In defense of Halo's Library

Title In defense of Halo's Library
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Features
When September 9, 2014

(NOTE: The following article originally appeared online for Gamepro three years ago. I'm running it again now because I'm hoping there's something even remotely this good in Destiny..

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Hear hear. The Library was actually the second Halo level I played, and I have to say that playing it co-op was Left 4 Dead seven years before Left 4 Dead was out. Fending off neverending hordes, frantic shouts to my partner between reloads, and the sheer feeling of relief once the action lets up between the "crescendo" moments, it was the prototypical co-op zombie fighting shooter.

The Library is a great level to get a sense of why The Flood is so properly named The Flood, as they just rush in and submerge you in diseased and decaying limbs and fungus. Unfortunately, I also figured out "the trick" to The Library, which just turns it into a lengthy session of tedium.

Go forward until you see red dots on your radar, then fall back. Kill all Flood that charge your way. Repeat until red dots stop showing up on your radar. Progress to next area and repeat the process. Basically, the game will only continually respawn Flood as you defeat them while you're in a certain zone, and once you step out of that zone they stop spawning. So if you fall back during the first wave, you'll have a breather until you choose to go up against the second wave. This turns them from a never-ending force of terror into a tedious prototype of how Call of Duty's infinite respawns operate.

It's a shame, as while I understand the purpose of The Library, it's like knowing how a magician performs all its tricks. All the wonder and curiosity is gone. There is no suspense when you're the one that determines when the rabbit comes out of the hat.

Where's the XCOM: Enemy Unknown teleport bug when you need it?

See! Dang it! Tom! Where were you years ago with this damn article! I was arguing about how awesome this level was for years and I can never articulate myself this well. Too bad showing any one this article now will just make me look crazy.

"the inscrutable guts of [a] massive alien structure"
"slight but significant gameplay adjustment address[es] this"

One of the greatest levels of videogaming *snort*. Tom, you never fail to be your personal chief spindoctor. Its amazing how you can convert the feeble mind by making them buy into your own bullshit. It must be so effective because you yourself believe firmly in it. The bits about the story and the reveals i agree with though. Its the pivotal part for Halo 1´s story. A shame it plays in a series of tunnels with very bad pacing, awful dramatic direction and a failure to adhere to the rest of the games flow, without nudging the player into a new one. How someone that is so long into gaming fails to recognize that he just got starstruck by his own bullshit is beyond me. But rock on dude, that shit is as enticing as ever.

Btw. i also hope Destiny has something as remotely good* in it. Were you also bummed at the crappy loot tables in gone home and the shitty character development and dramatic pacing in Audiosurf?

Huh, how can one spindoctor their own opinion about another's work? Tom didn't write this in an attempt to defend something he created, that would be spindoctoring, Bungie created the game.

I agree with you about the flow and pacing, I got pretty sick of the library, but I don't have to agree with the writer to enjoy reading his point of view and value the opinion. So yes it is enticing and part of why Tom has been so long in gaming.

Damn, you're good!

It's so good I stopped playing in the middle of it and lost all interest in the series forever.

Rats, this article ran on Gamepro in 2011! I should have thought to send you a link! :)

Fair point, but I'm glad I never managed to unravel it like that. In a way, isn't that true of much of the smoke and mirrors any videogame uses? If you figure out the trick, you can spoil the magic.

Ah, right, the Library in co-op! I didn't even think to bring that up! Good call, Agiel.

"Feeble mind"ed "bullshit" Tom! Except, of course, for the parts he agrees with. That part isn't bullshit, but genius.

Just seeing that screenshot brought back the internal script in my mind:
1) Fire shotgun until clip is empty
2) Don't reload shotgun- throw a grenade to blast the big guys away, and pull out assault rifle
3) Any big guys left?
4a) If yes, run toward firing assault rifle into them, and punch them when you get close. Pray it's enough.
4b) If no, clean up the tiny guys with assault rifle, switch back to shotgun and finish reload

Reminds me I need to go back and finish my play through. I'm trying for the achievement to finish the library on Heroic or higher without dying and it's kicking my ass of course.

At first I didn't agree with you but then I read what you wrote and now I agree.

I've never been much of a shooter guy, but playing through the Library co-op is a gaming memory I will always cherish. Hands down this was my favourite level of Halo and nothing in any of the core sequels came close. Coordinating reloads with my partner and covering our sectors was pure shooty bliss, foreshadowing the day many years later when I would finally convince him to get a gaming PC and join me in Arma 3. In fact, we often went back after completing the game on all difficulty levels just to play through the Library for the thrill of it all.

Indeed, and I hope I didn't do too much damage for your future enjoyment of the level now that I've revealed the man behind the curtain. Of all the neat tricks my brother and I discovered playing this game, I'd say that's the one that makes it "easier" while simultaneously ruining the level completely.