Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

"Renowned on Xbox, Belittled on PC"

Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo: CE or just Halo for short was released at the unveiling of Microsoft's first console, the Xbox, to the skeptical public. Halo is renowned for meaning the difference for the Xbox being the break or flop a console trying to compete with the big boys such as Nintendo's Gamecube and Sony's PS2. Though the Xbox is still considered inferior to the aristocratic giants Nintendo and Sony, it has gained ground as one of those “nouveau riche” types of systems. The Xbox along with Halo: Combat Evolved emphasized something that was practically void in the other major consoles: a very simple multiplayer system, yet sweat at the same time. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 are not credited for their Campaigns that are dull and tasteless, but for their innovative multiplayer systems that made the Xbox and the Halo games the ultimate multiplayer party system.

Halo: Combat Evolved was created by Bungie, a company not truly known at the time, but did have previous game creation experience. Though with the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie became famous, and Bungie then created novels, figurines, guides, and more, and they are even in the works of creating a Halo movie. And with the success of Halo: Combat Evolved came Halo 2 and likely inevitable in the future, Halo 3.

Though, we aren't here to talk about the Xbox version of Halo: Combat Evolved. We are here to analyze the version that was released on the PC. Due to the success of Halo on the Xbox, Bungie (and Microsoft) probably thought it would be good to release Halo: CE on the PC. The only problem is, when you take a console FPS and transition it to the PC, you must drastically alter it. It must be well suited for PC, multiplayer unparrelled, graphics better then its predecessor, and be able to compete with the legendary PC game of the time and before it (Half-Life, Unreal, and such). It failed in all aspects.

With that opening, I present you with a critique on Halo: Combat Evolved for PC.

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Gameplay: 2/10
Though Halo: CE utilizes the very comfortable WASD set-up configuration, there are many problems not with the control, but the actually fluidity of the game. While controls are very important to a game, if a game is not smooth and doesn't match with the pace of your mind and your hands, then all the work into a good configuration is wasted. In the Campaign, the frame rates slow down drastically, and force many users to switch their graphics settings to the lowest levels. When trying to take out a group of several enemies, you become frustrated by your inability to kill the enemy as you slow down drastically, yet the enemy continues to fire almost unhindered. It almost feels like an opposite matrix style scene – not very beneficial. The inability to control the degree of you move also poses a problem. You can't truly control how fast you go, and only have the option of one degree since for some reason the analog control stick of degree wasn't incorporated into the PC version. You will find yourself cursing when you tell your hands to your computer that's how far I want to jump only to miss the jump and have to restart at a previous checkpoint. If that wasn't hard, try multiplayer, where the lag is so atrocious you almost cry and wonder why play this when there is Xbox Live. Though the multiplayer is for discussion in the multiplayer section, it does hamper fluidity and your ability to accurately kill. Of all FPS on the PC, this one is one of the worst and makes me wonder how such perfected gameplay on the Xbox could be totally debilitated on the PC.

Story 6/10
Unfortunately, Halo and its sequels to come will likely never be cherished as a true classic, but will still take a stand as a multiplayer classic qualified enough to go into the Multiplayer Game Hall of Fame (I made that type of Hall of Fame up though, but maybe it does exist somewhere) – well for the Xbox version, not PC version. The story is a typical one that a person would find in past games, and science fiction books: you are in the future in the year 2552 (give or take a few decades or centuries), and Earth has started colonizing nearby planets, and these aliens called the Covenant are starting to destroy the human race and are inching nearer to Earth. One ship from a colony on the planet reach escapes just in time and makes a blind jump into outer space. When they get out of the jump, a Covenant ship is still after them and they need to land on an object near a gas giant that they see off in the distance: Halo. Their ship is being destroyed, and the Captain wishes to make sure that the AI on board isn't captured so the Covenant do not find out about Earth. To do this, the Captain orders a special unit of soldier, supposedly the only one that survived the chaos at Reach to wake up and get ready for a journey. And so as the ship is being destroyed, the crew ejects from the ship, and then lands on Halo. Master Chief basically protects the crew, and then tries to save the Captain, and basically, you need to find out the rest for yourself. The only element that is unique to Halo: Combat Evolved is the Halo ring which is a weapon of last resort built by the forerunners to eliminate potential Flood-hosts. There are many Halos in the universe, and when one is activated, they all activate to form a chain reaction to eliminate the food supply of the Flood (a virus that feeds on sentient live). This reaction covers an expanse of basically the galaxy in which they are placed. The Forerunners used them and where eliminated, and Master Chief along with Cortana try with all their effort in the end to halt the activation of the rings – the faith of the human race is in your hands. So with a banal story with a slight twist, I give the Halo: Combat Evolved a 6 out of 10. The plot is pretty much solid, except at the beginning, and at the end where the game player is left confused, though he can be aided by buying the collection of Halo books that they sell in the store which talks about events that you don't get to see in the game. Yes, it is a money trick, but hey, if you like to read, then good for you. The cut-scenes are nicely done, and some innovative ideas make you commend Bungie for making a prosaic story that may have received a 2 or 3 out of 10 to a 6 out of 10 story. It is worth playing, and the last level is especially thrilling, only to be ended by a mediocre ending. Though after beating the game, you can then try the last level on Legendary to get a special ending that is hilarious, though it still ends on the horrible cliffhanger. Though some levels may be boring and annoying, there are other levels that truly making Halo: Combat evolved classic-like. Though the inefficient gameplay of the PC version may hamper your ability to full enjoy an alien killing thrill.

