darthzew

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Halo Side by Side

Quite a few things come to mind when someone says Halo. Whether it be the Halo theme song going through your head, Master Chief bashing a grunt with the end of his assault rifle, you and your friend sharing a Warthog and riding to the enemy base, or the phrase “worst game ever” you’ve heard of Halo. Even nongamers, people who have never touched a proper game controller, know the name “Halo”. It’s been on Doritos and it even had its own Mountain Dew flavor. No game ever got bigger than Halo, not even Mario.

The Halo series is a trilogy of games known best for its multiplayer and for being the first FPS with a truly cinematic single-player. The games have a linear storyline and end with Master Chief saving the world. But is there one title in the series that is truly better than the others? In this editorial, I’m going to critically go through all three of them, using the high standards set by the games themselves. We’ll start with the first one:

Halo: Combat Evolved.

This is the game that started it all. The four main props to Halo: Combat Evolved is the easily accessed melee, a specific grenade button, a cinematic campaign, and excellent multiplayer that includes cooperative play. It’s an almost perfect game as it has very few flaws and I imagine that if it were done under Gamespot’s new review system, it’d have a 10. Without Halo, the Xbox would have taken the Gamecube’s place.

To compare it with the other titles, Combat Evolved has the most unbalanced weapons of any of the games and probably the most low-key of the plotlines but easily the best one. By unbalanced weapons I mean the pistol is the only gun you really need except on a few levels. It’s powerful and accurate. But I think what really made the pistol so loved is that it was well-made. It sounded nice, looked nice, and who doesn’t love pistols? Even so, it is a powerhouse in the multiplayer.

If you were take all three Halo games I were to recommend a “playlist” levels of levels for you to play, I would take “Pillar of Autumn”, “Assault on the Control Room”, and “The Maw”. Those are the best in HCE.

Halo 2

Halo 2 disappointed a lot of people and took a lot of flak from people for no good reason. The addition of new guns, the ability to dual-wield, and an even better multiplayer suite made Halo 2 awesome. No, it isn’t perfect as the single-player campaign didn’t deliver on a few promises and ended in a terrible cliffhanger.

But despite that, Halo 2 easily features the best levels of any others in the series. The first few levels where Master Chief defends earth are incredible! Especially when you take down that Scarab. You jump in from an overpass while an electric-guitar version of the Halo theme plays. It’s just awesome. The rest of the levels, especially the Arbiter missions, are a little more draggy but not bad at all. Like the other games, the Flood does bring it down a bit but in the end, Halo 2 is awesome.

The multiplayer is improved, especially with superior balancing. The assault rifle is now a dual-wieldable SMG and the pistol has been split two-fold. It lives on in spirit in the Battle Rifle, which is a three round burst rifle. When you divide three by the thirty-six in the magazine, it equals twelve: just like in Halo’s pistol. There is a new pistol called a Magnum, but it’s a whole hunk of useless.

If I were to recommend levels, I would just say pick the first ones on Earth. They’re awesome.

Halo 3

Halo 3 was setup to be disappointing. There’s no way you can live up to having your main character’s face being on Doritos. Even so, the singleplayer doesn’t hit the epic notes that the ads had it hitting.

The balancing act is completed here. Every gun has a strength or weakness and is useful in a certain situation. The multiplayer is just plain amazing. It’s perfect for having a party at your house because it’s easy to pick up and play. There are so many game types, which are all customizable, and so many maps, which can be edited! Halo 3 is literally the perfect multiplayer game. And if MLG were to finally set a standard FPS I would advocate Halo 3.

Back to the singleplayer, this one finally solidifies the balance between Far Cry open-world gaming and Call of Duty 4’s more linear play. It’s pretty unique but I can’t help but feeling that Halo should be more linear than open. Especially with the downright awesome missions of Halo 2. But having multiple ways to play every level really adds to the replay value. There is conclusion in Halo 3 and in the end, it’s a good story. It’s disappointing but still great. The best parts are fighting scarabs, which are now full-on monsters that can be destroyed rather than players simply clearing them out.

I’d recommend the first level, “The Covanent”, and the last level, “Halo” for the playlist.

Conclusion

None of these games are really better than the other. It’s the final solution to the equation that really counts. It’s awesome and I hope there’s more Halo to come, but I do hope they improve it. How would I improve it?

Video games need a good tragedy. The Halo series is technically tragic but it could have been better. I would have gone along with the ads and made Halo 3 about the earth ending. Master Chief should have died and the world should have been destroyed. I would have made big battles on Earth as the Covenant and the Flood laid waste to humanity. Hopefully, this new expansion will do some of this and let us see what happened on Earth as Master Chief was out stopping Truth from lighting the rings.

But Halo is really about its multiplayer. The singleplayer is nothing compared to just how versatile and fun the multiplayer is. It has pretty much everything in it you could ask for: vehicles, weapons, aliens, gametypes, excellent maps, and it keeps getting bigger with new maps being added all the time.

Halo is great I hope there is a Halo 4. But I do hope it doesn’t disappoint….

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