It's good. You know
it, I know it. Our detailed review will tell
you exactly how amazing Bungie's epic First
Person Shooter is.
Update: Nov. 23, 2001
A batch of in-game screens now accompany our review. Two reviews, two batches
of screens added. You know it's gonna be good.
What if Halo was bad? I mean really bad? The Xbox would
be in shambles, Bungie Software would be in financial disarray, and the
world as we know it would be gone. Thankfully that virtual hell will
never come… Halo rocks in a very big way.
The graphics in Halo are breathtaking to say the least.
The character models of both your comrades, and the villainous aliens
are eerily well detailed. You'll see elite covenant troopers spring at
you and flail their weapons in effort to make contact with your head,
as they come up close you'll be able to see their mouths open as they
release a bloodcurdling battle cry. The details on the environments also
stay true to form. In an outdoor scenario you'll be able to look down
at the ground and pick out individual blades of grass or individual leaves
on trees. Regardless of where you are in any one of Halo's levels (and
there are lots of them), you'll be in for a visual treat. As good as
the graphics are, the world of Halo has got so much more to offer than
merely good looks.
The story of the game is as follows: the human race is in
a struggle with a race of aliens called, the Covenant. They're faster,
they're stronger, and they're a hell of a lot meaner than the human race
could ever be. The game begins with a panning zoom of the UNSC ship,
the Pillar of Autumn coming out of an emergency hyperspace jump. The
ship is on full alert as the covenant ships are quickly approaching their
position. Aliens boarding the ship have become imminent; there is only
one hope. And you're it. The next scene is you slowly awakening from
a deep, cryogenic sleep. The test team takes you through your calibration
steps (it's really just a training sequence in disguise) and is just
about ready to go into weapons training, but suddenly this ship is boarded
by the covenant and that is where your fun begins.
You must make your way up to the bridge and enter into a
scripted dialogue with Captain Keyes who then decides to evacuate the
ship and give you the vessel's guidance system named Cortana who plays
the role of your guide throughout the game to you to carry to safety
onto a life preserver. After jettisoning the Pillar of Autumn, you then
bear witness to the essential destruction of the ship, and in a last
dying breath the ship is landed onto a ring shaped planet called… Halo.
The story then escalates from there up until what is affectionately being
called "the swamp level" throws an amazing twist into the epic that is
Halo. What is that twist you ask? Just play the damn game.
"Hello, I am Cortana, how may I direct your call?"
You play as a character only known as Master Chief. He is
skilled to use all weapons, trained to pilot all vehicles, and has been
asleep for quite along time awaiting this happy little reunion.
The game's controls are some of the best that I have ever
seen in a console first person shooter. It's almost as if Microsoft specifically
designed the controller to suit first person shooters such as Halo. The
left analog stick serves as your standard up, down, left, and right movements,
or if you prefer, you can use the directional pad for movement. The right
stick is used for the operation of looking and aiming your weapons. L
is used for throwing grenades, R for firing your chosen weapon, A for
jumping, B for melee attack, X for basic operations (pressing buttons,
entering/exiting vehicles), Y for switching between one of your two weapons.
The white and black buttons are used for turning on your flashlight and
switching between fragmentation and plasma grenades respectively. Regardless
of what control configuration you pick, Halo operates with tremendous
ease in any mode of play.
Something that has been overlooked by the astounding gameplay
and the breathtaking graphics is the incredibly composed audio. Halo
was not degraded by hardcore rock tunes, or cheesy rap motifs. Instead
Bungie Software filled Halo full of mesmerizing Gregorian-ish chants.
It's amazingly hard to explain how or why the music does such a good
job of setting the mood for each and every scene that you are presented
with, but it does, and does it very well. The weapon noises are also
very well done, if not just a bit muddled. The assault rifle (my personal
weapon of choice) echoes through the halls of my home like none other.
The needler and sniper rifle are two other favorite, both for their graphics
and for their excellent use of sound to convey the sincerity of the beating
that you are doling out to your adversaries.
The artificial intelligence of your opponents is also absolutely
frightening. They'll appropriately adjust their tactics to fit the difficulty
level that you have selected. They'll flank you, hide if injured, wait
for reinforcements, and of course perform the ever-popular bull rush.
Despite the lack of bots in Halo (something that I was extremely
displeased with when I heard the news) the multiplayer aspect of the
game can be extraordinarily exhilarating. Bungie Software has given those
of us who have the dough to shell out for a few spare TV's and Xboxes,
the option of linking up to 4 Xboxes together to get some kick ass 16
player slugfests going. However, if you don't have that kind of moola,
then you have the option of playing through one of Halo's 26 methods
of multiplayer mayhem. And if that doesn't suit your fancy than there
is the ever faithful cooperative story mode in which you and a buddy
can attempt to play through the entire single player story mode as a
Has some Cortana "issues" to sort out.
Whether or not this review got across just how amazing
Halo is or not, I'll never know, but I do know that Halo
is the best title that the Xbox has on the market right
now, and will most likely hold that title for quite some
time. As much as it pains to say this, I'll do it anyway;
go out and buy an Xbox and Halo and don't come back here
until you've completely demolished the epic game from
those amazing people at Bungie Software. Don't think,