Editor’s Choice - Halo: Combat Evolved
BY HENRY HAIGHT
SNN Staff Writer
The year is 2001, and the PlayStation dominates the gaming scene. With games like Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil 2 dominating popular culture and even more exciting games coming for the recently released PlaySation 2, it looked like the PlayStation’s creator Sony was the king of gaming. Microsoft, a latecomer to the gaming scene, needed a killer app that would draw people to their Xbox.
They needed Halo.
Developed by Bungie Studios and published by Microsoft on Nov. 15, 2001, Halo: Combat Evolved (or Halo: CE) brought the ever-popular first-person shooter genre from the 2D days of Doom to the modern era, and more importantly, brought it online. The original Xbox was one of the first consoles to have simplistic online gaming in the form of the now famous service Xbox Live, only requiring the customer provide a monthly payment and an internet connect. Xbox Live brought the new console into the limelight, but without a good game to back up the service, the console would be dead in the water. It’s a good thing, then, that Bungie didn’t disappoint.
Following the mysterious Master Chief, the campaign mode of Halo: CE takes you through action-packed battlefields in the Science Fiction setting of the 26th century. Earth’s domination of space being questioned by the seemingly endless soldiers of the Covenant, and the super soldier Master Chief must help the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) protect Earth and her colonies from the alien threat. With ten sprawling and difficult levels, the campaign mode will test your critical thinking and reflexes with the powerful and varied forces of the Covenant always outnumbering you, forcing you to use the environment to your advantage. With a satisfying conclusion along with strong setup for the sequel, Halo: CE is at its best when you’re immersed in the action and the story.
Stronger still is it’s multiplayer. While a campaign mode with toggleable difficulties for added replay value is good, the game really needed something to bring players back again and again, and the multiplayer mode delivered in spades. With the option for local split-screen play, or online multiplayer via the Xbox Live service (or, on the PC release, with an internet connection). Game modes range from the ever-popular King of the Hill, the progenitor of the modern Battle Royal style of game where players battle over dominance of a control point, to the lesser played Race, where teams or solo players compete to be the first to reach all the checkpoints on a map, the game has something for just about anyone.
Though originally available for Xbox and PC, the game has since been rereleased as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary for the Xbox 360, which released in 2011 on the game’s tenth anniversary and gave the game upgraded graphics and a more powerful engine. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was also later included as a part of the 2014 game Halo: The Master Chief Collection, a collection and remake of all games in the Halo series up to Halo 4, though with a retooled online system. The Master Chief Collection is available for the Xbox One, and was released for the PC in late 2019. Both versions of the game can be bought for only $39.99, a steal considering the amount of games available in the collection.
Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the most important games ever made, being the sole reason the Xbox was considered viable as a console. Without the game and Bungie’s efforts, it’s likely that Microsoft would not have continued their business in the gaming industry and pushed the limits of hardware with their later consoles. And now, with the game easier than ever to play, you can experience one of the most influential first-person shooters of all time, like millions of others have.