Top 100 Retro Games: Halo Combat Evolved

I have to confess something dear podcast listeners. I did not own an XBOX until about a year after the One came out. I did not even rush out to buy it: I heard on the Back In My Play podcast that Target had a deal on them where if you bought a system at a slight discount you got a $50 gift card, which could get another game, plus the Halo collection. That sounded like a pretty good deal to me, so I picked up the system plus the Halo Collection, and one more game.

I had not played much Halo before. I did play Halo 2 a few times at a friend’s house, but typically first person shooters are not really my thing. I have depth perception issues that make them uncomfortable for me. In the PS2/PS3 era especially I would get headaches when I tried to play them. I WAS a fan of the amusing Red v Blue series of videos that I got turned onto by a college professor who was real into LAN parties.

That summer I bounced around a few games in the collection mostly focusing on Halo 2 and Halo 4, which I think are still the best games in the collection. I got through a lot of them, but got stuck in each game at a certain point where whatever I needed to do would not trigger and thus I could not advance. This actually happened in 3 as well, but not until I tackled it in more recent times.

Halo Combat Evolved is a massively influential game on the future of video games. It is certainly not the best game in the series for sure. 2 is the best of the early games, but there are still flaws in game play that are improved in 4, 5, and especially Infinite. I am very impressed by the huge online community for these games and the fact that everyone I have encountered has been helpful and kind unlike certain other game communities.

So, the plot of Halo Combat Evolved goes something like this: John-117, The Master Chief, must work with an AI called Cortana to stop an enemy alien race known as The Covenant from finding out where Earth is located. During the game Master Chief and Cortana discover a ringworld called Halo, battle another enemy called The Flood, and then must destroy Halo, but, as Master Chief notes, they are only getting started.

Halo Combat Evolved’s cover is very cool and iconic featuring a classic image of Master Chief, rifle in hand, ready for action. He, and Spartans in general, just look so cool.

The soundtrack for Halo Combat Evolved, much like pretty much every game in the series, is incredible. This series really a really high standard from the first game on of having great music. I love how various themes will drift in and out, go quiet, and then reappear as you play through a mission. Breath of the Wild took so much game play wise from Dragons Dogma, Dark Souls, and other games like that, but I wonder if the quiet ebbs and flows of the game’s soundtrack was inspired by Halo?

If you’ve never played Halo before, The Master Chief Collection on modern XBOX consoles is the way to go. Combat Evolved is on there both in its original and remastered form plus 2, 3, Reach, 4, and some other assorted stuff. It’s a fantastic collection of games that are still getting updates to this day. I played through Combat Evolved using the remastered version of the game. I did, for the record, swap into, which is very easy to do in the game, the original version from time to time to do some comparisons.

While Halo: Combat Evolved is not the best game in the series by far, it is one of the most important video games ever made. Even in the remastered version there are a bunch of very rough edges to this game that are fixed over the history of the series. 2 almost immediately fixes many issues I had with Combat Evolved’s combat and environmental interactions. Later games in the series clean up other game play and audio issues that are persistent in some of the early series games.

Sometimes maps could be a bit aimless. I hate wandering around maps because I feel like my time is being wasted. I definitely prefer having markers to show me where to go. Oh well. This series has vastly, as many modern games have, improved on this concern.

What, 20 years later, as someone who had barely played these games before last year, is how much of the template of the series is already there in Combat Evolved. Having played through Infinite and Halo 5, I was able to go back to Combat Evolved and, besides the issues I mentioned above, feel pretty at home in it. The coat of paint the modern remaster gives the game certainly helps too.

I have never been a big first person shooter player. I have some visual that make some of these games hard for me to play, but this is rarely an issue with any Halo game. I may seek out more FPS games now that I finally feel more comfortable with them. It only took 25 years.

Something I like and appreciate about Halo in general is that the fan community is fairly helpful. Anytime I have had a question about a game someone has been able to help me, my questions weren’t mocked or down voted excessively, sorry I had an issue with your precious game, and there seems to be a positive attitude all around. Finding people to play multiplayer with is normally fairly straight forward and I’ve made a few buddies from playing 5’s and Infinite’s multiplayer who I’ve played other games with now. Neat.

In general Combat Evolved is a really important game that helped launch the XBOX and revolutionize gaming. I’m not sorry I didn’t play them much back then because I just wasn’t that interested. I’m not sorry in general! We only have a few episodes left. I’m not apologizing for anything anymore.

There are debatable story issues with Halo 5 and Infinite, but I enjoyed both of them. I love 5’s online modes and having a team for missions. Infinite’s Breath of the Wild style open world is fun to explore, although sometimes it can seem a little sparse. I did enjoy clearing out pretty much everything I could off the map besides a few propaganda towers I haven’t come across yet. Those grunts running them are very funny. I laughed out loud, really, at the one who said “oh you beat the game? Well did you do it on LEGENDARY!”

You may also like...