Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

"Want Them All, Then Here They Are"

Well you haven't bought Halo: CE and you haven't bought Halo 2…and while you're at it, you have no Xbox Live…but you're interested in this classic first-person shooter. Well, you've come to the right place, because you can get the entire experience of Halo with this triple action pack that houses everything you need (except the Xbox Live, but hey, there are LAN parties).

Too lazy to read individual game reviews and want it all where you can find it? Well it's all here: reviews on Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and even the Halo 2 map pack. I'll leave some things out though as I am limited to 25 kilobytes max of space (such as the history and in-depth calculation of ratings and some more trivial information on the games). So if you are ready to read a very epic-length review…here it comes.

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Halo: Combat Evolved

Gameplay: 9/10
For a game having been released at the start of Xbox, I find that the capabilities of this game are far outstanding. The game is not slow, but what people would consider, normal. The actions of the control flow the way your thumbs move the stick, and if they aren't fast enough, you can adjust the settings. The gameplay is so slow that when I and many of my friends return the supposed classics of Golden Eye, and many more, we are surprised that such games were ever any good: there is no comparison. The game is not slow, but fast paced. The button layout allows for easy maneuverability with the controlling of moving forward and backward and strafing in one analog stick and aiming in the other analog stick. This always for easy aiming with a smooth glide and without hampering of the worrying of moving or jerking. All action buttons are basically confined to 6 buttons (4 near the aiming stick, and 2 below the controller). It is quite simple: Run, Jump, Switch Weapon, Reload for the 4 buttons on top, and shoot and grenade for the four buttons on the button. Switching of the grenades is easily done as an afterthought by just pressing a black button on the controller, and crouching and scoping are logical accomplished through the pressing of the analog sticks. Basically, not only am I thanking Halo 2 for its use of logical placement of actions, but also I'm also thanking the creators of the Xbox Controller, and especially the Xbox Controller S that makes your hands very comfortable and not fumbling for keys on the controller. Picking up a weapon is smoothly done and basically instantaneous with the touch of a button, grenades are effectively tossed in the place you believe a throw should be (not so in Halo 2 though). The only downsides of the gameplay are the loading time between levels, the ineffective jumping of Master Chief and a slow down of frame rates if the enemies swarm on the screen. AI is fairly decent for a newly released game, and even though the legendary difficulty seems disgusting unattractive, it is a great way to hone a person's skills. The simplicity of control, the smoothness of the in game, and the relationship to classic PC games, makes Halo (and its progeny) unmatched FPSs console shooters.

Story 6/10
It is sad that such a good multiplayer game would succumb in the campaign, but that is what it usually is. It is usually a great campaign, or a great multiplayer, but not both. But when games do have both, they are the games that people consider classics. 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). 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, 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. 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 it 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.

Multiplayer 9/10
Yes, the multiplayer on the console gaming system has radically altered the console's potential for true multiplayer power. It has put all other FPS console games to shame and has set the standards at what true multiplayer gaming should be. I have yet to see or here of an FPS that can compete with the Halo system, and without Halo 2 on Xbox Live gone internationally, other console FPS games that are still in the past are only on the outskirts of the radar. It is smooth. That sums it up. No slowness, no jerking, no hoping that hoping that you somehow hit the guy even though you can't aim. You can aim, you can jump, you can shoot, you can grenade, you can crouch, you can move. And you know what makes this all the better? You can basically do every single one of these processes at the same time. You want to jump, aim, and then snipe? No problem. Can't reach a certain high spot, well, you can jump and then crouch at the height of the jump to easy crouch-jump to a location. How about moving whiling scoped? No problem. The weapons are of all varied types ranging from the usual human weapons of the shotgun, the pistol, the assault rifle, rocket launcher, and the sniper rifle, to innovative covenant alien weapons such as the plasma pistol, plasma rifle, and needler. There are also so many maps to choose from that if you get board with one map, or if you don't like a particular map, there is still a great diversity to choose from. Not only do you get a variety of particular maps, you also get a great selection of game types, and you can even create your own gametypes. You have four people play on one TV for a small multiplayer game, or you can hook up your system to play a massive LAN game with up to 16 people through 3 other television additions. With the smoothness and easy controls of this game, Halo: Combat Evolved has finally made a mark on FPS console games and that it can easily compete with the upper echelons of the famous PC FPS console games.

