Halo Combat Evolved was a technical marvel when it released in 2001, showing the PC world that console gaming can be a real contender when it comes to first person shooters. I played it for the first time back in 2011, when the anniversary edition came out, and have not played it again until now. How does it hold up almost 20 years after its initial release?
Reviewed on Xcloud.
The story of Halo is a confusing one, which we tried to dissect in our podcast, Game Bites. There is a lot going on, and to keep up with the story you need to be hyper focused on it, which was difficult in this game, but I'll get back to that later.
When the game starts, you immediately feel its age, even though the updated graphics from the anniversary edition look great and modernized in an excellent way. It feels dated because of the slow start that you have. The game has you look around in different areas to tell you what the controls are while giving you a lot of different dialogue. It's a very archaic way of doing a tutorial. Ultimately, it just takes way too long to get the gun in your hand in this shooting game.
Once the gun is in your hand the shooting holds up for the most part.
There is no aim down sights, so occasionally my muscle memory would take over and my hand would just pull the left trigger to aim, and I would throw a random grenade. Taking that out of the picture, most of the guns felt great. The famous pistol is still my go to favorite, with its pinpoint accuracy and high damage.
Once you really start to get into the game is where Halo lost me. The missions are short but they all took me forever. There are very few waypoints, which I am ok with, but it seems every level is just a maze designed to get you lost. Most of my playtime was going around in circles trying to find the right direction.
This can be said for most shooters, but with my frustration building from constantly being lost trying to find the next encounter, I started to just get bored because every encounter felt the same. Clear out a couple of Grunts and Elites and then go back to being lost. It was not a satisfying loop and I couldn't wait to reach its conclusion.
Thankfully, the conclusion brought a lot more fun to the game. It was not because the outdated level design changed, it was because of the ability of drop in cooperative play. Spinchoon founder and my co-host of Game Bites, Anthony Costanzo, dropped in to help me with the sprint to the finish line. With him being in there, the last two missions were completed a lot quicker, and with a lot more enjoyment. Most of the time in my game, Anthony was just trying to kill me, which added a layer of fun for me. Not only did I need to dodge incoming bullets from enemies, but I also had to avoid grenades and be on the lookout for oncoming rockets from my co-op partner.
When the credits rolled, it was a sigh of relief, the relief it was finally over, and I can move on to the next installment and hope to get a better experience.
Halo: Combat Evolved, may not show its age graphically, since it had an overhaul on its graphics, but it definitely shows in its level design and gunplay. It's a product of its time, and unless you are a true Halo fan, you may be like me and wonder how the game sparked the revolution that is Halo. For a time capsule, there is still some fun to be had, but the cooperative experience is what will make this game playable in the years to come.
Final Score: 5/10
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on NHL 21, Simulacra, and Huntdown and my new podcast: Game Bites, the latest entry in The Spinchoon Podcast Network (check out Flix & a Six here). As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoon and I’m @Big_Broons.