Overall Rating: 5/5
A long time ago in a galaxy we are vaguely familiar with, before Halo was a household name, the “first-person shooter” was a genre thought best reserved for PC gaming, on excellent original titles such as Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, and others to come. Eventually, home consoles proved they could pull it off as well, with the smash megahit Goldeneye for Nintendo 64. This launched the viability of more quality FPS titles, like the TimeSplitters series or Perfect Dark.
Then came the Microsoft Xbox system, which needed a “killer app” to gain popularity over long-established video game producers such as Sony. A “killer app” is an item that, although it is not the base itself, even as an accessory it drives sales. Halo would become this needed piece of the puzzle for Microsoft in the treacherous landscape of the video game industry, and boy what a piece of work it was.
Following the epic, involved, rich, fulfilling adventure of the main character Master Chief, the player navigates multiple missions in single-player mode based around a massive space locale called Halo. Blasting aliens and never revealing the face behind his yellow visor, Chief is the perfect hero, and is given a multitude of awe-inspiring weapons at his arsenal’s disposal. Yet, while the single-player quest is great, it is the multiplayer mode where this title truly shines, with perfectly developed arenas, modes, and all-out fun in store for gamers everywhere.
Honed to a sublime flawlessness, the appearance of the game provided an immersive experience, whether the environment was an Arctic-like expanse or the harsh jungles of a strange planetary setting. The guns themselves looked sharp when they were in front of you, weapon fire was glorious, and the nonstop action was delivered smoothly.
The soundtrack was obviously taken seriously in this game’s creation, as Halo boasts orchestral mixes of its tracks, along with many selections that perfectly fit the mood of their given situations. The effects themselves are fantastic as well, with every example exquisitely effective: Gunfire, death knells, impacts, explosions, all of it, is rendered powerfully and crisply.
Creativity and Innovation
Although the first-person shooter had, by then, been done many times before, Halo took the formula and raised the bar for all future attempts. The storyline, both detailed yet easy enough to follow, was probably the primary source of innovation, along with the weapons (the Needler being a great example). Otherwise, it was an unabashed FPS; but really, in this case, that was a good thing.
Overall, the popularity of Halo speaks for itself. For single-handedly making the Xbox a must-have system, for spawning successful sequels, for practically reinventing the FPS genre, and for being flat-out tons of fun, Halo firmly earns a perfect score of five stars out of five.