I remember a time when you could not talk to anyone who owned an XBOX ( original) without the conversation steering towards HALO and how awesome that game was.
HALO was the first FPS that actually made people stop and pay attention to these ugly boxes that us console players hooked up to our TV’s and ushered in a new era for shooters on a console.
For many years HALO was the bar for any aspiring franchises when it came to FPS games and story as well as finely tuned multi player. Now we all know that newer games eventually come out and with a new generation of console ( XBOX360 , PS3) comes with it new contenders for the throne of FPS king. As it sits now HALO is now a niche game that cultivates a loyal fan base but is not the mass market ” go to shooter’ as it once was. Sadly that title resides in the deep pockets of Activision and their Call of Duty Franchise while HALO struggles to prove itself like a contestant on Survivor.
And so is the story of HALO.
The real sadness of this however is that the once united legion of HALO fans themselves have turned against the franchise and have taken it upon themselves to judge the series and hand down heavy-handed criticism of the current state of the game.
HALO belongs to the fans now …and the fans don’t like the game!
Since its introduction back in 2001 , HALO has undergone many changes to its gameplay and formula as a whole.The game still carries with it all the core qualities that made it successful but the developers have always pushed it forward as far as presentation and story telling.
Multi player is the most controversial part of the package because not all the changes and tweaks to the formula have been received with open arms.
Perhaps the game that really put organized competitive gaming on the map ; HALO was placed under a microscope . Players analyzed every aspect of what made the game tick right down to ” hit detection” ” respawn times” and ” shield regen”. If you played HALO competitively you had a stake in what changes got made to the game in every version.
All of these opinions reached a fever pitch with the release of HALO: REACH in 2010. This was the HALO game that took the franchise in a bold new direction. It was the first game in the series NOT to feature the franchises poster boy ” Master Chief” as the main character of the narrative and the changes to multi player where bold and refreshing…and ultimately killed the game.
REACH introduced elements that where popular in the current market of FPS. Persistent XP, unlockable skins and…Loadouts not to mention signifigant graphical upgrades over previous games.
The concept of a player being able to tweak his in-game load out to cater to his or her style of play was not in itself a new concept but other games had done it prior to HALO and while it served them well in their respective games it did not sit well with HALO fans who were used to an equal playing field on spawn and weapon procurement on the map was the status quo.
To be fair, REACH didn’t go to far into hat territory but ventured far enough to give players a taste of what those mechanics would feel like in the confines of a HALO game.
ARMOR ABILITYS where a way to customize your spartan in multi player. The concept was awesome. Each Spartan warrior had the ability to choose from a selection of abilities that bounded with them at the beginning of each match ( although you could tweak the settings to make them pick ups on map) and included some cool powers like a jet pack, a drop shield( invisible barrier that repels anything thrown at it) and the ability to sprint and turn invisible.
Who would have thought that the HALO crowd would not like these additions. Not only that but the fact that HALO REACH did away with some traditional weaponry ( the Battle Rifle) pushed fans away in droves.
Between weapon omissions and some dramatic tweaks to the multi player formula HALO has been abandoned even by its Hardcore fans.
HALO 1 and HALO 2 servers are no longer available to the XBOX community as Microsoft has pulled the plug on them.
This leaves the HALO fan base crammed into 2 potential titles to spend their days with and in light of the reaction to HALO REACH’s tweaks and changes most players are flooding back to HALO 3; which is widely viewed as the best game in the series ( HALO 2 is actually the most beloved but being unable to play online makes it obsolete)
There is light at the end of this tunnel and that comes in the form of the highly anticipated HALO4. There have been some details on HALO4 that have come to light and thus far it looks to be on a good track.
I recently sat in on a community broadcast of some of the communities most high-profile players and was shocked to hear them offering up criticism on a game that had yet to launch. Some of the issues they had with the yet to be released HALO 4 where that it will be using an armor ability system similar to HALO REACH. These prolific members of the community proceeded to rip HALO 4 apart piece by piece and showed no mercy when analyzing some of the rumored and confirmed changes that we’re coming down the pip.
Should HALO change at all if this is how we react !?
I myself am disgusted over the state of the community and how they are treating a once beloved franchise. They act as if they have been betrayed and even going so far as to announce their boycotting of the franchise unless it returns to its original roots.
I think that all of these opinions have tarnished the appeal of the game but undeservedly.
Competitive play has also been effected by this. The powers that be who run the industries most popular competitive gaming business ( sorry guys it’s not EGU…yet) have even removed it from their summer line up and for the first time since the game arrived on their circuit no one will be playing HALO in a live event!
HALO truly has become the “Underdog”
With HALO 4 arriving in November we will all be able to see if it can return to form; not only from a gameplay and mechanics point of view but more importantly from the viewpoint of community and fan support.
Try as I might to avoid the cliché’ , it really does fit the situation and I myself await ” The Return of the King”
Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash