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Lost In Translation : Halo

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear before our resident Halo fan puts his angry hat on and flays me alive; this is about every Bungie Halo game after the first Halo, and is aimed at the campaign modes of those games, not at the brilliant multiplayer offerings. So, not Halo 1 or 4. Phew. Maybe he won’t even notice this article.

The problem I have, is that the campaign for the first Halo was brilliant, with an excellent premise which was full of mystery and wonder, an epic feel to the combat, with massive battle areas and innovative features. It defined the Xbox. This may very well have raised my expectations far too high, as the following games paled in comparison.

I expected the series to continue to innovate, and outside of the multiplayer options, it just hasn’t broken any new ground, and having to fight the same fucking enemies over and over, in each and every game, is painful. You get the little aliens, running around scared, the snipery ones in their towers, fat guys and the occasional enemy with a sword. Wait a minute, that’s the Covenant? Really, that’s all there is? The same enemies from game to game, sometimes with different names? You also have the Flood. Yep. The Flood.

It is like they just couldn't be bothered

It is like they just couldn’t be bothered

The only game I can think of that actually tried to do something different was Halo 4, so maybe the problem is that Bungie are massively overrated as a developer.

Part of the problem with the storyline of the games is that you never see any civilians, just a few soldiers here and there and the odd scientist. It is really hard to want to protect a civilisation that is entirely absent from proceedings. The pathetic range of end game bosses, each limper than the last, means that none of the games sign off with a bang.

Taken as single player, or co-op games, Halo 2, 3, Reach and ODST just aren’t that good. ODST is perhaps the best of the bunch, with a slightly more intriguing premise than the others.

Yes, before anyone asks: I play on Legendary difficulty. The combat and gameplay are good, but none of the games ever step out from the shadow of the first Halo, and become utterly forgettable. Online versus multiplayer is brilliant and progressive, which makes the total lack of progress in the single player all the more disappointing, and it is telling that, asked to name the best three campaign modes from the entire Halo series, I would say Halo, Halo 4 and Halo Wars.

Put it this way; if any other developer had put he single player elements of the games in question, into stores, labelled as something other than Halo, then they would have been ignored as generic sci-fi puff. It makes me worry about what to expect from Destiny, although perhaps Bungie, freed from chains of their own design and producing a non-Halo game, can surprise me.

Now, I need to find a quiet corner of the arcade to hide.

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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

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  1. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you delete this article now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you. I will find you, and I will kill you

    • Luke Martin VA You can’t fight what you can’t see. Just don’t look behind the Ms. Pacman cabinet.

  2. As someone who never owned an original Xbox, I never played the first two games. My only experience is with Halo3, which I completed in single player but never played more than a few hours of multiplayer (I gave it to my nephew before I got round to any more).
    I have to say I enjoyed it a lot, but I didn’t come away thinking this was some kind of magic game worthy of all the praise it seems to get. Perhaps it is just the multiplayer that makes it so well loved, or memories of the past games that follow forward?

    • RobMortimerVA In single player, the game’s main strengths for me are its mythology and narrative (which is convoluted at time and you really need to have played H1&2 to fully appreciate it) and AI. It still, to this day, has the best AI routines I’ve ever seen in a game, which makes it the most replayable title I think I’ve ever experienced! It’s not just the cunning tactics of individual enemies but how they react as you start to pick them off – the squad dynamics evolve as your wear them down. Once you roll all that together, it drives your passion through into the multiplayer with some superb level design and well-balanced weapons. I also love the more ‘dogfight’ feel to the combat with the slower movement and shield mechanics – perfectly suited to consoles. 
      It’s not, though a game that screams all of this at you in the first few hours – even in the first play through, so I can totally get why people who came to it late wonder what all the fuss is about!

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