Published on June 10th, 2012 | by Jamie Lynn O'Dell, Contributor
Editorial: Does the Gaming Industry Need More Halo?
To Halo or not to Halo?
This is a question that gaming enthusiasts have been asking themselves for centuries, nay, millenniums (that’s longer right?). When you meet a gamer for the first time who proclaims their obsession with first-person shooters, it’s typical to ask, “Halo or Call of Duty?”.
In the past 11 years (!), the Halo series has spread like an infestation into the hearts and lives of die-hard FPS fans and casual gamers alike. Released on the same day as the first generation Xbox console (Nov. 15, 2001), Halo Combat Evolved, the first in the series, sold alongside more than 50 percent of consoles. Within six months it had sold 1 million units. I can’t say this with certainty but I’d be willing to bet my last plasma grenade that the Halo series had a significant impact on the success of the Xbox. I personally bought an Xbox because of Halo and continued on to the Xbox 360 when Halo 3 was released.
Halo Combat Evolved was everything we (yes, i’m speaking for you too) ever wanted in a science fiction FPS game. Based in the 26th century, you are thrust into a futuristic universe both beautiful and haunting. It was a brilliant game shrouded in war and conflict with your task solely to help stop it.
You play as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, a silent protagonist whose identity you never truly see. It is these small details that make the series so remarkable. By removing a voice and face, you are able to immerse yourself into a character that, for me, is still the most personal experience in gaming I’ve ever had (I have cried like a small child at the end of most of the Halo campaigns).
Halo plays as smooth as it gets. You only carry two weapons on you and have a set amount of grenades. Weapons and ammo must be found and replenished as needed. There aren’t any difficult weapon set-ups or upgrades that you see in other first-person shooters but don’t kid yourself into thinking that makes the game any less challenging. Instead it makes the game more versatile, as you don’t have to be a former Navy SEAL in order to understand what a Halo weapon is or how it works. It’s not a difficult game to play, but it is definitely not easy to master, which makes the series perfect for any gamer, young or old.
The Halo campaigns are all pretty linear which is typical for an FPS. You follow a set path but the path in Halo is rather large. You are able to choose how you’d like to attack, be it from the front, back or flanking the sides. You can drive a warthog right into the middle of battle or quietly sneak behind rocks popping off baddies with a sniper rifle. You and a friend can flank both sides or one can snipe and the other run n’ gun. This is another reason I believe the series has been so successful. You can pick how you want to play the game. An 8-hour campaign for one, could easily turn into a 15-hour campaign for another.
Anyone who has played the Halo series since the beginning remembers their first time. Not the first time you played the campaign, not your first kill, not your first time you saw Cortana (hot!). I’m talking about your first time playing online against friends and enemies locally or on Xbox LIVE. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Halo‘s multiplayer experience changed something inside of me. Gaming had changed–the possibilities were endless.
There I was with my teammates, all going for the same goal: get the flag, kill the other team or hold an area. Whether you play strategically or just run out guns a blazing, the multiplayer experience in Halo is incredible. I can play with friends who live 2000 miles away as if we were sitting in my living room playing together. Sure, multiplayer gaming had been around before Halo 2 but that game, powered by the Xbox, brought it into our living rooms with so much ease that within seconds you could be playing a game of Slayer with seven people in Thailand.
I’ve logged thousands of hours between Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo Reach online. So have millions of others. Halo has consistently stayed in the top five of the most played Xbox 360 LIVE titles for years and it probably will stay there for many years to come.
The entire series is nothing to scoff at. Halo 2 is the highest selling game on a first-generation console with 8 million copies sold. Halo Combat Evolved pulls in a close second with 5 million. Halo 3 falls in third on the highest-selling Xbox 360 titles, with Halo: Reach, Halo 3: ODST (ugh) and Halo Wars all falling within the top 10. No series comes close to that except for Call of Duty and Gears of War.
November of this year we will see the 8th installment of the series, Halo 4. I for one will be standing in line at the midnight release anxiously waiting to get home and play through the campaign non-stop until the next morning. So will a million other gamers.
So the question remains, does the gaming industry need more Halo? Yes. For a series that doesn’t seem to be losing any steam, why would you stop? In science fiction, the story can last forever. Even when worlds die off and characters get killed, there is still story to be told. Developers may have changed but that certainly doesn’t mean a series dies along with the originators. The series has been consistently phenomenal with the exception of Halo: ODST which was meant to satiate the hungry fans between Halo 3 and Halo: Reach.
From what we have all seen so far, the upcoming Halo 4 looks to be just as incredible as the previous installments and the return of Master Chief and Cortana will only leave us wanting more.
If anything, the gaming industry needs MORE Halo; more multiplayer maps, more weapons, more games, more Red vs. Blue, more graphic novels, more MEGA Blocks sets and definitely a film adaptation by Steven Spielberg (damnit Steven, just do it!).
-Master Chief Petty Officer, Jamie-117