I finished playing Halo last week: wow. Despite some annoyingly repetitive sections about three-quarters of the way through, it was an enormously satisfying game. The climactic ending was the best I’ve come across since Ico. It wasn’t as emotional (I didn’t cry), but it was adrenaline-filled, rousing, and pleasingly cinematic. (I had been half expecting an Alien-style final encounter with a Flood creature on board the escape ship.)
By rights, Halo should have been the game that made me go out an buy an XBox. The best multiplayer fun I’ve ever had was playing 8-way split-screen Halo on two XBoxes and two big LCD wall projectors. I had enjoyed playing through some of the early single-player missions on friends’ boxes, both alone and in co-op mode. The choral opening music still gives me goosebumps.
For a long time, I had an XBox + Halo on my wish list, in case anyone was looking for ideas for a Christmas or birthday present. But for an equally long time, Halo was the only XBox exclusive game that held any real interest for me. I already had a PS2 and a GameCube, so I had multiformat games covered, £150 is a lot of cash to lay down for just a single game. I had thought I might get it on the PC when it came out last year, but performance issues convinced me otherwise.
In the end it was Rainbow Six 3 that was the tipping point for me to buy an XBox. Or, more specifically, the XBox Live multiplayer aspect of the game. Tactical squad-based shooters don’t light my candle, but co-operative team-based play does. And when you can slip on a headset and enjoy a lively shared experience in the comfort of your own home, well, that’s a whole new ball game.
So would Halo alone have been worth the price of an XBox? Good though it was, I don’t think so–especially as I already had plenty of games hardware. If I hadn’t had a PS2 or a GameCube, it might have been different. Having said that, I have Halo 2 on pre-order, and I’m planning to take the release date off work to put in some quality time with the Master Chief. Oh yeah.