Why Do You Like Halo?

I may get pilloried for this, but I’m pretty apathetic about the Halo games. I’ve played and enjoyed a lot of first-person shooters over the years, and I’ve never really seen what makes these games particularly remarkable.

Admittedly, I probably only played Halo: Combat Evolved a year or so after it came out, so other games may have already caught up in innovation. And I only played it on the PC–I don’t know if the XBox version was far superior.

I’ve read articles that sing the praises of its storyline, but I guess that wasn’t particularly compelling for me. The storytelling didn’t strike me as superior to, say, Max Payne or Halflife. Maybe I missed something? It’s a decent game–I just haven’t figured out why people are lining up to buy it.

What do you think sets the Halo games apart from the rest of the genre?

On an unrelated note, that Canada.com article I referenced is under a ‘Games News & Reviews’ banner, but lives in their absurd ‘Share It’ section. I complained about this when they re-launched last year. What rational media organization would put obituaries, e-cards and gaming news in the same category?

UPDATE: Clive Thompson writes about why he likes Halo 3 so much:

Which is Halo’s true gift to the world of games. It did so many things right that designers have been cribbing from it for years. Including, thankfully, the guys who made Halo 3.


  1. They buy it due to hype, just like with iPhone, Harry Potter, and other frenzies.

    In Halo, don’t you kill zombies by shooting them in the head? So why do people goof around doing other things?

    Or do I have my games scrambled? I’ve never played a video game, so this is just what I’ve heard.

  2. I’ve never played Halo. I don’t own an Xbox, and I’ve never tried the PC version.

    Though the game does look pretty fun, and it certainly has quite the following. In fact I know someone here at work who bought the “Legendary Edition” of Halo 3, with the Master Chief helmet and all.

    Me, I prefer a good game of the new Team Fortress 2. Man, what an awesome game that is.

    By the way, I think you might be missing an “I” in your title.

  3. I like Halo. I’ve played all three now. Most people seem to appreciate the ebb and flow of the combat (especially in the first game); the balance of the guns, grenades, and punches while having them all immediately available was new and fresh.

    I’ve never been too fond of the multiplayer, though. Where Halo shines to me is in cooperative campaign play. Few games allow you the same sort of experience, and those that do are mostly on PC (none of my friends have had PCs capable of running modern games for years, and we’re all pretty enthusiastic gamers; nobody wants a desktop any more, laptops are all the rage). Halo 3 steps that up by allowing 4 simultaneous players, and that’s a complete blast.

    Sure, it’s not better than Max Payne of Half Life. You mentioned two of my favorite series ever. But my friends without Xboxes are jealous of we who have the game and spent all night playing and chatting over Live. They want to get into it too, now, not just because it’s a good game, but because it’s a great way to hang out online. Half Life and Max Payne and just about anything out there (maybe the Steam Community stuff is an exception) don’t give that sort of experience.

  4. Sir, your gaming dollar is best spent on Bioshock. Extraordinary story, great experience all around. The story wrapped up in a way I had issues with but have come to like.

  5. It is the story telling of the Bungie Software crew, who were responsible for coming up with the story in the first place before being bought out and becoming a part of the larger (MS) company. Their knack for story telling in a first person shooter predates the Halo franchise by a great number of years – they are also the group responsible for one of the first first-person shooter trilogies that came out exclusively on the Mac, a game series known as “Marathon,” which took story-telling in games to a whole new level. The game looks old now, but I don’t recall a game as engaging in storyline as this one.

    A bit more info on the Bungie crew is here:

    Anyway. You really need to get into it before you can get .. into it, if you know what I’m saying. Regarding the storyline, playing just a part of one of the Halo or Marathon games is about as engaging (in my opinion) as watching a random episode of Survivor but no others – not very, imho.

    Still the game play on its own is quite good and imaginative. Anyway I figure it’s only worth while if you have a lot of time. Unfortunately I do not. C’est la vie..

  6. Todd: Indeed, I’ve seen video, and it looks great. One decision when I get back to Vancouver is whether I buy a gaming PC, a console or just stick with running Windows on my MacBook.

  7. I’m kind of a video game geek, and I’d have to say the Halo series ranks in the top 5 of video game series, up there with the Prince of Persia series and the Ratchet and Clank series.

    Why? Because it’s fun. Although most people don’t enjoy playing FPS games on the console, Bungie managed to smooth out all the problems with FPS games to make the first two ( haven’t played the third yet ) a blast to play.

    Along with good controls and great graphics, Halo has also got an awesome storyline. It’s a spiritual succesor of the Marathon games, and it shows. For me, it’s got top marks in the ‘holy trinity’ of games — gameplay, graphics, storyline.

  8. i haven’t yet tried halo 3…but from what i’ve just read, i might just have to.

    having just acquired a ‘wii’, i have to say that the whole gaming experience has changed (not that i was a big gamer before or am now).

    so far, the new splinter cell and resident evil 4 titles are insanely realistic and actually involve you physically in the game (which is the whole ‘wii’ thing). tres cool.


  9. Halo’s has a immensely wide universe to explore – a lot of mystery, a lot of action. I’m a Halo fan, and I have to say that playing the games really only gives you a small part of the entire story…a story well told. It touches on many deep concepts as well, if you take a closer look: life and death, pride, loss, revenge, fear, values, the unknown, and so on. Not just any old game plot, but it takes time to uncover it all. And the way Bungie made it, it’s amazing.

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