Advantages Interesting and detailed plot and backstory. Good graphics and sound.
Disadvantages The gameplay fails on many levels.
Halo: Combat Evolved.There are several meanings of 'evolved' on Dictionary.com, but the ones I assume is used in the title of this game are "To develop or achieve gradually" or "To undergo gradual change". People often interpret evolution to mean that something changes for the better, and I think that is definitely the case of whoever came up with the title of this game.
Immediately, you're launched into the thick of the action. The obligatory animated introduction indicates that the plot of the game is actually only a small part of a larger story. You are Master Chief, some kind of elite soldier who is called out of suspended animation to prepare for battle against an enemy called "The Covenant" when a huge ring-like artificial world called Halo is discovered. You are informed that "The Covenant" have beaten you to Halo, and with your ship under attack and heavily damaged, the ship's captain, Keyes, orders you to abandon ship and protect the controlling artificial intelligence construct, Cortana, at all costs.And so there you go, into the game proper. At first glance, the plot doesn't seem to be anything special, and to be honest, it's not really, is it? However, where Bungie have really excelled is that they still get you involved in the story using many different methods. The first level is supposed to serve as some sort of tutorial level, but there's nothing really out of the ordinary about Halo that you need to have any sort of special teaching level. If you've played any kind of first person shooter (FPS) before, then you'll instantly be familiar with Halo's workings.
Halo is amazing to look at, irrespective of whether you're playing an indoor or outdoor level. The graphics engine itself provides and excellent level of detail and this has been used well by the graphics designers who have created a highly imaginative artificial alien world in which to set the game. If I have one complaint, it would be that, while there is plenty of graphical variety between each of the ten levels, there's actually very little within each of the levels. For example, due to the repetitive nature of the interior graphics, you find that it's quite easy to get disorientated simply because everything looks the same. While it isn't a criticism which can be leveled at outdoor levels, there are enough indoor levels to make it worth mentioning.
Sometimes, during the game, the sound is too much though. There's one level where a character called 'Guilty Spark 343' explains quite a bit to you in terms of plot advancement, but you're so busy shooting horrible monsters that you can't actually hear what it's saying to you. I suppose this more of a design issue than a sound issue though.Gameplay.
As the Master Chief (you're never referred to as anything other than "Master Chief" or a "Class Five"), it's obvious you're really very special; ordinary soldiers look upon you with awe and inquisitiveness when you appear. The reaction of the two people when they're ordered to break you out of hibernation indicates that this is a special occasion and that things can't be going well if this is the result. These little touches add little to the actual gameplay, but add loads to the atmosphere and involvement.Another point worth considering is that, throughout the game, you are left fairly clueless as to what's going on. That's not to say that you aren't told anything, because you are, but each time you learn a little about the game universe in which Halo is set, you will realise that there's so much more that's left unanswered.
Why have The Covenant attack humans without provocation? Who built Halo? Why is it abandoned, seemingly empty and in pristine condition? It's the depth of the story which keeps you interested, and keeps you playing. The actual lack of understanding at what's going on (until the later levels, of course) or gaps in the back story are not negative aspects, but show a depth of story which could be unrivalled in computer gaming.It's not all good though. The actual gameplay is horrendously bad and repetitive. There's rarely a moment where you're faced with a small number of enemy to defeat using skill or stealth. It's almost like a 10 year old game such as Doom where your only goal is to kill as many bad guys/monsters as possible. And that's it! This type of game doesn't appeal to me at all, irrespective of how it's dressed up. I prefer a bit of variety in gameplay and at times, some puzzles to solve to give the old grey matter a workout.
There's nothing new to find either – almost from the first level you're introduced to practically all your enemies and their weapons. Unlike other games of this type, you don't encounter new weapons later in the game, and it's strange that Bungie chose to give you access to most stuff from the early parts of the game.Performance.
Microsoft's Minimum Specifications:
Operating System: Any Microsoft Operating system EXCEPT Windows 95 or Windows NT.
Processor: 733 MHz processor.
DirectX 9.0 or later and is included with Halo.
Memory: 128 MB of RAM.
Hard Disk: 1.2 GB of hard disk space.
Video card: 32 MB with 3D Transform and Lighting capable.
Sound: Standard soundcard.
On a positive note, there is so much back story to Halo that there are novels out which deal with the Halo universe and can be found on Amazon. "Halo: The Fall of Reach", for example, deals with the events leading up to the start of the game and there are others which cover events during and after the game.
Good graphics and sound are icing on the cake, not something to build an entire game around. I was dreadfully disappointed by Halo – three out of the five main 'pieces' (sound, plot and graphics) are excellent, but Halo fails spectacularly on the one piece where it really counts, namely gameplay. The multiplayer was fun for a very short time, but not enough to have me going back anymore than a few times.
There are plenty of sources of information on the game on the internet (try the unofficial http://halo.bungie.org/ for in-depth analyses of aspects of the Halo universe), and to be honest, if you're interested in the Halo universe, I'd have a look at those. If you are, then perhaps you'd be better spending four pounds on one of the books than thirty quid on the game. If the plot fails to excite you, then you may look elsewhere because it's the only reason to play this game.Microsoft are telling fibs – this isn't evolution at all.
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Halo, enhanced for play on the PC, contains all of the action-packed combat and thrilling gameplay that made the title a smash hit for video game...
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