Halo Heresy

By Shamus
on Dec 2, 2006
Filed under:
Game Reviews
Edit: August 19, 2010. I wrote this article years ago, at the end of 2006. At the time, I had no idea about the flame war over Halo. I thought everyone loved the game and so I felt the need to express what a profound disappointment it was. Now I see that the stuff I said below has been said a thousand times before and this article is basically unintentional flame bait.

Yeah. I didn’t think Halo was fun at all, but this is hardly a radical position. After a couple of years with an Xbox 360 I’ve had a great deal of fun with console titles, but console shooters still don’t appeal to me. It’s like playing a round of golf with a rake instead of clubs. It just feels wrong.

Read on if you must, but this isn’t going to say anything new.

Below is pure heresy. I suppose I will be excommunicated from various gamer forums, and no doubt I’ll be censured by all right-thinking folks, but let me just nail this thesis to the door of EB Games, and then you guys can do whatever you feel you need to do in response. Here it is: Halo is one of the worst FPS I’ve ever played.

So I’m going to burn through a few paragraphs and get this out of my system. The rest of this post is just going to be me beating on that long-dead horse, so I suggest you skip it. Maybe check out this great bit on Unreal Tournament 2008.

Really. Halo came out in 2001. Why would you want to read about it now?


Fine. Let’s get this over with.

When it came out it was a game filled with magical new technology. I played it a couple of years later, after the technology had gone stale. Without the OMG grafix d00d!!! to gush over, all I had left to amuse me were little things like plot, characterization, and gameplay. Judged on these criteria, the game was an appalling joke, a sad mess, and a grotesque waste of everyone’s time. It was a game where I fought the same enemy, over and over, for two hours at a stretch. A game where no matter where I was or what I was doing, I always had the wrong weapon for the job. A game where I ran down the same blocky corridor half a dozen times before the game would relent and give me something new to look at…

Such as the same corridor, only now with a new texture! Whoopie!

The whole thing had just enough plot to fill about ten minutes of screen time. The characters had all the depth and personality of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde.

The plot was clumsy and manipulative. Consider when the Computer Lady starts screaming at you to “hurry up! Go! Stop them now!” but never once utters even the slightest hint as to why you need to stop them, how you should stop them, or what scale of a problem you might be dealing with. It would have taken twenty seconds to fill the player in on the nature and scale of the problem, but of course that would have “given away” the appallingly mundane twist the game was using for suspense. It becomes even more Uwe Bollish when you realize that you had a long flight between that conversation and your arrival at the site. Don’t we have radios? She couldn’t spend thirty seconds on a quick call?

Then later she gets angry because you don’t know what’s going on. Great. Put me on rails and then castigate me for the direction I’m headed. There are fourteen year old kids running D&D campaigns who know better than that.

I’ve never played a game that was so flagrant and excessive about re-using scenery. While I was following that annoying little flying robot around, I was constantly feeling lost and confused. Wait. I’ve been here, man. Did I get turned around and backtrack? Everyone makes jokes about the old spaghetti westerns where the hero rides west and passes the same rock ten times. Now add a scene where a bandit jumps out from behind the rock every time the hero rides by. That’s Halo right there.

The only good thing that ever came out of Halo: Red vs. Blue.

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20209Feeling chatty? There are 49 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. the_Corruptor says:

    I have to say you’re not the only one who felt that way. I played halo when it was new, although not for terribly long, and I said. Well, I see no story here, and it’s nothing special for a 3d shooter, why am I playing this again?

    True, the graphics were nice. True, it was not ‘bad’ gameplay. This does not mean that the gameplay is good, just that it could have been far, far worse.

  2. Interesting post. Personally, I never got into Halo multiplayer action for the reasons you mention: Geometrically uninteresting level design and limited gameplay. But I loved the single player campaign for its plot and epic scope.

  3. wildweasel says:

    I would have to agree with every single point of yours. And you know what? Halo 2 is even worse in those regards – the plot makes little to no sense whatsoever, the areas still look too similar to each other, and more often than not, I would always end up going the wrong way and waste several hours trying to get back to where I was supposed to be.

    Not to mention every single weapon in the game sucks. There are no weapons that actually feel useful.

    I’m an FPS junkie. I was raised on Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Even THOSE games are better than the Halos.

