Halo: Combat Evolved
Review by calendron
"One of the best FPS's ever created."
This is a long awaited FPS that has made the port from X-Box to PC, the hype has been immense and previews excited many gamers. Gearbox have created a fantastic game that many players can now enjoy without having to splash out on an X-Box.
Your instruction manual has two pages that explain the story so far. The game is based a few hundred years from the present day and the earth has been taking over lots of planets. It is now trying to take over a strange, ring shaped planet, hence the name - Halo. You are the main soldier of a group of master chiefs and you must battle your way through various environments and spaceships to secure the planet from the enemy group of aliens called the covenant'.
On X-Box, Halo was a favourite because of the futuristic, yet realistic gameplay. For the first time, a player can only hold two weapons at one time. This sounds bad yet it makes it actually increases the skill needed to choose two from a huge selection of weapons. The weapons range from normal human rifles, to extravagant alien, plasma firing cannons. There are also two types of grenades; the highly explosive human grenades that rebound from walls and can be bounced round corners and the covenant grenades that are less explosive but can stick to walls or even better, enemies. There is nothing better than watching the enemy run around with a grenade stuck to his head. Not only weapons can be used to kill enemies though, there are many vehicles to choose from, ranging from buggies to tanks.
The campaign is one of the best single player ones ever created but is forgotten because of the amazing multiplayer. Unlike most online multiplayer games, this is extremely easy to use. It was the most popular feature on the X-Box and none of the fun of this has been lost as there are new maps making new challenges. With up to 16 players playing at one time, the sense of teamwork makes you try harder to protect your team from enemy fire. There are many modes to choose from, whether it's the regular capture the flag' game, or one of the new modes, odd ball' for instance.
Gearbox have even gone as far as to make an option to increase or decrease sensitivity. Expert players will want to turn up this option so they can spin round faster while novices can play with it lower so the aiming is easier but it's harder to look around. In multiplayer, this makes a huge difference between life and death as even if you see the enemy first, if they can spin quicker you will be dead before you have taken your first shot.
The campaign is one of the best I have ever played. Each level is absolutely huge. In this modern day of gaming, they are far bigger than levels in many other games. You don't have the feature to save whenever you want but it isn't really needed as after every major battle or event there is a checkpoint where the game saves for you.
There are four difficulty levels to try, the hardest one of these is a real challenges and unlike most games, you will probably find it tricky the first time you play through.
Every level is unique, sometimes you will have to fight your way through an enemy base while others, you will be walking through rock fill ravines. At various points in the levels you will be given a vehicle to drive or be driven by. You have a crack team of human soldiers with you that will get into a vehicle with you and fire on the enemy while you drive through or in others, you will have to use machine guns mounted on vehicles to take out the enemy.
In the campaign mode, the bots have a great AI. The allied soldiers speak to you and take up strategical positions to provide covering fire as you run forwards to get a better shot at the agile foes as they attempt to duck, jump or roll behind corners to avoid your fire.
With default settings this game looks good enough. However, imagine how good it would look on its highest resolution, 2048x1024! I say 'imagine' as you will need to have an extremely good video card to be able to run it smoothly on that.
The environment of this game is absolutely amazing. You will want to keep on playing just to see what is round the next corner. There are also lots of small touches that give the game more realism. Firing against a wall creates bullet holes for example and as you wade through the clear blue water, the wake let behind is superb.
The sounds haven't changed a bit from the X-Box version but they didn't need to. The soundtrack is one of the best I have ever heard and other great tracks trigger at certain points throughout the game. The gunshot sounds keep you trigger happy and every time you kill an enemy alien he emit's a satisfying squelch'. Even as you walk around, your footsteps cleverly change sound as you change from stepping over a concrete floor to the soft sand of a beach.
The campaign alone will last a long time, but the main part of this game is the multiplayer. You will learn new strategies and places to hide the longer you play and will always find players better than you to test you skills with, even the masters of this game will always find somebody better than them. After playing for a while you may be asked to join a clan, you can then take part in clan wars and try to reach the top of the clan leader board.
Should you buy it?
Definitely. This is one of the best PC games ever created. There is no reason why it shouldn't be in your game rack and you will find many other people at school or college will have it and will want to test their skills against you.
Overall score - 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/23/06
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