The lights are on
One has to dig back several years in time to recall when Halo wasn’t a word inextricably tied to video games. The last decade has seen numerous games in the series rise to the top of the sales charts, but for many, the first glimpse they had of Halo was popping the highly anticipated game into their brand spanking new Xboxes, and turning on the power. A short time later, we got our first glimpse of the strange ring world called Halo, and our expectations about sci-fi shooter settings began to change.
Halo: Combat Evolved wastes no time giving players a glimpse of the strange stellar object that will become the centerpiece of the game series to come. As the campaign begins, the Pillar of Autumn completes its faster-than-light jump into a portion of space next to the structure called Installation 04 by its creators, the Forerunner race. However, that distinction is one I’ll only learn about in the hours and games ahead; in the beginning, it’s just a strange circle hovering in the dark.
After a tutorial-filled fight across the decks of the Pillar of Autumn against the fierce Covenant aliens, I am flung towards the Halo ring in a tumultuous crash sequence. As the only survivor, I step out of the shattered ship, and take a look around. I’ve been taught by the sci-fi games I’ve played until now to expect a scene of devastated ruins, stark metallic buildings, or tightly closed corridors through which to roam. Instead, emerging into the light, I see pine trees and scattered green grass. A nearby cliff offers a stunning vista of a sprawling blue ocean. Towering mountains of rock rise up to the sides, and a distant waterfall tumbles from the heights.
Above it all, I rotate my viewpoint higher and higher, observing the curve of the Halo ring. In juxtaposition to the beautiful nature environment all around me, the ring is a potent reminder of the otherworldly nature of the game’s setting. This is no planet, but rather a vast rotating circle in space. If I look straight up, I can see the opposite side of the installation. Everything feels simultaneously familiar and alien.
Halo: Combat Evolved delivered plenty of major innovations into the gaming world, including a new control scheme paradigm that would become the standard for console shooters. However, one of its biggest contributions was its sense of place. Eschewing the dictate that every sci-fi game needed to be defined by metal and technology, Halo placed natural beauty and wonder front and center. As the game progresses, and we begin to encounter unimaginable technology and devastating futuristic weapons, those sci-fi standby features are only accentuated because of the natural environments they sit beside.
Do you remember your first time exploring the Halo ring? Was it exciting, or did it feel like every other sci-fi game you’d played before? Do you think it shaped the way sci-fi games were made in the following years? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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I remember getting out of the ship and just being completely stunned by the view that the game brought. I think more than gameplay and story what really made me fall in love with this game was the amazing views it brought you. I loved every moment of this game.
Love it so much, the Anniversary Edition just makes it so much more beautiful. I'd never seen such pretty open spaces before that game.
Halo CE is my favorite in the series. Halo 2 is a close second.
my travel agent told me the halo ring was a great place to vacation... worst steak ever.
I remember playing the demo I had from OXM over and over just to storm the beach on Silent Cartographer. Then Christmas came, and my mom wasn't in the right financial situation to be buying gifts, but she got me the Xbox and Halo: CE anyways because it was all I played when my friend would bring his Xbox over. I spent so much time on that game with my neighbor for some split-screen action just about every day. Best Christmas ever? Definitely. Happy holidays everyone.
One of the best games I've ever played. Put as much time into this campaign as I did any other rpg other than kotor. everything from the enemies to the marines to the gunplay, setting and major set pieces. The scifi coupled with action elements and horror with the flood along side the companionship of master chief and cortana. I even played through the second level (halo) without letting one marine die. this game will be in my top ten for the entirety of my gaming life.
I STILL can't get over the beauty, expanse, and power of Halo rings. Truly an amazing concept
I was 11, and after living in the country for most of my life this was the forest game I ever played. It kicks ass.
Halo made me fall in love with sci-fi; sure, as a nine year old kid I loved Star Wars and whatnot, but it wasn't until Halo came along that I really got interested in the genre. I began reading the Halo novels, and I fell in love with not only the game, but the universe it set up. Halo remains my favorite sci-fi series ever.
I feel as though Goldeneye was my coming of age game, and Halo was the coming of age title for the next gamer generation. I played it late in the Xbox's life cycle and never really got into the whole multiplayer aspect of it. I feel I missed the boat on the Halo series, probably because I always thought the aliens were cartoonish and uninspired, and that made me averse to the series initially.
Definitely exciting, Halo 1's first half is the high water-mark for science-fiction shooters for me.
i remember it,it was pretty fun. It was also fun to kill your squad if you wanted to :)
Everyday when I was six I would go to my aunts house to be watched when my parents were at work. I would sit playing this game for the longest time while my older cousin played counterstrike on PC. Those were very good days.
i replayed the first and second levels so many times at my babysitters