27 September 2009

What's Wrong with The Halo Series?

Game Mechanics:

The game is just... too... slow. I read a web article once that unfavorably compared Master Chief's movement speed to a "cow knee deep in chocolate pudding". And that's exactly what it feels like to me. Switching from other games to play Halo is very disorienting and vice versa. Back when I let Unreal Tournament bots kick my ass, I always played at 150% speed. Anything else just seemed way too slow. The slow, floaty feel of Halo is a major turnoff for me now. I tried, after playing CoD4 for a couple of months, to go back and play Halo 2. Impossible. I kept reaching for the sprint button.

The gravity sucks. I hate the balloony, floaty gravity in all the Halo games. On one of the Halo Ringworlds, OK, I can buy it. But why is the gravity all screwed up on Earth?


For me, multiplayer is the most important thing. I thought that the original Halo got the weapon mix right. Yeah, some people hated the Magnum, thinking it's overpowered. Bullshit. It rocked! You know it's good if so many bucketasses are bitching about it!

Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unfortunately, a lot of stuff got changed in Halo 2. The Magnum was gone. The Assault Rifle was gone. After Halo 2 was out awhile, people were bitching about the Battle Rifle. Halo 2 did matchmaking right, right out of the gate. And the melee strike mechanics, I thought, were perfect. Loved the tanks, too. Reibo rained down death in a tank like nobody's business.

Halo 3 followed suit by fixing something else that wasn't broken: The Melee Strike. Suddenly, getting the first hit in seemed to be worthless. It came down to who had the most shields, even tho it sure looked like you hit first and scored a kill. And, to add insult to injury, after some bucketass bashed your head in, some physics glitch sometimes sent you rocketing into the stratosphere. Hit detection, never super good in multiplayer Halo, suddenly seemed to suck ass, too. To top it all off, the Scorpion tank was out of multiplayer, replaced with VW-shaped Covenant pieces of crap.

Single Player & co-op: 

Each sequel of the original, great Halo has been thinner, feeling watered down. The original story stands on its own, since, it paved the way for everything that followed. But the sequels?

Halo 2's single player campaign had the ill-advised 2nd half playing as the Heretic. (Or is it the Arbiter? Whatever. It wasn't the Master Chief.) I don't remember many details about Halo 2's SP campaign, which I largely played co-op. I do remember feeling pretty torqued out that I wasn't the Master Chief for the second half of the game. If you played co-op, the party leader was the Chief, everyone else was an Elite. Tho I'm not an alien-bigot who goes around spouting Fookin prawns! all over the place, I'd have rather played as a UNSC Marine or an ODST. Anything but a grunty Elite. And I hate Covenant weapons. Period.

Halo 3's single player was a bit worse. The amazing, Armageddon-style battle which the Halo promos promised never materialized. Instead, the Halo 3 story sagged in the middle with some unnecessary repetitiveness, running back and forth aimlessly through the Gravemind's bowels. Every 2 minutes, you'd get a Gravemind or Cortana news flash with the nausea-inducing distortion of your POV. The anti-climactic final boss turned out 343 Guilty Spark who had to be circle-strafed forever, like an energy weapon bukkake. WTF?  Very unsatisfying. And game developers who put driving sections in games: Screw you. If I had a nickel for every time I skydived in the Warthog trying to get to the escape ship, I'd be able to buy Halo 3: ODST. It wasn't the ending the game was supposed to have, if you believed what the commercials showed. I guess those old grunts in the Museum of Humanity were just full of crap.  And that leads me to...

The Hype:


Look at the shorts made to promote Halo 3. Holy cow! They were just amazing! The Museum of Humanity and Believe shorts were actually poignant, with old UNSC soldiers reminiscing about how the Master Chief saved their asses, saved everything. And this is kinda one of my major bitches about Halo 3: The story didn't live up to what those amazing short commercials had promised. (In retrospect, I wonder whether anyone at Bungie thought it might have been better to hire the writers of the commercial shorts to do the actual game...)

I notice that the ODST live action promos also look amazing. They're like a preview short for a super-realistic military SF movie. They're just as spiffy as the Halo 3 shorts. Well, my bro Matt bought ODST, so he'll be able to give me a first hand account of the campaign, and whether it lives up to the massive hype better than its predecessor did...

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