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Review By: DUDERMAN
Note: DUDERMAN is the author for the following, if used in another thread, please give credit where necessary.
TITLE: Halo: Combat Evolved
PUBLISHER: MS Game Studios
DEVELOPER: Bungie Studios
DATE RELEASED: November 14, 2001
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1-2 for Campaign, 2-4 for Split Screen on one XBOX
XBOX SYSTEM LINK: Up to 16 players with 4 Xbox's: Not for campaign co-op.
XBOX LIVE COMPATABLE: No
HDTV Support: 480p
5.1 Surround Sound: yes
PLATFORM: XBOX, PC
ESRB: Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence (Content Suitable for ages 17 and up)
Retail Price: $49.99
When I bought my XBOX back in November of 2001, I was nervous. I was nervous because of the thousands of negative comments made by Playstation 2 owners and Nintendo lovers. I had high hopes and I am beyond satisfied with my decision for choosing the XBOX. What I find amusing though is going to a GameCube or Playstation 2 forum and read all the XBOX hate posts. They all are just system bashers that say things such as, "The system is HUGE!" "You need to be a giant to use the controller" "It's just a mini computer" "MS is just trying to get more money into their pockets" "the only good thing the XBOX has is good graphics" and the most common post, "All the games suck". Now I have to say that none of the people who post this have ever sat down and played a game for an hour or two. Once you start playing you will get use to the controller and won't want to stop. If you own the system, you will appreciate all it's extra features such as the hard drive. The only posts that I find to be true are "MS is just try to get more money" and "MS is trying to dominate another industry", both of these comments are obvious, every company tries to gain more money and become the leader of their industry, this includes Sony and Nintendo. My point to all this is that 90% of XBOX hate posts state this, "All the games on the system suck… except for Halo". Now I disagree that it is the only good game but Halo is easily one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. Before I get into the specifics of the game, it's good to know a little background on its story.
After I finished Halo, I craved of the story. So I went out and bought the book, "Halo: The Fall of Reach", which is a story that takes place before the setting of the game. The story takes place in the 26th century. Earth has been over populated so we have colonized on several newly discovered planets. Earth still is our biggest, most populated plated, thus the most important to us. We are currently in the biggest war in human history. This is unlike any war we have experienced before because we are fighting an alien race with a mission to eliminate the human race. We have learned that their "gods" have told them that humans are a threat and must be sacrificed. We have labeled this enemy as the "covenant". Our military's job is to patrol the galaxies and protect all our colonized planets, and they must stop the covenant from discovering Earth at all costs. The covenant are extremely advanced in technology and use plasma-based weaponry, a technology we have yet to duplicate. The covenant force seemed unstoppable; we were losing thousands of our troops and millions of civilians. We needed something… anything to stop the covenant. So the military started the SPARTAN project. It was a small group led by Lieutenant Junior Grade Jacob Keyes, their mission was to create a group of "super soldiers" also called Spartans. They started by kidnapping about 50 selected children all around the age of 6. They were raised by the military; they were stripped of their family, their home, and even their names. They were all labeled with a number. They were all put through vigorous training and they all showed great skill. One child, John (#117), stood above all the others. He showed leadership and cooperation. Eight years later, all the soldiers were put through a series of test and were all injected with a serum that increased their strength, sight, reflexes, speed, accuracy, etc. They were treated as the test subjects for this project. Most of the soldiers either died or became mentally and/or physically retarded because of the serum. The few that survived were put through even more training with their new increased abilities. John, #117, was one of the survivors. He was now the leader of the group. Three years later, the big day arrived; the final stage in the SPARTAN project was unveiled. They were given a special type of armor called MJOLNIR. This armor was built with the smartest of available AI. It also had a rechargeable shield that would wrap tight around armor. The AI was able to react instantly with the soldiers' movements. This increased their abilities even faster. In fact, the Spartans are the only humans that are able to wear the armor because of the serum they were injected with. Any other human would have their bones crushed due to the speed of the suits reactions. The Spartans all learned how to use the armor quite fast. They military was finally able to show the covenant their secret weapon that took 12 years to finish. The Spartans were given their mission, to hijack a covenant ship, fly to their home planet and assassinate their "gods" which are believe to just be high religious leaders. So they are ready to go along with the mission but there is a sudden alert sent from planet Reach, the biggest military-based planet with our most powerful weapon. They are under attack and the covenant is showing more force than they ever had before. So the new mission is to report to Reach and stop the covenant from eliminating the planet. Will they be able to stop the covenant from destroying Reach? Will they be able to keep them from finding Earth? Will the Spartans continue with the original plan? I'm not going to tell you, you will have to read the book for yourself to find out.
