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MSRP: $49.99
Number of Players: 1-4 (more with linked systems)
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Reviewer: Andrew Broas
Itís not often that a game comes out and completely outdoes its competition. It is even more rare to see a game that not only dominates itís own genre, but upstages all other games in recent memory. A few years ago it was Half-Life. Before that it was Super Mario 64. Now that game is Halo.

I realize those are strong words and in most of todayís media things tend to be over-sensationalized, but Halo really is the next big thing.  So many things set Halo above its peers that it is hard to single out just one thing. First off, while the majority of todayís games rely on cut scenes to help advance their stories, Halo lets things unfold as you play. Granted there are some cut scenes peppered throughout the game (usually before and after levels) but most of the time if something happens that effects the storyline, it will occur right in front of you as you play. This kind of seamless advancing in the story can really make you feel as if you are actually in the game.

That said, the story is actually pretty good for a videogame. In short, a spaceship loaded with humans makes a crash-landing on a ring-shaped world called Halo. A collective of alien races also land on Halo and the two forces battle for control of the worldís mysterious powers. It sounds simple, but there are quite a few twists. Explaining them would ruin things entirely, so youíre going to have to go see it for yourself.  I hope you donít have any important plans coming up though because Halo is a huge game.  There are 10 levels and each one of them are divided into smaller chapters.  To complete just one level can take anywhere from one hour to three hours depending on your skill level.  Pack a lunch, people.

Now stories are great, but even the best ones canít make a game great without evenly matched gameplay. Most role-playing games can serve as proof of that. Luckily for you, Halo has gameplay in spades.  Can you remember playing a first-person-shooter lately and using the same lame tactic to overcome most of the enemies? That kind of thing doesnít fly in Halo. The enemies in Halo are brilliant in both design and intelligence. There are different classes that each one falls into and each one has their own distinctive behavior. Whether youíre facing a single enemy or a large pack, each battle will call for itís own approach. In most cases the enemy will try anything to surround you or back you into a corner. On the highest difficulty setting, they actually use grenades in attempts to herd you like cattle.  If you can imagine a tactic, it probably can be used by you or against you in Halo

Another big part of Haloís appeal is the use of vehicles.  There are four different vehicles you can take control of in Halo.  Two of these, the Warthog and Scorpion Tank, can take other marines along for the ride.  Say youíre in a single player game and you have four marines with you.  Fire up the tank and they can all ride on it with you while still being able to fire all their weapons and toss grenades.  Multiplayer games can really get crazy with vehicles.  Letís say you have two linked systems with 4 players on each team.  You have tons of options at your disposal.  Put two people in the warthog while two protect the base with sniper rifles, put everyone in a tank and invade, put each person in a vehicle by themselves, etc.  The more players you have, the more insane the action can get.  Whatís best of all is that all this still applies to the single player game thanks to the remarkable intelligence of your fellow marines.

Another thing that makes Halo great are the weapons.  No matter what your experience is with first-person-shooters, you can adapt Halo to your playing style.  Letís say youíre a Quake III veteran.  Haloís weapon of choice for you is probably the plasma rifle due to itís fast rate of fire.  The game becomes a fast and furious fragfest with this weapon.  Not the fastest Quake player?  Is Counter-Strike more your thing?  The sniper-rifle and pistol are for you.  The pace of the game slows considerably when you use these but the game is given a much more realistic feel.  Itís this kind of adaptability that makes Halo a game for everyone.  No matter who you are, there is a weapon in here perfect for you.  

Still not sold?  Well if Capture the Flag and the like arenít enough to capture your interest, then maybe I should mention that itís possible to play through the entire single player game with a friend in co-op mode.  Thatís right, you can play the entire game from start to finish with two people working side by side.  Not only that, but the number or marines and enemies increase when you add a second player.  Those massive firefights with the Covenant get twice as hot in co-op mode.  Best of all, Halo doesnít lose any detail in itís graphics because of this and it rarely takes a hit in framerate.

Speaking of graphics, Halo is definitely the best looking game on a console, period.  There is so much detail that it blows my mind.  You can run through the entire game and not even notice all the little touches thrown in to make the game as great as it is.  Completely unnecessary things such as individual blades of grass and transparent floors are everywhere in the game and you probably wonít even notice them the first time through until you actually stop to look around.  After three years of development, Haloís graphics make it quite obvious that none of that time was wasted.

I could go on and on about Halo but no amount of writing is going to be able to communicate how great the game really is.  This really is the next big thing and will serve as the game that all future first-person-shooters will be judged by.  It would have been worth buying an Xbox for Halo at $299, but now that the Xbox is $199, it is a no-brainer.  Do yourself and your friends a favor by buying this game.  Set up a nice weekend with your friends and just let the hours roll by as you blast your way through Haloís expansive universe. 



You can say DOA3 is the best looking game out there, but that would only prove you havenít played Halo.  
Sound & Music 10 Helpful and hilarious voices, massive explosions, plasma sizzling through your armor, and ultra-loud guns all put you right in the action.  You can actually hear the chunks of dirt landing on the ground after a grenade blast.  Music is scarce, but wonderful when present.  
Control 10 I hope every company that has plans for a FPS in the future takes notes from Haloís control setup.  Itís spot-on perfect.  For the ultra-picky, there are even custom settings tailor-made for your goofy southpaw ass.
Replay Value


A single player will most likely play this game for a few months replaying all their favorite levels.  Add friends into the mix and youíve got a new way to spend your weekends for the next year or two. 
Fun Factor


Few things are as satisfying as wiping out the enemies Halo throws at you.  See them, plan your attack, and then unleash hell.  In co-op, your options for attacking become endless.


Right now there is no better game out there.  Itís only a matter of time before every new FPS tries to call itself a ďHalo killerĒ.  If you donít already have this game, you and I can never be friends.

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