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 PLATFORM: XBOX
THE XBOX ESSENTIAL

he hype on the street for Xbox has gone from good, to bad, to who knows what, but all along everyone looked to Halo as one of the premier titles, and a benchmark for how the system would be judged. Whenever my phone rang while I was reviewing Halo, the people on the other end would ask how good it was and then instantly ask the question of the day: "If it’s just a first-person shooter, how different and revolutionary can it be?"

While I didn’t get the chance to finish Halo’s eight gigantic levels before deadline, from what I did see, Halo does offer a lot to make it one of the most impressive, if not THE most impressive, first-person shooter consoles have ever seen.

Playing the role of Master Chief, you are a super trooper who is seen as the savior in a war to uncover the horrible secrets of a mysterious ring-world known as Halo, and to crush mankind’s sworn enemy, the Covenant. Since it’s a war and not a "one man against the world" scenario, you find yourself fighting alongside your troops throughout the game. This is one of the amazing things about Halo, since the combat can become a frenzy of enemies coming from all sides and friendlies frantically blasting while trying to hold a position. If you think it sounds cool, wait till you see it in action with bullets and explosions going off everywhere.

Even better is that when you come across friendly troops, they will tell you (via voice-overs) how happy they are that you are there to save their butts, and then update you on the situation at hand. Plus, the troops will always work to take out the enemy, leaving you the opportunity to flank or use other strategies to destroy the vile Covenant.

The gameplay itself is incredibly smooth, and is one of the instances where the Xbox controller really shines. As expected, there are lots of weapons to wield – from shotgun to sniper rifle to needler guns – both of the human and alien variety. But since the alien force is so strong, you’ll quickly discover that grenades are one of your best friends and are critical for clearing the alien swarms that seem to pop up around every corner.

The player is also not limited to just standard first-person fare. There are different pieces of hardware you get along the way, including buggies (where you can drive or be the gunner), gun turrets, and stolen Covenant flyers.

While there really isn’t enough space to go on about all the great features Halo has going for it, the most impressive thing to note is the fact that the whole adventure is seamless. When the Xbox hits the streets, every player will want to get their hands on a copy of Halo – it's really that outstanding. It may not be a system-seller to the masses, but the hardcore players will love its intense action. Sixteen-player LAN deathmatches and multiplayer co-op are icing on this already delicious cake.

  

ANDREW REINER   9.5
With one swift strike, Halo sets the standard for all console first-person shooters to follow. Its graphical prowess is truly unprecedented, lighting up the screen with a flurry of chaotic effects that can best be described as glorious. The sheer depth of gameplay, and the countless innovations within it, are equally impressive, granting players the freedom to do just about anything their hearts desire. Take control of a jeep, or if you’re unsure of your steering, hop into the gunner’s nest. While you don’t have the ability to issue squad commands, you’ll have a team at your side through most of the game. The sensation garnered is that of all-out war, almost coming across as a sequel to the Starship Troopers motion picture. Even the multiplayer, which supports up to 16 players on a LAN, is loaded to the hilt with possibilities. Halo is a dream come true and one of the most explosive games to ever hit gaming.
9.5
CONCEPT:
As super trooper Master Chief you take the lead role in an intergalactic war
GRAPHICS:
Fantastic environments and characters
SOUND:
Literally hundreds of voice-overs that give the gamer a feeling of really being ther
PLAYABILITY:
Standard first-person shooter fare, but created for console play, so it's very easy to aim even without the benefit of a mouse
ENTERTAINMENT:
If you have ever dreamed of being on the front lines, this is your chance
REPLAY:
Moderately High
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