Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Watch vs. Play: Starship Troopers vs. Halo 2

Sorry for the absence. I was in the Dominican Republic visiting family. While I was there, I was able to think of a few more film/game match-ups. One match-up I thought of was Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and Bungie StudiosHalo 2 (the Xbox version).

Starship Troopers

When I was about 5 years old, I watched a film that I’d never forget. Every time I fought an akrid in Lost Planet or heard of a film about giant bugs, that same film always comes to my mind. That film is none other than Starship Troopers.

The premise of the movie is simple: Giant bugs called Arachnids are attempting to invade Earth by sending asteroids at us. The only thing the Earthlings can do is build a large army and wait for them to attack.

Enter Johnny Rico: protagonist and mobile infantryman. He joins the army to feel closer to his girlfriend and so he can obtain citizenship, an earned honor in this future society instead of a birth-given right. After a training incident, he feels the army isn’t for him any longer, so he calls his parents to tell them he’s going to quit. As he is talking to them, an asteroid crashes into his home town of Buenos Aires, killing everyone, including his parents. Johnny then decides to stay in the army to get revenge for the death of his parents.

The plot is very practical and simple, but it’s entertaining regardless. Everything from the propaganda commercials you see in between scenes to the over dramatic, and slightly funny, news casts kept my butt planted for the entirety of the film (129 minutes).

Since I had forgotten most of the movie, I went out and got a blue ray copy of it. Due to this, I can’t comment on the visual effects of the movie. But I will say this: the movie looked like it was made circa 2005 (in blue ray), which isn’t that bad at all considering it’s from 1997.

Though I can’t comment on the visual effects, I must say that I enjoyed their use of practical effects. When the blood was shown practically (not with CGI) I enjoyed it. It looked slightly real, but slightly over the top, which made me kind of laugh every time I saw practical use of blood. Another practical effect I liked appears right before the main cast heads off to the military. Their doing some sort of dissection in high school and they have to remove the intestines and everything. It looked so real. I’m really glad that they implemented practical effects. It made the film better.

The casting for the movie was fantastic as well. Casper Van Dien (plays Johnny Rico) has that look about him that says “I’m a hero.” Everyone else looks perfect for their role, but Van Dien just stood out the most to me. The best part is that not only does the cast look perfect for each of their respective roles, they act fantastically as well.

I honestly see nothing worth noting that I didn’t like about the movie, except one thing. They have some sort of rocket/grenade thing. In the beginning, they use it and it destroys entire nests (I’d guess the blast range was about one mile) and blows up humongous bugs. But at other parts of the movie, the grenade’s blast range is significantly lower. I found this slip of continuity slightly annoying.

Pros:

-Tongue-in-cheek humor

-Easily understood plot

-Practical effects

-Great “hero” character

Cons:

-Important aspect of the film experiences a slip of continuity

-You either love the movie or hate it

Halo 2

The gaming world was taken by storm November 9th, 2004. Halo 2 was released upon the world like a tornado, and everyone else was a leaf. It sucked us all in and kept us whirling for 7 years (its multiplayer servers shut down this past April). But even though the tornado that is Halo 2 has finally stopped whirling, it will always be remembered as one of the best and most influential first-person-shooters to have ever been released.

The Halo universe is well known for its in-depth story. Every book, graphic novel and animated film was awesome. The thing that always got me though is how empty the storylines were in the games. Sure, the story exists, but what is it really? If you don’t read the books or the graphic novels or watch the animated film, the story means nothing. With that said, I’ll cut to the chase: The Halo universe’s story is magnificent, but Halo 2’s standalone story was mediocre, if not just disappointing (especially with that ending).

Halo 2’s single player was an extremely impersonal experience (the story was basically “Go to this place and kill these aliens! Then go to this other place and kill these aliens! Now go to some other place to kill zombies! You’ve been turned into an elite, kill more aliens!”). I never felt one drop of any emotion from any character and, because of that, felt no connection with any aspect of the game. I was just aiming and shooting, without even completely understanding why most of the times (When you did understand why, it was some bogus and dumb reason).But sure, some could say that feeling some sort of attachment to the characters of Halo 2 isn’t important because it was all about the multiplayer. News flash: multiplayer capabilities no longer exist for Halo 2. This may not seem important at the moment, but you’ll see where I’m going with this when you get down to my verdict.

The graphics were awesome for their time. When I popped that game in and played it for the first time, I was in love. The character skins were so smooth and the levels were just so perfect. Fighting enemies online was always awesome, especially towards the two anniversary of the game where the updates started enhancing the graphics.

Though I stated that online multiplayer is absent, that doesn’t take away its multiplayer element completely. You still have Cooperative campaign mode (campaign mode with one friend), System Link mode (Up to 16 players battle competitively) and Split-screen mode (Up to four players battle competitively). Though not online, you can still have endless fun slaying hordes of elites and grunts in cooperative campaign, sniping each other from across Zanzibar in System Link mode or having a tank battle on Coagulation in split-screen mode. Halo 2 was one of the first console games to really cause people to go out and actually use System Link mode. All kinds of people used it for all sorts of things from setting up an international tournament to simply playing with seven other friends on two Xboxes.

Pros:

-Graphics are very nice

-The multiplayer experience can still be fun and exciting; all you need are a few friends and two or more Xboxes

-It’s a classic game that will be talked about for ages

Cons:

-The story is boring

-The online multiplayer servers no longer exist

-Connecting emotionally with any of the characters is virtually impossible

Verdict

Starship Troopers gives you everything anyone could want in a sci-fi movie: action, guts, blood, guns, aliens, sarcasm and two scenes where there are naked chicks. But Halo 2 has one thing that anyone who has ever lived wants: seemingly endless fun. From split-screen skirmishes to Halo 2 tournaments (both big and small), you get a bang for your buck. But the issue that arises here is that you need to find people to play with to enjoy the game. Most people who you ask to come over and play Halo 2 will just respond by inviting you to play Halo 3 or (come September) Halo: Reach, all of which have online capabilities.

That last sentence was my deciding factor. Starship Trooper doesn’t win because it’s better than Halo 2; it wins because you have no reason to buy Halo 2 anymore. I would buy Starship Troopers over Halo 2, but I’d never buy Starship Troopers over Halo 3. I would say the same about Halo: ODST, but come on. That game was trash.

Think I’m wrong or want to express the fact that you agree with me? Comment below, add my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to share your opinions.

About Me

Location: Florida, United States
About Me: I'm Nicholas Lara. I'm the Entertainment Editor at my high school, Royal Palm Beach High School. I want to be an Entertainment journalist for a big name company like IGN or Rolling Stone.