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Halo: Combat Evolved

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: Review

Kool Tools

by Michael R. Harvey

Halo: Combat Evolved

It took forever to get here, but it was worth the wait

This game has a long, and sordid past. It was supposed to be released for Macintosh first, but when Microsoft bought the developer, Bungie, they made Halo: Combat Evolved the premiere title for release with the xBox. If you are interested, a quick Google search will give you more information that you'd care to have on what kind of stink that created. That is neither here nor there, now. The game is out for Macintosh, and while it might be much farther down the road that Mac gamers would have preferred, it's here, and it's amazing.


Like all Bungie games, the action is highly story driven. For Halo, the story centers around the Master Chief, a 26th century genetically enhanced cyborg super soldier, the last of his kind, who is charged with saving humanity. Assisted by an advanced computer AI (sound familiar Marathon fans?), in uncharted space, and on a previously unknown ring world, you, as the Master Chief, set out to save the crew, defeat the alien Covenant, uncover the mysteries of the ring world named Halo, and save the day.

At it's core, Halo is a first person shooter. The controls are similar to many other FPS type games, so it will be easy to jump in and operate within the game's universe. Of course, you can customize the controls to suit your needs. Halo is so much more than many other games of this type, though. You don't just look out of the eyes of your character, nor are you limited to using only certain equipment, or traveling down a specific set of corridors all the time. The levels are huge. The outdoor environments have ample space to explore. Even the underground levels can have multiple ways around. Plus, you get to use just about everything there. Weapons, vehicles, aircraft, whether it be of human or alien manufacture, are most all usable by you. A real nice feature of the game.

How about the visual environment. The ring world on which the game takes place is not the Larry Niven kind of solar system encompassing ring word. Halo is a much smaller version, orbiting a planet. It's still mighty large, and provides for a great deal of varied terrain to operate on, over, and in. The place is beautiful to look at. The visuals are spectacular. Lots of open areas through which you run missions, as well as buildings, and underground areas to battle in. The quality of the graphics are great. They can be resource hogs, though, so you will need to spend some time tweaking the visual preferences to get the most you can on your system without grinding the game play to a halt. Take a look around, though. Especially up. Seeing the ribbon of the ring in the sky arching over your head is one of the coolest images you'll ever see. Truly impressive.

The sounds in the game are spectacular, too. You can control the detail and quality of it from the preferences, but the higher the quality, and the more you have turned on, the better the game experience will be overall. I'd recommend two things. First, sacrifice some visual quality to keep as much sound on as you can. It's worth it. Second, use a really good set of speakers, or better yet, a good set of head phones, to give you the full auditory experience. It will make all the difference.


Interspersed between missions, levels, and just about any time the game feels like, cut scenes smoothly take over the game, and help advance the story. The scenes themselves are beautifully rendered. They are really nice, fun to watch, and enhance the game.

Online multi-player action is a must in any game these days, and Halo has it, of course. Just go into the Multiplayer menu at the main screen, and you can choose to either join a local LAN game, or get out on the internet, and beat the crud out of other Halo fanatics. For me, it was a sobering experience. I must be getting old, because I went out, and had my guts splattered all over every game I joined. I had fun, though.

As with all things Bungie, a dedicated community has grown up around Halo. Bungie.net is the place to start digging into the community. There are even some novels, published by Del Rey, that delve deeper into the Halo universe. This game has been out on Macintosh for some time now, but it is among the best of what you can get today, so it gets our highest recommendation. Halo for Macintosh is published by MacSoft for Destineer. $50.


Michael R. Harvey

 
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