  4. If “Red vs. Blue” was the best thing to come out of Halo, then it must be awful indeed. I just watched one episode of it; ye gods what dreck.

    Waaah! I really miss “Concerned”! Come back to us, Gordon Frohman! Come back with a sequel!

  5. Bogan says:

    Oh thank god I’m not alone in this. Of course when I tell people Halo sucks they usually say “Oh everyone just plays it for the multiplayer”, but that sucks too because the levels are boring and basically you get a rifle or pistol and that’s about it. Oh yeah and a rocket launcher sometimes, but you know what that is an over used weapon anyway. As for Halo 2 the only thing they did to improve it was add a super sword that can one hit kill. Apparently these things are the awesome for those poor saps with an X-box. On the bright side Halo 3 might get its graphics factor back since it’ll end up on the 360. All I know is that if that’s considered the best X-box got than I’m glad I didn’t blow the money.

  6. LafinJack says:

    Steve, be sure to watch RvB from the beginning. The later episodes are purposely convoluted for humor reasons that can be hard to understand even if you follow it, and there are many, many, many in-jokes and references to previous episodes.

  7. supermank17 says:

    In my opinion, Halo wasn’t a spectacular FPS. Plot was so-so, and the levels, as you mentioned, were quite repetitive. It had two things in its favor, however. One, it allowed Co-op mode. Very few games even today allow you to play a game through with a friend, which I really enjoy. Two, the multiplayer, while not spectacular for a PC FPS, was really easy to spontaneously set up with friends. You don’t have to lug computers all over to each other’s place, you just have to plop down in front of the TV.
    Also, I will say that I liked the limitation of only carrying two weapons; it forced you to make compromises and think about your next move.

  8. ShadoStahker says:

    Supermank hit on something I was going to mention as well. While it was a barely decent FPS, it was one of the first FPSs on a console to have a passable (online) multiplayer.

    Truthfully, I consider Halo to be a vehicle to promote Xbox Live, rather than a game.

  9. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    the weapons suck it’s as simple as that. I really hate the guys who think they are hot stuff because they rock a mediocre FPS. And I hate how G4 and X-play worship that rubish.

  10. Wonderduck says:

    Episode 3 of RvB, I believe, is the episode to watch if you’re only going to watch one.

    Don’t remember which one that is? One word hint: “Chupathingie.”

  11. Bogan says:

    hehe…that was a good one.

  12. Spider says:

    I was a big fan of HALO and HALO 2, but I got both of them pretty close to release and HALO really started me down a path of having regular LAN parties. Needless to say, I have a ton of great memories associated to both of them. HALO doesn’t suck, but it suffers from what I call Forest Gump syndrome.

    I didn’t see Forest Gump until it came out on video. By that time everyone was quoting the movie and talkign about how great it was. So, by the time I sat down to watch it I was expecting something really incredible. Truth was it doesn’t suck, but the movie certainly wasn’t what it was made out to be. I was so disappointed I started calling people asking them why they had told me this film was so good. In the end I hated it.

    All that to say. I understand what you are saying, but your perspectve has been skewed.

  13. Alan De Smet says:

    Damn right! Whenever I hear an Xbox weenie tell me how brilliant and innovative the original Halo was, I want to smack them for their embarrassing ignorance of first person shooters. I’d been playing FPS games of that quality or better for years. The original Halo (I haven’t played the later ones) was highly repetitive. It has the worst case of “welcome to the army, here’s your grossly underpowered standard issue weapon that you’ll ditch at the first opportunity” of the era. The idea of limiting your weapon selection is a good one, but it was executed in a deeply flawed way, frequently leaving you with the wrong weapons at the wrong time. And I find it pretty to take interstellar war seriously when the enemies front line grunts are runaround screaming like muppets on too much caffeine.

    Halo had some good things: the outdoor scenes were pretty nice looking. All in all the graphics were nice (if repetitive). I hear the multiplayer was solid. But none of these are enough to make Halo quite the gift from the heavens it was hailed as. Those of us who were playing PC based FPSs had those things for some time, thanks.