Graphics: 7/10
Not bad for one of the first releases of the Xbox games, but after seeing the graphics of Halo 2, Halo: CE just isn't as good. The details are very well done, and the scenery is nicely shaped. It was a giant leap up for an FPS on console to have such nice graphics, and could easily compete with titles coming out on Xbox 360. The features of characters are not greatly defined, and that's where the game loses some ground, but overall very impressive graphics, especially if you have never played Halo 2. These graphics can still destroy all other FPS console game graphics (except Halo 2) released on the PS2 and Xbox and Gamecube and before, and only have fallen prey to the Xbox 360 that has High-Definition graphics.

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: 7/10 (5/10 for Campaign, 9/10 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. 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. The only downplay is that 4 people on one screen may prove annoying as in screen watching or boring as in very little people on a map, and only a few small maps to choose from. It is also hard to find another 3 TVs to hook up for 16 players, and Xbox Live is not available for Halo: CE, and Xbox Connect is lag and full of cheats.

CONCLUSION
This game in Campaign: 6.85
This game in Multiplayer: 8.65

Overall Rating: 8/10

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Halo 2

Gameplay: 7/10
Having played Halo 2 as my first game on the Xbox, I was quite impressed. Though as the game progressed, I started to slowly get board. The repetition of just walking down hallways, killing aliens, killing flood, it just got boring. However, Bungie sort of saved themselves when they added boss battles. Bungie also made the game more fun by adding the Energy Sword, the Particle Beam Rifle, and the ability to not just play as Master Chief, but also to get the other flip of the coin, by playing as the Arbiter, the will of the Prophets. I found that gameplay at the easy, normal, and heroic levels to be fair and clean, yet when I progressed into the Legendary and Mythic levels, Bungie just broke the rules of fair gameplay. AI is supposed to be smarter, not stronger. AI is supposed to be realistic, and not far-fetched and laughable. Though away from the insane levels…You will find heroic a very good Xbox Live simulator in difficulty: if you don't kill the enemy fast enough, they will kill you in about the time you take to die on Xbox Live. Normal is a great difficulty to test FPS on consoles for the first time, and if you just want to do speed runs, then Easy is awesome. There are also Easter eggs, and glitches to improve your gameplay: superbounce, sword lunging (if you haven't updated), holographic images, and much more. In legendary, though very annoying, you can also access “Skulls,” which I consider the only thing that makes Halo 2 Campaign fun, and also, there is that incredible Scarab Gun. Learning how to play this game is relatively easy, learning how to aim is another easy. Only through practice can somebody become decent at playing Halo 2.

Story: 5/10
It is true, the story was a flop. The only things that saved it were the twists in the plot, and the decent cut-scenes. Basically, it appeared that the story had been slapped together quickly, without much thought. The game ended as quickly as it started, in which most decent players could easily defeat legendary in under 8 hours, heroic and below in under 5 hours. The story continued off from Halo 2, though there were many loop holes in the plot that had you not read the books that Bungie made as a profit source, you would not understand the plot. Basically, a person would get more enjoyment from the plot in the books than from the game. The game was just pure tasteless with loophole after loophole, and another horrible ending. It gave the player a not wanting for Halo 3, but a question mark over their head asking, “That's it?” “What, Halo 2 is not the end?” Many people found it very damaging that Bungie would prefer money over a classic, and though it is sad to say, Halo 2, in my opinion, will never make it into classical gaming. Once the corruption for money game into being, the story was ruined. Instead of making the game the thriller, Bungie made the books, and since there are so many Sci-Fi thrillers out there, Halo 2 will never be able to compete with such classics of Sci-Fi literature as Stranger in a Strange Land, etc…Though the story left disdain in many hardcore Halo fans with its many pitfalls and inability to evoke people's desire for more, the spirit of these fans was rekindled with the multiplayer.

Multiplayer: 7/10 What??? That's all?
Sadly to say, yes. The multiplayer has so much potential on Xbox Live and through LAN parties, but as the years progressed, Bungie has continued the policy of “If it ain't broke, fix it...” rather than “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live was awesome, and even better on Split-Screen and LAN. But the real power of multiplayer was via Xbox Live. People could play each other around the world at any time. I've played people from several countries in Europe and several other states than my own in the US. Now then why did Halo 2 not get a 10/10 in multiplayer? The reason is the decaying awesome gameplay of Halo 2 on Xbox Live. Halo 2 on Xbox Live was probably a 9/10 when it first started, it was good, but needed fixing. Melees and grenades were weak, and so Bungie updated the system, and drastically made gameplay better. But with that update they took wonderful glitches that made custom games fun on Xbox Live, such as Sword Lunging, and thus Xbox Live slid from that possible 10/10 on the update to 9/10 again. Now then, what about it going to 8/10, well…here's the explanation. Bungie has released maps, and some have been awesome, others not. Bungie has released new gametypes, some wonderful, others not. But with these new maps game the hordes of cheaters. Bungie did attempt to fix this by the automatic ban system, but now a new cheating has surfaced: Bridging, and instead of Bungie trying to fix this, they are off trying to port Halo 2 on to the Windows Vista…Not only to complain about cheaters that can standby and bridge, and blue screen, and lag, and lag you out, but Bungie has decided to contribute messed-up gametypes to Xbox Live. Even though there is already a Team Snipers and people who don't feel like playing Team Snipers and go into play Team Slayer are annoyed that Bungie would then force such. There is nothing done about quitters, delevelers, and players that somehow get to such high levels but manage only to get one kill and die 20 times, it boggles the mind.

