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Halo Trilogy

Today I am reviewing not just Halo: Combat Evolved, or Halo3, but all three of the games. And I’ll throw in something for Halo Wars from at least what I have seen of the demos.

Halo: Combat Evolved was not just an XBox release title; it was the XBox Release Title. It spawned a whole new, and dare I say greater, level of party gaming that spawned originally from Goldeneye. Except now it got you 16 players and vehicles. Many of my friends today I made from Friday Night Halo parties, and it was a major background to my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. However that does not explain the game.

In my opinion the single player Halo is still one of the best games on the XBox. It was a fun first person shooter with a compelling story and an enjoyable feel when you ran around smashing the skulls in of grunts. Now most PC Shooter critics will say that the single player was repetitive, with some levels being a giant circle over and over again. While some levels were like that, they are forgetting that most FPS levels are like that. In all honesty if someone has an issue with Halo, they have so because they want to seem anti-mainstream, or they are tools who never gave up CounterStrike. Yes, Halo did introduce the jock cliques into first person shooters, but that just meant more players, and more exciting games. Back to the singleplayer game, it included co-op so you and a friend could hop on a warthog or buggy and start blasting away, but a solo campaign was just as solid. You learned how your enemies fought, and every person I know has beaten the game on Legendary.

And the enemies were like this: Grunt = Don’t waste ammo on them, melee and hope they don’t stick you with a grenade; Jackal = pick them off with the pistol or a grenade is your friend; Hunter = Oh, a hunter? Pistol to the back. You prayed for Hunters to fight in Legendary; Elite = Keep Shooting, throw a grenade and hope they don’t jump out of the blast radius; as for the flood, in all cases it was Shotgun FTW. Weapons were also interesting. Pistol = God in single or multiplayer; Assault Rifle = good in groups or singleplayer; Shotgun = Close Range God; Sniper = Fun in Single, an annoyance in mp; Rocket = large death; Plasma Pistol = Always your friend, takes down shields, slows down other players, has light tracking. A common technique was plasma pistoling someone in the back and then meleeing them as you got up to them; Plasma Rifle = not worth it; and Needler = Only in Single player! Only!

The multiplayer, again, is what got most of us in. I can remember bringing out the XBoxes and the controllers, setting up in different rooms for these 16 player matches. I fondly think back to the heyday of Halo, 16 man 3 flag CTF on Blood Gulch, with games lasting as long as 3 hours, and taking breaks in between. For me and my friends, this is what defined Halo. Then after we realized how the guns all worked, it became a pistol fest, so we thought up fun custom modes, such as Shotgun Orgy, Rocket Jocks, or when one team outnumbered the other Team Ghostbusters (we had numbers and plasma rifles) VS Team Range (they had pistols). To this day, I miss a lot of the original Halo maps including Sidewinder, Hang Em High, and Prisoner (although I hear rumors that a few may make it as downloadable content for Halo 3). Sidewinder was just a huge fun level for CTF; Hang Em High and Prisoner were just great levels for slayer, team and free for all respectively. Granted there weren’t many options when it came to multiplayer games, CTF, Slayer, and Oddball were all solid choices. Also, with shields and health, if people were wounded but still alive, there was a line to the health pack.

I waited in line for 4 hours to get Halo 2. Now that I look back on it, man, what a waste of time. Halo 2 is to Halo as Matrix Reloaded was to The Matrix: Not as good as the first, and left everyone going “Was that it?” Halo 2 was a major seller, however, even with the early internet link and hacks galore. I spent the next day (even skipping classes) to beat the game, and that is definitely what I said.

Halo 2 takes place a bit after the first. In the single player mode, you have to defend Earth, but now you can dual wield! Most people who saw the E3 trailer were expecting huge city levels where you can go to multiple different areas to fight the covenant, drive around in new vehicles, and fight new enemies. Well, they did give us city levels, new vehicles, and new enemies, but none of it was on par with what we saw. It was still the straight forward shootan gaem. But now, when defending an area from enemies you could fight them on top of the building, or on the bottom of the building. Ooh, what diversity. And when moving through the city, you could take the left alley, or the right alley (both of which lead to the same place). The real kicker: the areas that you would like to go a different route, they don’t give to you. People spent hours, even days, on the Sniper Alley. Now my thought is this: if you are playing a super soldier with the ability to lift up vehicles, wouldn’t you be able to rip off a door to any old building, move through it and supersede the whole alley, or at the very least move into your own sniper position and pick them off? Of course you would, but Halo 2 was released too early, and flaws like this strike you as you move through annoying levels.

