Review by Ofisil
"1 part of innovation, 1 part of simple and addicting gameplay, a large dose of overate"
Halo is a FPS developed by Bungie Software, (Gearbox made the PC version). Halo is probably the best selling game in the history of the XBox and for a good reason. It relies in simple but very enjoyable gameplay with some small innovations thrown in. It is supposed to be the next best thing after sliced bread but I believe that Halo although a very good game is a bit overrated. The reason is that although it isn't so revolutionary as most people say, console gamers don't have any decent FPS games to play so this was a great beam of light in the dark section of console FPS games.
Not the greatest story in the world but keeps you interested enough creates a veil of mystery in the first half of the game and generally makes you get attached to the world of Halo. The story starts in a spaceship, which is the sole survivor of a large human fleet destroyed by an alien race called the Covenant. The commanding officer awakens a biologically and technologically enhanced elite warrior, (the group of these warriors are called Spartans I think), to help killing the Covenant forces who have gained access to your ship. After a while you escape from the nearly destroyed ship and land in a strange ring-like planet called Halo. It seems that the covenant have a great interest in what sleeps underneath the planet's surface and want to awaken it. You want of course to stop their plans although you don't know anything about Halo. The game generally makes you want to play in order to learn what's going on.
I hear many people complain about the bad quality of Halo's graphics compared to the XBox version, I personally haven't seen any although I myself played only the PC version so far. But anyway, I don't care about that since the game has very good graphics! First of all, great sceneries, not very detailed but very good-looking. From wide outdoor areas full of vegetation and rivers to high-tech structures and spaceships, Halo looks very good and creates a great atmosphere of a mysterious yet realistic planet. Also an EXCELLENT designed sky that is totally breathtaking and original. My only complain is the extreme simplicity of the non-natural surface textures, (just like Oni an older Bungie game), not that they are bad, since the game has a slight comic look, but could've been better. Models on the other hand although also a bit cartoonish look good, are detailed enough and have good animations, some might dislike the almost childish look of the bad guys but that's just a matter of taste. One final complain is the fact that the game needs more PC power than games that look twice as good as this.
Halo has very good music accompanying you in your taste that fits with each area's atmosphere and greatly enhances it. None of the music themes have stuck to my head but they are very good. Sound effects have very good quality and voice acting although a bit cheesy gets the job done. Aliens and humans shout all the time while fighting creating a very realistic battle atmosphere.
Halo has some small innovations in its gameplay that although not original make it a very enjoyable game. For me two things make all the difference, the shield and the weapon carrying abilities. The energy shield is an armor that behaves like a normal health meter but after some seconds it refills and although that may sound simple it isn't because if you loose that your normal energy goes down very easy, so you have to learn to hide or run away in order to recharge and generally play smart. Another thing that makes Halo even more smart-playing dependant is the fact that you can carry only two guns. Some may say WTH???, but I personally loved that fact since I was bored of all the Doom\Quake clones where you carry a gazillion of powerful weaponry. Another thing is the great balance between weapons since non of them overpowers the others. For example the weapons you take from the enemies are a bit more innovative and sometimes more powerful but cannot be recharged, your weapons, (pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles), are very good but need to be used carefully because ammo is scarce and finally the rocket launcher has only a few ammo so must be used with caution. Also another great thing is the ability to throw grenades, (a simple one and one stick-on-the-bad guy type), without switching your weapons.
Another small innovation is the addition of vehicles. You will have the chance of riding a small army jeep and a large tank that you drive, (easy to handle although some people find them a bit difficult). Both these human vehicles can have more troops on them who help you by shooting enemies. You can also ride the alien and more futuristic hover crafts and small spaceships that are faster and easier to handle. Vehicles contrary to other games are not almost indestructible but must be used strategically in order to remain in one piece. There is supposed to be a small radar in your HUD, ala Alien that enables you to see where enemies are but that's something that wasn't helpful at all in my opinion.
Level design is very simple and missions are of the simple go from point A to point B type and can become a bit boring in some very large and repetitive levels. You can't save where you want, instead checkpoints are created in certain areas, (once again like Oni). What helps the game is the great enemy AI. The Covenant crouch, avoid bullets, run away from grenades while informing the other ones about the danger, hide, try to surround you and generally make the game quite challenging. Your allies on the other hand are a bunch of stupid marines that run to their deaths or shoot with long delays between each shot.
After completing the game there is no point in playing it again apart from the various difficulty settings. What increases the replay value is the great Multiplayer of Halo. It has the usual modes in it like CTF and can host 16 players at one game. Levels have good design and generally be prepared for some great fun. One big problem though, Halo might be the king of lag, lots of lag very bad programming
-You can carry only 2 weapons making the game more strategic
-Very good enemy AI
-Weapons are balanced
-The auto-recharged energy shield
-Good and simple plot
-A bit of a system hog for what it offers
-Linear and with little replay value, (apart from the Multiplayer)
-Bad friendly AI
-Some areas are a bit large and repetitive
-A lot of lag in the multiplayer
Halo 2 (PC & PS2)
Halo 3 (PS3)
Quake 4 (PC)
Starship Troopers (PC)
A very good game while it lasts but not the best game there is out there like people tend to say. I suppose that it is the best shooter for the consoles but in the PC there are FPS games that greatly surpass it. Play it if you want but only if you haven't found something better
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/08
Game Release: Halo: Combat Evolved (EU, 10/10/03)
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