While some people may consider the Xbox a computer in disguise, it’s main function is still a game machine. For a lot of us non-PC gamers, this is a blessing. The FPS genre has always ruled the PC with a few exceptions such as Goldeneye, but Halo has finally bridged the gap and made consoles a major contender in the FPS war.
The game puts you in control of a space marine who’s just been pulled from your long slumber in order to combat an alien menace. The game immediately thrusts you into a movie like environment, even taking a few of it’s opening battle scenes from Star Wars. The developers even incorporated training into the regular game, so there’s no need for any boring training missions.
Fellow marines will assist you along the way, at least for as long as they can stay alive. Unlike other games, these marines have common sense and will hide behind objects, duck for cover, strafe, and blow enemies away. Of course, there are a few irritating moments where you’ll find yourself popping a few in the back of the head with a plasma rifle. The AI’s greatness doesn’t end with the marines as the enemies are not only smart, but display distinct personalities. The lower level grunts will run away from players when shot, while hunters will pursue the player better than raptors from Jurassic Park. This can also be used to the players advantage as players can stick a plasma grenade to a grunt and watch him run into a crowd of his own kind and blow them all to pieces. Doing this to a hunter however will cause them to run at you and take you down with them.
The game provides an outstanding challenge, especially on some of the higher difficulty levels. For those players who need help, call up a friend and have them play through the game with you in the co-op mode. This allows for a huge amount of strategy and setting enemies up for a sniper shot from your friend provides players with an awesome adrenalin rush. Should he miss the sniper shot though, it’s of to the multi-player frag fest where you’ll be allowed to take out your frustrations on them. Any of these well designed levels can provides endless replay value, easily worth the price of admission.
This is also the showcase title for the Xbox and anyone can see why. Whether it be the rock-solid frame rate, intense lighting effects, or the animations of the characters, everyone will find something to like. The majority of the game takes place indoors, but the few outdoor stages show an incredible amount of detail and atmosphere. The scene in the forest is a personal favorite with a thick, mood setting fog, and numerous places to hide. The games great story is told through cinemas which play completely through the games graphics engine. Some of these are downright frightening and keep the mood of the game going for 10+ hours.
When a console supports 5.1 Dolby Digital out of the box, your know that the games are going to sound amazing. Lasers fly by, ships buzz overhead, marines scream orders, and aliens (someway speaking English) scream when being attacked warning others of their impending doom. The music is held off for tense moments which adds awesome drama to some of the games best moments.
The only chink in the games armor is in the control of the vehicles. While the game deserves major credit for allowing players to hop in vehicles (even the alien ones!), the control of them deserved a lot more attention. There will be more than a few times when an untimely death occurs due to a vehicle mishap. SPOILER ALERT: This is even more frustrating when you make it to the end of the game and realize it ends with a vehicle run. Very few players will make through on their first try and re-doing it 20 times wouldn’t be surprising.
Even with the slight control problem, there isn’t a gamer on this planet who won’t find something to like about “Halo.” It’s combination of mesmerizing graphics and outstanding gameplay make this only game that every Xbox owner should have. Nobody will be disappointed with Bungies masterpiece