"Halo is a great game, but not nearly as great as it is made out to be."

Halo was originally released on the Xbox back in 2001, and the reviews for it were insane. All of them either high 9's or perfect 10's. I really thought wow this game must be awesome. However I never got the game because unfortunately the Xbox did not, and still does not have enough to convince me to spend my money on one. In 2003 Halo was ported to the PC by Gearbox Software, and I can tell you I was glad because I really wanted to play Halo.

Halo has an interesting story actually, and I enjoyed it for the most part. Your ship "The Pillar Of Autumn" is attacked by a race of aliens known only as the "Covenant". You are the last SPARTAN wearing MJOLNIR armor (the green suit). You are awoken from a cyro sleep to save the ship. Soon afterwards you must escape your invaded ship, and your escape pod crash lands on the ring world known only as "Halo". In a desperate struggle to keep the Convenant from finding the coordinates to Earth you must defeat the covenant threat, escape from the "Flood" and learn the truths about Halo. I must say that Halo's story is one of it's strongest aspects. During the game you learn about Master Chief and you learn about his personality, and I have to say he's a pretty cool character.

This is the part of the game where I was left unsatisfied. The single player game consists of you going through various levels, including different planets, buildings and ships. However there is no difference to how these missions operate. You basically go from point A to point B with very little if non, puzzle solving and you basically just shoot down enemy after enemy. However the fights with the covenant Elite soldiers are very fun, the fights with the grunts are not very fun since they are easily killed, and will often run away from you. There are also shield wielding enemies named Jackals, but they are usually not very hard because they do little damage, and charging them with fire power is usually enough to kill them, especially if you are using a covenant weapon. Then there is the final form of the covenants, the Hunters which are the strongest covenant soldiers. They are big and slow so they are generally not very hard to defeat and they only appear once every blue moon. Then there is the Flood, you will encounter them later in the game and this is where I find the game to become slightly frustrating and boring. The flood are zombie like creatures who will attack you will melee attacks and they also use every weapon they can get their greedy hands on. You will usually fight them in large numbers and they tend to get very frustrating to fight. There is a certain flood enemy that is a big sac that explodes and releases tons of little bugs that chase after you that die really easily but are just annoying. Once you encounter the flood you will basically be fighting them for the rest of the game, with some Covenant thrown in for good measure. You will also witness many Covenant VS. Flood battles, where you can either watch and wait for the survivors, or you can just run into the fray and start shooting everything that moves. One of the worst parts of the single player campaign is there is a lot of backtracking at certain points, and there is a few really long boring levels fighting endless hordes of the flood, but these aren't enough to ruin the experience. A cool feature about Halo is that besides HP (Hit Points) Master Chief has a rechargeable shield, so even when you have very little or no HP you are never in an extremely compromising situation where you are expected to complete an enormous task with 10 HP left. There are also some nice pick up power ups like an overshield that gives you several extra bars of shield protection, however they do not recharge when depleted. You can also pick up camouflage which does come in handy when things get a little to hectic.

There is one thing in particular that I found annoyed with in Halo is that the default control scheme is extremely awkward for anyone familiar with FPS games on the PC. To throw a grenade you right click, so when you use the sniper rifle you must press Z which is uncomfortably awkward since it is just below the WASD keys you use to move, so sniping effectively can be hard with these controls. Thankfully you can customize them. Also another confusion in the controls is that F is for melee attacks, all weapons have a melee attack, which I must admit is awesome. But it is confusing. Q is for flashlight, TAB switches weapons and F1 shows scores in multiplayer. For anyone who has played Counter-Strike or most other online shooters TAB is to show the score. So I decided to change my controls around. F being flashlight, shift being melee, TAB being show score, Q being switch weapons (Counter-Strike quick switch style). This does not create much of a problem though because you can easily change them in several seconds with the easy to use interface that the game has.

The weapons in halo are decent but not great. For your human weapons you have the usual assortment. You have your pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, rocket launcher and mounted gun turret on the buggy. The weapons you will be using the most is the assault rifle and the shotgun. But in the earlier stages you will be using the pistol quite often. There will most likely never be a point in the game where you won't be using the assault rifle. The uses of the Sniper rifle are extremely limited, and the rocket launcher is also limited but not as much as the sniper. I found that the sniper rifle was ultimately useless in the single player campaign. The buggy mounted turret is also useless for single player because you never have the opportunity to use it because you will always be driving. In order to use the turret you must have an additional marine mounted of the back to operate the turret. This however is very fun for multiplayer, but useless in single player. There is also a flamethrower, but this was not in the original Halo for Xbox, therefore it is not available in single player and only usable in multiplayer. It is a nice addition though because everyone loves flamethrowers. There are also grenades, which like you would expect are thrown and they blow things up. The nice thing about them is that you can throw them without having to change weapons. A simple right click of the mouse and you chuck a grenade.

