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Halo Reach Black Box: The Perfect Collectors Edition

There are many things that I love in the world of gaming, and among them is a good collectors edition. A good collectors edition is a surprisingly difficult thing to come by nowadays, with companies deciding that the best thing to do is to pack the box with as many gubbins as possible and then jacking up the price. How many times have you seen a collectors edition package in a “Limited Edition Coin” that you’re never going to look at again, or a “World Map” that you’re never going to display or use? Too often would be my guess. Then we have the collectors editions that include a less than impressive figure or statue, and this particular irks me because I love a good figure or statue.
But what makes a collectors edition a truly great collectors edition? Well, some nice packaging and a fairly decent artbook make for a good collectors edition and, like mentioned above, a nice figure of an iconic character is always appreciated too. But a truly great collectors edition draws you into the game world and expands upon hitherto untouched horizons of in-game lore while also adding more depth to the setting and the characters. It is, for this reason, that I consider the Halo: Reach Limited Edition (otherwise known as the Black Box Edition) to be the pinnacle of collectors editions.

Sure, the Halo Reach Legendary Edition exists, and within its ridiculously big box you get the Black Box Edition and a faux-rock outcrop with the Spartan Noble Team arrayed dramatically along it, but that was as much of a box-filler then as it is now, with the figures themselves being nothing special and the base of the statue itself being rather plain. Around the time Halo Reach came out, I was working at a local game store and a few of my buddies bought the Legendary Edition, but few ever actually cleared space to permanently display the diorama which now sells for a mere £30 on ebay. The Black Box however, it contains something much smaller, much more personal and infinitely more valuable to someone like myself, meaning someone who thinks Halo officially died with Halo 4.

Inside the Black Box you find a sealed operations packet from ONI, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the shadiest group of humans you could ever dream of encountering in the Halo setting. Inside that little package is an item of particular value which, if handled by the wrong person, can result in a twenty-five year term of imprisonment, or during times of war, a death penalty under the terms of the Official Secrets Act of 2550. There’s no joking around here, because you’ve got your hands on the personal diary of the one and only, Dr. Catherine Halsey.

This outwardly unassuming journal with its magnetic seal was with Halsey for a long time, and throughout its pages she chronicles much of her experience with the UNSC and the many secret operations that she was involved with. It’s packed with notes and pencil sketches from her life, it’s truly a window into the mind, everyday routines and thoughts of a woman who was willing to go further than anyone else in the pursuit of protecting humanity while also plumbing the depths of questionable ethics.

Inside, you’ll also find Halsey’s UNSC Keycard that would be used on a fairly regular basis for navigating the various installations she would frequent. Fun fact: Hold the keycard up to the light and you can see an impression of Dr. Halsey imprinted on the surface of the card for visual identification if required.

Small affectations like the presence of coffee stains and tea rings on pages play into Halsey’s consistent consumption of caffeine, all the better to keep her awake during the long hours of research and investigation. These stains can be found throughout the journal, though no two are the same, whoever it was that worked on making the journal feel like an authentic item paid a lot of attention to the details. There’s a map of Reach included in the journal with various points of interest noted by Halsey and we can again find a mug ring in the corner, though this was likely to prevent the map rolling up.

Notes were taken and sketches made as the days ticked by during Spartan operation research and training, these sketches range from something as simple as observing a younger Jacob Keyes catching some shut eye mid-flight to Spartan Candidates lashing out at their would-be teachers when it’s time to have their heads shaved. Halsey often used sketches and annotations to document the behavioral changes in subjects as the procedures and training ran on, almost a branch of research in its own right.

A point of particular interest is present between September 4th and September 5th of 2427. A page has been torn from the journal, though not sheared away from the spin entirely, suggesting it was more of a spur of the moment action, opposed to trying to cover up and/or hide information that was best not recorded. Regardless of her intentions, I would quite like to know what was present on this mystery page.

While the journal contains many tidbits from Halsey’s mind, this page perhaps captures her at what might have been one of her most poetic moments. Drawing upon the tales of the past and the 300 Spartans who fought at Thermopylae, the successor program of the ORION project and her future supersoldiers would be named Spartan II.
This is just a glimpse of what can be found inside the diary, you’ll also find numerous newspaper clippings, military reports, biomolecular scan data from Spartan candidates of note and other notes that Halsey has decided to hold onto for whatever reason. This is the pinnacle of collectors editions for me, and if you’re a fan of Halo 1-3 (Reach and ODST too) then this is something you should definitely get a copy of if you haven’t already.