I always cringe when I see “most” and “ever” in a prompt title. To quote Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, “How can anyone even know that?” Part of me is hesitant to answer, because I know whatever I choose as the most epic scene ever will differ immensely from what anyone else thinks is the most epic, and while people are awesome about respectfully voicing differences of opinion, there’s part of me that still fears judgment.
But I suppose I should just go for it, because even if I have gaps in my gaming knowledge I still know enough to write about what I feel is the most epic scene ever.
Upon thinking it over, I’ve decided that the final scene of Halo: Reach may just be the most epic scene I’ve ever encountered. The designers of Reach had some pretty strong nerve to do what they did with the end; Reach was a slight departure from the ‘normal’ Halo games, and it stayed that way up until the very end. In a lot of ways it was a fitting ending to the series (as produced by Bungie), and a fitting end to the prequel that was true to the Halo universe and to the Spartan way.
In a sense the ending scene is pretty fatalistic, and while someone could easily say, “I invested hours of my time and got blisters on my thumbs for this??” it was worth it.
As you go about futilely trying to save the doomed planet of Reach, Noble Team is slowly picked off one at a time. The final missions involve getting Cortana to Master Chief aboard the Pillar of Autumn, and then finally seeing it safely out of the atmosphere. And then Omega Mission begins: Lone Wolf. The objective? Survive.
That’s it. No collect x, y, or z… no find an alternate route to place q… just… survive.
The first time I played it was with a group; we were holding our ground against the Covenant pretty well until one guy got shot down. He waited to respawn, but didn’t. Then another guy went down, and we slowly began to realize that this was it. All we could do was try to survive as long as possible until it was last man (or woman) standing, and then all they could do was try and hold on. And then it was too late.
It’s fatalistic, and wicked depressing. I grant that in a heartbeat. I was stunned by the bold move on Bungie’s part. But at the same time it was truly epic, and embodied everything about the Spartans and Halo in general. It’s sad, but valiant, and there’s something satisfying about the idea that if I’m going to go down, it’ll be going down while fighting and I’m going to take a few of those things with me.