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PC Reviews: Halo - Combat Evolved

Originally when Xbox came out I really did not see a reason to get one….then I started learning about this really intense ultra cool game called Halo. Now there are plenty of good titles for the Xbox but back then, Halo was the only reason to want an Xbox.  

Now after years of development the port to the PC platform has come. Don’t get me wrong here; I really enjoyed Halo on the Xbox. But my anticipation peaked when word came that the game would be coming to the PC. When it comes to first person shooters I am just a PC kind of guy. 

Gearbox’s version of Bungie’s creation does a true transfer of the original campaign from Xbox to PC. It also ads some real kick to it with its multiplayer elements and altered controls for PC.  Halo: Combat Evolved just has to be in any true first person shooter fans collection. 

Now that Bungie has ported Halo over to the PC my hands started twitching to get some adventure in all over again, and this time to even try out its newest features, Multiplayer online. 

Unless you have been in some other dimension or in a coma some place you should already know about Halo. But for those who have not made the plunge to ultimate gaming pleasure and partaken in a Halo-rific adventure let me give you the low down on this title. 

The back story reads like the standard Science Fiction action fare one comes to expect from high end entertainment of this genre. 

The year is 2552. Planet Earth still exists, but overpopulation has forced many of her former residents to colonize other worlds. Faster-than-light travel is now a reality, and Earth's unified government, through the United Nations Space Command, has put its full weight behind the colonization effort; millions of humans now live on habitable planets in other solar systems. A keystone of humanity's colonization efforts is the planet Reach, an interstellar naval yard that builds colony ships for civilians and warships for the UNSC's armed forces. Conveniently close to Earth, Reach is also a hub of scientific and military activity.

Thirty-two years ago, contact with the outer colony Harvest was lost. A battlegroup sent to investigate was almost completely destroyed; only one badly damaged ship returned to Reach. Its crew told of a seemingly unstoppable alien warship that had effortlessly annihilated their forces.

This was humankind's first encounter with a group of aliens they eventually came to know as the Covenant, a collective of alien races united in their fanatical religious devotion. Covenant religious elders declared humanity an affront to the gods, and the Covenant warrior caste waged a holy war upon humanity with gruesome diligence.

After a series of crushing defeats and obliterated colonies, UNSC Admiral Preston Cole established the Cole Protocol: no vessel may inadvertently lead the Covenant to Earth. When forced to withdraw, ships must avoid Earth-bound vectors -- even if that means jumping without proper navigational calculations. Vessels in danger of capture must self-destruct.

On Reach, a secret military project to create cyborg super-soldiers takes on newfound importance. The soldiers of the SPARTAN-II project rack up an impressive record against the Covenant in test deployments, but there are too few of them to turn the tide of the war.

Existing SPARTAN-II soldiers are recalled to Reach for further augmentation. The plan: board a Covenant vessel with the improved SPARTAN-IIs and learn the location of the Covenant home world. Two days before the mission begins, Covenant forces strike Reach and annihilate the colony. The Covenant is now on Earth’s doorstep. One ship, the Pillar of Autumn, escapes with the last SPARTAN-II and makes a blind jump into deep space, hoping to lead the Covenant away from Earth.

Now in the thick of it, the player is in the battle suit of the Master Chief  and into battle your flung with just a couple of minutes to really even get the feel of your battle suit.

The Pillar Of Autumn is attacked and crash lands on a planet, you and several other Marines make it off only to find your selves being hunted. The tides of war change on and off in this game, and The Master Chief and the Marines are soon fighting a full blown war.

The environments of the game are just spectacular, from the inside of massive space ships to the surface of the ring world and into the deepest recesses of Halo itself the first person action is just non stop and heavy with tension. Using some really incredible weapons and vehicles found through out the game makes it possible to get along in the levels and to uncover the true secrets of Halo.

The main enemy is the group of Aliens known as The Covenant. The creatures you end up seeing in this group seem to grow in aggressiveness, skill and toughness. In this order the weakest being The Grunts. These are almost comical in nature. Their antics when running for their lives gives some interesting comic relief. The Jackals are the next types, these sport some kind of energy shield that they deploy for cover and seem to use plasma pistols a lot. The tougher aliens are the ones called The Elites. They get that name I guess for a darn good reason because they move very fast and are hard to target. They are also very strong and are not above pounding you a few times when in close. They have a full body energy shield which makes them that much harder to take down. The absolute toughest ones seem to be the Hunters. They carry a metal shield and use a fuel rod gun that really packs a wallop. A few hits from this thing and you’re done for.

Other kinds of beings you as the Master Chief run into is a group of beings called the flood. These you just have to see to believe. If you played the game then these won’t be a huge surprise to you. If you have not…well I will not ruin it for you. Suffice to say they have earned the name indeed and it is almost hard to decide who the bigger threat is.

Let’s cut to the meat of the matter shall we?  The main campaign is pretty awesome and is worth the go round again even if you have played the Xbox version.  The big reason for getting and playing Halo on the PC is the multi player support.  The original Halo game offered some form of multiplayer, but that was only by way of split screen or hooking up multiple Xbox systems via an Ethernet or Xbox system link cable. While fun it does not compare to the PC versions full internet multiplayer options.

A good choice of game play options and game maps blasts Halo to a whole new level and brings it online. Six new maps are now available on top of the classic maps that where on the Xbox version.  The six new maps seem to be well designed with tactical considerations in mind. Choke points and defensive positions are a plenty in several of the maps. In particular the placement of and use of vehicles makes things all the more exciting in the multiplayer mayhem. One of my favorite vehicles being the Rocket Launcher Warthog. This two person vehicle can cause some real damage to enemy positions if used just right. One thing that it seems could not be resisted in the game though was adding a flamethrower. While I love roasting a fellow player, it would have been nice to see a little more done with this type of weapon. Perhaps in the method of delivery of the death dealing flames. But hey that’s just me.

The last couple of notes to be made about Halo for the PC deal with the sweet sound, the controls and last but not least the performance on the PC.

I for one just love being able to be so much more precise in my controls now. A combination of my track ball mouse and keyboard makes my game play oh so much more enjoyable. That combined with the awesome sounds pumping out in 5.1 surround sound. Nothing like hearing marine chatter on either side of you as enemy fire explodes past you. The sound is just right with out being too load. It just matches the environment of the game and the music. All combined you are in a science fiction action film and there is no escape. That is the kind of game I just love.

Now with such awesome graphics thumping along and you being the ultimate game lover, you know there is some trade off to be made. While some people have reported lag in the campaign and really noticeable frame rate slow downs, I am telling you this game can still be playable and enjoyable. Now it is very true that there are so many different types of system out there. No one can anticipate them all. The best bet is to play with the setting a bit for the game and come up with a happy medium for you and your own system. It is also a good idea to maybe get to know your video card. If you got a bargain basement $40.00 (US) video card…forget it. You are not going to see much improvement in performance. I would suggest the old try before you buy attitude, the demo version is available now on line. But I have to tell you…you will be hooked. So many times a console game that is ported to the PC is less than stellar. Halo thankfully seems to have made the jump rather well. While it is a hot rod and should be handled as such with some high performance machines… Halo combat evolved is a must have and its evolution to the PC is very welcome indeed.

Have fun, Play Games.

Edwin Millheim

The Final Say!


Halo: Combat Evolved
 reviewed by Edwin Milheim
Review Score: 9.3/10 
Distributor: Microsoft

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