiers was a failure.

Hell the entire characterization of Halo as macho chest thumping manly man fantasy goes out the door when you realize that master chief is a virgin being ordered through all 3 games by a woman who is simultaneously his sister and his mother.

Hell, the two most important characters in the halo universe are women.

√Āsmundur said...

disappointment, I generally like your commentary but this one is far below standard and your argument is thin and kind of stupid,

You can do better than this Bob, a lot better....


good though that you have a new show though, will be watching...

Daemon said...

Hey Bob,

Long time fan of 'Escape to the Movies', glad to see that you got another show. I really agree with how you opened. I've always found the Covenant and its history to be far more interesting then the human side, and I agree that there's a lot of gray area when it comes to how the UNSC handled things which could make for some good storytelling (just look at Homecoming).

I started losing you when you started going into the bit on how the humans are supposed to be this homogeneous army since...well, Noble Team and the UNSC in general is pretty diverse.

I mean, let's look at Noble Team. Kat sounds like she's from East Europe, Jorge is Hungarian, Jun is Asian, Emile is Black, Noble Six is faceless and...well, the less said about Carter and his shifty eyes the better (though in their defense, the commercial was done by the Germans). This is without mentioning the variety we see in the marine NPCs.

I get what you're saying, and there is a lot of truth behind it, but behind those generic space marine helmets is a pretty wide assortment of people (could be better, though). Still like the show regardless and I can't wait for the next episode!

Jokerlite said...

Er…perhaps comparing the Spartans (Halo versions) to Nazis was a little much, but I do agree that the Spartan army could use a little diversity in terms of intergalactic races. Any story points beyond “They pushed us, so we’ll push back!” is…well…pushing it. Even that bit about the original Spartans/Persians might be going in a little too deep.

The big thing about Halo is its multiplayer. If you don’t like the idea of competing against other players, then it might not be for you.

Just like grinding baddies in your Castlevania game on DS (Order of Ecclesia I believe it was), you’ll have to go through the slings and arrows of the game. In the case of competitive games, that means practicing a lot (and losing a lot >.>).

I think the reason people like Halo so much is because they enjoy the “grind,” if you will, of competing to become a better player.

a.k.a.A.M.V.P said...

I wonder what the implication is when I get more entertainment and information from reading the comments of a video than from the video itself. I'll give Bob the benefit of the doubt and say this is what he was hoping for, and that's fine... for now.

Chris Cesarano said...

Wow, it's amazing how so many people just missed the point of what's being said rather than think "Huh, I never thought about it that way before..."

I wouldn't have recommended Halo: Reach, as it basically legitimizes the aspect of "If you like Halo, then you like it. If you don't, you never will". Which is fine. The story was ass, but for me the game itself was just fantastic.

But enough of that. To me, the interesting part of Halo was always the Covenant, and while we can assume that the primary reason for making it a collective of alien races was for the sake of variety in foes, they managed to do it in a way that was much more interesting than anything else. The Covenant are just awesome. The mystery of them drew me into Halo in the first place, and seeing their culture in the second just sold me.

Since then, however, Halo's been over-run by Spartan obsession, and as such the franchise has gone downhill narratively as a whole. I wish I had the customization options for Elite models in Reach like I do Spartans (which, ultimately, never look that different).

Nice video, Bob. Now all I need is something on Monday and I have all five days covered (Big Picture, Zero Punctuation, Extra Credits and Escape to the Movies).

Just Gavin said...

So your analysing why the enemies in a game are different. Maybe it's because every game does that? To give the players more to shoot at. It's what games do, remember?

You're not the sharpest tool in the tool shed are you.

Lance said...

Hey Bob- While I disagree with some of your analysis and wish you would have mentioned Halo 2's character change, you did introduce to me a new way to look at Halo. It made me pause and think for a minute. Ultimately I arrived at the question of why so many people (myself included) find Halo, and FPS games in general, so much fun to play. And also how some of us can go from a realistic shooter game to a cartoonish platformer in an instant and have just as much fun. I still haven't figured out my answers to these questions, but thanks Bob for making me think.

@ Chris
I highly recommend Unskippable- they update it on Mondays.

Mjolnir said...

Bob....you really just need to do more research. I can see that you're usually a pretty down to earth guy who likes to take a look at things in a different light which I can respect....but this.....this was just....there really isn't such a word for this (sad? pathetic? idk). You came at a series that is so riff with the ability to pick it apart and rant whole heartily about it but this sort of argument is just wrong. You took a shot at something without looking at the big picture and ended up falling of the edge of the world and insulting many people who usually welcome your critic. A few minutes of asking your friends who do like the Halo universe would have I'm sure changed your whole argument and allowed you to solidify it that much more. Halo to me represents very much like that of a parallel of Human history and almost a prequel to Star Trek. Humanity united, but still we are controlled by our utmost fears and insecurities that we sacrifice our humanity in the name of our survival and way of thinking. We have sacrificed our greatest innocence for its future. And as for the covenant? Yes they are interesting because you're unfamiliar with them. They are driven much more like the crusades of the ages when the Catholic Church, a unity of many different people drawn in by the promise of salvation deeply rooted in honor and traditions who look onto those not aligned with them as savage and ignorant. The deeper meanings of the Halo universe is that of how much must we lose within ourselves to achieve that of what we most desire whether it be power, unity, or our own legacy. All of this you could have learned so easily, but hardly even considered. You have become not a man who seeks greater understanding but rather a man who looks on from the outside criticizing the book by its cover while standing as far away as possible.

Hyrabethian said...

You know, I honestly would have had a lot more respect for Halo if the theory was true and Halo really had undertones of fascism and racism, because as of now I still see it as a militaristic overly melodramatic wankfest.

A little bit of self reflection and criticism would go a long way, 300 if you remember had mass infanticide committed by the so called good guys in the very first scene, and was also about the consequences of being a "survival of the fittest" society and turning on the weak. In the end, the the cripple never became a loathsome character because we felt his pain and how the Spartan way of life made him turn on his own people.

Such material would actually add a lot more depth into the Halo series, it would show the flaws needed to make the character seem more human, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't intentional and Halo is still one giant wank of time.

Bloated up the ass, and made to mislead 14 year old boys to what it takes to be a man.

tintaman said...

Sorry Bob, but I....din't like this one very much. As said previously, in the second and third Halo games much of the plot is devoted to the co-operation between the humans and the elites....sounds pretty multicultural to me. Personally, as much as I like pretty much EVERYTHING you make, this one gets a no from me this week.

Benfea said...

Dammit, Bob! Near the beginning there, you said "monkey" and showed an ape on the screen!

Getting monkeys and apes mixed up is like getting cats and dogs mixed up, only this is worse because we are apes.

Apes are larger, don't have tails, are more intelligent, and have more complex social structures.

*Yosemite Sam-style mumbling*

SaLaDiN_5 said...

Yooooooooooo Ok Dave doesn't know a bit about greek history and the battle of Thermopylae (300)seriously man talking about uneducated people when I don't know proper english secondly the bad guys in halo are not multiculture they share the same culture and they are VARIANT TYPE OF ENEMYS you know differnt weapon tactics and in-battle Emotions, the thing everyone screems thats is not enough in games VARIETY, that was the main reason they are alliens the first place so they can be one entarly differend species for every class of enemy ; secondly if you want to understand halo try halo 3 none other.

white templar said...

A big government liberal talking about fascist symbolism. How did the 'irony' of this escape you Bob?

greeniekin said...

I'm not a big fan of halo either. It is a rich universe with lots of details. So my understanding is not that great.

Though I actually thought of halo as representation of religions conquering other races and then brain washing them with a new belief system. Then expect everything has to be taken on faith. Though thats the obvious thing they were going for. Also it allowed them to have a variety of enemies.

your twisted view of it is very interesting. Completely missed it.

Though your going to have a lot of upset halo players :P

Jeff said...

The more I think about it, I'm positive what led up to this video was The Escapist going "Remember how you said a bunch of uninformed, unintelligent garbage about Metroid: Other M and it pissed people off and got ScrewAttack THOUSANDS of hits? Do that for us too." and MovieBob agreed because he loooooooves the sound of his own voice.

The irony inherent in him finding Avatar to be a great execution of refined, familiar archetypes with NOOOOO racism whatsoever while Halo is ridden with cliches and oh yeah it's goddamn facist is staggering for me. Purely staggering.

Popcorn Dave said...

I agree Jeff... many of MovieBob's recent videos have been nothing but trolling, plain and simple. He's always liked taking the less popular side in an argument, and it's good that he's trying to provoke debate, but lately he's been throwing out a lot half-arsed rubbish in an attempt to mine easy page hits and long comment threads, and he doesn't bother to research anything or meet his opponents half way. It's pretty easy to "provoke debate" when all you're doing is picking the least popular position and shouting it at a large audience, and it's especially easy when you stereotype and condescend to people who might disagree with you, but it rarely makes the speaker look very good. The annoying thing about Bob's videos is he constantly engages in these childish trolling behaviours while simultaneously trying to act like he's above it all. He wants to have his cake and eat it too.

He sometimes still puts out some good videos, but even those don't seem to escape his troll tendencies (like bitching about the Expendables vs. Scott Pilgrim in every movie review or talking about dumb redneck FPS fans in the new video).

Timothee Yeramian said...

Look, i think story is the most important thing in games. I mean, Gothic, System Shock 2, Halo, and Dear Esther are one of the most interesting games for me.

That said, I feel like to covered your ears and closed your eyes and went "lalalalalalalala!" at anything that made halo great.

You also didn't bother to consciously and purposefully take some facts and details out of context to forge them in a manner that would make halo look bad.

Here's another thing you could have said...

"The suits of the SPARTANS are called MJOLNIR, also know as the hammer of Thor, which is main Norss god, a culture known for its barrbarism, and its habit of destroying villages and pillaging and stealing from towns. THUS, HALO PROMOTES TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE WEAK!!! ITS EVIL."

Granted, the quote above isnt as intellectualized as the stuff you would say, but its essentially the same thing.

Dude, im a huge fan, and dont think ive missing a single one of your vids, and this is the first time i've felt you've misrepresented the topic of your talk.


I really hope you dont make the same mistake again.

-A loyal fan