Sunday, October 11, 2020

Halo: Combat Evolved - First Drop - A Blind Playthrough - Part 1

With the closure of one series, it's time to start another. And just like before, this one harkens back to a by-gone age in video game history. Though I have no experience with the Halo campaigns, I've obviously played my fair share of their multiplayer modes at the houses of various friends from my childhood. Additionally, I've played many console shooters, all of whom trace their DNA, in some way, back to Halo.

This is a series that's been on my list for a long-time now, and I can think of no better way to run these games than on stream for everyone to watch. Naturally, since I'm running this campaign for the first time, I'm going so blind.

Join me on the new adventure with the Master Chef.

Thumbnail by Sam Callahan.

I want to preface this by saying that 343 did an incredible job with this remaster. Early technical issues aside, the game runs extremely well, and it felt good in my hands. Credit is also due to both them and  Bungie for the sound design, music, and the remaster work. And the ability to switch between old and new graphics on the fly is such a cool feature than must have taken ages to implement.

That said, I have two major critiques about the HD release overall, particularly the new graphical style. Firstly, the new style is difficult to read in comparison to the original. The Elites are what brought this into focus for me. In the old style, their shields light up in response to gunfire, so I knew when I was connecting. This wasn't the case in the HD version, where their model was so busy that I had to focus to perceive their shields responding to my gunfire. When in a tense fire fight, it is difficult to summon that level of attention to detail, making the theater of combat difficult to read.

On top of that, there is a noticeable brightness to the HD treatment, one that I found unpleasant to my eyes. The most obvious example is early on in the stream, where a dark corridor in the original style turns into a dimly, but visibly lit corridor in the up-res. In other locations, I noticed that there was a slight, but noticeable strain on my eyeballs when I switched to the updated look. No matter how beautiful a game is, there's no excuse for that kind of discomfort.

With regards to the game itself, my only real complaint thus far is that I find myself getting lost a lot, since it doesn't do a very good job signaling where we're supposed to go to proceed. At many times, I found myself either wandering aimlessly, or petitioning my stream chat for aid in figuring out what I was supposed to do.

But such complaints are ultimately minor, and this promises to be a fun series for the rest of our experience.

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