Oh, you also get to play an Elite. And you have the ability to cloak, but its not a good cloak like every other elite in the game. No, you are using first generation cloak which lasts about 5 seconds and only serves the purpose of sneaking up on one guy to kill. Wow. Instead they should have just given you an object that when you throw it, the enemies look right where it lands. It would have served the same purpose. Oh, and the flood have a boss which you don’t fight. Any other gripes: On some levels you fight three different factions, all of which hate you more than the person currently shooting at them (actually this trend continued from Halo), most of the new vehicles suck or you can’t use them the way the enemy can, and fighting the prophet in a shooting game, your initial thought is to shoot, not to jump on him and beat him down. The game ends with the thought that the humans, the elites, the hunters (because one elite says “The Hunters have joined us!”), are up against the rest of the covenant. Cool, the only elites I liked anyways are on my side.\

Multiplayer tried to stay as far away from the first as possible which was stupid. The pistol was god in the first. This time, it has a larger magazine and no range, and the assault rifle is also gone. Instead they combined the two into the Battle Rifle, a burst fire zoom gun. Its nice to have for range, but what about those that just want to unload? Well, for you we now have the SMG, which by itself won’t kill a butterfly and has horrible recoil. Oh, but you can Dual Wield it, as you can with the pistol, the plasma pistol, and a few other weapons. But here’s the thing most people failed to realize: 2 pistols = 1 smg; 2 smgs = 1 BR. When it comes down to it, there is no reason to dual wield, because there is a single weapon that is more powerful, gives you the option to melee throw grenades. Wow, thanks Bungie for giving me now two pieces of shit to hold! They also gave way to the Newb Combo: Plasma Pistol charged up (because the bolt does track and completely removes the shield, your only life now), and quickly switching to the BR would take down an enemy with one shot. Wow, what skill it is to fire a tracking weapon and kill someone in one shot. Multiplayer fights turned solely into this. They also gave way to a sword, which gave us Predator matches, a variant where the predator can only use the sword, has radar, cloak, moves fast, and has damage reduction. How do you kill this hidden killer? Sticky grenades work best. Halo 2 came and went a lot quicker than Halo 1, because after a while, most of us just hated the game, and quickly waited for Gears of War.

Halo 3 was released for the XBox 360 this year. Taking place sorta directly after the first, Bungie brought back somethings, got rid of other things, and inserted new things.

Single player gives a unique co-op experience with one player as the chief, another as the Arbiter, and now up to 2 more buddies, both nameless Elites (they actually have names, but no one cares). The story is Earth is still fucked, the covenant civil war is just between the Elites and the rest (which is a big middle finger to everyone who was expecting the Hunters to be on your side; remember “The Hunters have joined us!”, well he must have meant Bob and Joe Hunter, because no other Hunters like you), and hey, there is now a human flying vehicle. The longsword? Nope. Yeah, it sucks to hear that. The vehicle isn’t bad, they just only give it to you for like 5 minutes. Anyways, the graphics are great, the story line has a conclusion (although sorta goes the path of StarCraft: Brood Wars where everyone not Kerrigan/Cortana dies), and they again sorta give you more range to do stuff, and by that I mean the levels are bigger so you can either kill the enemies up close, or further away.  There are also hidden skulls found throughout the levels.  The locations of which can either be hidden (like up on the pipes in the Command Bunker), or just on a separate path (like the one in the ice cave that anyone just walking around would come across).  However these skulls not only create a sense of accomplishment (Awards and costumes), but can also change gameplay, like enemies only throwing grenades.

Multiplayer gives you a lot more options for custom maps, including the forge mode. No, you can’t make your own unique maps, but you can edit the crap out of existing ones. You get 4 different types of grenades, but only 2 of each; One burns people! Dual wielding is still in the game, but no one uses it. There are a few new weapons, the best being the graviton hammer. The mongoose is a fast new vehicle which is really on good for going from one place to another, while the brute chopper is made of splattering goodness. Oh, they also give you equipment, like mines or the worst thing known to eyes, the flare; and there are heavy weapons designed to fuck things up. The rocket launcher no longer tracks, but the missile pod does. You can now pick up the turrets which usually turns into a slaughter. And I won’t lie, online can be fun, and you can get 3 other friends to join with you.

All in all, Halo 1 is still just an amazing game to pull out when you want something to kill, Halo 3 is nice, but needs more maps as people only play Sandtrap and Valhalla, and Halo 2 was a waste of time before Gears of War. Speaking of which, I will do a Gears of War review sometime in the future.

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