It’s been nearly 9 years and 4 sequels since Halo first launched. With the launch of Halo Reach everyone has been going on about how it’s a return to form, a lot like the original Halo and just as good if not better. But was Halo *really* that good to begin with?
Personally it’s not quite as great as everyone else seems to think it is. A lot of it i feel has to do with people looking through rose tinted glasses i feel*. Halo was a launch game for the Xbox and much like Sonic Adventure because it was a launch game people remember it more fondly than it really was. Halo had awesome graphics for the time which still look good today. The early levels are fantastic and the music is incredible. But even at the time people moaned about the later levels repeating previous ones. Even more people moaned about the levels having 10 different graphics which were copied and pasted ad nauseum which everyone seems to have forgotten about. Do i dare even mention the Library?
Halo has many great parts which everyone seems to remember but they’ve forgotten the bad parts of which there were many no matter high Edge scored the game. But lets get back to Reach, everyone says it’s a return to form and is amazing. Does that make it better than the original Halo? Again i can’t really agree with that statement. I found this video of Halo at e3 when it was still a mac game.
This is exactly what Halo is to me. It captures the feel of Halo 1 perfectly which makes me think Halo wasn’t a fluke. I think it’s how huge and empty the world is. In the video they spend a lot of time scouting the area not knowing what is around the next corner and taking it slowly. Picking off enemies who don’t know the marines are there and only actually encountering a couple of enemies in the whole 10 minutes of the video. Compared to Halo Reach where you can’t go 5 yards before you find another group of enemies and this is why Reach, whilst a more action packed game is still not classic Halo.
Whilst i’ve said Halo has many crap sections, the first half is fantastic and is what makes it a classic. The latter sections aren’t terrible but they don’t reach the heights of the first part. Think of all the times you are on your own or even with the marines just taking it slowly on foot or on the warthog checking out the landscape. One moment that always comes to my mind is when you are underground and have to activate the bridge. Its dark, quite and empty, but expensive. You know it’s a trap so you leave the warthog behind and go on foot to find the switch. Thats when you get ambushed. That part was amazing as you didn’t know anyone was there but still took it cautiously. Even after the bridge has been raised you still take your time exploring just in case before you go over the bridge even though there are no more enemies for quite some time.
It was these moments which made Halo what it was. You wasn’t confronting tonnes of enemies, but small units and you could take them on however you wanted. Confront them, flank them or even ignore them if you wanted. How long did you spend on your first game of The Silent Cartographer? I know i spent hours just exploring it due to it’s size and how much detail there was. I can’t think of a single level in Halo Reach that is as large as it. Many of the levels feel like corridors where you keep hitting road blocks of enemies. You can’t go around them, you can’t avoid them. You have to kill them all to proceed.
So is Halo still amazing? Hmm sort of. It does a lot of things right and better than Reach which is a great game, especially early on of making you feel like a small squad exploring an alien land. It reminds me of Starship Troopers in a lot of ways or even Left 4 Dead. It’s just wonderful how slow paced the game can be and by making less fights and many ways to tackle them it really heightens the thrill of them. I’ll always remember the first Elite i came across and think of him almost like one of the marines with his own personality. But it does have it’s flaws, some quite big. Even though Halo reach is obviously technically better and a great game it’s not even as good as the original i feel. It’s certainly not a return to form as them early parts of Halo haven’t been matched or beaten. So whilst i don’t feel it’s ever been amazing, it’s certainly been great despite it’s flaws.
* Awaits all the people telling me they played and completed it just this afternoon.