Monday, September 29, 2008

The Most Overrated Game (Of All Time)

Halo. Everyone is familiar with this gaming phenomenon, and everyone seems to have nothing but praise for this apparently revolutionary shooter. It sells as if it had been forged by a limitless supply of solid gold and was blessed by the Pope himself. Master Chief has been carried up the sacred mountain of gaming by the critical community on perfect 10’s to stand alongside other and better legends like Link, Mario, and Sonic.

Halo is the most overrated and undeserving game series of all time.

Maybe it's because when I had heard that Microsoft was going to make a video game console, a significant portion of my heart turned black, never to regain its former luster. A computer company sticking with computers?—isn’t that just a old-fashioned concept? Maybe because the game is more mainstream than My Little Pony, and my games-are-art streak simply can’t handle that. Maybe that’s why I just can’t seem to bask in the alleged "glorious" Halo.

Or maybe it's because the game is more unbalanced than a cross-eyed toddler, offers no distinguishing features that separate it from the universes and capabilities of any other FPS (First Person Shooter for you n00bs), has a completely generic and unrewarding single player campaign, and boasts the most annoying and repulsive online community the world has ever seen.

Let me address some of the backlash I can already hear coming:

"Yeah, the single player isn't all that, but it's a multiplayer game and the multiplayer i5 4\/\/3z0/\/\3! XBOX Live roxs!”

First off, if it's a multiplayer game, then why did they bother with a single player campaign? Secondly, if the single player is mediocre at best, then why is the game getting perfect 10s!?

There's nothing innovative in Halo. Anything that Halo feels proud of has been done before, and often better. Dual wielding? Goldeneye 007 did it in special circumstances, and Perfect Dark did it standard. Master Chief? The whole taciturn hero thing has been done many times before with more memorable and interesting characters, and the only thing that keeps Master Chief from looking like every other space marine from Starcraft to Warhammer 40,000 is the fact that his power suit boasts a helmet with a cute little brim over the visor. Mixing up elements from previous distinguished games and then failing to improve these elements in any significant fashion does not make a game innovative.

I mean, really, what about Halo gameplay is so new and different? The weapons, though interesting designs, are never implemented in ways that are interesting or useful.

This brings me to the problem of game balance, which for me was the fatal flaw in Halo. After having played it a while back at my brother’s house, I came to realize that I wasn't losing so horrifically because I was a bad tactician or bad at shooters. I was losing for two reasons: 1) Somebody had a sniper rifle, and 2) bad respawns. Good Lord, does this series have some awful respawns! You don't even get a single measly second of invincibility to compensate for being placed right in death's merry path.

I remember playing Halo, dying, and then remaining out of the game for the next twenty seconds as I died six times in a row without being able to take more than three steps. Of course, the respawns wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the blasted sniper rifles. If you've ever played Halo, you know how good the sniper rifles are. They're supposed to be ineffective at close range, but we all know that's a fib. Unlike any other good FPS, any weapon in Halo that isn't a sniper rifle, sticky grenade, or beam sword is worthless. Until you get your hands on any one of those three weapons, you might as well be running around furiously blowing bubbles.

The sniper rifle has absolutely no mitigating factors. Sniper rifles are supposed to bestow the benefits of long range and precision accuracy in exchange for high recoil, low rates of fire, small magazines, longer reload times, and complete uselessness at short range and in tight spaces.

Because of these facts, Halo's sniper rifle can be shot while running, jumping, or falling out of a vehicle from deadly heights, and in any of those situations can be fired at full zoom without suffering any penalty to accuracy. You could be spinning like a top and the bullets you fire will still go directly to the spot your crosshairs were pointing at the moment you pulled the trigger. These bullets can also ricochet twice and still have enough killing power for a one-hit kill.

Halo-Halo 3 are broken, and yet they still garner incredible critical acclaim. What they see in the Halo series, I have no idea. I don't need overpowered weapons blowing away heads made of cotton candy to make myself feel like a gamer.

Bottom line? Don’t buy. Don’t rent. Don't even look at it.


alex-ness said...

My boy loved Halo, and loves the equivalent, Starship Troopers and Alien.

But he is also 9.5 years old. So maybe he isn't an apt choice for rebuttal.

msunyata said...

At least the convoluted story didn't confuse you.

Brynna said...

There's no story to be convoluted with. :D