The first ever Halo game was a cash cow for Microsoft and was often the reason why people bought the original Xbox. The story of a space marine that saves the galaxy was a huge draw, as video game fans everywhere donned their own body armour. It was pretty much as big as the premiere of Star Wars: A New Hope. Most notably, the gameplay itself was cutting edge with groundbreaking A.I. and graphics. But has the game held up? Join me as we dive back into what was once the exciting future of Xbox.
First things first: graphically, Halo shows its age. If you got the remastered version, count your blessings, because it’s gorgeous and the full realization of the original game. The debut copy though — boy does it look old. While there’s open ended grassy plains, there’s also dark corridors that compose half of the game. These dark corridors that are darker than pitch black have not aged well. The game is generally incredibly dark, making chunks of levels practically unplayable for those of us with imperfect eyesight.
The level design is solid for its time. Huge environments are included, with various vehicles for travelling. However, if you don’t bring a vehicle for certain sections, Halo becomes a walking simulator quickly. Thankfully, vehicles are usually around exactly when you need them – how convenient. My main gripe is with the lengthy corridor sections, that are heavily copied and pasted to increase the game’s length. Be prepared to go to areas that look exactly the same, repeatedly, to the point of it seeming unending.
What Halo gets right is its mix of story and gameplay. Regardless of whether you skip the cutscenes – which look great – the story is felt. The player is constantly under attack from various forces. Just from the variety of enemies, the situation seems dire, and the onslaught only gets worse. Between dealing with alien, religious fanatics bent on destroying the galaxy, and a mysterious force that grotesquely transforms human bodies into their race, the stress levels are high. You are the one space soldier to stop them all, but it seems hopeless. As wave after wave of enemies appear, and all of your comrades are slowly lost, the game is challenging yet rewarding. It’s also nail biting.
If Halo was an ordinary Call of Duty clone, the nuance of the series would have been lost. Instead, we’re given alien weapons and vehicles mixed with human vehicles and weapons. It’s fun in single player, but in multilayer it’s a complete blast. Anyone that played Halo know it’s a great game. It changed the face of game forever and is iconic for a reason. Shooting aliens in the face remains as fun as it was the first time I played Halo.