Say Hello to the World of Halo
"Halo! Its divine wind will rush through the stars, propelling all who are worthy along the path to salvation."
One of the biggest names in the game industry is Halo. Everyone’s seen something Halo related, like the famous Energy Sword for example. The Master Chief, the game’s main character, has been ingrained as an icon of American culture.
However, these days, not as many teens care about Halo. Sure, they’ve heard of it, and they might’ve played it for a little bit at a friend’s house, but they’d rather stick to games like Fortnite or Minecraft because of their popularity. It’s a shame, because this series holds so many great memories for me and many others. “Kids our age care more about multiplayer than story, which is truly sad, because they’re missing out on what Halo has to offer.” commented Jacob Aalampour, 11. The first game in the series, Combat Evolved (CE), is truly a timeless masterpiece for the ages, and I believe that every gamer today should play it. I wish to introduce the game to new players, so that by the time Halo Infinite arrives, the next game in the series, they’re already familiar with the series and can call themselves Halo fans.
Why do I keep praising CE so much? Well, for starters, the game still feels excellent to this day, nearly two decades later. CE proved for the first time in gaming history that first-person shooter games can be made for consoles, as before they had been almost exclusive to PC. With it’s revolutionary control scheme which nearly every modern console game has copied, the game still feels slick to play to this day. Graphically, the game has aged like a fine wine. While it doesn’t stack up to more recent games technically, it has a certain timeless charm in it’s look, like that of the old Mario games.
In terms of gameplay, CE feels more refined than some modern shooters. The game prioritizes flow above all, making sure the game doesn’t slow down. Rather than forcing you to sit back behind cover, you can push against the enemy head on, engaging you in a thrilling power trip. Strategy is a core aspect of CE as well. Every weapon has its purpose, like a tool in your belt. The trailblazing enemy AI holds up to this day. Enemies feel predictable while simultaneously maintaining a fair challenge. Fighting in Halo truly feels like you’re pitting up against a disciplined alien war machine. “When I first played, I was blown away. The AI felt like they were actually working together and using their brains. It was crazy!” remarked Jacob.
CE’s world truly manages to immerse and encapsulate you. It makes you feel that the setting is real and genuine. The game’s strong suit is making you feel emotions through environmental storytelling, such as wonder and marvel when you first crash-land on the Halo ring, or tension and terror as you get chased by [REDACTED]. “I’ll never forget how I felt when I first looked up and saw the ring, or when I was introduced to the [REDACTED],” reflected my 6th grade brother Sabah. The game’s narrative is set up in a way where it makes the world believable. In one mission, you might be in a control center or an alien ship, and later on in the game, you’ll return to that same area. However, it’s not the exact same. You can notice differences that result directly from your actions, making you feel that your decisions have weight. In that same alien ship, you might notice that it’s been infested with a parasite which you released, or that part of it is destroyed, because you blew it up earlier on.
CE’s story has plenty to offer too. With an entertaining cast of characters, a genuine threat, and proper worldbuilding, it has everything necessary for a proper plot. The characters immediately grasp your attention and make you fall in love with them, like the cunning Captain Keyes, stoic Master Chief, the clever Cortana, the comical Sergeant Johnson, the ambiguous 343 Guilty Spark, among many others. Your main enemy, the Covenant, are ruthless, and you witness firsthand their brutality, which provides the motives for your in-game actions. What’s more is that they properly foreshadow the darker, deadly secret which lies deep within the Halo ring. I’ve already talked about CE’s world, but I cannot stress enough how vital it is to the game’s identity and charm. It hooks you in and makes you interested. You start to ask questions; what happened to the Forerunners? Who are the Covenant? What is the Halo Ring’s true purpose, and what even is [REDACTED]? It serves as a great starting point to venture into the Halo universe, and it properly sets up a foundation for external lore. For the players who are interested, they can answer all of these questions and more by looking at terminals which are small, lighted control panels spread throughout the game.
If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a massive Halo fan, and you should be too. I could go on for hours listing off intricacies and details as to why everyone should play Halo, but that’d be boring. Rather than me listing off what’s so wonderful about Halo, you should experience it for yourself. This year, the franchise’s next release, Halo Infinite, is set to release exactly 20 years after the debut of the franchise, so now more than ever is the best time to get into Halo.