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Battlefield 3
Halo: Combat Evolved [XBOX]

Halo Updated Preview

"Here's everything you need to know about Bungie's hot first-person shooter."

Enemies' shields will crackle as you assail them with shots.

Enemies' shields will crackle as you assail them with shots.

Halo, hands down, has been a long time coming. Since its announcement at the 1999 Macworld Expo, the gaming world has been alight with excitement--you'd be hard-pressed indeed to find a yet-to-be-released game with a more fervent fan following. Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie and the game's subsequent development shift to the Xbox was probably the most radical change in the game's life span. What many once envisioned as a primarily online game was in the midst of becoming a console FPS. Many wondered if and how the game would be compromised.

Obviously, Halo has changed quite a bit in the transition, though "compromised" would be an unfair term. The game that resulted from all these odd hoppings about is deep, intricate, and beautiful. Halo's world is large, and there are many things do to in it, with or without the presence of other humans. It's also lovingly designed--the amount of detail present within it is staggering, and its inhabitants certainly do much to maintain the illusion of life. Given our experience with the game these past few weeks, it's safe to say that few games surpass it in terms of the level of immersion you'll feel in its world.

Graphically, the game is arguably without peer, at least as far as its console brethren are concerned. Everything moves at a smooth pace and remains nicely playable during heated split-screen battles, and the worlds are bursting with detail. Textural details abound--many are bump mapped, and they're all rendered at marvelous resolutions--and dynamic lighting adds infinite amounts of depth to the already tangible worlds. All this is done very subtly, though--never are you battered with the details of this living world. Rather, those who choose to scrutinize are rewarded with signs of an expertly crafted environment.

A vehicle-based sequence, in all its glory.

A vehicle-based sequence, in all its glory.

Halo boasts an engrossing single-player mode that's characterized by complex, living environments and populated by intelligent, deadly denizens. The 10-mission campaign sets you on a hostile alien world, wherein you'll be treated deep, bloody battle after deep, bloody battle. The multiplayer modes are similarly full-featured. On top of a gang of deathmatch games lies a compelling co-op mode that allows you to experience all the single-player missions with an ally at your side. While the single-player mode is definitely compelling enough, having the support of a close ally (who happens to be sitting right next to you) adds a different kind of color to the proceedings. Coupled with the already-hefty roster of war-hungry marines at your side, during most battle sequences, the extra firepower provided in the co-op mode is most welcome and makes it that much easier to take on the missions at higher difficulty levels.

With or without company, though, you'll definitely find it truly easy to move about in Halo's world. Facilitating all your advanced combat maneuvers is a set of well-tuned and customizable controls. Though it isn't a mouse and keyboard setup, after spending some time with the game, you likely won't mind.

Posted on Nov 02, 2001



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