Thirty years have passed since the battle on the planet Reach. John is now known as the Master Chief, he is also your character in the game. The story begins with you, Master Chief, being awaken from hyper sleep. You are tested on your abilities and you shield gets charged up. You then learn that the covenant have broke onboard the ship you are on. You must find Captain Keyes (he was promoted) and get a briefing. He tells you that you must find an open escape pod and take a lifeboat off the ship and kill any covenant that get in your way. You are then loaded with a very special AI, her name is Cortana she was the only AI to be programmed with human emotion. Now you must fight your way through the covenant infested ship. Once you reach an open pod, you throw one last marine into the lifeboat before you blast off. You are forced to crash land on a strange ring shaped planet. It doesn't look like anything you ever saw before. Cortana states that her database shows no information on it except that it is known as "Halo". Throughout the story you must find out what Halo is, why it was built, and who built it. You will also encounter a new race of parasite-aliens called the "flood". I'm not going to give away anymore specific information on the story, I'll leave that for you to enjoy. Now the story is great but at some points it can be hard to follow, so I'm giving it an 8.5
The graphics in this game are incredible. This was the first game to show the true power of the XBOX. It is just a beautiful looking game. The weapons look incredibly real. The enemies and marines could look a bit more rounded off and sharper but still incredible. By far the best-looking parts in this game are the levels. You can walk up to a tree and look at the bark up close, you can go look at a rock and see the very sharp texture on it, and you can look down and see the blades of grass. The water is also amazing in this game. One level you are on an island on Halo and the waves and everything look very real. The vehicles in the game are very good looking, very clear, very sharp. I have yet to see and don't expect to see a first person shooter to look as good as this one anytime soon, so I'm giving the graphics a 9.0
The controls are very easy to master. With the default settings, the left analog stick moves forward/backward and strafes left/right, clicking it down will allow you to crouch. The right analog stick is use to aim and turn around, clicking it down allows you to zoom in with the weapons that have that feature. The left trigger throws a grenade and the right trigger fires your weapon. The "A" button makes you jump. "B" makes you use your melee attack. "X" allows you to enter vehicles, pick up new weapons, and activate things (such as elevators). And "Y" switches between your two weapons. The white button turns on/off your flashlight and the black button switches between your two types of grenades (fragmentation and plasma). The back button will show your score in multiplayer and the start button obviously pauses the game. This is the default setting, there are three other settings to chose from. I recommend the default but whatever you feel is the best is fine. These controls are so solid; you will be a pro after you finish the first level. So this is easily a 10.
