July 19, 2013
Seventh Generation Reflection: Halo
As Xbox’s biggest exclusive, and one of the most treasured franchises of all video game history, Halo has made some big steps this generation of gaming. Join me as we reflect back on the Halo series this generation.
Bungie took the Xbox 360 by storm with Halo 3 in 2007. This title was the final installment in the original Halo trilogy, and the end of the Covenant War/Flood story arc. Gameplay wise, this game added many new weapons and vehicles, and introduced equipment items that could be deployed on the battlefield for tactical advantage. Also new in this game was Forge, a map editing feature where players could add and remove in-game items on the landscape of a map. A theater mode was added where players can record gameplay footage and watch it from any angle at any time. Halo 3 is one of the most beloved games of all time and many people would argue it’s the best in the series to this day. The game received 9s and 10s as well as many awards for Game of the Year and Best Multiplayer Game.
2009’s Halo 3: ODST began as a small side project to keep players satisfied in the time between Halo 3 and Reach, but soon grew to become its own full-sized game. This game follows the events after the Covenant invasion of New Mombasa in Halo 2. You play as The Rookie in a squad of ODST, or Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as they deal with the invasion and try to protect New Mombasa. ODST also introduced a new game mode called “Firefight” where players fight against waves of Covenant on a small to medium-sized map. It received generally good reviews of 8s and 9s out of 10 and was the best-selling game in the U.S. for the year 2009.
Bungie struck its final note with Halo: Reach in 2010. Reach is a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved and depicts the fall of the planet Reach as well as how Cortana came to be on the Pillar of Autumn. Although Reach was praised for its graphics and sound upgrades, many people didn’t appreciate the story or characters very much. Reach dramatically changed Halo’s gameplay formula with assassinations and armor abilities, which were equippable items that employed different abilities, such as Sprinting, Drop Shield and Jetpack. This gave a much wider variety to how the game was played, as well as made way for new and inventive player-created game modes. Forge in this game was greatly expanded with Forge World, a huge map specially dedicated to Forge creation. Players could add natural elements, as well as platforms, buildings, and lighting effects to a map in addition to the normal in-game items. Firefight was also expanded on by allowing some players to play as Elites against the Spartan defenders. Reach was well received with 9s and 10s and won a few awards for best Multiplayer Game and Best Shooter.
In 2011 Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was released for Xbox 360. This was an HD remake and update of the original Xbox title. It included features like collectibles, achievements, and the ability to toggle between the original graphics of the game and updated, Reach-like graphics. The game also included a multiplayer disc where players with the Anniversary pack could play the Reach Multiplayer on the original maps.
After Bungie dropped Halo for Destiny, 343 began the franchise’s next trilogy with Halo 4 in 2012. Halo 4 takes place four years after Halo 3, as Master Chief is awakened from cryogenic sleep and thrust onto a new planet where the remnants of the Covenant army remain. Also, there are the Forerunner warriors known as Prometheans. Halo 4’s multiplayer included a class system not unlike Call of Duty’s. Players get XP in matches to unlock weapons and armor abilities. There’s even a Specialization feature which is very similar to Call of Duty’s “Prestige” mode. This time around the game features three different maps specifically for Forge mode. Firefight is absent, but a new co-op mode “Spartan Ops” has been introduced. This was an episodic co-op series where three players can take on missions together and new missions were added every week. Halo 4 was received well, many critics applauding the better characterization between Master Chief and Cortana. The game got scores of 8 to 10 out of 10.
Generally, Halo has had a good run this generation, and every title seemed to add something new and revolutionary to the gameplay. Xbox has announced a Halo TV series and a new Halo game for Xbox One in their press conferences this year.
What did you think of this generation of Halo? Leave a comment below!
Image Credit: Bungie