    Halo had one and only one killer feature: it set the standard for console FPS controls. A gamepad is a terrible interface to a FPS game. Keyboard and gouse trumps it for speed and accuracy. Medal of Honor and friends showed that fun gameplay with a gamepad was possible, but it did so primarily by making the game really slow paced. Halo showed that high speed gameplay, the sort PC gamers had for years, was possible. I don’t really know what they did to make it work, but Halo was the closest to actual keyboard and mouse combat I’ve ever had on a console. I still prefer keyboard and mouse (and am intrigued by the idea of Wii remote and nunchuck), but Halo revealed that I could play the sort of games I love on a console with only a modest sacrifice.

    So there you go, Halo’s one cutting edge feature is that it had the least-sucky interface of any console FPS. It’s an important step forward, but it’s hardly the second coming.

  14. Fred says:

    YOU’RE MISSING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

    The game is extremely fun to play with other people, and the controls are perfect (no stupid goldeneye controls), allowing anybody to sit on the couch and at least have fun losing. That is why people love it so damn much, not because they give a shit about vertex shaders or being able to carry a retarded amount of weapons.

  15. Shamus says:

    Ok so I see from several comments that multiplayer is the big draw here. That explains why this game is loved. If I didn’t have a multi-PC LAN I guess that aspect of the game would have gotten a glace from me.

    Still, I bought the game for the single player, and that part was… lacking in every way imaginable.

    • BmB says:

      It was only the big draw since Halo 2 pretty much revolutionized online gaming. Xbox Live and such.

      Before that, it was a lan party here and there and some splitscreen action. But it got big on- believe it or not, the story.

      Which you clearly didn’t pay any attention to if you heft yourself on tiny weeny issues like if you liked the texture in a spot or if you felt one moment was a tiny bit contrived.

      This game you are talking about here, it must be pretty bad.
      But it aint no Halo I ever played.
      No complaint you made had any correlation with reality from my point of view.

        • BmB says:

          Real mature in defending your position there aren’t you?

          • Shamus says:

            You’re all pouty because I don’t like a game you like. This thread is four years old. I’ve written thousands of words about Halo since then. (Some nice, some not.) Another flame from another Halo fanboy in a dead thread is not a wise way to spend my time.

            • BmB says:

              I’m not flaming you. But you seem reasonable and I’d like to know what otherworldly force would compell anyone to dislike the one game I’ve liked the most of all time.

              I haven’t understood that yet.

              • Shamus says:

                You’re going to see a lot of this. People don’t like the same stuff. No matter how much you love a thing, it won’t make other people love it.

                I didn’t like Halo because:

                * I didn’t care about the multiplayer. Having come from the competitive shooters of the 90′s, the multiplay wasn’t new or interesting for me.
                * The extreme repetitiveness of the scenery was tiresome.
                * The story was pretty lame. (Although the setting is still interesting and strong enough to support the later, more complex games.)
                * It just wasn’t fun for me.

                Gaming has everything from Serious Sam to Farmville. Diversity of taste is a beautiful thing. Getting mad or upset because people aren’t into your stuff is a recipe for spending your life and a long series of pointless arguments.

            • BmB says:

              That’s incredibly ignorant. I like it for a reason that can be understood. You dislike it for a reason that can be understood. But I don’t understand that reason so it seems it is simply because you don’t understand the reason why everyone loves it. You don’t “get” it.

              In fact I don’t think you “get” why you don’t like it. Bullet points are all nice and dandy but the final one really epitomizes it. “It just wasn’t fun for me.” Why? It’s a cop out to replace a reason you don’t understand.

              So all this time you’ve been writing these thousands of words about a game you don’t like without really knowing why you don’t like it.

              Nearly everything you’ve racked on I can say good things about.
              Why?

  16. Telas says:

    This is like listening to my art-house friends watch “Conan”. “It’s an endless string of cliches.” “Oh yeah, good acting, Arnie!” “You can see him throw his own blood!” “Oh God, this music again!” “Who wrote this POS?”

    I lost hours of my life to Halo. It wasn’t even the multiplayer aspect that I liked… It was a game where you could turn off your brain, or at least turn it down for a bit, and blow the crap out of stuff. Minimal FedEx missions, no stupid “multiple choice” conversations, no nearly-impossible boss battles. And lots of eye candy for a console (at the time).

