Thursday, November 27, 2008


This evening, after everyone had left, Sunny was napping on the couch while I was sitting at the computer doing a little light web surfing. As I picked up my coffee mug my elbow knocked a pen off the corner of the desk, and as I reached down to pick it up, I noticed something on the shelf next to me.

A copy of Halo : Combat Evolved on the bookcase.

I honestly had forgotten I had a copy. It was something I’d picked up out of the pre-owned bargain bin at Gamestop when we bought our current computer about three years ago.

Having played an awful lot of Halo 3 recently I decided to install it and take a look for nostalgia’s sake.

I really wish I hadn’t. Oh God, I wish I hadn’t.

The game started up and for a split second I thought something had gone wrong with my computer. You know how when you’re playing some games and there’s a bit of a delay between the environment loading and the textures popping in? It was like that, only the textures never actually popped in. Then I realized there was nothing wrong. This was just what the first Halo game looked like.

It’s amazing just how bad it looks. The Jackal’s shields were laughable. Instead of the subtly animated, faintly glowing, ultra-soft, variable transparency effects you’ll see in Halo 3…we have a static painted texture that looks like finger-paints on Perspex. There are no shadows, no glossy sheen on the Elite’s armor, no glow effects… If I had to sum it up in a single word, that word would be ‘crude’.

Basically with current gen hardware, if you want your bad guys to have glossy metallic armor, they have glossy metallic armor. At the time of Halo 1, the best you could do was to just paint a couple of white dots in strategic points on the texture to represent reflections

In all seriousness, it looked like something I’d expect to see on a cellphone game today. Really muddy low-rez textures, pathetic lighting effects…and the first time I fired my rifle and saw the muzzle-flash effect I was honestly shocked.

Did I ever really play this game? You see, I play games mostly for their story, and while I always thought the gameplay of the Halo series was wildly overrated, I always liked the actual story that Halo was built on.

How did I manage to get emotionally invested in the story of the Master Chief and Cortana if this was what I was seeing? It would be like trying to get seriously and honestly emotionally invested in a play performed completely by sock puppets.

Then I looked in the manual and regretted that as well.

Halo 1 was released in 2001.


Given that we’re at the very end of 2008, that means that Halo is almost ten years old. I was still a freaking teenager when it came out. I was 19. nine-goddamned-teen.

So, I suppose the moral of this story is that if you get the chance to play Halo 1 again…don’t. Because not only will the crude 2001 visuals punch through your rose-colored nostalgia glasses like a 30.06 round through damp tissue paper…it’ll make you feel really, really old.

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