After playing Halo, a game I am utterly addicted to, several hours straight I decided to take a break and start writing this review. It’s hard to explain the experience you get when you first play Halo; it’s one of those games that really puts you in awe. I can’t think of a better way the Xbox could make its impact then by releasing Halo, a game which could very well be the greatest shooter of all time. Why? Read and find out.
Halo takes place more then 500 years into the future. Mankind is at war against the Covenant, a group of different alien species bounded by their religion. While humanity struggles to survive, a group of military scientists try to perfect the cyborg soldiers of the SPARTAN-II project. Near completion the facility is invaded by the Covenant. Only one of the SPARTAN-II soldiers (you) escapes on an escape pod. The ship makes a blind jump to lead the Covenant away from earth. The pod crash lands on some strange planet and you find yourself in the middle of a Covenant inhabited world. As the story moves on you start to learn more about the aliens and the ring shaped planet your on. Although I wouldn’t call them plot twists there are a couple surprises but I’m certainly not going to tell them. The plot is very intriguing, worthy of a movie. And although there isn’t any character development the game still manages to be emotional.
Halo is still one of the sharpest looking games, even after being out for more then a year and a half. Each level is very detailed as are the characters. Most of the levels feel very alive and everything seems to shine with beauty. The cut-scenes give such a strong cinematic feel. All the outdoor environments are picturesque. It’s hard to describe this truly amazing looking game. Your just going to have to trust me when I say it’s beautiful.
The music in Halo does a great job of moving the game along. For the most part music is unnoticeable until you enter a certain situation, which really adds a feeling of urgency. There aren’t many songs and yet they are able to use them very well during the entire game. Voice acting is also done well. Sound affects are used for just about anything, which makes a more lively experience.
The gameplay is nearly flawless; all the gameplay elements are exactly as they should be. What makes it one of the most enjoyable experiences ever? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps it’s the amount of squad-based action, or it’s the ability to fly a banshee (enemy aircraft) or man a gun turret. Maybe it’s because all of the other aspects of the game are so great. Whatever it is, it makes the game a load of fun and a must play for casual and hardcore gamers alike.
Each level is long and spread out through huge environments. Luckily there are only a few times were it is easy to get lost. For the most part you wont be wondering around aimlessly for ten minutes trying to find the last goal. Weapons vary from sniper rifles to shotguns to enemy firearms. There are several different vehicles available throughout the game. There are tanks, hummers (which you could either drive, sit in the passenger seat, or man the anti-aircraft gun), hovercrafts, and banshees. The mix of gameplay keeps the game interesting. There is a great balance between shooting and strategy. The amount of action is endless and yet running right into the middle of a battle will get you killed fast, especially on the higher difficulty levels. There will be times when the smartest move would be to sit back and wait for them to come to you. Other situations will have you rushing to the closet gun turret. There is even strategy in how you will deal with each enemy since all the different species reacts in different ways.
It would be no surprise if the halo control scheme sets a basic style for any future Xbox shooters. The Xbox controller is utilized to the fullest in Halo with every button serving a purpose. Using the right trigger to fire is very easy to use. Most of the controls are very easy to learn, you’ll have them down to a science after a couple hours of play.
The majority of the replay value exists in multiplayer. There are 13 different multiplayer levels ranging from small to huge, indoor to outdoor environments. There are also many types of games from the classic deathmatch to capture the flag. Chances are you won’t get more then four players in a game. But with the right equipment, and the right friends, you can have up to 16 players in a single game. And of course you can’t beat the enjoyment of saving mankind with a friend in co-op mode.
At Halo’s base is one of the best FPS engines ever, at its surface great graphics and well-done audio effects. Great multiplayer and replay value, solid controls, and an array of cool weapons and vehicles make this game the masterpiece it is. The only real con is the single player is on the short side and some of the later levels get a bit repetitive. That doesn’t change the fact this is a must-own for an Xbox owner, it might even be worth getting an Xbox for. I did.
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