    Yeah, there were repetitive maps, textures, etc. And yeah, it was a railroad plot from hell. And yes, the bad guys were goofy, but I still chuckle when you hit one of the little ones with a plasma grenade, and love driving the hedgehogs around.

    Comparing it to a PC game is unreasonable. Sure, you get better graphics, controls, and more options out of a PC, but your “console” will cost you close to $2000.

    It was a fun-to-play console game that appealed to huge swaths of the market. That’s it; nothing more. Comparing Halo with Return to Castle Wolfenstein is about as useful as comparing Conan to Lord of the Rings.

  17. Morrinn says:

    Wow… And here I was beliving I was the only one…
    I’m beginning to think the whole raging Halo fan community is just a ruse by MS to appear to be actually liked…

  18. Patrick says:

    Really late adding a comment here, but I wanted to say it. Halo and Halo 2 are the only First Person Shooters that I have ever really enjoyed singleplayer. Yes, I admit the plot sucks, and the areas can be repetitive. But the controls were great, and I had a lot of fun killing massive numbers of enemies. Maybe it is my lack of experience talking, but I don’t understand the complaints about the weapons. Halo 2 had some really cool weapons, and Halo’s weren’t too bad.

    Plus, Co-op rocks.

  19. DaveJ says:

    Soon as Halo was out I knew it was crap. I was a pc gamer and all my friends had xboxes. Very sad time.

  20. nick says:

    Hey.

    I personally strongly disagree with your take on Halo. Though I have to thank you first; it is extraordinarily refreshing to see someone who dislikes Halo, and outlines exactly why they hate it, instead of just saying “LOL HALOSUCKSLOL U DONT KNO WUT FUN GAMEZ RLOLOLOLOL”, or something along those lines.

    Anyway, firstly, you say that they recycle textures of environment (in artificial environments). Yeah, that’s true. But I find it to be effective in adding realism to the artificial rooms and corridors. It isn’t like designers of rooms and corridors deliberately make each room unique-looking in outright design, they make rooms uniform. At least in my experience. Each natural setting seemed unique to me. And also, each setting and area had different external influential bits of scenery (for example, debris, vehicles, wrecks, dead guys) that made them unique, and each experience in each area different. You see, if you play the game on Legendary difficulty, or perhaps even Heroic, you’ll realise that it is near-impossible to go through shooting anything that moves with all enemy shots bouncing off you, like you can do in Easy or Normal. You do need a strong sense of guerilla tactics and usage of cover to survive. The only exception to this is The Library (the level where you follow the annoying, gay little floating robot thing around) constantly shotgunning Flood as they come at you through endless, identical corridors. I agree wholeheartedly with you there; that level was utter and complete bullshit. However, all other levels in Heroic or Legendary needed tactical sense and planning to overcome. This is also aided by the AI of the game, which is effective (enemies throw grenades, take cover and outflank you intelligently) and appropriate for partciualr ranks (cowardly Grunts and unwavering Elites).

    Next, the plot issues. Now, the statement “The whole thing had just enough plot to fill about ten minutes of screen time. The characters had all the depth and personality of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde.” is just plain incorrect. Did you even watch the cutscenes? If you did, I would like examples of how you thing the characters are in any way hollowed in the plot experience.

    Also, the part with Cortana telling you “Go, before its too late!”, is a little thing called ‘suspense.’ Now, while you’re critising its realism, mainly with assumptions, I will do the same; she was currently being flooded with thousands of years worth of information and archives of an extremely advanced race. She probably didnt have time to filter through everything to give you the exact nature of the problem, she probably only just realised it and warned you of the captain’s impending doom. Also, Cortana alone does not have a radio of any sort.

    And finally, I just remembered how you felt you never had the right weapon for the job. I don’t know how you felt this way, with so many weapons strewn across each map. Give me some examples of experiences where you had this problem?

  21. Lachie says:

    The only real strategy in Halo was at the end of Two Betrayals on Legendary. Apart from that all you do is

    1. Hide behind corner. Don’t worry about enemy flanking, tactical manouvres or any other tidbit, just hide no-one comes for you anyway.
    2. Gun down a big guy or two with a high-powered weapon.
    3. Maul all the little dudes with a machine gun.
    4. Repeat in every single friggin’ room which are all completely uniform and boring.

