Preview By: Thomas Cap
You are the last of your kind. Bred for combat, built for war, you are the master of any weapon, pilot of any vehicle and fear no enemy. You are: the Master Chief
Bent on Humankind's extermination, a powerful fellowship of alien races known as the Covenant is wiping out the Earth's fledgling interstellar empire. You and the other surviving defenders of a devastated colony-world make a desperate attempt to lure the alien fleet away from Earth. Shot down and marooned on the ancient ring-world Halo, you begin a guerilla-war against the Covenant. Fight for humanity against an alien onslaught as you race to uncover the mysteries of Halo.
Unless you've spent the last two years at the bottom of a bottomless pit you must have heard of Halo. Hyped for many months while still in development, PC gamers all over the world screamed out in agony when it finally was announced that Halo will be exclusive to the Microsoft Xbox.
Much time has passed, people that thought of the Xbox as a failure have been proved wrong, and PC gamers lost almost all hope that they ever will see Halo on their precious PC. But finally one of the best games on the Microsoft Xbox is released on the platform that many players think it should have been released on in the first place: the PC. Personally I love my consoles. They offer a different kind of playing experience, and there are many titles that I couldn’t imagine on a PC. But there is also one genre that I never really played anywhere but the PC: First-Person-Shooters. Take my mouse and WASD keys away from me and I’m completely lost.
At the Games Convention in Leipzig I was able for the first time to play a Beta of the PC version of Halo. My time was limited to only a few minutes, but thanks to the people at Microsoft Game Studios Austria I now hold a copy of the very same Beta in my hands and was able to do a little preview for all our readers out there.
The beta is obviously not the final version yet (who would have guessed that), and while I noticed several missing doors and textures, I was surprised how playable the game already is. The graphics were good on the Xbox and were enhanced for the PC not only by the fact that much higher resolutions are possible on the PC. But one fact is undeniable: the graphics are slightly out of date. With titles like Half-Life 2 and Doom III just around the corner, Halo will not be the graphic reference for the PC that it was for the Xbox when released. But the detailed animations, beautiful lighting effects and interesting environments still make it a noticeable title even for us spoiled PC gamers. I personally recall no PC title where the developers put that much effort in the animation of already dead enemies. No more bodies floating in mid-air - watch them roll down a cliff or fall down the stairs. Sometimes you only notice that other games lacked something once you see it elsewhere...
The fantastic soundtrack was of course taken directly from the Xbox version, but it is a nice feature that Microsoft decided to keep the possibility of 5.1 sound even on the PC. If you hooked your PC up to some serious HiFi equipment you will blown away by it.
Gameplay above all
The graphics may be outdated, but every decent gamer will agree that gameplay is way more important than even the nicest graphical presentation. And here Halo is still on every reference list you can find. A fine AI that controls not only smart enemies, but also several NPC’s, and many scripted events bring the world of Halo alive. And driving a Warthog with a marine at the heavy machine gun and a second marine on the co-drivers seat is not only cool, but also very much fun.
While after introduction of the Xbox Live! Service Halo went online, the PC version's multiplayer has the advantage of a larger community, and many people that haven’t gone Live! with their Xbox still have a PC connected to the Internet. With over 20 (!) multiplayer modes and variations, LAN and Internet players alike can spend many, many hours and days playing this.
By graphical means it is maybe not top-of-the-notch anymore, but the gameplay and story experience is still unbeaten. A must-have title for everyone who doesn’t have an Xbox and doesn’t plan to buy one any time soon.
P.S. Don't forget to check out some exclusive screenshots of the game in our gallery.