Covenant, and Ringworlds, and Super Soldiers, Oh My

Wow. I’m actually making a post.

That aside, let’s talk about Halo.  The Halo series is a great series of first person shooters, in my opinion.  A lot of people seem to think that Halo revolutionized the first-person shooter, but I find this hard to understand.  Did Halo bring a new type of narrative to the table within the frame of the FPS genre? I’d say so. As far as I can recall, the Halo series was one of the first in the genre to really have full-on cutscenes that laid a groundwork for a decently complex story. While I don’t deny that there existed other games prior to Halo that attempted cutscenes in similar styles (Perfect Dark springs to mind), it seems that Bungie struck upon paydirt with their formula, as the series started off a great success and only grew from there.

From a gameplay perspective, the big element that was introduced in the original Halo and used, not only in subsequent games in the series, but in many other game series as well is the concept of regenerative health. That is to say, if you take heavy damage, you can hop into cover and wait for your health/shields/whathaveyou to recover before jumping back out into the fray.  Rather than having to keep an eye on a solid health count, it calls on a sort of strategic element; instead of hoarding health items and what not, it becomes necessary to be aware of your tactics and the current situation, as in most FPS games that now use this system, it’s possible to die very quickly and very often.

As for the specific games themselves, I feel that the first Halo did a lot of good in establishing a solid game series.  It was a huge seller for the original XBox and helped to push Bungie to the front as a big-name game developer, when previously they had been known for the Marathon series and… classic… gems like Oni. Yes. Classic. *cough* Regardless, the first Halo is widely regarded as one of the best in the series.  It was a great deal of fun, and showed an abundance of detail for its time.

On the other hand, Halo 2 is widely regarded as the weakest of the series.  The game’s plot felt largely less engaging than the first, and the transitions between playing as Master Chief and the Arbiter felt… odd at best, and haphazard at worst.  Is the Arbiter’s role in the Halo series crucial? Yeah, but I signed up to kick alien ass as the Chief, thanks.  I feel that maybe splitting the story into two campaigns might have been a better option as far as telling both sides of the tale went.

Halo 3 breathed back into the series a bit more of the life that its predecessor was severely lacking, and was great because it seemed to really gear itself much more toward multiplayer.  The game was viciously difficult in some parts, but despite that, the challenge had me coming back for more, even when I couldn’t beat the game on my own on Heroic.  The game’s Forge mode and new online game types definitely pushed it to the forefront.

On a similar note is Halo 3: ODST.  It built upon the story between the second and third games by introducing a kind of Metroid-like exploration aspect as well as a flashback-based story progression that really had me gripped from beginning to end.  The game is thought of as being a bit easier than Halo 3, but toning down the difficulty isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  ODST’s campaign mode is best experienced in single-player for its ambience and amazing environments, but it does sport the co-op options Halo 3 did.  Although its multiplayer didn’t bring much new to the table, ODST is probably my favorite of the series.

Looking to the future, Bungie has promised us a look at the Halo: Reach beta sometime early next year.  Not much has been discussed about it yet, but I can only imagine the plot will revolve around the novel The Fall of Reach, which was for all intents and purposes, a prequel to the original Halo.  I can only hope it’ll be as great as ODST was, and I do look forward to seeing the series continue on, and hopefully getting even better as time passes.

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2 Responses to “Covenant, and Ringworlds, and Super Soldiers, Oh My”

  1. alongside regenerative health, Halo also popularized the minimalist weapon system and dedicated grenade/melee buttons, seen in many FPS/3PS nowadays.

    • These are also true, and they are important aspects I completely forgot to touch on. x_x But yeah, a lot of shooters nowadays are taking quite a few pages from Halo’s book in that respect.

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