    The end of Two Betrayals pits you vs. many Covenant elite, vehicles, Flood and gun turrets, and is actually tactically DIFFICULT. The rest of the whole game is rubbish. Multiplayer, boring. Co-op, easy. Plot, nonexistent.

  22. Dr-Online says:

    @ COMMENT #20.

    There’s a difference between suspense, which is letting the player know just enough to be worried/scared, and Halo’s version of suspense, which was to either A: Have nothing happen for a few moments in the game while you cruise down a corridor or somesuch, or B: Don’t tell you anything at all.

  23. Flexstyle says:

    I often play Halo with my friends for LAN parties. While it’s true the game doesn’t have much to it, I simply have fun shooting all my friends (or getting badly shot, as the case would be). I don’t want all the “realism” and “deepness” that a lot of gamers seem to want–I just want to have fun. If playing Halo is fun for me, then that’s what I’ll do.

    And I’m not going to criticize anyone who doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to play it.

  24. MathijsBuster says:

    I actually quite liked halo. Sure, the textures were repeated a lot, and the whole game came down to doing the same things over and over again.. But I must say that there are few games that make killing aliens so satisfying.
    I think halo’s great strength is that it is a very solid game. Everything feels right, from the controls for the vehicles, to the way the weapons handle and the enemies react.

    Sure, the game isn’t perfect, but it’s still one of my favourites.

    Like one of the creators once said: “Halo was about creating 15 seconds of fun.. and just making sure those 15 seconds stay fun over and over again”.

    Also, both cooperative and adverserial multiplayer on the xbox are a real blast. (and the main reason I keep playing the game and it’s sequel).

    That’s just my view on it. ^^’

  25. Pidmon says:

    I got Halo 2 for free with the system (a birthday present), and I haven’t played one-player in eons because of the plot problems everybody has already spotted.

    “We have to capture BIG_BAD_EVIL_GUY alive, we need to know why he came to Earth!”

    Master Cheif and Cortana apparently have ADD, because by the time they found him on Halo^2…

    “Oh noes, ENEMY_ARMY approaches! Well, forget what our original plan was, let’s go in there and kill the guy for no reason, never finding out about how to save Earth!”

    Multiplayer hasn’t been fun since I have started utterly kicking ALL my friends’ asses without any effort whatsoever. So much fun for them – what we do when we hang out now is play a single player game with others making MST3K-inspired commentary and occasionally checking the cheat sheets for the location of the impossible chests…

    Love the webcomic, by the by.

  26. CyberGorth says:

    My theory as to why Halo is so popular: It was the 1st CONSOLE shooter that didn’t completely suck. On the PC, it is and always was garbage. On the console….it really is the best shooter they’ve ever seen.

  27. tuck182 says:

    Thanks for the new strip.

    I’m now going to whine about a pet peeve of mine: why is it that when people add navigation buttons to serials (like web comics), they don’t do them in such a way that the buttons are in the same place on every page?

    If I’m scrolling through reading pages of a comic, the last thing I want to do is hunt around (and it’s not a lot of hunting admittedly, but it’s enough) on every single page to find the new location for the “next” button.

    But anyway, dig the strip. It almost makes me want to go play Guild Wars. :)

  28. wallie79r says:

    Interesting. The first Halo was the only FPS I’ve ever enjoyed. Unreal Tournament, Quake, Doom, Half Life, even Marathon and Halos 2 and 3 were completely unenjoyable for me. Even demos of bioshock and portal seem dry. Obviously I just don’t like FPS’s in general, but I still love Halo CE. I never thought about it before, but now I’m curious.

  29. Jon Tooth says:

    Wallie79r.

    Excuse me? Halo is the only FPS you ever enjoyed?

    You didn’t like Doom, Quake, HL, Portal, Bioshock?

    But you liked Halo?

    This is a joke right?

  30. NBSRDan says:

    I have a strong feeling that this article is mostly a veil made to justify your PC elitism.
    There about six common enemies, and even if there were only one, it would not be a problem so long as the one enemy were fleshed out.
    The weapon system is very easy to understand – Needler useless, shotgun best in close quarters, machine guns and Plasma Pistol best against infantry, sniper best for long range, rocket launcher and grenades best against tough or tightly-packed infantry and vehicles, pistol slightly overpowered and thus useful in all situations.
    The plot has problems, but it’s supposed to be a shallow goal maker and not taken very seriously, and the problems you mentioned with it are not problems.
    The repetitive level design is a legitimate complaint.

