Halo

Developer: Bungie
Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios

One of the most famous franchises in the world, Microsoft Game Studios' cash cow and the original Xbox' killer app, Halo is a lot of things to many people, it feels that for every person swearing it's one of the best games and franchises ever made, there's someone else who calls it overrated trash.

So where do I stand on the games? Well, it varies really, some are awesome, others not so much, but the first one definitely falls in the former category, you take control of the futuristic super soldier Master Chief as you and your crew mates are ambushed by an aliens species known as the covenant and as a result, you're forced to crash land on mysterious ringworld known only as halo.

The controls for this game are the standard fare for both consoles and the PC version (in fact, it actually set the standard for console controls), you lifebar is split between your shield which will automatically regenerate if you don't take any hits for a few seconds and health points which can only be recovered through the use of medpacks, it strikes a nice balance between keeping the flow of the game without forcing the player to scrounge every bit of the map, desperately looking for healthpacks.

What really set this game apart for me from all the rest were the weapons and the enemy A.I. there's a pretty big variety of both and each has have their own unique feel to it, there's a right weapon for every situation, however you can only carry two of them with you, so there's always a bit of advanced planning involved. As for the enemy A.I. it was crazy how advanced they were for the standards we had back in the day, they take cover, help each other, know when to retreat, when to counter-attack, I have no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest unsung feature in the game, the friendly A.I. isn't bad either for the time, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Covenant.

If I had to find a fault with the game that would be the level design during the second act of the game, it blatantly re-uses all of the maps and assets from a previous level and the of course there's the bland looking and confusing environment known as the library, quite possible one of the WORST levels I have ever played in any big budget FPS.

Another thing I always loved about the first game was the way in which the story was presented, everything was handled, you didn't know anything about the Covenant, you don't know what Halo is or who built it, heck, you don't even know much about Earth itself, it leaves the user's imagination to fill the gaps, something I wish they kept in later games.

The Music is pretty good as well, going from guitar solos to Gregorian chants as it tries to fit different moods, though the graphics are definitely early Xbox standards, it resembles more of a late 90's PC game then it does an Xbox game, but I suppose that's to be expected from a launch title.

The PC version includes online multiplayer, but unfortunately, the servers are mostly empty and the few matches that I found were ripe with team killers, so unless you're playing with friends, this mode is probably best if ignored.

Pros:
- Some of the best enemy A.I. of its time
- And the friendly A.I. isn't too shabby either
- Weapon variety is awesome
- Great Soundtrack
- Some of the best level design out there... 
- PC version still has multiplayer

Cons:
- And some of the worst level design out there, namely the Library
- Re-using some of the levels is a cheap way to prolong the game
- Despite having multiplayer, you'll be hard pressed to find a full game


Final Grade: A-

I really do NOT like this game's cover, it's the sort of cover, it's just some very bland CGI poorly photoshoped together, it's the sort of cover you expect to find in a low budget game.

Luckily, you do get some nice documentation to compensate, the manual is one of the best I've seen for console shooter, giving you plenty of background information character and enemy description, it even gives you a short explanation on the MJOLNIR armor, that was a nice touch

Along with the manual you get a pretty decent catalog of the xbox' early line-up, it includes pictures and short descriptions of games like Dead or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing, Bloodwake, Munch's Odyssey and, of course, Halo.

The cover may suck but for console standards this does feel like a pretty good package.

Packaging Score: B

5 comments:

  1. I think, I have played like once, never really got into it. But you make it sound pretty awesome.

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  2. Heard a lot about it but never played it because of my lame computer. Is it close to Crisis in any way?

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    1. It's closer to Crisis 2 then it is to the first one.

      The first crisis had a freeroam feel to it, this isn't to say Halo's levels are all corrdor fests, some of them are very expansive, but it's a more linear game then crysis.

      Also, Halo puts more emphasis on sci-fi weapons and the different style of enemies

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  3. I enjoyed the original Halo, still enjoy the second the most though, although i only played the 1st, 2nd, and third any amount, haven't played any of the more recent versions.

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  4. I played this once. Just the single player though, and I wasn't that crazy about it. Don't remember why exactly, but looking the Halo ring itself, the landscape I guess, was pretty cool.

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