Monday, April 21, 2008


Games: The Halo Trilogy

Systems: Xbox and Xbox 360

Release: 2001, 2004, 2007

Halo. Few words can produce such chills and thrills in the gaming community. For anyone who ever owned an Xbox or Xbox 360 this series was probably the deciding factor for your console purchase. Out selling pretty much every console game ever made Halo 3 is the latest and greatest from the folks at Bungie. The following article will attempt to lightly cover all three of these excellent games.

Halo: Combat Evolved was one of the first games I ever purchased for the Xbox. Unsure of what was in store, I popped in the disk hoping for the best. I was blown away! This game became the new Goldeneye, and spent hundreds of hours inside my Xbox. The graphics for the time were great, and there were so many new features. Vehicles, co-op campaign, and melee added a new twist to the FPS genre. Few games, if any, featured these ridiculously fun game mechanics, and Halo provided them in a fantastically set universe. The story was not the most original, but it was put together well. Add five excellent novels to flush out some of the nerdy details, and TADA you have created another brilliant universe for the world to enjoy—and manipulate *cough* RED vs. BLUE *cough*. The sound was equally excellent, and the multiplayer is one of the most additive experiences the FPS genre has to offer.

Ok. Enough of the praising, lets get down to some of the nerdy goodness. Be warned some of the information provided is taken from my overall knowledge of this sci-fi universe and not the games themselves.

Halo puts players in the seat of the last remaining cybernetic super soldier aka Spartan. 117 is the main characters service number and his name is John. He is, however, first and foremost known as the Master Chief.

For the first game, the MC is on board an UNSC ship, Pillar of Autumn, under the command of Captain Keyes. Forced to make a blind space jump they arrive at an unknown “Halo” like object.

The human race, at this time, is fighting a losing war from a very hostile alien collective known as the Covenant. Fighting the Covenant, Captain Keyes is forced to make a crash landing on the remote construct called Halo. On the ring, with the help of the AI Cortana, the MC kicks some major alien ass and unravels some mysterious along the way.

The Flood would be the most relevant discovery. This is a parasitic species with a collective mind that uses sentient hosts to reproduce and thrive. They can also survive without a host for centuries, and are lead by the Gravemind—a giant thing that looks like the Venus fly trap.

By the end of the game, the MC has fought off thousands of Flood and Covenant baddies, ultimately decimated the Halo ring, and was floating in a loan fighter out in space. Only a few humans survived the Halo experience. Most importantly was the old time sob Cap. Johnson. This character provides much of the comic relief throughout the series, and is one of the most developed personalities. Captain Keyes passed away, but by the second game the player is introduced to his daughter.

Halo: Combat Evolved was so close to perfection that only one thing could halt a perfect score. Back in the day, Xbox Live was the “new” thing, and Halo did not support on-line multiplayer. This resulted in painstaking efforts to create LAN parties, and a missed opportunity at big bucks for Microsoft. Fortunately for everyone Halo 2 came out a few years later.

Halo 2 was the final confirmation that this franchise was a hug success. Millions of copies and dollars resulted from its release. The second chapter offered new features like duel wielding, and removed the health bars. Now players were only worried about their shields dropping before death. Vehicles became destructible, and more were added to mix. Most importantly, the multiplayer supported on-line play, and the exciting story was going to be continued.

The campaign, unfortunately, could not be experience on-line in a co-op mode. This lead to a slow steady process of not caring about the single player portion of the game. Multiplayer is where it was at. Sure the campaign introduced a new character called the Arbiter. He’s this really nifty Covenant Elite who eventually joins forces with the humans and the MC. (By the way, the Elite are just one of many alien species that make up the Covenant.) Together they stop the ape like Brutes and the Prophet of Regret from activating the Halo rings—which would result in a galaxy wide genocide of all life capable of Flood infection. But really, this was a minor thrill compared to the awesome times on Xbox Live. Multiplayer is so well developed in this series that it often takes priority to mastering the campaign mode. Hours were spent killing random players and massive amounts of shit talking took place. To top it all off all the on-line carnage is reported for all to see at

By the end of Halo 2, the MC was a stowaway on board the Prophet of Truth’s ship heading towards the invasion of Earth. Halo 3 picks up from there, as the MC crash lands from space somewhere in Africa. Unlike Halo 2, the only playable character in the story is the MC, but the Arbiter and other Elites fill the role of any friends that wish to play co-op. That’s right, “and others.” Halo 3 features four player co-op for the entire campaign, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Bungie went all out for this next generation game. The story is completed. Gameplay improved with the introduction of new and renewed weapons, equipment, and vehicles. On-line multiplayer is again present, in addition to level editors and recorded game sessions. As with the first two games Halo 3 set the bar astronomically high for console shooters.

At the end of the trilogy, the MC is floating in unknown space with Cortana. The Arbiter and the Elites take off into the sunset to settle their own affairs. Earth remembers the great loss from this horrendous war and begins to rebuild. Meanwhile, you can go on-line, kick some major ass, customize your armor, and create your own multiplayer maps. The few faults this series has—the over powered Battle Rifle and repetitive level design—are barely noticeable when looking at the overall package. Halo 3, and the series as a whole, gets nothing less then a perfect score: 5 out of 5.

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