Graphics: 10/10
I have to say, despite all the negative feedback I have been dishing out about Halo 2, the graphics are quite wonderful. They are so much better than those of Halo: CE. You can enjoy in great detail, especially on Campaign, and if you go outside the maps on those such as Containment, you will be astounded. The texturing, the weapons, the conservative view on blood (not allowing blood to gush out un-realistically), the scenery, the people, the cinematics, and much more, will make you have respect for those graphical designers after such massacring of the story. It appears to take the hardware of the Xbox to the limits as sometimes in intense moments, the fighting can turn into Matrix style fighting as the system starts to slow, but that adds flavor.

Sound: 10/10
The sounds in Halo 2 were truly spectacular, from the Start Screen to the Credits, the music was just delicious. The music was varied, and rarely became repetitious, and it matched quite well with each situation. It sounded as though a person were listen to true music, and not computer generated crassness. The guitar breakout during the Credits was just the clincher a well-composed musical score.

Replayability: 8/10 (6/10 in Campaign, 9/10 in Multiplayer)
The game will take new users to the Xbox about 10 hours to beat, and well-seasoned people less than that. The game is replayable since it can be played on different difficulties, and it adds great flavor if you try legendary despite its horrible gameplay. What makes the game more for replaying though is not that, but the hidden features in the game. The Skulls make the game fun, by people being able to jump high, having Overshield, or making the game tougher. Not to mention, the fabled scarab gun. Also, I enjoy playing through levels as fast as possible to get a very quick time trial. I have defeated Easy in under 2 hours, sweet, isn't it? Playing the Campaign is awesome to polish up if you haven't played for a few weeks or months on Xbox Live and wish to get your aim back. Though you may get bored with Campaign, Multiplayer never grows old. Despite the cheating and horrible sportsmanship, I'll always love playing Multiplayer on Halo 2. The main reason is since it is always different.

CONCLUSION
This game in Campaign: 6.8
This game in Multiplayer: 8.05

Overall Rating: 7/10

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Halo 2 Action Pack Add-on

Backwash: 3/10
Well, I guess we will start with the worst of the bunch. Backwash had much promise when it was first unveiled. First, it was map with concurrent weather conditions – it rained while a battle endured. Not only that, the scene is enclosed around and above to cause limited light. Though the failure is in the sense of weapon layout and setup. First, in a regular game, there are no grenade starts. Another failure is that this map is large enough to be worthy of a battle rifle start, but nope, the SMG is your starting weapon. Not only to tease you even more, the ground is so dark, it is impossible to know where the weapons, unless you stumble accidentally on it and see the message or you encounter the sword. The only use for this map is custom games such as hide-and-seek, which can be quite fun in this atmosphere. Had the map not had rain, fog, and darkness, I would have given it a 0.

Containment: 6/10
Okay, well we're getting better, but not anything impressive yet. This map is the biggest map of the entire set and quite pleasant. It competes with Coagulation in size. It is on a snowy planet and the entire place is covered in the snow. What is fun about this map is that there are explosive charges that seem to be placed strategically around the map. Get to close and some shoots it…ka boom, dead. Now the problem with this map again is the lack and inability of people to get power weapons that are necessary on a map that requires them. With sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and tanks at the disposable, it is quite hard to take out the opponent if you are stuck with a fart gun. Though a saving aspect of this map are the tunnels that allow those opponents lacking the power weapons to flee and seek shelter and wait for the appropriate moment to strike.

Elongation: 7/10
This map is an upgrade of a previous map on the original Halo, Longest. Unfortunately it does not live up to the classic legacy. The main problem yet again is weapon balance. I do not understand why they cannot get it right. At first Elongation had promise with plasma pistols and rocket launchers on both ends of the map, but when they switched them to magnums and bruteshots, I sadly acknowledged that Bungie had official lost their touch. Despite the weapon imbalance, it is still manageable. The starting battle rifle greatly improves gameplay and the conveyor belts and obstacles and much to this map.

