Halo Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Halo Info


  • N/A


  • N/A


  • Microsoft


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 11/30/1999
  • Out Now


  • PC
  • Xbox


My Halo is better than yours”

Like legions of PC gamers, I was pretty pissed when Bungie’s awesome Halo

wound up coming out for the Xbox instead of the PC. It had been touted as a

PC game since its inception. It was a slap in the face, as if the love of my

life decided to shack up and wrestle sheets with Bill Gates. I was dejected,

betrayed, bamboozled, hoodwinked and thoroughly upset.

Then I reviewed the Xbox version, and suddenly all was forgiven. The game proved sensational and is still one of the best first-person shooters on any system.

So after four

long years, we finally get to see Halo running on a PC thanks

to Gearbox, who took over the port job from Bungie. Even though the game doesn’t

do for the PC what it did for the big black box, it’s still a very impressive

FPS offering. Intuitive mouse and keyboard control coupled with a variety of

online multiplayer options have earned this Halo admittance

through the pearly gates. But be warned: you’ll need a divine system to enjoy

this gem to its fullest.

For the most part, the story and single player gameplay remain unchanged.

The drama unfolds in the distant Halo galaxy, named after the huge donut-shaped

object that floats there. Humanity’s long standing war with the amalgamated

alien race known as the Covenant has brought you to Halo via the Pillar of Autumn

(a mini SDF1-sized battle

cruiser). Before long, you and a handful of crew members find yourselves stranded

on the giant ring, fighting for your lives and possession of the planet itself.

You assume the guise of Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced super Marine

with some very handy rechargeable armor. Offering suggestions and general navigation

is the Pillar of Autumn’s onboard computer, Cortana. This little construct has

been transplanted into your hi-tech helmet for easy transport and it plays a

vital role in Halo‘s story.

And that story is compelling, with enough twists to keep you guessing. From

the smart writing to the well-scripted voice talent, Bungie was obviously serious

about Halo‘s plan from start to finish.

But this isn’t a book, people. Shooting hordes of ridiculously intelligent

aliens and driving a variety of vehicles serves as the bulk of Halo‘s

gameplay. All the weapons from the Xbox version make a return, including the

machine gun, pistol, frag grenades, sniper rifle, shotgun and rocket launcher.

Covenant weaponry (which can be picked up and used, remember) is back as well.

These are energy-based and brutal; Covenant weapons more easily slice through

Covenant energy shields, which obviously comes in handy. The Needler and adhesive

plasma grenades are two of the coolest weapons you’ll find in any FPS.

Handling these noise-makers is made easier than ever thanks to the mouse and

keyboard support, arguably the way Halo is supposed

to played. While the Xbox control’s ease and intuitive use amazed us, it pales

when stacked against the tried and true WASD control scheme. You just feel like

you have complete control, which can never be overstated. But if a controller

is what floats your boat, then Halo offers full support for

Direct X compatible gamepads. Or just go turn on your Xbox.

There are plenty

of instances where being a foot soldier just won’t cut it. Not to worry, because

you can still drive, hover and fly across many of Halo‘s gorgeous

landscapes. Driving the Warthog buggy, Scorpion tank, Ghosts and Banshees is

pretty easy. Each vehicle handles differently – the Warthog is the most difficult

to drive due to its point-then-accelerate control, but this is made much easier

with the mouse and keyboard.

Despite what you hear on Dr.

, looks matter. Halo is still one of the best-looking

games on the Xbox, and lucky for us the port kept in most of the goodies. Reflective

surfaces and photorealistic elements such as grass and skies really show off

the game’s eye-candy. Great bump-mapping and attention to detail gloss over

the fact that many of the textures look a bit flat when up close. It doesn’t

look quite as good as the Xbox version, but after all, it’s a port. Catering

to a countless number of system configurations can be costly.

