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The Evolution of Halo

1hs444 February 22, 2014 User blog:1hs444

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Everyone who knows anything about Halo knows about a super-soldier who fights evil aliens, but I kind of wanted to make a documentary type blog that explains the magnitude of the series Halo to casual gamers. This goes from the creation of First Person Shooter games in 1974, to 20 years later in 1994 where FPS games became popular, and then another 20 years in 2014, when Halo: Xbox one will release. Below explains the history of revolutionary games before Halo, Halo's production and the success of the series. For the incredible youtube videos that made me write this, just check out the links below:

Evolution of Halo, a documentary without the commentary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wjan8xwNsfc

Goldeneye 007 for the N64, a 15 year retrospective.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8vibZquW5E

(Note: both of these videos were NOT made by me)

Anyways, this is a blog that is taking a lot of effort and research, so please take your time (If you have any) and read it.

Before Halo

The earliest known First person shooters (Where you have the same vision that the playing character has) are Maze War and Spasim, both released in 1974. In Maze War, you run around in a very primitive maze trying to eliminate the opposing character. Both characters simply appear as eyeballs and no weapons are visible. In Spasim, you can “explore” 4 planetary systems with up to 31 other people, a maximum of 8 per system. Both of these games were incredibly revolutionary for their time, and even though they only could be used through supercomputers, they still were some of the most impressive and revolting ideas which gave light to today’s artificial 3D environments. In 1992, Wolfenstein 3D came out, making the FPS genre popular. Wolfenstein 3D was a game where you fight against Nazis and attempt to escape from... more Nazis. It was an impressive shooter for its time, and lit the torch for the beginning of First Person Shooters. After Wolfenstein came Doom. Doom released in 1993, a year after Wolfenstein. Doom was praised for having very detailed environments and the such, even though it still had cardboard like sprites. Doom was so revolutionary, that people who didn't know about video games have heard about the ranks, characters and magnitude of Doom's release. Everyone who played FPS's during the early 90's had no idea what was coming next. The game Quake came out in 1995, 2 years after Doom and lit the torch for 3D First Person Shooters. Quake was made by id Software; they also made Wolfenstein and Doom. Quake also was innovative with online gameplay, something that was very difficult at the time given the lack of servers. Quake also gave the ability to create machinima, which led to the series Red vs Blue. After Quake, a game named Turok came out.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a game that didn't feature multiplayer, but had the elements of an adventure/shooter game. It was such a large game that the developers had to 'shrink' the game so it would fit on a 8 Megabyte cartridge for the Nintendo 64. The game was one of the first games comparable to modern day survival shooters, and non hostile wildlife wandered through the game; that was just awesome. Turok had a certain feel of adventure, (and swamps, lots of swamps) that it shared with the third person game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Turok was the most rented game for 7 weeks straight as well, declaring that it was one of the really popular games for its time. Even though Turok had such a winning streak with its amazing adventure feel, it lacked long range weapons making it kind of a difficult close quarters combat game. Because it had so many bugs and restraints due to quickly 'shrinking' it, most of the stuff that it should have had wasn't there. Plus, the weapons look like high resolution Doom weapons. So any who, Turok faded away and was replaced by 2 games, the first one was Star Fox 64. Star Fox 64 was the center point of my day when all I played was N64 games. Well, who doesn't like an anthropomorphic Fox in a star fighter battling evil venomous creations made by a mutant anthropomorphic monkey mad scientist? Star Fox 64 was a reboot of the original Star Fox, released for the SNES. The SNES game used polygons for “3D” graphics and had the same completely straight forward game, where the game went in a single direction while you sat in a cockpit. You could slow down a little, but you really had no control to stop and turn around to go get something that you lost. The game was kind of cute because there are animals piloting space ships, and cool because these characters are bad to the bone. But Star Fox 64's greatest innovative thing was its revolution with 4-player splitscreen. It shared this with another big game released at the same time and that game is the next of the Pre-Halo innovations. It's splitscreen feature was the reason why its included in the Pre-Halo innovations, and it isn't even a First Person Shooter. So in Star Fox 64's conclusion, the game was one of the first games to feature 4-player splitscreen and I played it to death when it was new 'ish'. Now we get to the really well known one, Goldeneye 007. Goldeneye was was released in 1997 as a Nintendo 64 game, and at the time there wasn't a console game that had a great campaign and multiplayer. Lets just say this changed. Goldeneye was one of the greatest games of all genres in the 90's, also creating a new and realistic FPS genre. Goldeneye was made after the movie with the same name, and had a really cool soundtrack. Goldeneye had become so innovative, that no major game critic gave it anything less then a 9 out of 10 rating. It is actually the best selling N64 game that wasn't made by Nintendo and the third best selling N64 game of all time, right behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. But back to the Multiplayer and Campaign both being great, the Campaign had such sophisticated AI's, that they could anticipate your actions. But they have rather poor detection and primitive faults, such as not hearing un-silenced rounds being shot in a small room. This could be game balancing, but the AI's still suffer from a lot of faults.  As for the Multiplayer, Goldeneye was the game that made ground based multiplayer with up to 4 (Count it) people.  Before this, multiplayer wasn't something for a bunch of guests, because before this, there wasn't any kind of great 4 player splitscreen game!  Even people who don't care about FPS games have to say that this game was required in order to make the high tech gaming universe that we have today (Also alot of the programs, AI's and technology outside of the gaming universe).  To see the video review on Goldeneye which was a major inspiration for this blog, check out the second link at the top.  Anyways, this leads to the last big thing before Halo.

