So Halo Reach comes out in the near future. A lot of people I know aren't fully aware of the the series up to now. It's a truly interesting series on a Star Wars level for the video game industry. A lot of this is strictly my opinion, but feel free to share your opinions in the comments. I'm going to go over all the games. I'll go over their strong points and their weak points in my opinion. Spoiler Alert: I'll be going over key points of the plot so reader beware.
A brief rundown of the universe. 5 games and 5 books. The year of the first game is 2552. The ware between the UNSC (humans) and the Covenant (aliens) started in 2525. The Master Chief is a Spartan II super soldier. Think the Kurt Russell movie Soldier and you get the idea. Trained since the age of 6 to be an obedient soldier. They have bone and muscle augmentations to be near unstoppable soldiers. The Spartan IIs are issued Mjolnir (Norse God Thor's Hammer) Mark IV armor in 2551. Several days before the first game, the Spartan IIs got Mark V armor. Their main military planet, Reach, is invaded by the Covenant. The planet is destroyed right before the game starts. During some of the games you are led to believe that you are the last super soldier, but in fact you are 1 of approximately 33 soldiers. Spartan IIIs are introduced at some point in time that are cheaper, more drugged up than trained and more expendable than the IIs. You play as a Spartan III in Reach.
The first game in the series. Your character, John 117 aka The Master Chief, wakes up from cryosleep while the ship he's on is attacked by an ultra violent species of religious aliens called "The Covenant". Your crash on a mysterious ring shaped world that the Covenant call "Halo". The Covenant believe that this object will start their "great journey". This is their equivalent of The Rapture. So, you land on this crazy strange "world". You fight your way to the planet core, you find a CRAZY Zerg/Xenomorph alien race called "The Flood", and you then fight your way back to the top of the planet into your ship you woke up in. Finally, you drive a Warthog against the clock to an evacuation ship.
This game took Goldeneye 64 off the top of the awesome multiplayer games. The XBox allowed system link so you could potentially play up to 16 players on the same map.
One of the things I loved the most about this game was the graphics and environments. The first few levels of the game are in forest environments are are beautifully detailed. Unfortunately, the game levels seem repetitive. You start on the ship, go into the planet, go out of the planet and back onto the ship. The main difference is the first half of the game you're fighting the covenant and the second half you are fighting endless waves of Flood.
You start the game primarily using earth weapons and toward the end of the game you are mainly using alien weapons. This is pretty common through the first two games. Halo 3 and H3:ODST are more forgiving with the weapons thanks to drop pods and weapon caches. You also have to rely on health packs. You have 8 bars of health and shields. You are in a world of hurt if you get a checkpoint save with only 2 bars and can't get a health pack. This is replaced in Halo 2 forward with stronger shields and a quicker recharging shield.
This game was released November 15, 2001. I still play this game for fun. Simple plot game, but a very detailed back story that is unfolded in the books.
I had the pleasure of working for Game Stop when this game was released. We served 200 customers at midnight without a riot. This game introduced a lot of cool features to the Halo game play and also adds some crazy plot twists to the story.
You start the game on a space station getting some Mark VI armor. No more health packs. You're running on pure shields. In a nutshell, the Covenant attacks the ship. They find Earth, which is a big deal. You fight some of the off. You find another Halo. You blow it up too.
The standard assault rifle from the first game is replaced with the Battle Rifle. The assault rifle was a full auto rifle with a relatively large clip. The BR is three shot burst with a smaller clip. I prefer the BR due to it being a good mid range weapon. Dual wielding is also introduced in this game. Several lightweight sub machine guns are available to dual wield. Unfortunately, dual Needlers is less effective than a single needler in the first game. The pistol has also been trimmed down A LOT. Dual wielding is a very nice feature when ammo is running low. You can generally find a suitable replacement for at least one weapon if one goes dry.
One of the new cool features of the game is that you get to play an Elite called Thel 'Vadamee, The Arbiter, in several missions. You learn about the hierarchy of the alien races in the Covenant. The Arbiter failed to protect the first Halo from blowing up. The leaders of the Covenant, The Prophets, deem him an Arbiter, essentially a suicide soldier that is sent on very impossible missions for the "greater good" of the Covenant. (There is an Arbiter in Halo Wars) The Elites' culture is very much like the Samurai. Dieing in battle is the greatest honor, etc.
So the Arbiter goes after some heretics who know the truth about the "Great Journey". The truth is exposed to the Arbiter and the Elites are cast out of the covenant. End of the Campaign essentially leads the Elites teaming up with the Humans to finish the fight with the Covenant. Kinda cool and neat twist.
Halo 2 was also the first game to introduce online multiplayer. I haven't played much of it, but I have a large enough understanding of it to not exactly care for it in this game. I'm cool with Halo 3 multiplayer, but certain weapons are way too powerful and there are too many dual wielding tricks.
So in a nut shell, Halo 2 yays: Better armor and no health packs (makes it harder to get stuck in Campaign), Battle Rifle introduced, dual wielding weapons, play as an Elite, and online play. Halo 2 Boos: More Flood, pistol is 25% as effective as it was in the first game, the last level is played as the elite, poor matchmaking and over powered multiplayer weapons.
Expect part two some time next week where I'll cover Halo 3, Halo 3:ODST, and Halo Wars. Part 3 will focus on Reach.