Multiplayer 2/10
What can I say? The worst multiplayer coding in years? Yes. Welcome to Lagtopia, a place where you can find out the true definition of a laggy game, nothing compares. It is so laggy that sometimes when you snipe someone in the head, you here the shot and you see their head moving back that slight bit signifying the hit, only to watch them then walk over to you, then kill you, and then about 5 seconds later they drop dead, telling you that you managed to kill them, even though you fired the sniper bullet 15 seconds ago. Another instance is when you rocket the ground ahead, walk over to it 5 seconds later, and then watching yourself blowup and seeing that you have committed suicide. In the least laggy games, the only chance you have of killing people is to aim 2-3 seconds ahead and just hope your prediction is correct. The only person who can truly experience a good multiplayer experience is the host himself. The only thing that makes the PC version fun is that you can mod it with some PC downloadable tools and then have everyone get to experience a fun game. You can make pistols shoot at sniper speed and have rocket damage and splash damage, and you what the good part is? It's not just the host who gets the advantage, it is everyone! But despite this, the lag makes multiplayer basically impossible and the only chance to experience multiplayer at some decent level is to either have a LAN network (via school, or work) or be host of an online multiplayer game, which truly isn't fair to the others.

Graphics: 3/10
The graphics on the PC version are not even close to those on the Xbox version, yet on PC, the graphics should be well able to outshine those of the Xbox version. FPS PC games released a few years before it would be the graphics that could describe this system. Whenever you try to pump up the graphics all you get is a negative effect of a disgustingly slow frame rate and thus have to bring the graphics to the lowest setting, and not even witness bullet holes, blood, or sparks flying: it is disappointing. The only thing that makes these graphics even a three is that the scenery on some of the maps, despite the very poor graphics are still very tasteful.

Sound: 10/10
The music is just wonderful. It is not synthetically made, but can easily be determined as real instruments playing real music without the tampering of compression programs that destroy sound. It sounds exactly like music played in movies. The music is varied and well chosen for each scenario, and is able to evoke emotions at some points in the game. And to top that all off, there is an awesome guitar breakout that just makes you wish you could play that song a guitar. Just brilliant.

Replayabilty: 6/10 (4/10 for Campaign, 7/10 for Multiplayer)
After beating the Campaign a couple times, and after playing the last level on Legendary to see the funny edition in a slightly humbling, yet mediocre ending, you will easily get board of this game, and will wish not to play for several months, especially if you have getting very upset with the slow gameplay. With the ability to beat the game in about 10 hours for the first run and about 3-5 hours for more runs (and less than 3 hours for speed runs), this game is short lived. Multiplayer is awesome though with friends since the game keeps on changing, and it is never the same – you are always on edge – LAN. Though on Xbox Live, you will enjoy the not too laggy games, and the modded games, yet you will truly hate the lag games and the continual scrolling to find a game with a somewhat decent ping.

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CONCLUSION
Using my rating system for a Campaign Game:
20% Gameplay, 40% Story, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 15% Replayability

This game in Campaign: 4/10 (I do not round) -> 4.5

Using my rating system for a Multiplayer Game:
10% Gameplay, 50% Multiplayer, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 15% Replayability

This game in Multiplayer: 3/10 (I do not round) -> 3.35

For overall game rating, 50% Campaign, 50% Multiplayer…
(4 x .5 + 3 x .5) = 4/10 (I round for overall game rating) -> 3.5

OVERALL RATING: 4/10
Suggested Action: Do Not Buy, Rent, or Borrow; Download the PC Demo Instead
Final Comments: This game is not worth your trouble, and unless you can get it for fewer than ten dollars, it is not worth your money. Download the PC Demo Version from Microsoft's gaming website, and you will get full satisfaction from that.

Fin


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/03/06


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