  31. b says:

    i disagree, but its ur thoughts not mine.

  32. Trillske says:

    Actually, Halo did suck and most gamers would and DID agree with you. It was a major dissapointment all around. The fact that it had some great marketing, and also for a lot of players it was their first FPS, was what made all the fuss. Graphics wherent groundbreaking at all either. It should be remembered though, that it was supposed to be another game than it turned out to be. It was developed to be a next-gen game on PC. Microsoft opened their wallet, and the end result is not much like what it ones where supposed to be. The “next-gen” console kids where really behind in the gaming world, thats all. But they´re catching up, wich I think is great. I cant stand people that praises pure garbage just because they dont know about the better alternatives. Halo had a great marketing campaign though, I guess thats something.

  33. the_JJ says:

    Hmm… I seem to be doing an archive trawl thingy here. Why post here? Is anyone going to see this? I dunno.
    Anyway, I liked most everything Halo. Yes, even the plot. Much like, say, Freespace, it varied up the missions and goals with an internally consistent logic with out ever forcing you do anything stupidly difficult, like babysit an NPC. I even liked the Library, sort of. When playing (as I always did) co-op. And, contrary to what the above poster says, ‘most gamers’ (unless we’re talking no True Gamers/the Real Gamerica) agreed with me, which made multiplayer fun, so long as you go LAN instead of touching the Xbox Live cesspool. Went I should say, as even the third game is passe by now, and we’re discussing the first one here…

    Actually, that may be the problem. Halo was my first real experience with a shooter. I think it’s a generational gap thing Shamus. And I liked how it worked out on a console. I still played well enough, and it had its owwn advantages. You could do things like kick back on the couch while the TV screen displayed both players as you killed aliens. Much more personal then you could ever get by hooking a pair of PC’s up via landline.

    That said, I hated the sequels, mostly for their plot. Well, the last level of the third one slightly redeemed it, but really, it crossed the line from ‘slightly cliched but intresting enough’ to… I dunno. I can only point to the expanded role of Sgt. Johnson as the primary symptom. In the first, he was just one of many Marines who would die regularly, got a bit of a spot in a cool cut scene that, please note, featured his death, and then an easter egg where he said something funny as he died again. Then they brought him back, gave him plot armor, and tried to make his death in the third tragic. After 5 or so ‘Johnson’s dead’ false alarms.

    Wait, crap, I was defending the first game. Yeah, it’s three parts nostalgia, one part socialization, all back up by good (fun) gameplay and a descent (IMO, o’ course) story.

    Again, sorry for posting in a comments thread that no one will ever read again. It is currently 3 am and I’ve entered that special stage of fatigue wher everything seems pretty fun. Much like all those times I play the Library on Legendary with my friends.

  34. James says:

    I loved Halo and its 2 sequels. The co-op play was brilliant and infinitely replayable. The enemies would have completely different AI patterns, and the physics engine allowed for some great “Oh Snap!” moments. Seeing a grenade destroy a jeep just to have it careen into your enemy 40 feet away is brutally satisfying. The game’s story (if that is your cup of tea) is more fleshed out in the novels. In the game, it serves mostly to get you going from point A to point B admittedly. There’s great weapon variety, enemy variety, environment variety, music, controls, and scale. Those are many of the aspects that make a great shooter. They may not be your favorite shooter functions, but they’re all rock-solid here.

  35. Telkin says:

    Like one of the above posters pointed out, not much point to me posting this, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t try to break down the plot, since in this article, it seems like you totally missed it. Admittedly, not entirely your fault, a lot of it only snaps into place if you read the books, because they drop you into a fairly detailed situation without bothering to give you any meaningful details, and throw you a character with an extensive backstory without bothering to give you any of that, either. If it were a native PC game, I’d consider it inexcusable that it didn’t have a Mass Effect-style codex, or at least a pre-game scrawl where someone explains what the hell’s going on.

