With Halo 4 being released, and my excitement over it being through the roof, I think its time to do a series of reviews on the series, based on my experiences with them. These reviews won’t be as in depth as some of my previous ones but I believe they will be a fair assessment of the series. Anyway, enough intro, lets begin
Halo: Combat Evolved (aka Halo 1)
Though it may be hard to believe it today, the Xbox was almost a failed system. We can thank Halo for its success, the game revolutionized the way shooters were handled. Suddenly, you could only hold two weapons at a time, and the two sticks on the Xbox controller allowed for control similar to that of a PC. It also revolutionized having a single button for grenades, instead of having to select it, you could now simply throw one. Not only that but the AI had a semblance of intelligence, they would duck behind rocks, attempt flanking maneuvers and even shout orders to comrades. And finally, it gave us a good story and a fantastic array of weapons. However, for every moment of brilliance, there was one that sucked. For example, the first half of the game’s campaign is freaking awesome. The fights against the Covenant are varied and never boring. However, a little over half way, we are introduced to the Flood. Shambling alien monsters that are just boring to fight. They lack the intelligence of the covenant and you simply have to just run forward and shoot. Also, the game had some moments that were simply too long, the library is a good example. Just fight through hordes of Flood while traveling down similar looking pathways. Even though, these moments were stinkers, Halo had one other thing that saved it. Multiplayer, though none of it was online, the local multiplayer and system link games were a blast. All the maps were varied and provided gamers hours of entertainment. Though the last half of the campaign was/is dull, the overall game is still a complete package. It was fantastic for its time and holds up pretty well today.
This is where things got serious. Halo 2 presents a massive increase in quality. Though I have only played the PC version, i still feel that I can comment on it in general. After Halo saved the Xbox, Halo 2 became one of the most anticipated games of all time. Bungie, heard the hype, fixed its prior mistakes and crafted one of the best shooters ever made. It continued the story of the first Halo and expand on it greatly by giving you control of not only Master Chief but the Covenant Arbiter, called….well….the…Arbiter. Anyway, you take control of both the heroes and fight a variety of forces. Yes the Flood returns but they are better this time around, mainly due to better level design. Also, a new Covenant foe appears. The brutes, which are a barbaric race who prefer close range combat and have large amounts of health. They are a blast to fight against. Other additions include the ability to dual wield weapons. This allows for some unique combinations. For example, two smgs provides ridiculous amounts of firepower and shreds anything foolish enough to approach you. It also added the Covenant Energy Sword, which can lead to one hit kills. Another addition, is being able to board enemy vehicles. This makes it so vehicles are no longer nearly invincible. With careful timing, you can grab hold of the enemy vehicle and kick the driver out. Or, in the case of a tank grab on and beat it to death. I’ts a very welcome addition. Finally, the biggest and best addition is the fact that Halo 2 has Xbox Live. Now, Halo could be played online. Not to mention that the new host of maps is phenomenal and the connections were mostly seamless. It was the biggest thing Halo ever did and its still played by users the world over.
Halo comes to the Xbox 360 with a bunch of improvements. Firstly, the story ends the battle between the Humans and the Covenant. Its an epic conclusion with massive battles that Halo 2 only wishes it had. One that comes to mind is the battle where you fight multiple scarab tanks. The goal is to shoot out its legs, hop on and then blow it to smithereens. It’s seriously fun and one of my favorite Halo moments. Though, this time, sadly, the Flood are boring as sin again. But that doesnt mean the rest of the game sucks, just the levels with them. Thankfully, the ending is fantastic and leads you to a massive cliff hanger. Also, because its a 360 game, there are achievements. Some of which are difficult to get. Along with that, there is an improved multiplayer which allows you to choose the type of people that you want to play with. There is the social modes, where you can vote on maps and play style and a ranked version of it as well. Its a fun way to play and you never know what you will end up with. And the Gravity Hammer is really really cool. Finally, there is the addition of being able to rip a turret off of its stand so you can carry it around and bring pain to everyone near you. All in all, another fantastic entry in the Halo series but it really doesn’t do anything too special.
