More often than not, when a game is in development for over three years it does not live up to the hype. Bungie’s Halo is the exception. Not only does the game live up to the hype–it greatly exceeds it. This sci-fi first-person shooter is a nearly perfect blend of gameplay, graphics, and sound.
The story revolves around the conflict between humans and an alien race known as the Covenant. The aliens have discovered a powerful artefact–on the ring-shaped planet called Halo–that will shift the balance of power and it’s up to the player to stop them. In addition to several first-person shooter levels there are numerous opportunities to engage in vehicular combat. Both the enemy and ally artificial intelligence are extremely impressive. Enemies will use the terrain and layout to put you in tight spots. Allies will know when to cover and aid you. For instance, if you hop into a jeep an ally will know to jump in and man the turret on the back of it.
Graphics are exquisitely detailed, but only move at 30 frames per second rather than 60. The sound effects and voice-acting are superb. The level design is among the best ever; most of the game is engaging and challenging without being frustrating. There’s also high replay value thanks to the built-in single-player, cooperative, and death match modes.
Much like the outstanding GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64, Halo raises the bar for console first-person shooters. It will be the title that all console action games are measured against for years to come.