Culture

Sgathaich: Halo – Combat Evolved

2022 starts here, and like the last two years, I like to start the reviews with something I haven’t touched before. Had Star Trek The Next Generation, Thunder Birds ? But what about something to do with gaming? I know I primarily review games that I’ve been able to play on a Nintendo console, sometimes I’ve reviewed games from my friends ps4 and working on a few games from the ps2. But the problem is that when it comes to major corner stone games, I’ve only really done Nintendo ones so far. But there was a game that came out on a console several generations ago that changed the FPS genera and caused waves even outside of gaming. So let’s all don our helmets with talking AI women in them.

Halo Combat Evolved was the flagship game for the Xbox. It’s what sold that old brick and it sold it well. It was the Super Mario World or Sonic 2 for the XBox. It was released in 2001 and started the whole Halo franchise that is continuing to this day with Halo Infinite (despite how much 5 tried to kill the whole franchise). I think we can say with it kind of kick starting the concept of Machinima thanks to Red Vs Blue as well as a Halo TV series finally having had its trailer come out (no sign of the Covenant yet, if anyone has plushy elites please tell me, love them) It’s kind of a big success.

The game starts with a ship, the Pillar of Autumn having escaped from the human world of Reach. Man is at war with a religious organization of aliens called the Covenant… it’s going badly. Reach was the second largest world for humanity (Earth being the biggest) and it had just fallen (find out how in Halo Reach… I’ll get to that one eventually, had it on the 360 but now have it again thanks to the Master Chief Collection). Where was I – So, the Covenant followed you. You play the Master Chief an enhanced super soldier (think space marines but not GW) who is woken from cryo stasis. After a short sequence to get controls aligned, the Covenant attack, you then have to get to the captain of the ship without a gun, running through alien gunfire as barricades are built.

This first stage teaches you a lot of how the FPS part of the game works. How you have rechargeable shields, how melee attacks work and even near the end how to use grenades. Also an introduction to the Covenant and how they act, Elites being the core enemies but helped by the smaller Grunts. Finding out that with their commanders gone Grunts are prone to panic and flee while the Elites will stand and fight defiant, though will also try to get cover from you.

Second Level drops you on the titular Halo – a giant ring world with its own atmosphere but is clearly an artificial creation and seemingly a holy artifact of the Covenant. It’s here we get to use for the first time Vehicle Usage. Starting out with the 3-seater warthog, 1 driver 1 gunner and one shotgun seat. There are other vehicles used through the game too, the scorpion tank from the Earth Force while banshees ghosts and wraith tanks by the Covenant. Thinking about it they really did a job making the Covenant feel different than you. They don’t just look like a person with a different skin tone.

My only dislike of the core story comes when the Flood show up and suddenly there’s space zombies. The level introducing them does a good job building dread as suddenly there’s something worse than the Covenant and your side is about to release it by accident, even one survivor having gone mad and, presumably kills himself, it builds a sense of dream. Bringing in another faction near the end to add more complexity to the story is good but… sigh… zombie stuff gets so over used now it’s common for zombie apocalypse stories to be set in worlds that have never had a zombie movie (kind of an issue if you’re having to make that statement).

The campaign is enjoyable for the most part but rather fond of cheap deaths at times, probably to illustrate the checkpoint system, dying won’t send you back to the beginning on the level but rather to the last checkpoint.

There is a multiplayer of course with many game modes be it team play such as Capture the Flag or free for all like Slayer. These game modes gave rise to the classic machinima series Red Vs Blue. Competitive Pvp has never really been a major thing for me (I blame experiences growing up where my main opponent kept slamming the reset button the moment he loses)  so I don’t tend to linger on that instead of the campaign.

I’ve been playing this with the Master Chief Collection which is rather fun and has the ability to switch back to the classic graphics with the press of a button and came packed with a bunch of other Halo games (Reach, 2,3 ODST and 4) so it’s a good way to experience the game all the way up to its explosive end.

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