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In the future, mankind is fighting a desperate battle for survival against a coalition of alien races known as The Covenant. You are a specialized cyborg warrior, assigned to the Pillar of Autumn. It’s mission, to find the ring world called Halo. Once found, the Autumn is suddenly attacked, forcing it to crash land on Halo and you, along with the ship’s AI, Cortana, must piece together the mysteries of Halo and stop the Covenant at all costs.
The first time you snag each different vehicle is its own perverse thrill, but the overall high point would definitely have to be the last shoot-out in the Pillar of Autumn‘s engine room. Challenging, not difficult.
I didn’t like the final level. Ridiculously hard in comparison to the rest of the game. A bit of a let down and I just didn’t care for the Warthog. Another dull sequence was The Library. Follow probe, kill, repeat.
Originality is a mixed bag here. It is a shooter, like so many before it, but the addition of vehicles makes it just a little different. I’d say 4 out of 6.
The story isn’t really complex, but it isn’t terrible either. Compared to most shooters it’s downright awesome. I give it a 4 out of 6.
The graphics are mind blowing. Sure, they’ll be crushed by Doom III next year, but this has got to be some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen on a console. Different architectures mark each different area (Halo, Covenant, and Human).
Character animations are well done, the aliens truely sharp and cool-looking. When you have a chance to admire them (i.e. when they aren’t wishing you immediate, painful death) do so. A brilliant 5 out of 6.
The sound from the Xbox console is some of the best I’ve ever heard. If you’ve got a nice surround sound system, you can scare the willies out of yourself in 5.1 Dolby. Aliens speak, computers beep, and the music…well it’s very nice. Ranging from haunting chorale to techno, the developers know exactly how to set the right mood. Top marks, 6 out of 6.
I was unsure of how playable this game would be. I’ve never much cared for consoles, especially shooters on consoles. Fortunately there’s a slow curve for learning the controls before getting yourself wasted by angry hordes of alien invaders. It seems like every shooter now takes a page from Valve’s Half-Life, but this time they’ve worked your training into the story. Very smooth. The major drawback is the Warthog. This thing sucks rocks. Freaking impossible to drive in most any situation. All the other vehicles are great, however, so don’t let this discourage you too much. I give it a 4 out of 6.
This game has complete immersion. The atmosphere, the dialogue, the architecture and the music. It’s the complete package. Cortana keeps the game mood and tempo perfect, while giving you just enough information to keep you from frustrating yourself needlessly. An easy 5 out of 6.
Overall, I have to say this is one of the best games I’ve ever played, and arguably the best shooter around. And I haven’t even had a chance to tackle the multiplayer aspects of the game. The game’s a year old, but the Xbox live features should breathe even more life into this title when that becomes available. I don’t own an Xbox (I borrowed one from a friend) and this game has convinced me to go out and get one. That’s impressive. 5 out of 6.
Total: 33 out of 42