    The backstory has the Master Chief, aboard the Pillar of Autumn, setting out on a desperate mission to (hopefully) save humanity’s collective butt. The Covenant, a strange race of aliens, have been knocking over human planets one by one. They pop into orbit, send down a massive ground invasion consisting mainly of those little caffienated muppets, and if the humans manage to beat them back, they withdraw their forces and glass the planet from orbit. If the humans lose the ground fight, which is fairly uncommon, the Covenant proceeds to withdraw their forces and glass the planet from orbit.
    Military Intelligence decides the Covenant are using the invasions as a smokescreen to allow them to look for something planetside, and failing to find it, simply exterminate the inhabitants. Unfortunately, while the Covenant are barely effective with their ground game, their ships can rip apart human fleets with relative ease, due to vastly superior weapon and shield technologies.
    As the Pillar of Autumn sets out, it is immediately co-opted into a planetary defense, wherein the human fleet, as expected, loses, in an effort to evacuate as much of the planet as possible. In accordance with standard operating procedure, the surviving human ships individually plot an erratic series of FTL (Faster Than Light) jumps designed to throw off pursuit, to prevent leading the aliens back to Earth. Unfortunately (or is it?) the series of jumps Cortana picks lands them almost on top of an alert Covenant battlegroup floating around an artifically constructed ringworld. With no time to spool up the FTL drive, a desperate struggle ensues, with Cortana making their defeat stunningly costly to the Covenant.
    Plot Hole Address: If the human fleet keeps getting knocked over by the Covenant, how does one ship put up such a good fight against an entire battlegroup? Answer: Cortana. AI constructs are incredibly advanced, costly, and not normally permitted on military vessels, for reasons apparent to anyone with a passing knowledge of sci-fi tropes.
    So, rather than allow Cortana to fall into enemy hands – protocol says destroy her rather than risk that – Captain Keys sticks her into the Master Chief’s armour. You fight your way through the ship, which is now being boarded by Covenant ground forces, since their fleet is leary of coming within range of the ship’s devastating MAC gun. You take a lifeboat down to the ringworld, while Keys, gambling that the Covenant won’t risk destroying the ringworld by blowing up his ship on it, crash-lands the cruiser.
    The first bit of the game has you picking up stranded Marines and Navy personnel with the help of a surviving dropship, callsign Foehammer. Once that’s largely completed and the humans have dug themselves into a defensible position, you decide to carry on with your mission (figuring out what the hell the Covenant are looking for) by staging a suicidal commando raid on one of their ships. Hey, you were pretty much screwed anyway.
    Captured intelligence from the successful mission reveals that the Covenant are indeed searching for a superweapon, and that they think they’ve found it. They’ve sent a command group to an installation called the Silent Cartographer, which is a map room that they’re hoping will point them in the right direction. The next step is obviously the Master Chief attempting to intercept, or better, beat them to the place, and make sure they DON’T find the weapon. Foehammer drops you and a bunch of support in, and you carry out your mission.
    You’re next on route to the destination given by the Cartographer, but sidetracked into an installation by a distress beacon, I believe. You go in hoping to save some Marine lives, but end up realizing the Covenant have let out the proverbial bogeyman, a parasitic organism referred to as the Flood, which reanimates corpses to carry out menial tasks.
    Fighting your way clear, you end up at your original destination, a Library installation attended by unit 343, dubbed “Guilty Spark.” Fighting your way through the installation, Cortana is plugged into the ringworld and goes slightly insane, due to her plan of dealing with the truly immense influx of data. In order to process it more rapidly, she makes a slightly-less-complex copy of herself. Unfortunately, this results in the copy making a copy, and that third copy making a fourth, and… well, you can see how that goes. At the end, Cortana realizes that the weapon isn’t ON the ringworld, HALO, it IS the ringworld.
    Unit 343 sends you to find the keys to the car, since his creators didn’t trust an AI construct to have access to a superweapon alone, again for reasons clear to anyone familiar with popular sci-fi tropes. Once you’ve got the key, unit 343 double-crosses you and takes it, just before Cortana realizes that HALO isn’t just a big damn gun, it’s a final solution to a losing war against the flood, designed to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy. You slap 343 on the nose with your assault rifle, say “NO.” in a firm voice, take the key away, and put Cortana back in your head.
    While you try to come up with a feasible way you can usethe truth of HALO’s purpose to your advantage, you end up on a mission to rescue Captain Keys, who’s been captured, but that ends up a bust as he’s been absorbed, still living, by the Flood, and is being turned into some sort of Overmind. You put him out of his misery, and find out that the Flood are reconstructing the Pillar of Autumn, in order to once more continue their long-stalled campaign of taking over the universe.
    You head off to stop them, obviously. You decide to rig the reactor core of the Pillar of Autumn to explode, hoping that taking out the HALO installation will put a stop to the Flood. Unit 343 tries to stop you, since detroying the installation will put a blind spot in the HALO network, possibly allowing the Flood to survive even that scale of destruction. You deal with Guilty Spark, overload the reactor, and then proceed on a mad flight through the Pillar of Autumn, trying to get to Foehammer’s dropship and thus, far enough away to not die in the destruction if the ringworld (so you can die of starvation or hypothermia due to long-range space flight in a dropship. Must be some meaning of “safe” I was hitherto unaware of.) Unfortunately, Foehammer is shot down in front of you, and you then make an even more mad dash to the flight deck in order to commandeer a long-range fighter-bomber, barely escaping the blast as the world behind you, and the remainder of the Covenent fleet in orbit, is reduced to dust and echoes.

