I was talking with a friend this week about some of the saddest (or just emotionally charged) moments in all of video games. We talked about games like The Last of Us, FF7, Shadow of the Colossus, and Metal Gear Solid. All of these games have had majorly emotional moments.
But there's one that stays with me, and probably always will. For me, the saddest moment of all time was the self-sacrifice of Cortana.
Halo was a big deal for me growing up. It was an early game in my gamer life and one I played extensively with friends. It was a narrative I fell in love with. I even read three of those novels that extended the universe. (The Fall of Reach, the Flood, First Strike)
I really loved the story. I played most of the installments to the series - the exception being Halo Wars. After Halo 3 I figured it was over, cliffhanger or not.
When Halo 4 rolled out, under a different studio, I was iffy about it. I felt, and still feel, that Halo is a Bungie game. Shit, if Bungie makes nothing else new forever, I think they'll be remembered fondly for Halo: CE if nothing else.
Anyway, I played 4. I think I'm pretty ambivalent about the game, really. It's not my favorite Halo title, but I also didn't hate it. I think the storyline is a little weird, but I like it. I like the history that is established and the interesting layers added to it.
But I'll always remember it for Cortana's apparent death. The scene where Chief detonates the bomb to stop the Composer, where Cortana protects him a final time before appearing in full splendor has a tragic beauty for me.
This was the woman (AI, yeah, okay) who you'd spent three whole games with across the galaxy, fighting in defense of humanity. She was an early part of your mission as Master Chief, an inextricable partner in your journey. She was the only other voice when you fought back the Flood.
I think the best part of Halo 4 was that they really did a lot to deepen the relationship between Cortana and Chief. Her rampancy problem is established early, and you can hear Chief's growing concern over the course of the game. He needs to get her back to Earth if he wants to save her.
He ultimately fails, and the scene is heartbreaking.
Now, I don't have an XBone, so I haven't played 5. But from my limited understanding, Cortana makes a reappearance. I don't know how to feel about that. I was already getting past her being gone. To bring her back seems insulting to the emotions that her sacrifice evoked.
I don't know, though, without playing 5. All I know is that Cortana brought me one of the msot emotional moments in gaming that I can think of.