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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Gearbox Software

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

September 2003

 

- The “game of the year” for the Xbox is finally on the PC

- New online multiplayer, maps, weapons, and vehicles

- Great graphics and gameplay

 

 

- Not as smooth as the Xbox version

- Requires a high-end system to experience no slowdown

- Feels rushed and disjointed

 

 

Review: Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)

Review: Unreal Tournament 2003 (PC)

Review: Vietcong (PC)

Action Figure: Master Chief (Halo)

 

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Halo: Combat Evolved

Score: 8.2 / 10

 

The “Game of the Year” for the Xbox two years ago, and for all consoles, has finally landed on its original home, the PC. First slated as a Mac game, Halo turned directions when Bungie decided that the PC might be a better home. Then, with the announcement of the Xbox, Microsoft bought the publishing and developing rights to the game and turned it into an Xbox exclusive. PC fans were crushed having seen the game that was the catalyst to revive PC gaming, go onto the Xbox and become a bestseller. The two year wait is finally over, and fans of Halo have been expecting a lot of the PC port. With new weapons, new maps, and multiplayer, Halo has certainly found its way back home.

 

halo-combat-evolved-1.jpg (166670 bytes)          halo-combat-evolved-2.jpg (119495 bytes)

 

At first glance Halo looks exactly the same as the Xbox version. In almost every aspect it is, except for some minor changes. The single player revolves around the same story of the Covenant invading a marine spaceship ultimately causing the Master Chief (the character you control) to go battering down onto a mysterious “halo” shaped world. On this world he is forced to discover it's origins, while at the same time fighting off a swarming fleet of alien soldiers with only a few marines still alive.

 

In terms of gameplay, Halo is almost identical to any other FPS you have played in recent memory. The few aspects that set it apart are its style, tempo, and intelligent enemy AI. The Covenant will take cover behind anything that will protect them from your weapons, and will roll or jump aside from grenades you toss their way. This adds a challenge to your typical FPS game, making every level just as hard as the one before. To take out this pesky, smart, and ugly Covenant, you need a full arsenal of weapons. The same weapons from the Xbox version are carried over, left untainted, but there are a couple of surprises. On the Human end, there is a new flamethrower. This baby will burn anything in a 20 foot radius, but watch out, if you don’t use it wisely, you might turn yourself into a kabob. For the Covenant, is a counter of the human rocket launcher. The Covenant version fires rapid rounds of huge shells that will have anyone flying above your heads if hit directly. Both these weapons are essential to the multiplayer games, when you have three or four master chiefs running towards you.

 

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There are no new vehicles, but an addition to vehicles to the multiplayer. The highly popular banshee (enemy flying vehicle) can be used in some of the multiplayer levels, as is a new type of jeep, where a rocket launcher replaces the typical machine gun turret.

 

The graphics of Halo made it one of the best looking games on the Xbox, even to  this day, and PC gamers expected no less. Unfortunately, PC gamers' hopes have 

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been dashed again. The graphics look clearer than those on the Xbox, but are jaggier overall. Unless you have a super-computer with a top of the line video card, expect frequent slowdown in the more hectic fight sequences. Though the graphics are far better than your average PC game, it can be a burden on your system.

 

The most acclaimed aspect of Halo has to be the wonderful soundtrack. Regarded by some as the best video game soundtrack of all time, the developers didn’t cut any corners when producing their awesome sound. With a full orchestra, madrigal singers, and one of the best composers in video game history, every track will live with you forever.

 

Gunshots, vehicle sounds, and other tedious sound bytes make the futuristic setting come to life. The roar of the tank, the buzz of the jeep, and the sudden whiz of the banshee add the right amount of ambiance to an action game. As for the weapons, only the word “standard” can best describe the noises with only a few exceptions to the Covenant alien weapons, which sound just the way they shoot. 

 

halo-combat-evolved-3.jpg (112480 bytes)          halo-combat-evolved-4.jpg (116457 bytes)

 

The voice acting livens the gameplay on the battlefield. With a diverse group of soldiers that carry different accents (Australian, Mexican, etc.) you’ll always hear either something different. That doesn’t only go for the marines, but the Covenant as well. You’ll hear the little grunts yell: “They’re everywhere!”, or (my favorite) “Ahhhhh!” It certainly adds a different dimension to Halo, and one that made the game stand apart from the rest.

 

Now onto the subject that would either make or break the PC version of Halo: The multiplayer. After seeing a glimpse of Halo in action at E3, I stood with my jaw on the floor in awe, waiting for its arrival on the PC. As promised, the multiplayer features up to 16 players online, with new weapons, vehicles, and maps. Gamers will have mixed emotions about the multiplayer, and it’s hard for me to take a stand. If you play Halo online chances are you will have a lot of lag, that is a given. The lag varies from server to server, and it can be a splinter for the game, but not so much as to leave the game entirely. This is a problem that is being attended to regularly by the Gearbox crew, for there was a patch released on the day the game hit store shelves. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the multiplayer will get better; just give it some more time before we start seeing smooth gameplay.

 

Halo for the PC is everything that PC gamers want in a first person shooter, but a bit of a failure to those Xbox gamers waiting for the multiplayer. Regardless, Halo is an excellent game filled with aliens blowing up, marines screaming for backup, running over helpless grunt with a jeep, and of course, smacking someone upside the head with a rocket launcher.

 

- Eric Lahiji

(October 21, 2003)

 

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