The game play in this game is very fun and exciting. In campaign mode, you take the role of the Master Chief, the leader of the Spartan squad. You fight through several massive size levels fighting the covenant and the flood. The covenant is broken down into four species, grunts, jackals, elites, and hunter. The flood has 4 different species, parasites, parasite sacks, human drones, and covenant drones. I would have liked more enemies to appear in the game; in the book there was a type a covenant creature that was not featured in the game. The guns in the game are split into two categories, human and covenant. You can pickup nearly every weapon dropped by an enemy but you can only have one two at a time. Some people will argue whether only being able to have two weapons is good or not. I personally like the idea; it makes the game more realistic and also makes the game more strategy than just another shoot-em-up game. I also would have like to have had more weapons. One thing I did like, and a lot of people didn't like, was that there were no cheap "instant death" weapons. I personally hate shooter games that have weapons that are just outrageous. The only thing to closely fit this category would be the needler, it shoots these homing needles that stick to the enemy and explode, I wouldn't say it's cheap because the homing feature is not very accurate and each needle alone do not do a lot of damage to the victim. The fact that you can use vehicles in the game is exciting enough without all the other fun things included in this game. Once again, there is not a big selection of vehicles to use. Also you couldn't use the covenant tank, which would have been a lot of fun to use. This game is so good; I had to try to find things that could have improvement. Also the game has a cooperation mode where you, master chief, and a fellow Spartan fight against the covenant together. This mode makes the game twice as easy and in my opinion, twice as fun. The difficulty of the game is the same as in campaign mode, the covenant do not get harder, which makes it easier, but there aren't more weapons or health packs, which makes it harder. Overall though, it does make the game a lot easier because both players need to be dead for the to regenerate at the last checkpoint. And once one player is away from enemies, then the other player can come back to life. When I was playing coop, I found that most of the time we were killing each other just so we would regenerate with full health. I don't like how much easier it makes the game but it is a ton of fun, you got to try it out. The third option for game play is split-screen, which is just a multiplayer brawl. There are plenty of levels to choose from and plenty of modes. You can only be a Spartan, you can't be a marine or a covenant troop, but you have about 10+ different colors to choose from for you Spartan. I haven't had this much fun in a multiplayer shooter game since the great first person shooter, Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64. Also you can play split-screen over the system link cable and have a Halo LAN party. I have done this and it is a blast! Its not really easy to get 2+ XBOXs and 2+ TVs but if you ever have the opportunity. The best mode to play when doing the system link is snipers or team snipers, and play in one of the massive levels. Because of these multiplayer modes, I can easily look past the few things that could have improvement, so I definitely give the game play a 10.
The music and sound effects are also great. The music gets you pumped up when you're trying to kill the covenant. They only have a few songs and for some they can get repetitive but I find them good enough for them to still sound great. The sound effects in the game are good, not great. The guns sound great and all, the voice acting isn't bad, and all the other little sounds going around but I found that it is overall too quite. Not much more I can say about this topic, so I'll give the sound an 8.0
replay value & innovation
So in the end, this is just a great game. I have heard people have bought an XBOX just for this game. I'd like to repeat that this isn't the ONLY good game for the XBOX but it definitely is one of the best. The replay value is more than a 10. The game was not completely something we haven't seen before. Obviously the theme of shooting aliens has been used in the past, but they do bring some new things to the table. The fact that you enter and operate vehicles is something not found often in a first person shooter and the coop mode in this game is the best I've seen since the days of the NES and playing Contra. So I'll give it a 9.0 for innovation. So concluding, I just have to say that if you own an XBOX you MUST own this game, and if you don't own an XBOX I suggest you think of getting one, you won't regret it.