Gemini: 6/10
Yet again, a brilliant design with brilliant artwork and pixels, but then marred by continual weapon imbalances. The main problems: sword and beam rifle. If your team is the closer to the weapons and they can use them fairly well, then lo, the other team loses. Sure you can try to beam them with the noob combo, but by then the beam rifle's ammo will have spent and your newly acquired swordsman's just asking for a slaughter. Quite unforgiving for a team that cannot use a sword or is incapable of taking out the swordsman

Relic: 10/10
One of my favorite Halo 2 maps. It is set on an island where for some odd reason if you walk off the edge of the island, you are instantly killed, which breaks from the field of logic, but adds much to gameplay. The map contains one of the most well-placed and well-balanced set of weapons that I know of, and too teams of equal skill will have a very well fought game. It is a nice sized map, but not too big so that walking seems improbable, but not too small to debilitate the lurking sniper. Not only does the map contain vehicles, but also teleporters to add to the mystique of this map. With a battle rifle start, and with boundless possibilities for objective and slayer games, this map is truly worthy.

Sanctuary: 9/10
This map also defines one of quite good taste. It is located in the ruins of forerunner structures and is compiled symmetrically offering evenness in battle. The sword is centered at the middle, which allows both teams fair game. And with the sword in the middle, the journey from the middle to the other team is usually a suicidal one that yields little reward. A concern with this map is the advantage a person with a battle rifle can do. Due to the glitches of BXR and RRXYYRRX, games can be rather disappointed that ones skill with a button and not the true meaning of the game can be incorporated. Not only that, but also Bungie's decision to remove the plasma pistol and replace it with the magnum adds slight imbalance. With these factors ignored though, this map is very credible and noteworthy.

Terminal: 6/10
I had a mindset of this map becoming one of my favorites, but then the imbalance of the map totally shredded my hopes of that. That map is large, focusing around a train terminal. What is quite unique about this map is that there is zipping train that passes through the track of the middle of the map, which can add a great deal of fun and increased strategy. But what must be noted are the large imbalances of this map. When I state imbalance, I imply that if two equally skilled teams are pitted against each, the game should be a close one, despite strategy or weapons acquired on the map, because they are equally matched teams. Unfortunately Terminal fails massively on this scale. In a sniper's game, the team closest to the garage wins 95% of the time and to lose that 5% of the time, the team would have to be severely below the skill of the other team.

Turf: 10/10
Another favorite Halo 2 map of mine. This map is situated in the city of Mombassa in Africa…500 years in the future. Now what makes this map interesting is that even though a player may have a slightly more powerful weapon, strategy is at a greater interest here due to the confined spaces and nooks and crannies of this city landscape. Unless the person with the sniper rifle is pro-like and is defended properly, this map offers quite a reasonable balance. With an array of weapons and a map that offers a playground of possibilities, it is another map worthy of being idealized.

Warlock: 7/10
It's a decent map, and with its being symmetrical, adds balance to the game. Yet with the battle rifle and shotguns as the common weapons at disposal, it unfortunately debilitates the map for those who are not host and who wish not to or cannot take advantage of Bungie's flawed battle rifle button glitches. The map is a remake of Wizard and a nice job Bungie has done remaking it. Graphics are nice, superbounces can be fun, but it lacks that originality are addition that is needed as games improve.

CONCLUSION
Overall Add-on Rating: 7.111

Overall Rating: 7/10

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ULTIMATE CONCLUSION
The rating for this Halo Triple Pack will be weighed as such (values used will be the preliminary unrounded numbers):
45% Halo: CE, 45% Halo 2, 10% Action Pack

Preliminary Rating: 7.540

OVERALL RATING: 8/10
Suggested Action: Buy if you enjoy the FPS multiplayer atmosphere and don't have any Halo games or wait for Halo 3.


Final Comments: I will say that this is quite a deal and it is all nicely packaged. If you don't have any of the Halo games and just want to add them all to your collection at once, this is a nice find. Not overpriced, just right. I will say though that the Halo game series for those interested in unraveling its storyline is quite disappointing and should not be bought for its campaign worth – read the Halo books instead, much better and cheaper. Though as the Halo 2 community weans, if you are not interested in the collection aspect of the Halo games and prefer the Halo games to be on Xbox Live and not over LAN connections, I would say wait the few more weeks and purchase Halo 3 when it arrives. It is a good collectable, but for the gamer who wants the best in his multiplayer aspect, it is past its time.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/09/07


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