Review by bakusan

"Its the same game we saw two years ago... now its worse than it originally was."

When Bungie announced that its game, Halo, was going to be an Xbox exclusive some two years ago, it broke the hearts of pc gamers everywhere. The most anticipated PC game in a long time was defecting to the box, and pc gamers where left in the dust. Now, two years later, Bungie brings us the same game people enjoyed back then, but it happens to be a horribly rushed (it took a year to port it, so I really shouldn’t say rushed) port and its really not worth your money just yet.

Graphics: I should first focus on the graphics, which happen to be a mixed bag. While the game runs off of a two year old engine, it can still push some pretty high polygons and sports off some fancy visuals. A small complaint I did have was the overall confusion with the graphical style. The game is supposed to be about the survival of the human race against a superior alien species, yet the graphics are extremely bright and colorful and it gives me the feeling that I’m playing in a cartoon rather than a dark, futuristic world.

The character models are another half and half sort of thing. The models for the humans are terrible. They are static, bland, and don’t look anything different than your average futuristic person in a cheesy space uniform (for a game that takes place 500 years in the future, you expect something more “high-tec”). Even worse is the human animations. While its quite funny to watch their body physics when they die, their overall animations are poorly done and extraordinarily choppy. Even worse is lip-synching which isn’t even present on some character models.

The alien models, on the other hand, are very colorful and well done. The Covenant will duck and weave while you shoot at them, they’ll run around, waving their hands in the air when you stick a plasma grenade to their body, and they die in a very animated way.

My very last complaint happens to be the extreme amount of lag that is produced when you turn the graphics all the way up. I have a 2.8gzh pc with 512mb of ram and a 128mb geforce 4 graphic card. This is enough to play ANY game on the market with the graphics turned on to their highest and experience very little to no lag (believe me, I play a lot of pc games and do my share of 3d modeling for fun). I don’t understand how a 2 year old game cannot support high resolution and 75mzh refresh rate on Vsync without experiencing so much lag. When you turn down some of the aspects, it doesn’t effect the games look that much, but then it turns into an exact lookalike of the xbox version. If you are actually considering upgrading your computer just to play this game, I must advise you not to. Its really not worth it.

Story: Humans on the verge of destruction, evil alien race, human who is the last hope to save humans. Typical First Person Shooter futuristic story, but I never rate an action game on its story.

Gameplay: This is where the game falters. It’s a generic shooter and not a very good one at that. This game is very overrated and I cannot see how anyone can prove otherwise. All levels start out with a boring cinema with horrible voice acting (seriously, the scripts the actors read off of are laughable), a generic objective that rarely changes as you go throughout the level, then you run around and blast the crap out of the covenant. Rinse, wash, repeat. You may think that this is in every FPS, but other games of this genre provide some originality in their execution.
It would be a lot better if you had more variety in your enemies, but they all consist of the grunts (who rarely present a challenge, even on legendary mode), a handful of elites (who ALWAYS present a challenge on legendary and heroic mode), and a small (really small) amount of jackals (really annoying shield guys who can easily be killed by walking behind them and smacking them in the back of the head) and Hunters (think of Ben Affleck vs. the Predator). Throw in a couple of vehicles and the fact that their isn’t much variety in the weapons, and you have a pretty predictable game.

The mission objectives themselves are pretty bad as well. They involve going from point A to B or defending point A. This is probably what killed the game for me. Other games of the genre have much more interesting objectives and this game could have easily made things interesting if I would have thought I was in an actual world. Things like having mini skirmishes involving fellow marines and covenants that you have to join in and help in. While these happen a few times and they bring some enjoyment, they are rare and don’t even effect how the game progresses. If I save someone, I want them to come with me and help me in a firefight. At one point, you have to defend a base, but by the time you can move on in the mission, everyone around the base is dead. You never really feel as if there is any point in continuing a mission because you never really get rewarded for completing them. Other games give you a cool little cinema or scripted event. Halo’s scripted events display nothing that is very interesting (the first level had some cool little scenes until you reached the bridge and picked up your weapon). It would be a whole lot better if there was more to do than run and gun. Perhaps a sabotage mission, or a mission where you defend a base with people that actually help you instead of provide a burden. The vehicle missions are cool... until the awful vehicle controls set in.

AI is bad too. The covenant have some good AI (except the grunts. Their just plain dumb) but the marine AI is too terrible to explain in deep detail. Multiplayer is okay, but its hard to find a dedicated server that’s not full, let alone play in a game of 16 people without lag.

Sound: Sound is another mixed bag. The intro music and the music they play on your startup is very good (so good, that I downloaded the song and added it to my mp3 player) but the rest of the music is forgettable. The sound effects are pretty fantastic. Guns firing, people screaming, explosions... it sounds like a real war (when your in an inside area. Outside areas are dreadfully quiet).

Overall: Overall, this game is at best, a generic shooter. There are not many redeeming qualities that would make someone go out and upgrade their computer for it, but it did have some promise. Multiplayer saved it, otherwise I would have given this game a lower score. Had it been released two years prior, it would have received an eight or more by me. The problem is, since there are so many better games of this genre already out (NOLF 2, Vietcong, MOH:AA, Serious Sam, Soldier of Fortune 2, just to name a few), this game is really overshadowed by their greatness. I really hope Halo 2 will address some of its predecessors problems. Until that release date, a gamer can only hope.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 10/06/03

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