the famous xbx game

Well, it was inevitable, right? I got an XBX, I would try Halo. I waited five whole days, and then I rented it.

I put the disc in and watched the splash graphics and stuff scroll by, and I thought, “Maybe this will be good.” Then, while loading the first level, I got a disc read error followed by a generic “XBOX: PLEASE WAIT” screen, followed by the XBX system menu. Uh.

Well, it didn’t crash. The disc was just a little smeggy, and once it was cleaned, things went swimmingly. I was surprised by the overall quality of the game, really. I expected Yet Another FPS. I’ve never been big on them, with a few notable exceptions (007, Perfect Dark, and TimeSplitters 2 spring to mind). Well, despite the fact that it thrust me into the normally alien-to-me dual analog control scheme, Halo felt good. It started me off slowly, so I could figure out the controls as I went. Occasionally it broke into the action to tell me about some new whiz-bang feature, but mostly it just let me mess around as I found my way out.

Some notes on my first run-through of the first level:

  • The lighting is great; I really like the (weapon-mounted) flashlight, and the way that it swings the lighting around when you re-load.

  • The restriction to carrying two weapons at once was nice. I’m sick of games where I run around carrying nineteen weapons and switching between them instantly. The weapons were all interesting, too.

  • Having other soldiers around shouting relevant things and assuming tactical positions was great. It made the game feel much more tactical than it was, and I don’t mind being fooled.

  • The control scheme is, in general, pretty darn good.

By the end of the first level, I was thinking, “Hey. This is good. When people tell me it’s good from now on, I can’t scoff anymore.”

Then I got to the second level. I got to do some fighting in a wide-open area, which was cool. There was more ducking and hiding and almost some sniping. (It’s hard to call it sniping when it’s with an assault rifle.) I defended a really big cool-looking structure and watched a bunch of my buddies get mowed down. It was big fun.

Then a ship dropped a jeep for me, and I thought, “Hey, here’s the cool vehicle thing phun was talking about.” That’s when the suck started.

I’m pretty sure that, even given a few months and a lot of burritoes and Mountain Dew, I could not come up with a more annoying control scheme for the vehicles. Very roughly, it works like this: the right analog stick moves the camera left and right. The left analog stick accelerates and decelerates. The vehicle always drives forward, where forward is defined by the camera. In other words, to make a left turn while driving forward, you must hold the left analog stick forward and move the camera to the right until the camera points in the direction you want to go. Your vehicle will reach that bearing eventually.

It is unbelievably awful. After fifteen minutes of struggling with it, I gave up. Later, I will try to determine whether there is a way to change the control scheme. If not, this may be the best game I ever dismiss with a SUCK.

Written on April 13, 2003
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