For this review I am going to divide it up into a few parts since this is only my second review and I have yet to find a nice format I like. First I will tell about plot, single player and multiplayer. Then I will divide up the different categories that I rate and justify giving it what I did. I can't believe after the three years that I've been playing I have never taken the time to write a review for it. I know most people have already played Halo and have an opinion on it already but this is mine, whether you agree or not. I don't consider myself to be good at writing, so please ignore any and all error in my grammar or spelling. Plot: Halo has quite simply one of if not the best story of any first person shooter. That may not sound like too much since first person shooters are notorious for having thrown together stories as an excuse to shoot stuff. But this is a fantastic story for any game, and being a first person shooter just makes it seem that much better. This may be attributed to the fact that the game original wasn't going to be a first person shooter. You play as the Master Chief, when the game starts you have just taken a blind jump to escape the covenant, an alien race trying end human existence, and come out beside a large world that is shaped like a giant ring. The story progresses as you go though the game and you objective is always changing. The mysteries of who built the ring and why, and why the covenant are already there. This defiantly isn't your linear first person shooter story that we are so use to, the game even has three novels so players who enjoyed the story can get even more out of it. The first, entitled "The Fall of Reach" is the story before the game. This explains how you became who you are, and why your ship made a blind jump and ended up by this mysterious ring world. This book starts when the master chief was a child and goes all the way up to when you find the ring. Then the second book entitled "The Flood", is the same as the game, but instead of simply following your character you also follow what happens with the marines, the covenant, and the captain. These things you would not know from just playing the game since you follow other characters instead of just yourself. Then the final book aptly named "First Strike" is about the two weeks after the first Halo game but before the second. I cannot say much more than that without spoiling the events, which would spoil part of Halo 2. But the book isn't titled first strike because you're waiting around. It is full of action, plot development and other things that won't be able to be summarized completely in the opening movie of Halo2. Single Player Campaign: The single player portion of Halo consists of ten long levels that all take at least an hour if you don’t know what you're doing and four difficulties. Playing on a harder difficulty will of course make the game much longer because you will find yourself dying quite frequently depending on what mode you play. These levels offer a wide set of different environments such as a grassy cliff, a snowy canyon, an island, a swamp and of course some alien space ships and structures. Since these levels are pretty long there are multiple "Checkpoints" through out the level. When you pass one of these it will tell you with text up in the corner and you can then save the game at that point and resume it later. While going through the campaign you will have access to ten weapons and five vehicles each with their own firing mode. There are 9 different types of enemies through out the game, and different variations of each. Plenty enough to keep you busy blowing stuff up. You can only carry two weapons at a time so you want to make sure that you pick the combination that’s best for the situation. This is much more important in multiplayer than in single player though which is the next paragraph. Multiplayer: For the console world Halo's multiplayer is revolutionary. Using the Xbox's LAN feature players are able to hook four Xbox's together and play up to 16 players. While this has been a staple in PC and online game for years, it has never quite made its way to the consoles the way Halo was able to do. Mostly it had to do with console's lack of online play being as large market as it now is. Halo's multiplayer offers the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag but it also brings some modes like King of The Hill, Oddball, and Race that aren’t something you see in any shooters, even though Oddball, known as "Man With The Skull" and King of The Hill where done back in 1994 with Bungie’s Marathon. If it wasn't for the pistol Halo would have an extremely well balanced multiplayer. Luckily since you have nearly limitless control over setting up a game you can just take the pistol out and get a much more fun experience. With Halo's multiplayer you can specify just about everything you want, from the weapons, vehicles, and kills down to things like spawn growth, suicide penalties, health, you can even make all players invisible if you desire. You name it and chances are you can change it. One thing you don’t have control over is bots, so make friends now, because you won't be finding any bots to play against. Besides bringing the sixteen player first person shooters into the console world the multiplayer modes also had vehicles, something that was very rare in the PC world with only a few other FPS out there that would let you control vehicles, tribes is one of those few. Unfortunately only two of Halo's thirteen maps