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Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)

94
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Vance (98)
Written on  :  Nov 18, 2004
Platform  :  Xbox

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Summary

Solid gameplay engine, MILES AND MILES OF CLONED CORRIDORS

The Good

The engine is a solidly built one, easy to pick up and get going and always offering more to adapt to. While the story is pretty much the stuff of late night direct to tv movies, the enemies are well-designed and fun to blow up, especially the later ones. Graphics are pretty good, with some decent environmental effects and very little fill-in. The game was made for multiplayer, and if it was released later during the online push it'd probably have more longevity, though with the release of Halo 2 this is kind of moot.

The Bad

Larry Niven, creator of the Ringworld novels, should have sued until the design staff was completely naked. The titular Halo is obviously porked from his novels and is underused as a plot point. Well. I suppose that's harsh since there really is no plot beyond variations of what we've seen in the movie Lifeforce and the game Space Hulk. It's an odd bird that games are relying more heavily on narratives and still skimping on any kind of story, but that's another discussion completely. As is, the main purpose the Halo has is to arch across the sky like the great Thong of the Universe.

I think my main problem with the game is ethical, read: Microsoft. Originally a Mac and PC game, this was another casualty of Microsoft's epic set of buyouts in an attempt to get exclusives for it's XBox console in the heat of the console war. Computer gamers were ripped a new one and XBox fanboys had a new rallying cry, giving the upper hand to the last company that needed one. Bungie changed it's tune from being a Mac enthusiast company to the usual party line of wanting to be on the cutting edge and allying itself with the right people. Make what you will of that.

The biggest complaint with the game is the artificial stretching out of the levels. Yeah, sure, the game features some long levels, but if you broke it down to the key architectural components some of the levels would be about 50 feet long. The two main offenders are the inside of the alien ship (and how) and the library. If you can keep track of which direction most of the enemy are coming from, cool. If not, both directions are gonna look the same and it may take a minute or two to sort it out. Not cool. With a lack of scripting to keep encounters fresh, the only thing that'll see you through to the end of the single-player campaign is the very fast and fluid gameplay. Really, it stands out post-Half-Life, but one very nice facet of a gem doesn't forgive the weaknesses everywhere else.

The Bottom Line

Are you chanting the XBox war cry? You already have this game on your shelf, then. Everybody else should give it a whirl, have a bit of fun with it, repeat until bored.