Speaking of which, I hope you spent last month’s salary upgrading your rig,

because the system requirements needed to turn up all graphical goodness is

just unforgiving. On a 1.2 Ghz CPU w/ 768 MB of DDR memory and a new Radeon

9800 card, the game still chugs horribly at any resolution above 1024×768 with

moderate anti-aliasing. Things fared slightly worse using an Nvidia FX 5900,

if you’d believe it. Unless you have an uber-rig you’ll have to scale things

back quite a bit to get it running smoothly. I guess the game is all about processor


During multiplayer matches (more on that in a bit), people often stop mid-game just to offer advice to other gamers on how to properly adjust their settings for smooth gameplay. Where’s our tech-support kickbacks? At any rate, you’ll need a great rig to get this looking right, a far cry from the sweet standardization of console gaming.

But far from standard is the game’s A.I. Your enemies are smart and legion,

two things we don’t often see in FPS games. You’ll occasionally team up with

various Marine NPCs, who are a great help and add a good deal of realism to

the mix. They’ll split up, charge, grab their own vehicles, ride shotgun or

man Warthog gun turrets. And most importantly, they’ll accurately cover your

behind. Plus, their banter is fitting, varied and often comical.

However, a keen battle sense is required when dealing with the Covenant warriors,

who are still formidable adversaries. They too will split up and try to flank

you. They will often seek cover, charging or retreating depending on the odds

of survival. Some of them have impenetrable shields, some have cloaking devices

(ala the

), some have swords and many have at least two of the three.

The game’s A.I. really comes into play when you raise the difficulty settings.

I have yet to play another FPS this realistically challenging. The hardest setting

is a love/hate relationship of frustration and sheer enjoyment. I heartily recommend


In our review of the Xbox version, we didn’t really get into Halo‘s

level design. The seamless indoor/outdoor environments are fantastic, but they

do repeat a lot. You’ll cover the same ground often, which at times gets repetitive.

The one area where

Halo PC really differs from its Xbox brother is its online

multiplayer support for up to 16 players. Along with the familiar maps from

the Xbox version, six new multiplayer maps are here for a total of fifteen.

Games include Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, Race, King of

the Hill and Oddball, all of which (except Oddball) can be played as Team games

if you desire. In Oddball, one character must hold a skull for a given amount

of time while everyone goes crazy trying to take him down. You can’t fire a

weapon, but the skull does devastating melee damage. Capture the Flag and the

Races are easily the most fun.

To spice things up, Gearbox has included some exclusive online content for

the PC version. You can now choose between the normal Warthog and a black version

fitted with a rear-mounted rocket launcher. Two new weapons are here as well:

the Covenant fuel-rod cannon and a flamethrower. The fuel-rod fires consecutive

plasma blasts in an arc and boasts a speedy re-fire rate, while the flamethrower

is, well, a flamethrower. Rounding out the new bits is the ability to add the

Covenant Banshees to just about any multiplayer map for added strategy and fun.

However, after all these years you still can’t play as the aliens in the online

multiplayer, which is the way Halo was originally advertised

so many years ago. Red and blue versions of the exact same character models

are a bit silly considering the inherent warring sides already built into the

game. Color-coded Marines fighting each other seems more like a watered-down

training simulation than a full-fledged war between factions.

The multiplayer modes also feel a little too simplistic considering the potential.

Halo was originally designed as a Tribes-esque

game featuring a compelling mix of team play and mission-based multiplayer.

This changed when it moved to the Xbox, but I really hoped they would have rethought

it for the PC version. Instead, it simply feels like just a port of the Xbox

version rather than the phantasmagoric PC game we have all been waiting for.

Plus, the super-cool co-operative mode is grossly absent from this installment.

It’s a real bummer since that was one of the best ways to play through the original,

and the multiplayer doesn’t entirely make up for the omission.

But there are still countless hours of fun to be had with Halo.

If you couldn’t stomach the control pad and the lack of online support (or Xbox

itself) really turned you away from the Xbox version, then this Halo

is sure to please.



Still great fun
Smart story
Solid multiplayer
With vehicle support!
Impressive graphics
Marred by some technical issues
No co-operative mode