Once again, a ground breaking release hits store shelves. Halo, the revolutionary story from the Xbox, has come to the PC (Where it was supposed to be all along, two years ago – Ed). Players immerse into a story of betrayal and warfare, as a cyborg made by some of the last living soldiers defending earth. As this cyborg (or MasterChief), you fight through hundreds – maybe even thousands – of the invading alien race called the Covenant. This race is bent on destroying the human race, and using a ring-world called Halo (surprise surprise!) to control the universe. In your adventures, you learn that Halo is a lot more than it seems; and that is for you to decipher.
As a First Person Shooter, you would expect normal controls, which Halo has, but grenade lobbing and melee attacks became accessible with the push of a button (without having to select them ala Half-Life). These make it very easy to get used to, but hard to master, as the frag-grenades bounce, and melee attacks are a little slow, and have healing time. The weapon system is limited, as it forces you to decide between different weapons, for you can only hold a maximum of ANY 2 at a time. This leaves strategy open and decision based, as you cannot be superman and carry an armada-sized inventory.
With a large variety of weapons to discover, there are a lot of different areas to discover. From rainforests to interiors of space-ships, this game has it all except the moon. With this large amount of exploration happening, there is barely any problem solving, as Halo is more of a straight-forward storyline game, instead of spending hours of looking for a switch or crack to blow up. This made it easy to understand and play through, with a ton of fun to be had as well. Although sometimes it might seem a little less obvious, there is usually a vehicle that you have to use somewhere, like to fly to a canyon or other area.
Along with hand weapons, come the big weapons – All Terrain buggies with chainguns and rocket launchers, alien fighters, hovering ghosts, and battle tanks. All except the alien craft is accessible by more than yourself in a squad. Such as the Warthog needs someone to drive, someone to drive passenger, and someone to man the weapon on the back. This type of teamwork is forced, and does well for itself. I was impressed how the team-mates online just effortlessly helped me whenever I needed help.
Speaking of vehicles, the physics are excellent. They allow you to flip and do all kinds of jumps and tricks. Such as using a hovering Ghost and doing loop-the-loops off of a tank. Very fun indeed, but watch out for making allies angry in a race to get back to base, and then end up crashing too much.
Even in Single Player, you aren't alone. Through most of the missions, you end up fighting with up to 20 human soldiers, following and guarding you. They will even take up arms inside a warthog or Scorpion battle tank. The team AI OR enemy AI isn't great, but it does the job. They mostly attack, scream when they get hit with a grenade, and hide behind cover. Most of the “cool” things the AI does is scripted, but I really loved fighting along with Marines, which was a nice experience indeed.
The sound of war surrounds you, exposions, battle cries, and shooting and all rendered in EAX (if you set it to) for maximum pleasure. The music is enticing, and goes with the flow of action and adrenaline during combat. The explosions did excellent in their glory of blowing things up, by making a realistic explosive sound. Although sometimes while playing the campaign, the voices would stop in the middle of themselves, leaving me clueless. This seems to be an unresolved bug.
The reflection off of MasterChief's suit was pretty nice, and off of his visor too. And every singe weapon in the game, (except the Covenants') had a small indicator that showed how much ammo was left, which was a neat detail. Along with ammunition counts, comes grenade ammo and shield/health indicators. This tells all of the information you need during your wartime. Almost everything reflects – weapons, vehicles, interiors, and aliens. Also, one very neat detail, is when you look through a tree, and a sun is in the sky behind it, you can see beams of light shine through the holes in the tree's leaves, even when you move.
But being a console port of two year old dated game, the graphics aren't as pretty as they can be nowadays. Some of the textures look bleak, and the models would really be better off with a higher polygon count. There's really no bump-mapping to speak of, and most of the new technologies we'll see in upcoming FPS games have successfully avoided Halo. The levels of the second part of the game all seem to be happening in generic, closed environments. At the same time the performance could've been much better, especially on older machines. While Gearbox has made an admirable job or porting this project, its probably biggest (if not only) flaw is its age.
As a regular server-host myself, I know just about everything that happens in MP. With up to 11 other people in my room (maximum of 16) warfare is ensured. In MP, you can get online, directly connect with TCP/IP, or battle through a LAN. On the same menu, you can edit and create game-types by changing many different settings, vehicle/weapon spawns, and spawn times. From CTF to assault, to racing and being King of the Hill, this game has nearly all of the modes. Although, very many people agree with me when I say ''We need Cooperative play!". Co-Op isn't included, but someone may mod it some day. There is so much to change and mod in MP that I can't list here, but I can guarantee that you will have hours of fun.
NOTE TO ADMINS: Enable the console by adding -console to the command line, in properties of Halo's icon. This will let you open the console with ~ and then press TAB to see a list of commands, I'm saying this because most of you don't know this. Also get the 1.01 and 1.02 patches for maximum performance.
I've had a blast by playing through Single Player, and learning the storyline. Fighting with Marines was great too, because they were smart and provided needed help. Multiplayer brought the best of the best to the FPS world. So many options, and different game-types to make, with new ones coming out every day. Modders are starting to mod Halo and bring it to it's full potential. Handling the Warthog and other vehicles had to be the unmatched fun, because of the physics. The combination of all of the factors above make it a definite buy for ANY FPS fan, even if (honestly) the port should've been done sooner and better.