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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: October 17, 2003
Halo is probably one of the best known and most reviewed titles on the market today. It seems like everybody has played it, even if they don’t personally own an Xbox. I went over to my brother’s house and got my first feel of Halo as it poured off of his 36″ television screen. I really enjoyed what I was able to play in the couple of hours I was there, but one thought kept lurking in the back of my mind: “Man, this would be a lot better if I could use a mouse!” Fortunately, developers Gearbox and Bungie heard those types of cries, and now Halo: Combat Evolved has finally been unleashed onto the PC.
In Halo, you don the armor of the Master Chief; a war-hardened soldier that only comes out when the going gets really tough. The Earth is at war with a mysterious race called the Covenant and as the game opens, a Halcyon-class cruiser from Earth, the Pillar of Autumn, has dropped out of warp badly damaged. Worse yet, the Autumn is being pursued by a Covenant fleet. The Master Chief is given the mandate to get the ship’s main computer construct, Cortana, away from the cruiser as the captain crashes the battered Pillar of Autumn on a strange ring-shaped object (later to be known as Halo). You must get Cortana off of the Autumn and then keep yourself alive long enough figure out what secrets Halo hides.
Your first view through the eyes of the Master Chief comes after he’s been woken up from a cryogenically frozen sleep. After a short “systems analysis” where you get the feel for the controls and are given a couple of other basic workouts, you are summoned to the bridge where you receive your marching orders concerning Cortana. The ship is already under attack and you have no weapon. Dodging fire along the way, you eventually acquire a gun, and then the heat really gets turned up.
Your main opposition is the Covenant. While there is no explanation as to why Earth’s forces and the Covenant are at each other’s throats, the Covenant does go to great lengths to see the Master Chief stopped in his tracks. Covenant troops include an array of fighters including diminutive Grunts, cagy Elite, and brutish Hunters. Grunts are the easiest to kill, and they tend to run away with their hands waving in the air when they have been shot a couple of times. Elites and Hunters are a different story, however. Elites have an energy shield that surrounds them much like the one your environment suit emits and are quick on their feet. Hunters are the lumberjacks of the group, relying on their brute strength as well as a wickedly powerful gun mounted on the end of one arm. The Covenant bands emphasize team work and play off of each member’s strengths in a coordinated effort to drop your health to zero.
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