32 - Halo (Xbox)

The only reason I'm not a big FPS fan is because they give me terrible motion sickness. That's the only reason you won't find Half-Life 2, or Deus Ex, or System Shock 2 in this list. I've tried them all and had enough of a taste to know they're something extremely special, but I couldn't justify including them without having had enough experience of them.

Halo is one that I was at least able to make my way through without unbearable side-effects. I knew I'd have trouble with it but I was hearing so much good about it that I had to try. In the end I enjoyed it so much it was well worth the times when I did overdo it a bit!

I didn't manage to complete it on Legendary, but I did it on Heroic and that was enough of a challenge to bring out the best in the game for me. I was thrilled that I had to play smart, use cover, flank the enemy, think constantly about my weapon choices. Simply charging into the fray was not an option (if it was I would have grown tired of Halo very quickly). It's packed with exciting set-pieces - the beach landing and later the rock-fuelled exit from the map room, that moment on Assault on the Control Room where you step out onto a snowy battlefield, sneaking up on slumbering grunts and scattering them in panic, running to grab a Banshee as the tune 'On a Pale Horse' kicks in, or the first time you see a three-way battle between robots, Flood and Covenant.... the list goes on.

I love the way the dynamic of the game changed from level to level. A lot of people hate the Library but I didn't find it a chore (though I did manage to get a little lost, mainly because I was by necessity playing it in small chunks). Even backtracking through previous areas was made fresh by new objectives, enemies and equipment. I have particularly fond memories of the section in 'Two Betrayals' where you're faced with a large snowfield, Covenant arrayed at the other end and a selection of weapon options... do I snipe the creatures from a safe distance? Take out the Wraiths with rockets? Sneak around the edge of the field and pick enemies off one by one? It's that kind of moment-to-moment decision-making that nailed the game as a classic and more than just another frantic FPS.

Again, the music is an integral part of the enjoyment. It's epic stuff, punctuated with action-movie moments and signature themes.

Thanks to my poor brain Halo isn't a game that gets much replay, but it made such an impression on me that I'll always consider it among the best gaming experiences I've ever had.


Anonymous said...

Unlike many who choose to play old games rather than new, I love Halo in all its three flavours.

Although the sequels improved the mechanics and added countless new ingenious features, none of them have given me that feeling of being involved in something bigger than me. The part mentioned (ice level, covenant to the left, flood to the right #here I am, stuck in the middle with you#) is the epitome of this, and you could just sit back and watch it unfold. One of my favourite gaming moments of all time.

A must for co-op fans.

Brandon Ayers said...

I guess I'm one of those grumpy PC games but playing a FPS with a controller just makes me sick. This game was nothing new, wasn't even that fun. Half Life 2 was alot more engaging, had a story you could feel and characters you could care for. Halo had none of that. The warthog was fun but that was about it. I suggest giving Half Life 2 another go, even Half Life 1 was brilliant.