the master chief, victorious!

After something like a year without Halo, I decided it was time to kick some more Covenant ass. A bunch of my friends picked up Halo for their Macs, and they kept going /on/ and /on/ about how it ruled and I was a grouch for not liking it.

So, it was seventeen bucks used and there was a three-for-two deal, so I added Halo to my pathetic little XBX game collection.

I knew it was going to be a total bitch to get through the level on which I’d last played; the memory of dying over and over in the belly of the beast was still with me. I booted up, tore through the level, and stared blankly at the TV screen. Within a day or two, I was done with Halo! What’s more, I really enjoyed it.

What had annoyed me the most, previously, had been the vehicle controls. Let me be perfectly clear: I still hate them. They suck. They are neither intuitive nor good, and they split my playing up into “fun stuff that I can do well” and “unpleasant stuff through which I stumble.” Fortunately, most of the suck is confined to the Warthog. It’s all over the place, it’s hard to steer, and it’s hard to use offensively. The human tank, the Covenant speed bike, and the Covenant … er … jet thingy are much better. (Yeah, I know, it’s a Banshee. I just don’t know how to classify it.)

Near the end, or the late middle, of the game, the play dynamic changes significantly and becomes less like Halo and more like Doom. I think this is actually not a bad thing, but I say that having only played those later levels on Easy. I am fairly certain that when I play them on normal difficulty, I will find myself in the same position my friends eventually found themselves in: I will hate it.

I’m really glad I finished Halo, though, because I got to see a lot more promise in it, and also quite a few more flaws. The “go through the level forward, then backward, then repeat the whole thing” construction is almost intolerable. Familiar settings are cool, but not when the setting is basically the same four hallways repeating over and over! Near the end, vehicle-based play alternates between excellent (like stealing Banshees for quick runs up cliff faces) and awful (an absolutely endless Warthog mogul to escape a pending explosion.)

I’m now looking forward to Halo 2, because I think it will fix at least some of these problems. In the meantime, I’m hoping to finally play some multiplayer Halo. I’m curious to see how it will work. Honestly, my hopes aren’t too high, but we’ll see!

Written on March 4, 2004
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