Although Pedestrian By Today's Video Game Standards, The Original Halo Game Still Offers A Lot of Fun
In 2001, Microsoft launched the new gaming system XBOX. At the launch of the system, only a select few games were available. One of those games was Halo. Halo was a significant game in launch of the XBOX because it was the game that everyone had to have. The success of microsoft’s new game system was predicated on hype machine behind Halo driving people to purchase this new system so that they could play this revolutionary game. Halo is a science fiction based first person shooter which features an interstellar war between the human race and an alien race known as the Covenant. With Halo, Microsoft (and the Bungie – the software developer behind the game) achieved their goal in creating over the top hype that drove record sales of the game. But does the hype live up to expectations? While at my local video game store last weekend, I saw what looked like a decent copy of the classic game for $2.99 and decided to give it a try. Granted, I understood the game would suffer in comparison to the technology of today’s video games, but I still believe that a classic game should stand the test of time and still provide a unique gaming experience when it comes to graphics, the game story, music/sound, and game play.
When I first installed and played Halo, I was content with the graphics. They were not awe-inspiring as I was led to believe. I thought the color scheme made the game cartoonish. That said, I could easily tell what and where everything was. Animations were smooth and well done.
Setting the Stage
Halo takes place in a world created by Bungie Studios. With the combination of the technological advancement of faster-than-light travel and the overpopulation of Earth, the human race has begun to expand and explore other planets. During the course of this exploration, planetary military bases have been created such as planet REACH, which is a sort of space naval center that also houses a secret military project that is code named The Spartan Project. The key element of the Spartan Project is the creation of cyborg super soldiers.
Twenty-seven years prior to the start of the game, The Covenant began waging a war on the human race and through a number of crushing defeats of the humans, took the upper hand in the interstellar dominion.
The story of a massive war between humans and aliens is nothing new, but what is unique is that Halo doesn’t take place during this seemingly awesome war (and the times you do fight the covenant are awesome) but instead fight the flood, thousands of annoying little parasites who’s only form of attack is exploding on your face. The plot twists were there, betrayals and wacko computer programs that remind you of space odyssey 2001, all would be cool if you cared at all about it. When you’re playing, you’re not stepping back and thinking “Wow, I am a super solider totally taking it to the enemy”, but “Kill this batch of flood in this seemingly same looking corridor then I will kill them in the next same looking corridor”. A story is there, but it is far from engrossing.
The sound and music in Halo are two very different things. The music is generic and forgettable (although I like the Gregorian chant at the title screen). Music adds little to the overall game play and if it wasn’t there, you wouldn’t know the difference.
Sound in Halo is top notch. You can hear the crickets in the background and the guns sound very realistic. Sounds add to the overall game and are always clear and exciting.
The most Important aspect of any game: game play. The perfect game would have all of the above but if a game with mediocre graphics, an awful story, noxious sound and music, it could still be a good game. Halo’s game play can be summed up in one word: Meh. The weapons are all cool looking but I only consistently used the pistol and shotgun. The first few missions, I admit were fun. Running down the covenant in a hum-vee like vehicle. When you get to about half way in the game, you switch form the cool covenant to the flood. The flood is annoying and not fun to fight. Little parasites and the grotesque mutations they create from humans and covenant soldiers all are almost boring to fight. They have no sense of tactics and simply lumber after you as you unload your weapons into them. The only real challenge is ammo conservation. Eventually you fight both the convenient and the flood in three way battles, but the mere presents of the flood is enough to damper the fights.
The level designs are decent but nothing I found truly inspired. Many of the levels evoke a sense of repetition in the levels with similar corridors. Also the levels are either mercilessly long or painfully short. The short levels are usually the coolest while the long ones are tedious and boring. There were times when I was feeling myself entering the zone against the hoards of covenant but was hard pressed to even continue with the game at points.
The ending battle is also a disappointment. All you must do is shoot at some selected targets and then drive a hum-vee a bit to an escape pod. The end battle is easy and goes by quick. The escape, however, is one of the best parts of the game. Driving through corridors and using your instincts not to roll over, running over the fleeing enemies as you make your grand escape is great fun.
The game is very polished and did not run into any bugs or glitches, which greatly improves my respect for Halo.
Overall, Halo is an enjoyable game with a story that is there if you care silky smooth graphics and very nice sounds. Is this the ultimate game that so many have proclaimed it to be? No. Halo is a game that does not live up to its hype, but if you look beyond the hype and expectations, Halo delivers solid game play that will keep you entertained for many hours.