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New to the franchise? Want to know which games to get first? This series is for you.
With Halo 5: Guardians' release imminent, I thought I'd take the time to make a weekly series, in the vein of Wilc0's Halo 101, reviewing each of the Halo games up to this point, and then top it off at the end with a review of Halo 5 itself. Starting with Halo: CE today, and Halo 2 next Sunday, it will run right through to the 8th of November, by which time I will have played enough Halo 5 to give it a fair review. Some games will be grouped together, such as Halo PC and Halo: CE. While this is mainly for those who either cannot play these games due to lack of time or money (or those who (rightly) don't trust review sites), feel free to read and share your thoughts if you have played. Oh, and don't worry: I haven't been paid by Microsoft to give good reviews, these are all my honest opinions.
Anyway, without further ado:
The legendary game that started it all...
Back in 2001, Halo: CE released, and to this day it is the second best-selling game on the Xbox out there - losing only to its successor, Halo 2. 5 million copies of the game have been sold, which may not seem like much, but to put it into perspective: the Xbox sold 24 million units. In other words, over 20% of people who owned an Xbox owned Halo: CE. Furthermore, it is often credited with keeping the Xbox brand afloat as a whole. While in some cases sales can be misleading, I think the numbers here are pretty clear.
Halo: CE was the legendary game that started it all - the Halo franchise, Xbox, even FPS gaming on consoles (according to many parties - I know about Goldeneye). While it went through many design changes, Bungie eventually settled on first-person shooter, and it clicked. The campaign is of epic scope and had a rich, compelling story. Combined with unique encounters, the level design is good - you always have the freedom to approach any situation the way you'd like to.
As far as gameplay is concerned, movement does feel clunky by modern day standards, but you have to remember that this is a 14-year-old game. Gunplay feels natural, although the M6D Magnum dominates the field most of the game (this is counterbalanced with a particularly hard level in which the weapon does not appear). Grenades act basically like mini-nukes, but somehow manage to be balanced. Melee is under-used in multiplayer, but is very useful in campaign.
Vehicular gameplay is the area which the combat falls down in mostly. There is a notable absence of boarding which may not seem noticeable when initially playing, but after playing a more recent Halo game, it is annoying. The vehicles themselves are well balanced, although the Scorpion is very inaccurate, and the Ghost is prone to flipping.
Multiplayer on the Xbox version is the biggest missed opportunity in the original Halo (although said opportunity was seized in Halo 2). While many people have professed to having wonderful memories of action-packed LAN parties (myself included), there was a lack of online multiplayer. Aside from that, my only major gripe would be the fact that the only viable weapons were the Magnum, Sniper, Rocket Launcher and Shotgun (and Fuel Rod in the PC version). The maps weren't 100% balanced, but you could always count on them to be a lot of fun.
|If you have the time and patience to play through the campaign of a retro game, pick this up - you won't regret it. However, if you're here for the multiplayer alone, consider getting the PC port or skipping this entry entirely.|
|Excellent story, well told through cinematics and dialogue, with good writing.|
|The 'Golden Triangle' of gun, grenades and melee works well.|
|Fun campaign of reasonable length and difficulty.|
|Fun (if unbalanced) multiplayer.|
|Lack of online multiplayer (in the Xbox version, understandable due to the lack of Xbox Live).|
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
Halo: PC (PC)
Feel free to discuss this review or the game itself in the comments.
Check back next week for my review of Halo 2.
19:02, September 6, 2015 (UTC)