You are an elite solider/cyborg that must defeat the evil Covenant forces that have made it their goal to destroy all Earthmen, while at the same time uncovering the mysteries of the device named Halo. Boy, what an action packed sentence.
Why am I reviewing a game that's over three years old? Because, Halo is an awesome game - period. I can't remember the last time I've been into a game so much that I've played it on and off consistently over a few years time frame and enjoyed every minute of it.
Halo starts with the character of Master Chief being awakened in the midst of a battle with the evil alien race, the Covenant. The Covenantís apparent goal is to wipe the galaxy clean of the human race. They are in the process of destroying your ship when the Master Chief (you) comes around and it's up to him (you) to escape with the ship's A.I. construct in order to protect it. While the story isn't overly impressive, it still has plenty of twists and turns to keep you playing. I'm not about to give anything away even though the game is so old, but the reason for Halo's (the ring around the planet) existence is pretty clever.
Halo features some of the best first person combat I've ever played. The weapons for both the Marines and the Covenant forces are varied and fun to use. Both the enemy and ally A.I. is incredibly intelligent. Granted, the Marines aren't all that much help, but that's why you are the cyborg super soldier. The enemies are simply brutal, especially on the harder levels. And Iíll give great big Digital Monkey Box props to whoever can beat the game alone in Legendary mode. Go ahead and try it, I dare you.
One of the coolest aspects of Halo is the vehicle combat. By far one of the best vehicles to appear in a video game is the Hummer-like Warthog. The Warthog is a joy to drive, and it's even more fun to use in co-op with one of your friends shooting the .50 cal machine gun on back while you drive or vice versa. There are also a couple of enemy vehicles to pilot including the cool flying craft called the Banshee. The biggest vehicle you can use is the Marineís Scorpion tank is simply a blast to drive.
Despite my dripping love for Halo, it still isn't perfect and it has its share of flaws. First and foremost is the game's repetition. Some of the levels and sections repeat over and over with little change in design, such as the never ending library levels. There quite a few enemy types, but thereís not enough to not get bored of seeing the same ones. I've also never been big on "boss" battles and there arenít any true bosses in Halo, but you end up fighting the big tank-like Hunters so many times that they seem less and less threatening each time you face them. My last contention with Halo is a certain feeling of unfinished business. A prime example is the tutorial in the beginning of the game that shows you can bash doors open, but you never actually use this feature in the game itself. The levels also seem like they could have offered more interactive elements than the occasional door switch. Despite these flaws, its amazing that this game is as good as it is considering it was a launch title. How many good launch titles are there? Very, very, few.
The controls are very responsive and feel natural after only a little while, that is if you're using the Xbox controller S. For the keyboard/mouse crowd it may take a little getting used to, but if you stick with it you'll be able to move and shoot with the greatest of ease.
The multiplayer aspect of Halo was incredible for its time, and it is still a ton of fun. In addition to the four player split screen action, Halo takes advantage of the ability to link up several Xboxes for a multiplayer extravaganza, but offers no online support since there was no Xbox Live at launch. One of the best additions to the game is the co-op mode which allows you and a friend to play the game all the way through the single player campaign. It's a blast to play and I hope more and more games take advantage of this feature.
Last but not least, I must note that the game is in Dolby Digital 5.1, which makes the Flood levels all the more scary.
With a great story, intense action, Halo cannot be beat. If you don't own an Xbox I'd recommend getting the Halo edition Xbox available at the moment. If you like first person shooters and you're not communist, you'll love Halo.