This is the game, folks. The game that kickstarted an entire company’s run in the industry. Halo: Combat Evolved came out in 2001 and it made and cemented it’s place in history. It changed the industry in many aspects: from gameplay, visuals and especially story and multiplayer for the FPS genre. It’s kinda all been said at this point about Combat Evolved, hasn’t it?
Well get ready to hear about it again because to celebrate the release of Halo: Infinite later this year, we’re tackling all the mainline Halo games. From this game all the way to 5. We will be looking at both the original and the remastered versions for this game. Now, strap on ladies and gentlemen and let’s begin at the beginning.
Gameplay of Halo: Combat Evolved
Combat Evolved‘s gameplay essentially took what was established in Goldeneye007 and Perfect Dark and improved upon it in every way. The control back in the day was substantially better compared to it’s contemporaries and nowadays it still is surprisingly fluid and the shooting feels tight and responsive. These improvements were cutting edge back then and it still holds up very well to this day. All of these were improved in the remaster to make it feel more up to date as well other features like a graphics toggle. This let you switch the visuals from the remastered version to the original version.
Master Chief has a protective energy shield that protects him from damage. However, it can only take so much damage until it breaks and Chief starts taking damage for real. This does regenerate over time but only if Chief doesn’t take damage for the duration. A lifesaver as it allows you to find cover and strategize your next move.
You also get to drive vehicles where the game takes a 3rd person perspective. The driving controls however are quite different in how driving usually works in games. Instead of pressing a button accelerate, you push forward and control the vehicle with the camera angle. For newcomers, this is a very odd control scheme to get used to.
Due to this being the first entry, it feels pretty bare bones in comparison to the other games in terms of mechanics. However, it’s a bit unfair to use it considering it is the first game. It still is more then playable now and it still is a fun game to play, especially with…
What’s a Halo game without it’s multiplayer? This is one of the biggest selling points of the franchise as a whole. Back in the day, this was peak split-screen multiplayer and it’s still fun to play. Up to 16 players can play its five multiplayer modes (Slayer, Oddball, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Race) and more can be added with System Link.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of being the first game, the options are not as vast and varied like the future entries. And this extends to it’s iteration in The Master Chief Collection. The maps, while fun, are pretty standard and the modes available aren’t as fun like in the other games. Though this is a result of it being the first game with not as many mechanics as the others.
While there is for sure fun to be had (it is Halo multiplayer after all), it is one of the weaker mulitplayer components in the series.
Story of Combat Evolved
Narrative was something that Halo pioneered in first person shooters. Combat Evolved’s story isn’t as grand as later entries but it does enough to get you hooked into it. The Covenant attacks the Pillars of Autumm and Master Chief tries his best to prevent them from finding Earth. Chief and the survivors of the assault crash land onto a Halo ring and they rescue the others to plan a counter attack. However, the more they go on, the more Cortana learns about an old alien threat. And things are gonna get worse from there…
The story is pretty simple but it gets the job done nicely. It was one of the first FPS’ to care about the narrative which would later expand into such a rich-filled universe. It’s kinda crazy to consider that such a simple story gave birth to what would be known as Halo. Chief himself is basically a mute here which is kinda unusual for those who never played it. Cortana is the one who talks and Jen Taylor does a great job as the character throughout the game.
Overall, the story is well told and despite it being pretty simple, it’s still fun. It’s also well produced for a game in it’s era, especially for the genre it’s a part of back in the day.
Impact of Halo: Combat Evolved
Where to even begin with this one? Combat Evolved is one of the most influential games in the 2000’s in many aspects. Well, we can start by listing just a few things.
Split-screen multiplayer: Basically the at the time modernized version of Goldeneye007 with the innovations CE introduced. Since it’s release, every FPS game at the time had split-screen multiplayer inspired by CE in some way. One can say games nowadays still do.
Sci-Fi shooters as a whole: Alongside Half-Life as one of the pioneers in the FPS genre and probably the single most influential in sci-fi military games. Many games since have tried to replicate it to the point where the term “Halo-killer” was formed.” It was also one of the main factors in the creation of Machinima, an art form that allowed use of 3D cameras, giving rise to now entertainment companies such as Rooster Teeth.
And then there’s the fact that it cemented Microsoft as one of the big three console manufacturers. That alone cements this game as important in gaming history. Though it isn’t the only entry in this franchise to be influential, it’s impact has lasted the longest for good reason.
Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the most influential games ever released and shaped two whole generations of gamers. While to some it may seem outdated by the other entries, it still is more then playable and a very good time from beginning to end. It’s shortcomings for the most part come from the fact that it’s the first entry in the series and that is impressive.
While one can say it has aged in terms of mechanics it still stands out as it’s own as a good time. It’s more then worth a play even if just to see how it all began. If you have The Master Chief Collection, give it a shot. You’ll probably like it more then you think you will.
+Really good single player campaign
+Great visuals and production values for the time
-Level design is a bit lacking
-Can feel “outdated” in terms of mechanics