supported them, so after a few rounds you will know those maps pretty well since they are the most played, because they can have vehicles. Blood Gulch and Sidewinder are their names, but besides those maps there are also some other great maps like Battle Creek, Hang Em' High, Chill Out, Prisoner, Longest, and Damnation. Hang Em' High is also one map that everyone seems to love to play. The other maps are simply decent, but more than half are great. The multiplayer became so popular because of how fun it is that people found ways to exploit the Xbox’s LAN ability so they could play online. There are more than five different programs just for this, the most popular of which is Xbox Connect, with a good one thousand people on at any given time ready to play. Vehicles are so popular that it's beginning to be expected of the new games in the genre to have them. Imitation is the best form of flattery after all, look at Unreal Tournament 2004. Epic, the company behind Unreal, had to change one vehicle because it looked too much like the Halo warthog which they where basing it on. You could also look at the Unreal Manta or Raptor and see that they look strikingly like their Halo counterpart in thier size and desgin. Even this isn't the end of Halo's multiplayer, there is also a cooperative mode so that you can go through the single player campaign split screen with a friend. If one person dies they will immediately spawn again when the other one is out of combat. Gameplay: The game play in Halo is fantastic, everything feels smooth and right. The menus all have the cool Halo look and are easy to navigate. The game controls like a dream, it's a rare first person shooter that really just controls like it should with a controller and oddly loses a lot of its feel with a keyboard and mouse. It also sports some great physics that let you stack grenades and make a huge chain reaction explosion launching objects that where atop of the explosives sky high. The weapons are only decently balanced due to the overpowered pistol, if you start playing with really good Halo players you will notice they all use the pistol exclusively and if you don't use it then they will quickly tear you up. The vehicles are well balanced, each of them have their own use. The ghost is good for quick flag runs but is pretty easy to dodge and easy to take out at close range for a moderately skilled play, the tank is good for defense but if you get too close to an enemy you will probably get a few grenades stuck to you. The warthog is the least useful of the multiplayer vehicles, sometimes it is good for flag runs with a partner but is a death trap against a tank. Mostly it's best to strategically place it to give a slight advantage to your team, such as blocking base doors to make it harder to come in and out or to block teleporters. There really is little that they could do to make the game play better, and the only real flaw to it is only be something to worry about in multiplayer against skilled players. For the average player this wouldn't be a problem but once you start playing a lot it is basically required that you use the pistol. Some people like it and some people don't, I don’t. One common misconception that people who have never played the game but know a bit about it say is that since your shield recharges you can't die since you can go and hide when the shield is low and wait for it to recharge. Now in theory that would work, but what a lot of people don't get is that there are a lot of variables that occur while playing the game, and most of the time this theory fails miserably when you actually try it. Most of the fights in the game are close range with lots of enemies and no where to hide where they can't hit you so it just doesn't work. Now if they are at a pretty good distance from you then this would work, but most of the time it won't. It's about as solid as saying that all you have to do to win in a fighting game is hold block the whole time and only attack them right after they attack you. It sounds perfect but it just doesn't work, if this was something you thought then now you know. One other thing is since Halo has to be controlled with a controller it doesn't have the same precision as using a keyboard and mouse. To make up for this Bungie included what they call "Sticky Aim" to help you. Not to be confused with auto aim. What sticky aiming does is once your reticle is over a target it loosely stick to that target. It doesn't stay in one place on the target but when you have your reticle on a target it will have a small force that you have to push to get it off, it is a very small. I didn't even notice it until months after I had beaten the game while in multiplayer I was in a ghost, when I strafed to the side my reticle hit a enemy tank and my ghost slightly turned for a second to stay on it. This feature goes away if you play on the hardest difficultly, Legendary, but unfortunately this feature stays in the multiplayer. Halo 2 will not have that in multiplayer, neither will it have such a powerful pistol. While that’s good news for Halo 2 it's not for Halo. These two reasons I feel warrant a nine in game play. Graphics: Halo's graphics are simply beautiful, unfortunately the screens here at Gamespot don't do the game any justice. Halo has large open environments that are simply gorgeous. With high resolution textures you can zoom up to a wall or the ground and see that the textures don’t get blurry even extremely close. Playing Halo on a high definition TV with component