Halo 3: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper)
Basically a massive Halo 3 expansion. This game came with 2 disks. The first is the new campaign and the firefight mode (more on that later). The second disk is the Halo 3 multiplayer with all the downloadable content, which most people had already. Though the original multiplayer hasn’t changed much, its worth noting that the campaign and firefight mode is amazing. The story follows a squad of ODST that drop into the battle zone on Earth. You use multiple characters in a variety of missions. Yes, that’s right, no Master Chief. You will also notice that some of the weaponry is different from other Halos but that is perfectly fine because the world is fairly open and its possible to use alternate paths to your destination. Its a different kind of Halo story but I think its one of the best overall. Finally, there is firefight, the goal is to fight off waves of enemies. You and your teammates have a limited number of lives and the goal is to collect points by slaughtering your opponents. Its a fantastic addition to the series overall and makes Halo 3: ODST a great package.
This is the most polarizing entry in the Halo series. I find that people either love it or hate it. In my case, I love it. The story, while much more linear than Halo 3: ODST is the one of the most emotional stories in gaming. The constant struggle for survival is extremely compelling. Also the fact that every time it seems like you have success, the Covenant pull out something bigger and it makes it seem like all your success is for naught. And not only that but everyone dies by the end of the game, including your character Noble 6. Its a sad tale but the action is fast paced, intense and epic in scale. In some of the levels, you actually feel like you are in the middle of the most intense war zone ever. Space ships clash above, while tanks battle each other for supremacy. All the while, playing some of the best music I have ever heard in a game. Early in the game, its epic and builds a sense of intense combat, but towards the end, it becomes soft and saddening because it makes you realize that you will not survive and that you are actually losing a great war. Its amazing what they have done with the campaign. But this is Halo, the campaign is nothing if not for a good multiplayer. And this is where the polarizing begins. For starters, many of the maps are rehashed versions of older ones. It made a lot of players feel ripped off. Also, there is no more dual wielding, which if you are honest, dual wielding was kind of cheap. Another point of contention is the armor abilities. I think they are great because they allow for some unique strategies. For example, a lot of people think that the armor lock ability is unfair because it makes players invincible for a short period. But they also cannot attack with it on, so you just wait till they are about to come out of it and stick the sucker with a plasma grenade, simple. Another one people hate is the jetpack, I like it because it makes people a giant target for my DMR. Well, I could go on about things that are polarizing and my counters to them, but its pointless. Overall, Halo Reach is an awesome game and my favorite since Halo 2. Play it for the story, stay for the multiplayer…I should also note, NO FLOOD!!!!!!!
Halo 4: So Far
For starters, I want to say, that I haven’t played Halo 4 enough to write a full review. But I will give my impressions of it so far. Overall, its a really good game, its clear that 343 Industries has put a lot of care into the Halo franchise. Having said that, it’s also been changed a lot. The Campaign will feel familiar to Halo fans but the multiplayer is quite different. First off, you die a lot quicker. Only a few shots are needed to get a kill. However, the shots do need to be well placed for this to occur. I would also like to note that the assault rifle is no longer useless. Its a fantastic weapon. Halo 4 has also added a perk system and a new revamped armor abilities system as well. Honestly, I find most armor abilities useless, but i haven’t tooled around with them enough to tell you definitively. Also, after a certain amount of kills you can call in ordnance. This can range from a powerful weapon to a speed boost to an overshield, something Halo Reach left out. Also, there are grenade indicators, which don’t help and all the weapons in the main map are now shown with indicators. Ordinance weapons aren’t shown. Other than that, its Halo through and through. So far, its an awesome experience!! Pick it up if you don’t already have it.
Also, for those that care here is how I would rank them. And I cannot rank 4 yet because I haven’t finished it.
1. Halo Reach -that campaign is too good
2. Halo 2
3. Halo ODST
4. Halo 3
5. Halo Combat Evolved – Yes its a classic but compared to the others, its not as good. Sorry those that think its the best.
And a final note, I cannot do Halo Wars because I haven’t played it. I want to though, so if you have a copy to donate, please do 😉