    But really, there was totally no plot going on. Admittedly, I’m probably fuzzy on a few points, or off on the chronology. It’s been a few years since I was playing HALO co-op with my cousin.
    But, yeah. As I opened, it’s a new post on an old review of an even older game, and this is probably just wasted time.

  36. Steve says:

    I know I’ve said this before but hey Shamus beat me to it. Halo is crap really I borrowed it for free and still got no enjoyment from it. My friend would have had to pay me before I called it a good game.

    Oh and everything you said about reptition? Gets worse then AC …That’s saying something

  37. Stupidguy12 says:

    I personally love halo (one), but I have a couple of reasons. I love the multiplayer, especially because it still works. I enjoy the missions a bit more than the average fps because, and it took two playthroughs to figure this out, but the game does explain why you do things in the cutscenes. However, THERE ARE MORE CUTSCENES AND LONGER ONES ON HARDER DIFFICULTIES. You need skill to learn what you’re doing. (which kinda sucks for me.)

  38. Stellar Duck says:

    I’m gonna do a bit of necro posting here and say this: Telkins summary of the story of the game was way better than the game itself. When I played it I felt it was a shallow mess that left me confused and finding it hard to care. His version gives me the story while sparing me the horrible actual game. And now I finally have an inkling of what is going on in the games.

  39. xXDarkWolfXx says:

    I always find it interesting to encounter people with viewpoints that differ from my own especially regarding video games. I enjoyed halo mostly because it was a sparkling gem of uniqueness surrounded by samey world war 2 games and “RPG” titles, in my oppinion we probably wouldnt be able to play games on an XBox 360 in this day and age because before the release of Halo:CE it was really struggling and had few exclusive titles especially when compared to the plethora of titles that i can recite just off the top of my head for the PS2 (Ratchet and Clank, Jak, Kingdom Hearts, Killzone, Socom to list a few).

    I found that you did have quite a few good points especially the part about the graphics, the only part i disliked about your argument was the way you described the games way of telling you the story, it didnt just leave you to figure out why you had to “go, stop them, fast” it actually told you. The only problem was it generally got covered up by “ZOMG EXPLOSIONS EVERYBODY RUN AROUND WHILE WE REALLY QUIETLY GIVE SOME PLOT EXPOSITION”. It was an ok game and really revolutionized the industry but im not really sure that its a game that you can easily defend, hell im having a hard time trying to figure out ways to defend it so im just gonna stop before i give myself a headache.

  40. […] many people actually agreed with me, both on my blog and on Shamus’s. Kind of reminds me of Shamus’s response to Halo, actually. I thought everyone loved this game, so I went in expecting it to be all sunshine and […]

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  1. By Shelving Fallout « Ninja Game Den on Tue Aug 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    […] many people actually agreed with me, both on my blog and on Shamus’s. Kind of reminds me of Shamus’s response to Halo, actually. I thought everyone loved this game, so I went in expecting it to be all sunshine and […]

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