Bungie
Microsoft
FPS
1-16
11.15.01

Halo
Combat Evolved


Halo as many of you know started off as a massive online multi player game but that all changed after Microsoft bought Bungie Software. At the time many PC fans were really upset about that move, I mean you have one of the biggest and most anticipated PC fps in development and the next thing you know its now going to a console. As many people know fps in the past haven't faired to well on consoles, but that was the past and Xbox is unlike any other console ever made. Times are changing folks and it starts right now, with a little game called Halo.

The first thing every one wanted to know is if this new console called Xbox could handle a game like Halo, after all it was one of the most impressive looking PC games in development. After it was first showed at Game Stock many people liked what they saw and hopes were high. Then E3 hits and all that changed. At the show Halo was displayed in fully playable form. The game showed off incredible texture detail, full bump mapping and all the many other Xbox features but there was one problem, the frame rate. On just about every site , Halo was getting bashed pretty hard. I couldn't believe it, I mean here you have a game that is doing so much on screen and showing off so much detail and to top it all off its on 50% finished hardware and yet all people see is the frame rate which did drop in the teens often. But given the state of not only the hardware but the software too it seems like people would put two and two together and not be so hard on it but that simply wasn't the case. After E3 many people were in doubt about how Halo would turn out and after years of waiting there is no doubt any more, Halo is hands down the best looking and playing FPS on anything, console, pc or arcade.

Graphics

The first thing you will notice about the game is just how damn good-looking it is. Halo has the best textures yet seen in a FPS and are only rivaled by those in DOA3. Bump mapping is in full use and really gives an incredible amount of detail to the levels. From the single blades of grass to the reflective walls on the indoor environments to the bumped mapped ice, everything in Halo has an insane amount of detail to it and it really shows off the time and skill of the guys over at Bungie. Besides its great texture work, Halo also shows off the power of the Xbox with the size of its levels. Thanks to the hard drive, Halo has some of the biggest levels in a game, and amazingly it loads new sections of them on the fly and it takes less then a second, which you don't even notice. Add in some of the best lighting effects and shadows yet seen and you have the best-looking FPS ever made. The only small problem with the graphics is the frame rate and it's not really even a problem. It runs at a silky smooth 30 fps 99.9999% of the time with only a few small drops in the whole game. Yeah 60 fps would have been nice, but 30 fps is not bad at all and keeps the action moving at a fast pace. A few more months in development and they might have got it up to 60 but as it stands now 30 is more then fast enough and most people wont even notice or care about it.

Sound

Another truly amazing part of Halo is the sound in the game and I am not just talking about sound effects. Halo has one of the best scores in a game. Its music is so beautiful you think it came right from a movie sound track. In times of action it really gets you pumped up and ready to kick some ass. The sound effects are also outstanding. Every thing in the game makes a noise and has its own sound effect and for those of you lucky to have surround sound you will be able to tell were every noise in the game is coming from. Speaking of which, it is noteworthy that Halo makes the best usage of XBOX's realtime in-game 5.1 sound out of all the launch games. You hear soldiers behind you screaming for help, another in the rear left speaker getting shot up, a monster creeping up on you from the rear right speaker - it's truly amazing and totally immerses you in the game, while giving you aural clues to the location of your enemies and allies. Not to mention the low frequency effects - Halo cranks out some ultra low bass, making the game that much more exciting. All of this helps make Halo one of the best sounding games I've ever heard, on any platform. On a side note, Halo does not allow you to use your own CD-ripped soundtracks.

Gameplay

Well by now you know it looks good and sounds good but how does it play you ask? Simply put...Amazing!! Right off the bat you will take part in the fast paced action, which is Halo and it, doesn't stop till you beat the game. The AI for both the marines and the Covenant is the best yet seen in a FPS. The enemies attack in groups, hide behind rocks, trees and anything else they can find and for the first time ever it feels like your really playing against living, breathing creatures. The AI for your marines is also amazing, they will move out and take cover and provide cover fire for you all while talking to each other which not only makes playing Halo so much fun but also creates scenes like that in Saving Private Ryan, which when you have 15 of your guys battling it out with 15-20 of there guys with fire going off every were and so much going on it is a truly unbelievable site to see.

Another big part of Halo is the many vehicles you can use. There jeeps, hover crafts, planes and tanks for use and each are a joy to use and adds a completely new level to the gameplay. It takes a bit of time to understand how they control but once you do they are a breeze to drive.

Rounding out Halo are its many multiplayer modes. Not since Goldeneye has there been such a good multiplayer mode in a console game. There's a large selection of maps (13 in all) each with their own options and scenarios. Some of the maps are to big for only 4 people and since most people wont be able to play Halo on a LAN it really hurts that they didn't add bots into the game, that would have made it so much better. But as it stands now its still loads of fun. Even with 4 screens the graphics, while cut back a bit, still shine and run at a smooth frame rate but does drop more then in single player. And to top it all of Halo also has a awesome co-operative mode were you can play all of the missions of the single player mode with a friend which really adds tons of replay value to it as it is a blast to go back threw the game with a friend helping you out and it even adds some new gameplay elements to it. All of this is handled perfectly on the Xbox controller. With out a doubt Xbox has the best controller yet for a FPS. Once you get use to the setup you will quickly forget about using a mouse and keyboard with it. After a good 30 min or so you should have no problems controlling the game.

Bottom Line:

After all is said and done you have one the best FPS ever made on anything hands down with out a doubt. Halo with its awesome AI is the kind of game you will play over and over again and each time will be unique, you will never have the same thing happen 2 times in a row and the enemies will never be in the same places, and thats just the single player. The multiplayer will keep you busy for months much the same way Goldeneye did. If you a fan of FPS or action games Halo is a must buy and a game that really shows off Xbox's power. Long live Halo!

-Eric Peters




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