Sunday, October 18, 2020

Halo: Combat Evolved - First Drop - A Blind Playthrough - Part 2

The plot thickens on our first mission with the Master Chief. Where we saw a simple weapon with the potential to terrify and/or eliminate the Covenant, the truth was so much more sinister. Our military leaders, such is their wont in their endless hubris, unleashed and awakened sinister forces that threaten all life.

Thankfully, we're here to see if we can clean up the mess and stop The Flood from spiraling out of control.

And as always, thanks go to Sam Callahan for the thumbnail.

One of the things I can always appreciate in a game is a huge shakeup in the pacing and flow, and this is a pretty good example of that. At the end of the day, Halo is a power fantasy where the player inhabits the role of an unstoppable badass, so this section never really crosses over into true horror. Nonetheless, I did have moments of being unsettled when The Flood was first introduced, until I understood that I was supposed to fight, rather than flee.

And at the risk of repeating myself from the last time, it is honestly shocking how much the new lighting detracts from the experience. The original game conveyed a darker, both literally and metaphorically, atmosphere which helps sell the cosmic horror of The Flood all the more. Yet they translated this brooding palate into this bright, almost vibrant and varied color scheme that betrays the tone the old style establishes. It's genuinely shocking to me.

My other real criticism stems from the game itself. Maybe it's just me and the way I consume video games in 2020, but I cannot help but feel that several of the levels in this game overstay their welcome by about 15-20 minutes. By the time the introduction to The Flood was over, I had more had my fill of fighting them off, and I was ready to most onto the next set piece.

While that feeling was particularly noticeable here, I felt similarly in earlier stages as well. There's an odd pacing to this game that didn't survive the test of time the way the rest of it did, and that's understandable since it's almost 20 years old at this point. I must remember that this is the game that codified how one can make first-person shooters, and make them well, on controllers and game consoles. It is inevitable that it wouldn't be perfect, as this was something of an experiment.

Minor gripes aside, the experiment was largely successful. I'm still having a mostly good time playing it, even all of these years later and without the benefit of nostalgia beyond my nostalgia for the genre as a whole. It's impressive in its own right.

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