This magically innovative game is Perfect Dark. Perfect Dark was insane, even though I don't quite remember playing it, it still was one of the most unbelievable games for the N64. Released in 2000, this game was ancient but still comparable to today's games. It had on screen reloading, (which hadn't been done a lot at the time) realistic cinematics and superb graphics that made it one of the only games before Halo: Combat Evolved that would be accepted in today's modern gaming. All of this with great lighting effects, AI's that peek into rooms once they hear disturbances, The ability to light a dark room with gunfire, the mention to civilians and cities (which wasn't done a lot in previous games), The amount of audio clips is amazing... the list of things that were innovative in this game was incredible and probably was an influence for Halo. So now that I've rambled on for a long long time, without further wait, I will change the topic to...

Pre-Xbox Halo

A company known as Bungie had an idea in the late 90's after many other revolutionary games had already came out. The idea was originally considered in 1999, at least that is the earliest known date. The games name was going to be 'Red shift' but the name didn't stick until a new name came to the table, this new name was Halo. Halo originally was going to be for Mac, but then Microsoft got to put it on the Xbox in 2000. The game idea originally had the same feel that one of Bungie studios previous games had; Myth. Myth was a real-time strategy game, meaning that it had a tactical view from the sky. The game slowly and gradually went from RTS, to Third Person Shooter, meaning that it had a camera angle behind the player where you could see their backside and the enemies that they're fighting from a greater distance. This type of game was shown in the E3 2000 trailer, which follows marines attempting to capture an underground forerunner cave on Installation 04, the setting for Halo CE. The Third Person Shooter was eventually abandoned, and the First Person Shooter genre was used, given its historic success. From here we go from Pre-Xbox Halo to...

Halo's Success

Now this is the part that I really was looking forward to. After all, its why I love the series, so lets get to it. Released on November 15th, 2001, Halo: Combat Evolved  was released with the launch of the original Xbox. Wikipedia states that Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the most important games in the history of all gaming, and I think that all of us can agree with that. If you think about it, past Perfect Dark, this was the game of games, the Campaign, the Multiplayer, its all here. Halo 1 was incredible with its sophisticated AI and its fluid controls, if you think about it, a separate button for grenades hadn't been done in hardly any games before this. The game also was one of the first games that had moving mouths synchronized with voices, Starfox 64 had this, but it was too primitive then. Halo 1 also had a 'Legendary' storyline, an adventurous story that put it with the other 'Golden age of Gaming' games. Now Halo had some errors and it isn't this perfectly acceptable game in today's very strict gaming industry, it's worst error probably is it's frame rate. Kind of like other N64 shooters, Halo CE would get pretty 'laggy' when the bullets rang out. The second thing about Halo 1 is the low video quality, it has pretty bad quality when compared to games that released right along side it. Even though it has these 2 faults, for it's time, these were acceptable in exchange for an incredible game with great controls. So lets get past Halo CE, Halo 1 wasn't trumped until... Halo 2!  Now we have two very popular shooter games, the latter one supports massive online battles with up to 16 players. By this time in 2004, 3 years after its initial release, Halo was big. So big that it was one of the only 8 series to be put in the Walk of Game, which was in 2005, when only 2 Halo games were made. It was also put in the first year after the walk of game opened, right along Mario, Link and Sonic. No other dedicated FPS made the wall, as the second and last generation of games put on the wall were Everquest, Starcraft, Final Fantasy and Lara Croft. So if you think about it, we have a series that only has 2 games, is only 4 years old and it is instantly being put side by side with Mario, Sonic and Link, the three game series with the greatest reputations. This proves how popular and awesome Halo is. Halo 2 wasn't the first game to have duel wielding, as this had been done a lot in the 90's, but the graphics in the game was a major improvement when put beside Combat Evolved. Halo already had been considered for movies, and millions of dollars were dumped into making one. It never hit the big screen but the series still flourished. Halo defiantly surpassed the expectations for the gaming world, it even was listed on the magazine PC gamer as 'The next big thing' two years before its release. A port for Halo CE was released in 2003, followed by Editing Software, which allows players to make their own maps. This made Halo a competitor with other fellow PC games and fulfilled Halo's original legacy, to be a PC game.

