the evils of M$ in gaming industry + review of Halo
I simply had to get this off my chest. I hate (& never use) the word "fanboys", but this time I'll make an exception. XBox fans & especially Halo fans are the most obnoxious "fanboy" in gaming community. These 2 groups shouldn’t even be considered as separate because one of the most commonly used defenses of Xbox is “Just look @ Halo & how great it is”. The truth is that Halo doesn’t redeem Xbox of anything. Halo is a mediocre game @ best. But 1st things first. Since Halo and Xbox are interconnected we have to discuss Xbox before we talk about Halo and when we talk about Xbox we have to compare it to it’s parent PC and it’s rival PS2.
Xbox, just like Windows is another Microsoft’s (from now on lovingly referred to as M$) attempt to monopolize a different market. This time the takeover is aimed @ gaming industry. (as if they didn’t have enough money) As usual M$ didn’t bring anything innovative to the table. Their best idea was to gut-out a regular PC (laughable).
There is an excellent series of articles comparing PC & PS2 architecture here…..http://www.arstechnica.com/reviews/1...ion2/ee-1.html A MUST READ. For those of you who are not familiar w/ PS2 history, you should know, that when “emotion engine” (the CPU & GPU core inside PS2) was created for PS2, legally it was banned from export because technically it is considered a supercomputer. Japan had to actually change their export laws for Sony to be able to export the machine. The CPU is designed to handle 3D & multimedia as a priority instead of running all the code on equal scale, like PC (& therefore Xbox). A good way to think of it is as a cheap supercomputer on smaller scale. This is why there are so many games w/ almost equal graphical quality as Xbox. (remember! this is w/ a slower clock and only 32 MB of RAM).
So M$ does the only thing they can. They use their financial muscle to prevent game from coming out on PC and other platforms. PC is Xbox’s main competitor, not PS2 & Gamecube, because of the similar architecture it is trivial to port the games to PC on which they would undoubtedly look & play better than on Xbox. They undersell their system hoping it’ll penetrate market and M$ will collect royalties from games. Which brings us to HALO.
Halo was supposed to be the “killer-app” for Xbox. It’s was planned to be released on PC as well until M$ stepped in. I don’t blame the developers. I would personally give away rights to any game for a cool million (or whatever) from M$ stash. But the question is, is Halo REALLY the as much of a “killer-app” as it’s portrayed to be?
Sound. The quality of sound in any game is purely an opinion. No one can tell you what “aliens” sound like or what will a rifle in 3000 AD (or whatever) sound like. Sound doesn’t make the game (unless of course you are playing Silent Hill or something heavy on atmosphere) & definitely it’s not the most important element of FPS. In Halo it’s nothing revolutionary or great but it’s also not bad. Environments and musical score are appropriate. Enough about that.
Graphics. This is one of the trickiest parts to evaluate. The textures of the game are er… good, but they are not anything on the “killer-app” level. I really enjoyed the metallic glow of the indoor environment especially w/ the flashlight turned on, but that’s the only thing that stands out. The problem w/ the “look” of the game is that although it’s nice/good/etc. etc. etc. they are nothing spectacular. There are many beautiful parts of level design, which I attribute to the enormity of some of the indoor environment. There are indoor rooms that are size of many football fields. That’s what you call “shock factor” although it’s not really that shocking. One of the greatest letdowns of the game is that all the wall textures and architectural elements of the rooms are constantly reused. Yes, granted, levels are huge, but the level looks the same all around. It’s pretty much a homogenous environment on every level. (look below for annoying & constant backtracking) The NPC & player models are ONCE AGAIN OK. but don’t suffice to the idiotic hype of this game.
Gameplay. This is the element of the game that M$, ppl on M$ payroll (official Xbox magazine *wink, *wink) & “fanboys” are boasting about so much. It is the also worse part of the game. One of the most controversial decisions in Halo was to enable the player to carry only 2 weapons at a time. “Fanboys” insist that this somehow adds a strategic element of realism to the game. Strategy would be if you had a CHOICE of the guns to use in a given situation. (Are you going to use a sniper rifle on the tank or a rocket launcher?) Halo TAKES THIS CHOICE AWAY from the player. If you take the wrong weapon you will have to backtrack trough the boring scenery to get something else. You have to blindly guess. This is completely moronic since you will use sniper rifle/rocket launcher/ only 0.5% of the time and you don’t necessarily NEED either one. All the weapons in the game are stock FPS weapons maybe w/ the exception of the Needler, which is pretty much useless in many different situations because it works only against some enemies and enemies almost always vary in each group. I really don’t know where the slogan “Combat Evolved” came from but there’s nothing challenging about the enemy AI. If they’ll kill you on legendary mode it’s only because there’s too many of them. Or there are few of the stronger ones (gold/invisible covenant soldier or maybe hunter). I guess what the M$ means by “evolved” is the fact that sometimes the enemy runs away from you and that they throw grenades. Granted the enemy doesn’t behave like in Doom but we also don’t live in 1994 anymore. They do use vehicles and turrets but if you think it’s challenging think again. Covenant in a turret basically is just a stationary target. Basically another enemy which adds to much needed variety in the game. It futile to go into the physical and behavioral description of the enemies but in general they are won’t scare you, surprise you, nor they are a serious threat. The vehicles in the game also add to variety but never rise above mediocrity. So you are in a ghost or a banshee or riding around in warthog but still doing the same thing; killing, killing, killing creatures w/out any excitement. It’s basically like riding around your neighborhood on a bike for hours. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?! The only real challenge in the game (at least for me) was the fact that you are controlling the game w/ a Xbox controller. Although it may seem a bit unfair it’s still a fact that the best way to play FPS is w/ mouse & keyboard combo. If this game would come out on PC they’d have to make the enemies much tougher because any mediocre PC FPS player would kill this game even on legendary setting. Personally I had problems on legendary setting but I ONLY attribute them to the controls. And multiplayer… what multiplayer???
What is there left to say? Halo is overrated game that isn’t worth $50 of your money but it may be the best FPS on Xbox. Latter I wouldn’t know because I don’t play FPS on consoles. I too, only got suckered in by the hype. Compared to any decent FPS on PC Halo is crap. If you have older system, buy Half-Life or Unreal Tournament even Quake and enjoy quality mods w/ load of variety in weapons, enemies and environments; and you will still save $30. If you have better system get AvP2 or Unreal 2 etc. etc. and get your money worth. I already feel sorry for the poor souls who will buy Halo when it’ll come out on PC, suckered in by the hype just like me. Then it’ll be too late when they’ll realize the truth, which is also the greatest flaw in Halo. IT’S BORING. Thankfully I bought the Xbox to use it as a linux box. Look forward to a tutorial on that.