Review by mjlF95
"One halo'a game"
I would call myself a casual FPS player. Though I have been weaned on multi-player matches of DOOM, Heretic/Hexen, and Descent, HALO is my first single-player experience with a modern first-person console shooter. I'm still working on the last two levels but I would like to at least share my thoughts on the first 89% of the game.
For starters it is intense. Really, really intense. I played a single player campaign white-knuckled for the past three evenings. Though the action is frantic, the pacing is just right and there is the opportunity to approach battles in different ways. The levels are carefully crafted to necessitate certain action while at the same time giving you near total freedom.
Items in the game all have good and bad points. You learn intuitively what weapon is to best achieve your goals and discard it when your goals change, not just when you get the a bigger better one. When you get the opportunity to use a vehicle for example you never get the impression of having shifted from a fighting game to driving game. Like everything in HALO, vehicles are simply a means to an end, you try to use them as effectively as you can until they are no longer of use to you.
The story so far has been perfect. Not that it stands on it's own, but simply that it moves the action from one location to another very effectively with goals that make sense considering the situation. There is always a sense of improvisation as situations change from moment to moment that keeps the action exciting.
There were only one or two areas where I felt like I was being forced to jump through hoops, by-and-large the impression is more like leaping into the unknown. Regardless I do have a couple of issues that detract from the game a little for me. Some later levels have you infiltrating large structures and then backtracking out of them. Though it lends to the realism it's a little tedious, especially considering that several levels are exactly symmetrical so the room you go to looks just like the one you left. I wouldn't have noticed it but it happens just often enough to be redundant.
*spoiler warning* In defense of the later levels, the slight change in gameplay around the middle of the game made a world of difference and led to some of the most insane fighting in the game. The monitor was also a nice touch, kind of creepy. The only thing I missed was not fighting any more battles with fellow marines. Though it makes sense in the story, I liked those epic battles rather than the one-man-army routine. Maybe there is still a chance in level 10. *end spoiler*
Criticisms aside, HALO really lives up to it's advance praise, at least for me. Like any game you have to work hard at, HALO is very rewarding to play, without 99% of the repetition and frustration of most games. Multi-player, death-match and co-op, is a good bonus too and gives the game valuable longevity. In closing I have to say HALO is a thoughtfully crafted and satisfying game. It is beautiful to look at and most of all, a lot of fun. Though I do not own the game or system, IMHO it is worth the price of both.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/19/01, Updated 11/19/01
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