So I just beat Halo: Combat Evolved for the first time. Shout out to Mantis for hooking me up with this game as well as Halo: Reach, which he and I played previously. I was looking forward to playing this as I finally got a chance to see what the hype was about. I missed out on Halo during it's prime in the early 2000s as I didn't own an XBox. I remember being at a friend's house way way back in High School where we played a little bit of the co-op campaign for Halo 2 but that was about the only exposure to the franchise. I remember it being huge though. People were constantly talking about it. Halo, along with the Call of Duty franchise starting with Modern Warfare, was the prime FPS of the day. It's multiplayer in particular made it one of the go to games for the Xbox, putting the console on the map. It has a following that goes strong even to this day! However, with the success of the game and as the series went on, there was inevitably a backlash. This was apparent among more classical FPS fans who said that Halo helped consolized shooters with it's more slower movement, being forced to only hold two weapons at a time and a regenerating shield that made you having to find cover to wait for it to recharge. It also became the face of souless, corporate game development that seemed to be made for profit, especially with Halo 4 appearing on the now infamous image of Geoff Keigley.

Halo: Combat Evolved-from the perspective of an old-school FPS fan.-hqdefault-jpg

Now that Halo: Combat Evolved has been finally released on the PC thanks to the Master Chief collection, I finally got to play it for myself. Halo: Reach, as I alluded to earlier, was really the first Halo game I beat but I wanted to really have a go at this just because I wanted to form my opinion on it as someone who prefers the more frantic, fast-paced stylings of more classic shooters like Doom and Quake. Does the game deserve the heaps of praise it gets? Is it an overhyped game that only got there due to game journalists giving it high scores? Does it stand tall alongside it's FPS breatheren? Well, first things first I have to say is...

I like this game. It's pretty darn good as a matter of fact. It's a solid, well made first person shooter that offers a really good time

I guess the best place to start is just the style and setting of the game. Halo paints a pretty cool universe with a cool sci-fi war story. If Doom took it's inspiration from heavy metal albums, then Halo seems to take it's inspiration from military themed sci-fi stories like Starship Troopers, Aliens, The Forever War, and the book Armor by John Streakley. The Aliens influence is especially apparent, with the dropships looking similar to the ones from the movie and there's even a character who is basically Sgt. Apone. The art direction of this game is superb. I like the military tech designs and the world of Halo itself is just gorgeous. The vivid colors and the lush, earth like environments is just a sight to behold, especially when you play it with the remastered graphics. I always loved how you'd see pieces of the halo when you look up at the sky. It's especially cool in the stage "The Silent Cartographer" when you're on the beach seeing Halo in the sky as it kind of reminds me of the poster for the sci-fi movie "The Quiet Earth".

Halo: Combat Evolved-from the perspective of an old-school FPS fan.-mv5bmwnly2uxywutztiwms00nmfjltg3m2etm2q3mwrmzjiwywzil2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc1ntyymjg-jpg

I don't know if it's a deliberate homage but I thought it was a nice touch. In fact, some of the settings and aliens look like something you'd see on the cover of a science fiction novel from the 70s and 80s. It has a more stylized, almost surreal look at times, certainly a step up from the brown, gritty warzones that littered the FPS landscape during that time. On that same level, when you go underground and you see the insides of the halo and it's ginormous! It's almost like looking at a city underground almost and it just seems to stretch for miles. If there's anything the game excels at, it's the art design.

The story is OK. It's not bad but it's nothing to really write home about. None of the characters really stood out, except for Cortana who serves as Master Chief's snarky side-kick and then 343 guilty spark who reminded me of Gwen Khan if he were a drone for some reason. It's really just there to give you motivation to kill aliens. Perhaps the story gets more in depth in later games but it didn't really wow me here.