Now, we can zoom on to 2007. In 2007 many books have been made and Halo 3 just came out, signaling the end to the original trilogy. Halo 3's legendary feel makes it a really fun shooter (With a lot of cool weapons and vehicles). It was the game for online multiplayer for a long time and it couldn't be trumped for a long time. 2007 also brought some pretty bad news for Halo, the movie was canceled. Halo CE was trumped by Halo 2, which held the #1 spot for 2 years on Xbox live, until a short term when the game 'Gears of War' surpassed Halo 2. Gears of War was soon smashed by Halo 3's release, making Halo one of the most dominant game series in the 2000's. Two years later in 2009, both Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST released. These games also had very high popularity, Halo Wars alone had 118 years of online play time distributed between gamers... And that was in a month. ODST had the urban feel of mystery, and it sold 3 million copies, tripling what Halo Wars sold. After 2009, came 2010. Halo: Reach was introduced in 2010 and “reach”ed a huge milestone in it's release month, along with Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3, Reach sold over 3 million copies. Reach was probably popular for the 'Forge 2.0' which allowed much more user friendly map creating. But the storyline for Reach is what makes me go gaga. I'm going to make this blog 10 times longer if I start with what I love about Reach, so I'm just going to say that the game was Legendary.  Everything about the game was so fluid like, and the graphics were a lot more realistic then Halo 3's low graphic 'boxy heads'.  Plus the armor had little marks and dents over it, adding to its realistic feel.

So then we go from the Pillar of Autumn flying away at the end of Reach, to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which released in 2011.  This paragraph explains 343 industries faults after they acquired the rights to make Halo games, and the games that they made.  So now we can get back on track with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Take an identical copy of Halo: Combat Evolved, give its graphics a complete overhaul to compete with today's advanced gaming, re-record all of its soundtracks with better quality, and make Captain Keyes wear his naval uniform in a Forerunner bunker instead of combat gear... and you get a remake. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was actually very useful in my opinion. If you think about it, you can hardly play Halo CE now without a really old disk failing because of that one time you accidentally left it out in 2005. That, and you can actually see stuff in the swampy 343 Guilty Spark level. The thing that I really like about the remake is that it lost a lot of its suspenseful feel, the render distance is increased, places like the Library are remade as being 'Forerunner' orange instead of a dim gray and the enemies aren't so slender (and of course, the low graphic viral infections kind of get me down). So I would say that even as a remake, I enjoyed Halo: CEA a lot.  The game had some downsides, the kinect voice commands were criticized for being slower to use when compared to a quick trigger pull.  The game roughly had an 8 out of 10 rating throughout the video game critic community. Well... Now we can go to the one that not a lot of people liked too much, and the one that will bring my blog to a conclusion. Halo 4, the game that had great initial reception, but then reviews got worse. Halo 4 is a bright and flashy game in my opinion, look at the map Haven. The Spartans don't have the 'scuffs' on their armor, and the armor is a lot less realistic. But if we can look past it having bright and unrealistic armor, then we can see it being an okay game. The game had a pretty cool Spartan Ops secondary campaign, however they sacrificed the arcade feel of firefight for the storyline feel of Spartan Ops. Any who, The actual Campaign with the Multiplayer was well received. Perhaps Halo 4 is an amazing game, but we are just looking at it with the wrong angle. Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn, was the web series turned into a live action movie that promoted Halo 4 and it was responsible for making such high expectations for Halo 4. I think that we had to wait for 5 years to see the return of the Master Chief and it just wasn't enough for that long of a wait.  Well, that has been the past and present of my blog, to see my views on the Future of Halo, just click the link below, leading you to my previous blog.

The Future of Halo

Now my explanation of how innovative Halo was and is, but what about the future? There won't be a huge write up on this part, because I already did one. Here's my 'The Future of Halo' blog. To recap on the supposedly confirmed remake of Halo 2, check out (not mine) this blog.

This has been my view of the past, present and future of FPS games and Halo's impact on them. Stretching all the way from 1974 to 1994 to 2014. Please leave your opinion and comment, and most importantly, thank you.

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