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The Halo 4 Case for Greatness

Like many others, last Tuesday I picked up a copy of Halo 4 before going to oust our president. I immediately noticed that the game raises some interesting questions.

First: the meaning of greatness. Some context: The genetically-engineered super soldier and protagonist Master Chief is the last of his kind. And he, of course, saved the galaxy from the theocratic -- shades of Al-Qaeda? -- Covenant, a group of alien races that serve as the series' primary villains.

A character in the game questions this. He certainly likes to kill, the character asks. Doesn't that make him a sociopath?

The doctor who created him dismisses the claim. The Chief is a good man, she says. Look at his accomplishments.

Fans of the game will know that Master Chief stopped at nothing to defend humanity. He cares not for himself. He nearly died. And when we last saw him, he sat frozen in a ship, forever caught in the eternal drift of space.

Second: bioethics. As mentioned, characters begin to question the purpose of the SPARTAN program that created Master Chief. They're right to do so: the leaders of the program stole children from their parents and replaced them with clones. They altered their DNA to make them perfect. And they fitted them with incredibly advanced armor. The kicker: all of the other SPARTAN soldiers died. Master Chief survived. Does human nature, then, even burst through the attempts of the technocrats and authoritarians who wish to play with it? These questions will likely be further explored as this new trilogy progresses.

We live in uncertain, turbulent times. Our president won re-election, and now he'll attempt to complete the fundamental transformation of the United States, the dream of progressives since Woodrow Wilson.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.