Halo is so closely linked with the first person shooter genre that it’s hard to imagine what shooters were like before it. The series did so many things right, from intuitive controls to good weapon balance to adding a real sense of atmosphere to an already stale genre, enough so that the succeeding games didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to make it fun.
And here we are with Bungie’s last run at Halo, jumping back before the main saga and putting you in the role of a Spartan soldier joining up with a veteran squad, tasked with holding a planet against the evil Covenant aliens. The story does a killer job of making your squaddies real people you care about, and giving the missions in the game some purpose and meaning. Flat dialogue aside, there’s a real sense of place that sets the Halo series apart from other FPSs.
But Halo isn’t Halo without multiplayer, and here the re-worked map and voting systems let everyone have a say in how a game gets made. Armour customisations give you an interesting choice of abilities to match your play style, and while this is still Halo to the core (which comes with pre-pubescent snots calling everything and everyone gay), there’s a whole lot of options to explore in maps and level design that gives a real sense of depth to the experience.
Bottom line, this is Halo at its best. If you like this kind of game even a little, you’ll have fun with it, but then, you’ve probably already pre-ordered it anyway. Fanboy. [Alex Cole]