Monday, October 26, 2020

Halo: Combat Evolved - First Drop - A Blind Playthrough - Finale

It is difficult to describe how irrationally excited I was to stream this, not just because it was time for me to finish up my first playthrough of Halo: Combat Evolved. As many of you may know, my job requires me to spend about a week every month acting as the on-call support, meaning that I can't stream on those weeks since I may have to end the stream at any moment.

Recently, we got some hires that log in at around 8-8:30 PM EST, which means that I now have these Sunday nights to myself. And though I can't stream at the usual time, I can start an hour late and still do the thing I love doing on my Sunday nights.

I cannot express how happy I am to no longer have to cancel streams on weeks I'm on-call, but I can absolutely give the Covenant, the Flood, and that evil little robot a thrashing they won't soon forget.

Thumbnail, as always, is from Sam Callahan.


If I am being brutally honest, the last level of this game is bad, which is such a shame because it's otherwise such a solid opening salvo for the franchise.

That final fight sequence would have been a good one, except its map betrays it. In theory, this should be a simple fight, where we have to climb to the third floor, open up the cooling arrays and blow them up with explosive, but several minor complications combine to make this a bigger headache that it had to be.

  • There is, as far as I can tell, a single access point to the third floor, so if we ever fall off we have to make our way back to that stairway and climb back up no matter how far away we might be. This section could benefit from more ladders or ramps that would offer ways to more quickly make our way back up there.

  • The vents we need to destroy are located directly underneath the platform we have to climb up to in order to open them. This means that we have to jump off the platform in order to find a good angle to fire or lob grenades from. Things would be smoother if the exposed vents could be seen from the place where we press the button.

And then we get to escape scene in the Warthog, which is everything wrong with early 2000s vehicle sections distilled into a single stage. Terrible controls, combined with unwieldy terrain and floaty physics generate a breeding ground for frustration and contempt. Even worse, there isn't a single checkpoint at any point in the section. I'll take the blame for some of my deaths, but a lot of them were the result of physics-related mishaps I had next to no control over. To have the game invalidate six whole minutes of my time because their collision detection randomly decided to kill me is not a way to engender good feelings. I was surprised when stream chat called this an iconic moment, because I would never want this to be the thing people thought of when they think of a game I'm fond of.

I'm just glad the rest of the game more than makes up for it, because if this was my first impression I'm not sure I would've gone on to finish the Halo: Combat Evolved as I have.

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