Cortana is a fictional artificially intelligent (AI) character in Bungie's Halo video game series. Voiced by Jen Taylor, she appears in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2 and Halo 3, in the prequel Halo: Reach, as well the novels Halo: The Flood, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who assumes the role of the Master Chief. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.
Cortana's original design was based on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti; the character's holographic representation always takes the form of a woman. Taylor, despite her extensive voice acting for video games, is not a gamer; she described portraying Cortana as challenging, due to the character's lack of a physical form.
Bungie first introduced Cortana—and Halo—through the Cortana Letters, cryptic emails sent during Combat Evolved s production in 1999. Since then, the character has been used extensively to advertise the series. Action figures of the character were sold in conjunction with the latter two games, and she appeared in other forms of marketing for Halo 3. Cortana has been recognized for her sex appeal, believability, and character depth; she was rated as one of the ten most disturbingly sexual game characters by Games.net and one of the fifty greatest female video game characters ever by Tom's Games.
In an interview, female Bungie artist Lorraine McLees stated that game designers are generally men, and "women in their games are perhaps portrayed in the way they themselves see women. Here, the same 3-D artist who wanted to not portray women as sex object [...] coincidentally, modeled Cortana." Cortana's original Halo model was based on the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
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Official Site: Bungie
Links: Wikipedia Halopedia Halo Library