Halo divided camps from the beginning: those who saw the Xbox’s prized launch title as nothing more than a polished copy of previous shooter principles, and those who understood the revolutionary nature of its open-ended gameplay and eloquently scripted plot. While those same camp wars continue, the latter group have been graced once more with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, an honourary, graphically-enhanced salute to Bungie’s loyal ten-year fanbase. No longer in command of the control center, however, the honour of firing those twenty-one guns pointed at the head of the universe falls on the shoulders of 343 Industries, the new task force assigned to future Halo operations. In their first test, have they mastered the Master or wronged the relic ring’s respectability?
Man, I feel like a Forerunner. Ten years after unsealing the hushed casket, the boys at 343 Industries – Bungie, in spirit — are honouring their long-time legendary loyalties with next week’s enhanced anniversary edition of the real 2001 space odyssey, Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie’s breakthrough that redefined the first-person shooter’s limitations and set the genre loose on the home console market. Rest assured, we’ll have Anniversary’s review for you and more, but to satisfy your insatiable nostalgic appetite until its release, we thought we’d take a look back at Master Chief’s original outer-space outing before coming around full circle.
First, the looming question: why is Halo so significant to gaming culture? What impact and legacy has it left on the hearts and minds, both developer and player alike, within our illustrious industry? To mince words, what’s the big deal? Twenty years have forged the first-person shooter into the most popular genre in gaming, sure, but where Doom formulated, Halo reinvented, shocking the desktop shooter skeptics convinced that a control stick was no match for a mouse. Bungie proved the naysayers’ negativity null and moot.