Beyond the Game
It will soon be the second year anniversary of the 2001 Game of the Year, Halo: Combat Evolved. Since then the game itself has evolved so much. The recently released PC version is just as exciting as the XBOX but with online capabilities. Not to mention the upcoming, highly anticipated Halo 2 for the XBOX (expected March 2004). But with those things aside, the actual game for the XBOX is still one of the most played games on any system. There are so many things to do with it now. The system link is now more possible than ever with such tunneling software such as Xlink and XBConnect. These applications that run on your computer will "trick" you XBOX into thinking it's connected to another XBOX by sending the information over the Internet. This makes getting 2+ TVs and XBOXs together a thing of the past. Also a fun trick was discovered. Gamers call it "warthog launching". What you do is go to a level (I recommend The Silent Cartographer) in coop and gather as many grenades as possible. Have your partner kill you next to the vehicle so that your grenades fall under it. Do the same to your partner, get more grenades and repeat the process as long as possible. When you're ready, be sure you have one grenade handy to throw under the warthog. The blast will trigger a chain reaction sending the warthog miles into the air. This is a fun thing to do once you finish the game and are looking for a new experience. The next couple of tricks I will mention require a modchip on you XBOX system to work. The first is a Halo Trainer that was released awhile back. This trainer not only gives you the standard unlimited health/ammo/clip but also includes Super Jump, Medusa (kills any covenant who look at you), Fall Guy (does not go to the animation of master chief falling/dieing when falling from a high place), and Bump Character (there are more options but I will only focus on these for now). Now Bump Character is the impressive one. It allows you to change bodies with any character you bump into. So you can now be the covenant and the Flood! It's actually an interesting thing to do, If you never tried it, this is a must. One thing that stands out for me about bump character is that you can become an elite and operate the covenant tank! Next thing to come into the scene was Hex editing the Halo Map files in the XBOX cache directory by reverse engineering. This allows you to swap anything with basically anything. So you can switch the pistol bullet with a warthog and shoot warthogs. Also to go back to a point I made before about the warthog launching; you can switch assault rifle bullets with frag grenades and get a pile so big that you could never get with just doing coop. The Warthog will dissappear almost instantly as it's thrown to the far edge of the levels. From that, programs were released so hex editing is no longer needed. Also released were texture extractor/injectors so you could change the textures on nearly everything. There are similar things starting now for Halo PC. So if you do not wish to mod your XBOX than you can pick up that version.
All I can say is that I love Halo. I personally think that if it were not released on the XBOX, MS would have had sold half the amount of consoles. Usually games, even great games, can be boring after it is completed. They become dust collectors in the closet. The fact that Halo is still as popular as it is shows that it will go down in history as one of the greatest games of all time.
All Ratings are out of 10
Replay Value: 10.0+
Halo: Combat Evolved
Truth and Reconciliation - Official Halo Site
HBO - Everything Halo!
xbox.com - Screenshots, info, and news.
Halo Babies - Halo Comics
Halo Skins - Hacking Halo
Game FAQ: Halo - FAQs, Secrets, Hints, and more!
Xbox-Saves: Halo - Game Saves and ppf Hacks
GameSpot: Halo 2 - Previews, Screenshots, Trailers, and news.
Halo 2 Teaser - Original Teaser Trailer
Halo 2 Trailer - E3 2003 with mirrors
Amazon: Halo: Combat Evolved - $43.95
Amazon: Halo PC - $44.99
Amazon: Halo 2 - Preorder $49.99
BestBuy: Halo: Combat Evolved - $49.99
BestBuy: Halo PC - $49.99
BestBuy: Halo 2 - Preorder $49.99
EBGames: Halo: Combat Evolved - New $49.99, Used $39.99
EBGames: Halo + Strategy Guide - $59.99
EBGames: Halo PC - $49.99
EBGames: Halo 2 - Preorder $49.99
Amazon: Fall of Reach - $6.99
Amazon: The Flood - $6.99
Amazon: First Strike - $6.99
Amazon: Strategy Guide - Halo: Prima's Official Strategy Guide $10.49
Barnes&Noble: Fall of Reach - $6.99
Barnes&Noble: The Flood - $6.99
Barnes&Noble: First Strike - $6.99
Barnes&Noble: Strategy Guide - Halo: Prima's Official Strategy Guide $13.49
EBGames: Strategy Guide - Halo: Prima's Official Strategy Guide $14.99
EBGames: Strategy Guide - Halo: Sybex Official Strategies & Secrets $19.99
Amazon: Halo Soundtrack - $13.99
Barnes&Noble: Halo Soundtrack - $12.99
BestBuy: Halo Soundtrack - 14.99
EBGames: Halo Action Figures - $14.99 Each
Thanks to halobabies.net and Joel Casebeer for giving me permission to use their outstanding comics. Also thanks to Bungie of course for making this God of a Game.
Edited by DuDeR MaN, 22 January 2004 - 02:07 AM.