I avoided Halo for years because I never believed it really had that much to offer. My reasoning for this was as follows. Halo was a FPS game. FPS games started on the PC, and remain to be primarily a PC-centric domain. Say what you want, but mouse + keyboard combo is infinitely superior to a console controller. And I know – I played FPS games on PS1 and 2 in the old days when Sony was still kinda cool, and not the laughing stock of the universe.
Then again Halo was a FPS made for FailBox made by Microsoft which I didn’t own, and didn’t plan to ever buy. How good could that game be? Why would I actually want to get a silly console game and play it on my PC? So I easily ignored the original Halo, and then Halo 2.
Fast forward until today and just about every person with a blog is having a massive gamegasm because of Halo 3. Seriously, ever since that game was released it became impossible to go to any gaming site without witnessing fanbois jerking off to Halo 3.
I’m not planning to buy Xbox 360, and so I will probably won’t be playing that game any time soon. But all that praise lumped on top of the Halo series lately got me wondering what exactly was I missing. So I broke down, and installed the original Halo: Combat Evolved on my PC. I wanted to experience first hand what exactly was this whole hype all about, and how all of this started.
My first impressions? For a 6 year old game, Halo was really not that bad! In fact, it was highly entertaining. Unlike many other games, the difficulty system seemed to be very well designed. On easy, the game is genuinely easy, without sacrificing the AI intelligence. Enemies still take cover, fall back or try to ambush you – but they are much less accurate or effective with their shots.
To tell you the truth, I was quite surprised that a 6 year old game had all the FPS elements that are now staples of the genre: intelligent AI that uses cover, wide range of vehicles, scripted combat sequences, smart ally NPC’s fighting alongside you, a good story and etc. I expected a shitty console shooter, and I got a grade A FPS that was actually more fun than some of the much newer games that I played recently.
I especially liked the vehicle movement. In the PC version it uses 2 buttons – one for driving forward, and one for driving backward. While you are driving the vehicle turns to align itself with where you point your mouse. I’m actually surprised that more games did not copy this model because it was much more convenient than a full WASD vehicle control you usually find in FPS games.
While I abhor the checkpoint save system, Halo was the first game I ever played that actually made it work. It saved itself so often that I never had trouble finding a good stopping point. Also, the only time I was annoyed with it was during the final long escape sequence when I messed up one of the long buggy jumps. In fact this was the longest game stretch without a checkpoint and it was probably done this way to impose sense of urgency on a player. It didn’t work – and I was annoyed, but only mildly since ti was the end of the game, and I got it right on the 3rd try.
I immensely enjoyed fighting Covenant forces. I liked how you could sneak up, and toss a plasma grenade at an Elite, then pick off grunts as they ran away, or run up to a Jackal hiding behind a shield and knock him out with the butt of your gun. Flood on the other hand was not as much fun. They were pretty much generic monster/zombie types that you see in every other game.
Story was good too for an FPS game where the main character says total of like 8 sentences and never removes his helmet.
So while this was not the best game that I ever played, it was a very solid FPS. I highly misjudged it all these years. Now I kinda want to play Halo 2 to see what happens next, and kill more Covenant troops. Anyone got it working under XP yet? I know that a crack is out there, but I read mixed opinions about it’s effectiveness.
In before “buy and Xbox” and “get Vista” – no and no. Re: Xbox – I still maintain that playing FPS games with a console controller is silly. I’d rather put than money toward a nice video card. As for Vista – ugh. I’m strongly revolted by that whole thing. Sluggish 3d graphics, unstability and DRM are not my ideas of fun. Vista is Windows ME for the new millennium. So I think I’ll hold off on it for now. Maybe I can wait it out till MS releases a new version of OS that doesn’t suck.
[tags]halo, halo combat evolved, halo 3, halo 2, xbox, xbox 360, vista, pc, pc gaming[/tags]