Review by BeefieCheesie

"Halo: Worth the Wait and Hype?"

I vaguely remember a long time ago when a title known as Halo was being developed for the PC. I watched at 3 minute demo of some robot man driving around on a "Warthog" and stopping before a cliff, he climbed out, and looked around. It was simply amazing. That was the last I heard of it.

Halo is a must have for any XBOX owner. It's one of the few of many gamers bring up every time you mention XBOX. Halo is a maybe for the PC gamer with a PC powerful enough to play this game the way it should be.

For those few that waited for Halo to come for PC (like me) and stayed away from the XBOX version, you're in for a treat, if you have a nice PC.

As with most ports it's easy to see that Halo was sort of meant to be played from FAR AWAY. The textures, while nice, are very bland when you get close to them. As with the ground textures, the level Truth and Reconciliation looked absolutely horrible on the test PC used. From a distance the ground textures seemed to form some sort of ground, but up close it looked muddy, blurred and rough.

That may be from the sloppiness of the port. It's hard to believe it takes a powerful PC to run a game and engine that is almost 3 years old. If it was in development for the PC 5 years ago, with roughly the same shouldn't be taxing.

It's easy to drag on the graphics, since this game does have some beautiful environments. The load times are minimal, and it doesn't feel like it's riding your PC to death. It's really unfortunate that this game couldn't have found some sort of balance, especially for the minimum requirements.

The story of Halo is a basic Sci-fi story. You're the Master Chief, a soldier with a cybernetic super suit and the last of a few super soldiers. You're mission is to the stop the Covenant from attacking the earth. Standard fare. While the story does play a nice role in the single player. It, much like Half-Life, sort of comes and goes, especially in the later missions. It basically feels like you have one mission, to get to the end of the game.

The enemy AI in Halo was supposed to be incredible; and although it is "smart" it seems it's because of difficulty to kill the enemies, not how "smart" they are. Enemies do dodge and take cover. Scream "grenade" and move, warn others that you're coming. But it feels like it's been done before. Mainly enemies like the Elites give you the most problem at the beginning of the game since they move and duck around, making them more difficult to kill. The enemy AI all depends on the strengths of the player, if you can move and dodge with the rest of them, you'll be fine.

Another thing that may make the AI "smart" is the realism factor. Master Chief can only carry two weapons at any one time. While this is mostly realistic, it hampers gameplay. Using the same gun for most of the game is pretty tedious. The loading is slow and leaves you open to many attacks before you can get reloaded and back on target.

Halo is a hard game with a steep learning curve. You will fight swarms of enemies, breath for a second, and then find yourself battling more. This may be tedious and boring for some players, but it never felt overwhelming to me. The enemies' dodging around is difficult at first but soon you will dispatch them with ease. When you need health, most of the time you can find it. Although they are occasions (especially the alien ship level (The Third Level)) where you will be in desperate need of supplies, only find your self running and dodging to get around enemies and dying needlessly many times.

Fortunately, the controls for Halo are well placed and tight. Left mouse button shoots, right mouse button lobs grenades. You have the basic WASD movement. Use (E) and reload(R) do the same function for reloading. The Use (E) key is used to pick up new weapons or to flip switches. You have the zoom (Z) key right below for easy Zooming. The tab key which switches weapons feels awkward, but you will hardly use it.

Multiplayer is the main reason many XBOX owners have this game. While it is the biggest gripe I have with the game, it is enjoyable. Multiplayer, even on the XBOX has always felt floaty and slow. Unlike the Unreal Tournament series, which is mostly a twitch fest. Halo offers a slower version of multiplayer, with the same amount of tension. While this may suit most gamers, it a rough transition for twitchy, aggressive players.

The multiplayer modes are the standard fare Slayer (Deathmatch), CTF, and Team Slayer. Multiplayer games are easy to find and get into with minimal loading times. The multiplayer learning curve depends on the skills of the player as well as the skills of the opponents you're playing against. The maps are the same from the XBOX, along with 6 brand new maps. The maps are a mixed bag. You'll find levels like Rat Race and Blood Gulch are fun to play on; whereas levels like Damnation and Sidewinder are too big and you spend too much time hunting for enemies and being picked off by a camper.

If Halo would've been released for PC two years ago instead XBOX, it may have been one of the classic FPS of all time. However, what PC owners got was years of waiting and finally a delivered version that is sloppy and needs a powerful rig to run at least decently. If you've been waiting for the PC version and have a PC powerful enough, go for it. If not, you're better off finding a XBOX and a copy of Halo (Now 30 bucks new) and having a blast with that.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/19/04

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