And now we move on to gameplay. The gunplay is a good place to start off with. It's good. The sounds aren't anything outstanding but they give the guns enough oomph to make it sound satisfying. I particularly like the assault rifle as it makes some cool sparks around the enemies as you fire it (Don't know if this is something exclusive with the remastered graphics). The feedback to them is decent with some decent death animations so the enemies can feel bullet spongey from time to time. The guns look cool too. I particularly liked the designs for the assault rifle and the shotgun. The covenant weapons are good as well. I usually use the needler as it can make quick work on some of the more tougher enemies.

Speaking from enemies, they have some really nice AI. They track you down if you try to hide, and they dodge and hit the deck when you chuck a grenade at them. I know it doesn't sound exciting but it does keep you on your toes in battle. The environments are nice and big, which is impressive. I don't like how some of the levels have sections of it that seemed cut and paced. Like, you'll go through several rooms that look exactly the same which can disorient you and make you feel lost. This is especially apparent on "Assault on the Control room" and "The Library stages".

I guess the biggest issue for me is the regenerating shield mechanic. I've always preferred health packs in FPS games as it encourages you to be smart with your health and, as long as you stay mobile, you can stay in the fight much longer. With the regenerating shield, you would need to try to find cover long enough for the shield to regenerate. You do have a health bar that you can refill with medpacks but they're sparse so you'll be leaning on your shield and if it goes out, and it most certainly will in the later stages of the game, you're left trying to scramble for cover trying to get a breather so your shield can regenerate and it feels like it takes forever for it to decide to replenish itself. Combined with the big, wide open areas, your not given much to take cover in so you just end up taking it in the pooper. In short, this game has not changed my mind on the whole health packs vs. regenerating health debate.

I was also longing for a faster movement speed. I know some may argue that Master Chief is supposed to be a walking tank so he wont be super fast but I remember many times in battle thinking that I could dodge a lot of these attacks better if I didn't run like I had weights attached to my legs. It's not too bad in the levels with tighter spaced corridors but being out in the open having to tend with tanks and the like, I was really longing for something faster to better dodge incoming projectiles.

My final complaint is that the vehicles in the game are ass. Now, maybe it's one of those things where it controls better with a controller but my goodness, operating the vehicles in the game with a mouse and keyboard was dreadful. You used the mouse to to steer and holy damn it got awkward as fuck. The warthog specifically I knew was really out of control and it made the final level of the game even more frustrating since you were racing against a timer.

Despite my gripes, I still had a good time. So to answer some of my earlier questions, would I say this game is on par with the all time greats? IMO, no. I think there are other shooters that are far superior in terms of gameplay and level design and it doesn't stack up to the classic first person shooters of yesteryear like Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3d and the like. I would even say that there are better console shooters (The Timesplitters trilogy, Black, Turok, Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark) out there. I would say I overall agree with the sentiment that the hype is overblown.

Now, does the game deserve the animosity that gets directed towards it? Hell no. I know it gets lumped in with Call of Duty for ruining the FPS games for most of the 2000s but honestly if you think about it, most of the stupid crap that developers tried to copy at that time were from Call of Duty like scripted events, aim down sights, uber linear levels that only exist to take you to the next scripted sequence. There weren't many games that tried to copy Halo's formula. Taking that into account, Halo was the superior FPS of that era. CoD was nothing more than a glorified movie that you'd only play through once before you forgot it existed and just hopped on the multiplayer. Despite the issues it had, at least Halo was more interested in being a game that gave you plenty of content and actually had some thought put into it's gameplay.

I know I said quite a lot about it and there's more I can go into but I think I've made my thoughts clear. At the end of the day, I enjoyed my time with Halo and it's made me interested in playing some more co-op and even trying out the later games as soon as they get released on steam. Sure, it may not do it as well as some of the other shooters but that doesn't mean that it's not worth your time. Don't go in expecting God's gift to humanity and don't compare it the the shooters of yore. Go into it expecting a satisfying shooter with a really cool setting. And honestly, that's good enough to be A-OK in my book.