Does anyone remember this one game called Halo? This little game that came out about forty years ago on a console that you can't even refer to by its original name any more because history has stolen "Xbox 1", before video games had any of those things that we apparently love these days like lootboxes and having to pull two triggers to shoot guys instead of just one, and people have been telling me for years that I should play it because apparently it's pretty good? That Halo? Well, I played it. And guess what it SUUUUUCKED lol more like suxbox I'm gonna do a 360 and then walk away lol
No I'm just kidding it was actually really good. I ploughed through the whole game in two days and really enjoyed... most of it, and I'm excited to talk about all this Halo stuff now that I've finally played it after only SEVENTEEN YEARS. What a great game! I've never been much of a shooter guy, but even I can tell when a developer just nails all the dude-shooting mechanics as well as Bungie did here. Every gun feels great to shoot, every enemy has an interesting little quirk to keep you on your toes while you're fighting them, your movement speed and all that sticky-aiming stuff Bungie does feel just right the moment you lay hands on the controller; it's really good. I always hate bullet sponge enemies in shooters, like those big mechs that turned up in Mass Effect 2 that you just have to duuuuump ammo into forever, and to me a good shooter will always give you some way of dealing with everything it throws at you in a fun (and timely) manner. Doom 2016 did this by always giving you that huge arsenal of weapons to make sure you always had something big in stock, but Halo does it with all kinds of different sneaky little tricks, like charging a Plasma Pistol, or hitting Hunters in their gooey lower back bits, or sticking someone with a Plasma Grenade and then running away laughing. It just feels really good to fight dudes in this game.
And then you're fighting dudes for a little while, and you're thinking that this is all pretty great, but then the MUSIC kicks in and you're just like UNG UNG UNG UNNNNNNNNNGH. I don't know if the game sounded like this back in 2001 or if all the music was remastered for the Anniversary remake, but boy oh boy does it sound incredible. Ones the string section starts up and those drums kick in? Forget about it. FORGET. ABOUT. IT. Even when I was technically just running around shooting my two-thousandth dude, that music just turns the whole experience into this volcanic, transcendent... thing. Did I mention the drums? Oh my GOURD.
Speaking of the Anniversary edition, I'm a big fan of the button that pops the game back and forth between original and remastered graphics. I hit that pretty regularly over the course of my playthrough, and I think the game looks pretty good either way. The newer look goes pretty hard on the purple, and is maybe a little busy for its own good, but it can also look really nice, too, and the original has that nice, clean look of an older game running at a modern resolution. Though, if I'm perfectly honest, I'm such a spoiled Millennial that I quite often forgot which set of graphics I was looking at, because in the comparison between 17 year old video game graphics and 7 year old video game graphics... they both look kind of old. Nice, but things only stay state-of-the-art for so long, and what was cutting edge for 2011 is now just "Yeah, this looks great for its time". I'm sorry, I hate myself too
If you'll allow me to segue into the complaints section, though, I'm surprised nobody seems to talk about how much asset re-use there is in this game. It honestly reminded me of Devil May Cry 4, a game that famously has you turn around at the mid-point and then play through the entire first half of the game again in reverse. You spend the beginning of Halo fighting your way through all manner of Halo environments until you hit the Library, and then the Library is the exact same giant corridor like four times in a row, and then you practically go all the way back to the beginning through all the same levels again. They even find a way to re-use the Covenant ship and the Pillar of Autumn. And, to be fair, there is still some new stuff in the back half; it's definitely not to the same extent as DMC4. The addition of the Flood changes your playstyle a whole lot, and it's a whole lot of fun seeing the absolute chaos of all the different enemy types fighting eachother as you steamroll through with your new shotgun. It didn't ruin the game for me or anything, but, y'know, you like to see new stuff all the same.
My biggest complaint about this game is that it ranks pretty highly on the "WHERE DO I GO!?"-o-meter, with the bulk of the indoor levels made up of identical-looking rooms where I'd get into gunfights, get turned around and then forget which door I came in. It's one of those games where you have to play the "Oh, enemies, I must be going the right way" game a lot. That is, until I realised in THE FINAL LEVEL that there's a little waypoint arrow on the assault rifle's little ammo-counter screen thing that always points towards your objective. I legitimately never even saw it. I... I am not a smart man, you guys.
I had some frustrations with some of the vehicle levels, like getting insta-killed any time a Ghost or a Banshee even brushed up against me (I even got killed by MY OWN Banshee once by getting out too far from the ground and having it fall on me), but overall I found Halo incredibly playable for a game of its vintage. And now I have three more Halos in this here Master Chief Collection, so I suppose I'll have to play those, too. I still remember some guys I knew in High School taking the day off school when Halo 2 came out, so it feels weird to have it ready and waiting to go right after I finish the first game