I have to admit, I went ahead and finished Halo last night. I was just having too much fun to give it another day. Luckily, that puts me a day ahead in my quest to play through the entire series before Reach is released on September 14.
Halo goes through such an odd evolution as a shooter. It starts out as an all out action epic, turns into a survival horror death-fest, and finally ends up a stealth game. I’m 80 percent convinced you can finish the last two levels without firing a single bullet. Every set piece in these levels involves Covenant fighting Flood, Flood fighting Sentinels, or Covenant fighting Flood fighting Sentinels. It sounds great, it looks great, it makes sense in the story, but it turns our unstoppable super soldier into Solid Snake. Why run into the middle of a huge battle when you can hide behind a rock and wait for 95 percent of the enemies to kill each other off? One thing is for certain: if you do decide to run into the middle of these battles, you will almost certainly die. Apparently the one thing that will make Covenant, Flood, & Sentinels work together is your presence. There were even several sections where I found myself luring a group of Flood forward a bit through the level so they would encounter a group of Covenant, then running and hiding while they took care of each other. Hey, whatever gets the job done, right?
If all this sounds like complaining, understand that it is not. Aside from the final chapter’s Warthog scramble to freedom, this is my favorite part of the game. It’s these huge scenarios where bullets, grenades, and plasma charges are flying in every direction that succeed so well in making the player feel awesome. It produces more “Did you just see me do that?” moments than possibly any other game I’ve ever played. As for the previously mentioned Warthog debacle, it’s a perfect example of a fine idea ruined by a vehicle that just doesn’t handle well. Luckily, in some of the later games Bungie got these kinds of driving missions down perfectly.
All in all, I had a great time going back to a game I haven’t played in almost ten years. It held up surprisingly well after all this time, mostly due to the tight controls and well executed action sequences. I’ve already got Halo 2, the game in the series I’ve invested the most hours of my life on, ready to go. Is the ending really that bad? We’ll know by the end of next week.
Part 3: Quiet! This is a Library! – Part 5: I Need a Gun