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Farmer in the Dell: Rainless Reviews Halo

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Old Member
Jul 20, 2006
"Simple life's come back to its hardest again / "Farmer in the dell" / I'll be damned / it's Harvest again..." -Nappy Roots "Kentucky Mud"

There probably aren't many still people around here that actually remember... but I spent the better part of 3-4 years (unfairly) insulting people that played Halo. I say "unfairly" because I had never actually *played* Halo on the upstart original Xbox. Though there was a moment, upon the game's PC and Mac release in 2003, that gave me pause: I stood in the FNac near Odeon in Paris and listened... for what seemed like 15 minutes, to the non-stop banter between idle marines on the PC (or Mac, I can't remember) version of the game. They never seemed to run out of things to say!

THAT wasn't happening in PC games around that time... But this was 2003. I wasn't there for Halo: I came to buy The Frozen Throne.

Fast-forward to 2005. Now Halo 2 was ALL OVER the campus of the Cité Universitaire... so much so that I had absolutely NO choice but to play it about a dozen times. Now this was the era of Unreal Tournament 2004... and I simply had no patience for Microsoft's little console shooter. I finally bought Halo 3 while I was living in Spain but I was so busy there that I never had a chance to really get into it. (Though I did like what I saw.)

Which brings us to March 2016... just before my birthday: Microsoft made me an offer I couldn't refuse: ALL the Halo games (Master Chief Collection), plus the Rare Replay (over 50 games total), for 30 bucks. I had enjoyed the brief time I'd spent with Halo 3... could I have been wrong about the series as a whole?

Well now I've played through the entire Halo CE Anniversary Edition from beginning to end and I'm SHOCKED that this was an Xbox release. I don't know what they added in the Anniversary Edition... but I would've thought it impossible that the Xbox could've pulled off a game of such complexity. In many ways it was an absolute ripoff of Unreal Tournament, but with a single-player component that's actually compelling...

More than compelling: The way that the story was told through combat was unique. While the level design could be boring and repetitive (You spend much of the game running around two or three ships in various states of disrepair), the levels themselves were GIGANTIC. Much of the early game consists of going somewhere... then having to come back... then later going back to where you were before with new information and a new mission. (This happens constantly throughout the game and it's probably how they were able to pull the game off on such ancient hardware: close off part of the level at the beginning, open it up at the end, add a little smoke and fire and it's a whole new level!)

But what makes the game, for me, are the little things that I also noticed in Halo 3: The little covenant soldiers that would throw their arms up in despair and run away, the fact that enemies would die wile still firing, or even get up after seemingly dying like in Rise of the Triad, and the fact that EVERYBODY... from the Covenant, to the Flood, and even the Machines seemed to be in constant conversation.

Really the most impersonal character in the game is Master Chief himself... except that *I* was the one playing as him: Chanting "I'll be damned! It's harvest again!" over and over again as I gleefully blew away whole mobs of Flood with the shotgun.

The levels can get pretty boring, the vehicle piloting is HORRIBLE, but for all that I couldn't help but enjoy myself because the firefights, even 15 years after the game's release, still delivered. (I thought the fact that part of the final level forced you to drive the worst, and most difficult vehicle at a very critical moment of the game was hilarious.)

So I've gotta cop to it: I was wrong about Halo. Even if I can't get the stupid multiplayer to work AT ALL... not even ONCE on the Master Chief Collection... I do like what I've been seeing on the single player. And I owe like 1,000 people an apology because now I *do* see why someone would be excited when one of these comes out. (Just stay away from Halo 5... )