SummaryTry not to pay any attention to detail, and it's a fairly decent game.
The GoodHalo probably has one of the most easily recognizable characters in the Master Chief. Show any gamer a picture of the Chief and ask who he is and they will say "that's Master Chief from the Halo games", whether they have played it or not. Another of halo's stand out characters is Cortana, the Pillar of autumns sparky, well humoured and very likeable AI. I think it forms a very good 'your brawn and my brain' partnership.
A particular delight for me was the Covenant weapons. They were pretty well designed and unique in that no two weapons were very alike, and with there own advantages. The needler fired needles that would explode if you got enough rounds into an enemy, the carbine with with handles a bit like a scope less sniper rifle and the plasma rifle were all stand out favorites for me.
The vehicles the covenant use were also particularly well done. For me, the two best were the ghost which is a fast hovering bike like number with a plasma machine gun on the nose and the wraith, a neat combination of a hover tank and a mortar.
The BadThe repetitiveness. Halo:CE has flaws, and the single major flaw is its repetitiveness. And it is manifested in two ways. First off, and most significantly, is the repetitiveness of the level design, which is a bit like trying to tell the difference between Porches, 90% of the time you have to look very hard to be able to tell the difference between two indoor sections. It is so bad, that there are three different types if interiors that i can distinctly recall. Pillar of Autumn, covenant ship and Halo. Now, for me, that is not a good thing. Granted, the most of the game pretty much takes place on two of them, but you can't help go around each interior level thinking "errr, hav'nt i already been through here". I certainly did. The interiors are also note worthy because it's mostly corridor's. Only one or two rooms anywhere, and the rooms or corridor's never contain much, if anything. All they ever contain is wall displays or tables. No consoles, tools, not many chairs. Its all very bare. The second way the repetitiveness creeks in is the combat, in that it is mostly run and gun. More run and gun. And more run and gun. The only time your not running and gunning is when your not, is when your blowing up the Pillar of Autumn's engines. And that's IT. Combine it with the generic level design mentioned above, you become more acutely aware of both.
On a similar vein to the level design is that of the design when it come to the UNSC weapons and vehicles. Once again, they suffer from a lack of imagination. OK, the assault rifle has an electronic ammo counter on it, there is no particularly sci-fi-ish weapons in the UNSC armory, with is weird when you consider that the game takes place in 150 years time and your fighting with what is, pretty much, weaponry that woud'nt look out of place in current times. This is made stranger when you consider the effort Bungie put into the design of the Covenant weapons. It's the exact same with the the UNSC vehicles, its as if some one at Bungie said to there boss "boss, i've designed the Covenant stuff, but i can't be asked to do the UNSC stuff" and the boss replied "that's OK, don't bother, it's not like it matters, or anyone would notice" and at the last minute, cobbled together a couple of vehicles based on current vehicles. Just sheer laziness to me. And speaking of weapons, one of the little irritations that made it into most of the halo games is the severe lack of substantial amounts of ammo. It's alway's kill a few enemies, run out of ammo, switch to secondary weapon, kill a few more aliens, run out of ammo, run around looking for a new weapon whilst being shot at, find one, kill them, move on, rinse and repeat. Wait till your up against the hunter pair, you'll know then what it's like.
Halo does'nt get many points for story either. OK, were not exactly swamped in similar stories, but it is far from original or creative. I mean come on, religious aliens hell bent on wiping us out, and you single handily stop them. I could think of a few games in which 1) aliens want to wipe us out, 2) there using religion as an excuse to be crappy to humans and 3) you save the day all on your lonesome. Even outside of gaming, it's not very original. And to add insult to story telling injury, the characters don't, save for Cortana, shine to stand out. The Master Chief does'nt say enough to really stand out, Sergeant Johnson and Foehammer are just plain cliched and Captain Keyes is'nt around enough to make much of an impact. For me, Cortana is the ONLY stand out character.
I think i'll end this section off with a minor niggle. Objectives. Maybe it's just me, but going through the game, and the main trilogy for that matter, i got the feeling, that whilst your overall objective was pretty clear, some of the time is spent on objectives that either have no major point, get's switched to something else or scrapped all together. Could just be me.
The Bottom LineIf this came out now (2010), instead of in 2001, i would say not to expect a sequel. It does'nt have that much variety, some lazy design work and does'nt blow you away. But in spite of that, you can still have a bit of fun playing it. For me, Halo is a like a Arnold Schwarzenegger film. It's got a shallow plot, chances are Schwarzenegger's dialogue is being very mono syllable or dones'nt say much and is doing a cardboard character performance, but as long as you don't expect much from it, you can kind of enjoy it.