cables will give you nearly as clear and nice looking picture as the PC version. The character models are also all very impressive, combine that with some great animation and it really brings everything to life. The weapons are well modeled and animated great in the ways you fire, reload and melee. With all of this being so well done you would think that the vehicles would be just as good, well you would think right since they are as nicely done as the weapons, characters, and environments. Looking back on the game three years later it still looks great, easily a ten for it's time, and if it was to just now come out it would still score well. Sound: The sound in Halo is like everything else, fantastic. I don’t really know what really to say about it. I'll just divide it in three part, soundtrack, voice acting, and effects. First off is the soundtrack, every piece fits perfect into the game. So much so that you can recognize the levels by the music you heard in them, it just captures the feel of each level. Next is voice acting, no matter who is talking it's always nicely done, especially the marines and grunts. Last would be the different effects such as your guns, vehicles, or just the ambient sounds of the game. There really isn't anything to say about the effects, they're effects. They sound great but unless sound effects don't sound like what they are suppose to sound like then they are going to be great, provided that they aren't low quality, which Halo's aren't. Overall the sound is easily a ten. Value: There are very few games that will give you more value than Halo, I can not even begin to add up all the hours that I have spent with it. Whether it was playing through on all of the difficulties, playing at LANs with friends, playing over Xbox Connect, launching warthogs, going through the game on co-op with friends, or looking for the many Easter eggs that Bungie included. There just is a nearly endless replay value to this game. With a long campaign and an unexpectedly popular multiplayer that has brought the word LAN into the console world Halo defiantly deserves the pedestal that it has been given. But wait I gave it a nine, what gives? Well there is one big flaw that I had to count off something for and value is the proper one, in its case it had to be taken off. If you haven't already guessed it read on, if you have...well then read on too other wise you won't know if you're right. Now we get to the bad part, the one undeniable large flaw that is the scratch on the nearly perfect game. When Microsoft bought Bungie they intended for Halo to be a launch title for their new console, the problem was Bungie didn't have a finished game, and with a very short time to finish it and have it ready for release it is obvious that corners would have to be cut. The biggest and most noticeable one is the level design, a lot of the indoor environments would just be the same type of room, with little variations in each but for the most part the same. This of course can and does get repetitive. This problem isn't very bad at the beginning of the game obviously, but about two thirds into the game the unique levels stop. What happens instead is we get basically a remixed version of earlier levels. I say remixed because they are the same, but different. While they did incorporate why you go back to the same areas into the story you could tell that for the most part the game wasn't meant for you to go back to the same area twice, it just doesn't fit well with the rest of the Halo story. Too much more would spoil the game but I'm sure you've already beaten it by now, and if you haven't you should have. Though this isn't nearly as repetitive and boring as scanning for things would have been it still is a huge flaw. The good news is that Halo 2 won't have this problem, the bad news is that the original Halo does. Therefore since it does effect the value of the single player game I have no choice but to give it a nine, even with all that other good stuff. Tilt: If you made it this far then it should be clear what I'm going to give it for tilt. I simply love this game. It is the Goldeneye of this generation, and it looks as if its sequel will be better which would just follow in the footsteps of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Granted Perfect Dark wasn't officially a sequel to Goldeneye it was considered by many to be. This game has shown that a console first person shooter can compete with its PC brethren. Maybe not three years down the road when it is finally ported to the PC but for the time it surpassed what the PC was currently offering. So much so that there was hate for it just because it was so great. With a single player campaign that had a compelling story, something rare in the genre, and an incredible multiplayer it really is a classic. There is no way that I could give Halo anything less than a ten for tilt. It's one of the greatest games of all time and earned a spot on my top games list, which is very hard to do. It's as close to perfection as I can see a game being, and I suspect that the next installment in the series will be even closer if not reaching that level. With Halo 2 only a few short months away if you haven't already played the original Halo you need to go and do that as soon as possible.
Well, well, well. Here I am, reviewing yet another game while wondering what has become of my life. And the game is Halo: Combat Evolved, without a doubt the overall favourite Xbox game of all time. And, yes, it's a laun... Read Full Review