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Review: Halo: Combat Evolved

by Nick Haywood on 27 November 2003, 00:00

Tags: Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), FPS

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qau5

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Introduction

Halo: PC Port Gone Wrong?


Ok, before we go any further I just want to make something clear. I don't own an X-Box. Nor have I played on one. The mentally agile among you will have by now guessed that seeing as I don't own and haven't played on an X-Box, I can't have possibly played Halo before it's PC release. Those of you who didn't get it, just re-read this paragraph from the beginning to catch up, the rest of us will wait at the start of the next line for you.

All here? Ok, so why am I banging on about my abject lack of X-Box ownership? It's pretty simple really. Halo, as you're no doubt well aware, was an exclusive X-Box only release a few years ago. Originally slated for PC release, it was snapped up by Microsoft to be one of the flagship games to show off the powers of their new console, and us PC gamers, appetites whetted by some tasty looking screenshots, had to wait to get our mitts on Halo… and now here it is, and here am I, fresh as a daisy and ready to play one of the most eagerly anticipated PC releases of the year.

First then, a little background to the Halo universe. Set in the far future, we have developed space travel and come into contact with a superior alien race called the Covenant who are hell bent on wiping out anyone not like them. We retreat a lot and in running away stumble upon a gigantic ring floating in space. No, it's not Chris Moyles' backside, but it's just as teeming with life. Anyways, what follows is a series of missions set on this world to discover why it's there, and why the Covenant think it's some sort of weapon. All pretty much your standard story line stuff. I'm sure that somewhere on the 'net is an online story generator… come on, let's have something original!

So it's all bog standard so far, here's hoping things improve when we get into the game. The first mission, which believe it or not involves you waking up, is basically a disguised training mode. Fine if you've never played a FPS before, but really, do we need to be forced to play these things? Ok, it tells a story as it goes along, but at the end of it you have to listen to your Captain flap his gums for five minutes anyway, why couldn't the option to skip to that point been included? Other games have some under fire for this, but sorted it out with a patch, so you never know…..

So you get a quick background story and you first mission briefing in what has to be some of the worst in-game sequences I've seen. I thought that these parts, along with giving you a story, were meant to show off how wonderful the graphics engine powering the game is. All I can say is 'Oh dear'. The captain has a great 'Mechwarrior' style of walking, where his legs rotate independently of his torso and your fellow Marines all have invisible turntables under their feet to turn them around. The most laughable thing being that the sequence actually zooms in on this as if it's something to be proud of!

Anyway, crappy cut scenes aside, how does the game actually play?