Then you have the Covenant weapons, because what would a sci-fi shooter be without alien weapons? These weapons regrettably are disappointing to be honest. There is the Covenant plasma rifle, which rapidly shoots green plasma balls, but continuous fire will cause the rifle to overheat. There is the plasma pistol, which is obviously a pistol that shoots plasma balls, but it has 1 neat feature. It has the ability to charge up powerful single shots to take out some enemies in 1 hit. A nice feature, especially for multiplayer when you have the chance to get a charged shot on a unsuspecting enemy. The Needler, the last weapon is the only weapon that doesn't use an energy core and doesn't overheat. The other weapons have a energy core and after being used to much the core will eventually drain and the weapon will be useless and must be replaced with another one. However the Needler is magazine fed, and it has these needle crystals coming out of the top. When you shoot the crystals get smaller and smaller. It shoots rapidly but the shots are weird. It shoots pink floaty lasers that follow down and enemy and the explode on it. This weapon is only good against Covenant Elites and against most other enemies it is useless. There is also a stationary plasma turret, however this turret is also generally unused in single player. There is one weapon that the hunters use and that some grunts will use called the Fuel Rod Gun, but you can never use it because it always explodes when the enemies using it dies. However it was added into multiplayer and it is basically the Covenant equivalent of a rocket launcher, except the shots shoot in an arc, like a grenade launcher. Then finally there is the plasma grenade which is one of the best weapons in the game, simply because they stick to any surface. So you can throw them at an enemy and watch them run in fear as they eventually blow up. Also very fun in multiplayer to stick a grenade on a foe, or on a enemy vehicle and watch the driver fly out of the seat when it blows up.

One of the strangest aspects of Halo is that you can only carry 2 weapons at any given time (not including grenades) so this is part of the reason why certain weapons are not very useful, because you will need to decide which weapons are best for the current situation at hand, and it is usually Assault Rifle/Shotgun.

Last but not least, we get to the vehicles. This is definitely one of the best parts of Halo... multiplayer. The vehicles are in single player which does lead to some very exciting and memorable moments, but the vehicles truly shine in multiplayer. There is a tank, where players can also hitch a ride on the side of it and shoot with their handheld weapons while one person operates it and shoots the cannon, there is 2 different types of buggy's that can carry 3 players, one only available in multiplayer and the PC version of the game has a grenade launcher mounted on the back instead of a machine gun turret. Then there is the ghost and the banshee which are Covenant vehicles are are definitely the funnest vehicles to use. The ghost is a single man hover speeder that has 2 plasma cannons on the front and is very fun to use. The banshee is also a single man vehicle but you can fly around in it, shooting plasma or "Fuel Rod Gun" grenade type shots, that explode when they come into contact with something. So they would basically be called "Plasma Missiles". The vehicles are the heart of Halo multiplayer and they also add a distinct flavour to the single player campaign.

This could also be a disappointing part of Halo PC because first of all the game is a port of a console game, and it is 2 years later, so these graphics will definitely look dated. They don't look all to bad though. The worst part for me was going through extremely long chapters of the game with the exact same textures coming up again, and again, and again, and again, and again and you get an extreme sense of deja vu while playing certain levels. You might walking down a corridor and be like "Hey, didn't I just walk down this exact same corridor a minute ago?" Although the graphics are a little old, they still look good, and the animations are also pretty good. The only problem is this game is surprisingly very taxing on your computer. I can run Half-Life 2 smoother than Halo. I know your probably thinking "How? and Why?" Honestly I have no idea why Half-Life 2 runs better, but it does. There is some great atmosphere in Halo though. For instance the last level when you look off of a ship onto the outskirts of what appears to be a uninhabited rocky planet, and you can see the blue sky, it all looks almost breathtaking, even though it's not as good as graphics as some games now have it still can look great. Also when you are on Halo exploring you can see the ring to the sides of you and the surface of it resembles that of Earth's and this also looks pretty cool. The Sci-Fi atmosphere is achieved very well in Halo, and I find it does a better job then Doom 3 does at creating a Sci-Fi atmosphere.

Easily one of the best parts of Halo. The music is excellent, top notch quality. The games theme song is a very catching song that is a joy to listen to, and most of the game you have some pretty cool background music. The characters voices are also all very well done, however there are some slightly annoying voices but are easily overlookable. Such as the Covenant grunt sounds pretty stupid, but who really cares, the rest of the voices and music makes you completely forget about any of the negatives in the sound department.

Halo has a single player campaign of approximately 15 hours. You can easily get more then 15, and maybe less, if you are quick but I highly doubt it. I played the game on Normal, so if you play on one of the higher difficulty settings you will definitely get a longer experience than I did. The multiplayer is also pretty fun, the vehicles make for some great moments and some pretty good fun. The game comes with the usual assortment of gameplay modes, such as deathmatch and team deathmatch (renamed Slayer and Team Slayer in Halo) and CTF and several others. These are all equally fun to play but the most played is Slayer and CTF. There is also a Mod called "Halo Custom Edition" that I downloaded and played that adds some Halo 2 maps and weapons (obviously not as good as Halo 2, but it's as close as your going to get to Halo 2 on the PC for now, so it is also pretty fun to play).

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 8
Sound: 10
Value: 9
Tilt: 8

Halo is a solid FPS for the PC, and made a solid transition from Xbox to PC, but be prepared for some minor annoyances and also keep in mind, if you aren't a Halo fanatic then remember that this game is good but it's not nearly as good as people claim it is. It is not revolutionary, and it does not bring a lot of new things to the FPS formula besides is story driven campaign and vehicles. However anyone looking for a great story driven Sci-Fi FPS where your not just stuck in 1 building the whole game (Doom 3) and you are actually immersed in a Sci-Fi atmosphere than Halo for the PC is exactly what you are looking for. Halo is not a bad game at all, do not think that the "Overrated" title means I dislike the game, I think it's great, but it does not deserve a lot of the praise that it gets, because many FPS games have done what Halo has done before. But like I said before, if you are looking for an immersive story driven Sci-Fi shooter then look no further then Halo.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/21/05

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