Happy 15th Birthday Halo!

Celebrating 15 years of Halo CE and why its still an incredible game.

November 15th 2001 the day that Halo Combat Evolved launched with the original Xbox. Despite being 15 years old Halo CE remains an incredible title which has aged incredibly well. It remains my favourite game of all time, not based on nostalgia or the fact it launched an entire franchise of amazing titles, no it remains my favourite game because it was and is an amazing game, its gameplay, soundtrack, story and just about everything else cannot be beaten and has never been surpassed.

A bold thing to say but that is genuinely how I feel about this game. From first awakening as the Master Chief to the very climatic and breath taking final moments this game is one hell of an adventure. Firstly, I would like to mention the gameplay which even in 2016 is still exhilarating and fun. Whether it be blasting grunts up close with the iconic and stupidly powerful magnum on the opening level or engaged in all out-vehicle combat with the tank. The gameplay is by far the strongest component of the entire game. Halo CE throws new things at you as the game progresses. Every Level has something iconic or memorable associated with it which makes the 10-mission long campaign very fulfilling and replayable. Iconic and exciting guns, action packed vehicle sections a plethora of powerful enemy’s, interesting and diverse environments, the list goes on. Halo CE was and still is a fun and exciting game to play and I believe it always will be a truly timeless gem of incredible gameplay. The entire campaign can also be played in coop and often over looked is the fact that the game also boasts a ridiculously fun multiplayer mode.

The gameplay is not the only thing that Halo CE does so well, its story while simple remains a well written and engaging journey. There is only a small cast of characters although this is the game in which one of gaming’s most iconic characters makes his debut. Master Chief the mostly silent super soldier who players take control of in the game. Badass, awesome, heroic, legendary, just a few words that describe the man in the armour. The great thing about Master Chief in Halo CE is that very little is revealed about him and he undergoes limited character development, while this at first sounds like a fault with the game it instead allows the player to become and be the Master Chief. This game, more so than any other title in the Halo franchise is where the player IS the Master Chief. Of course, another iconic character is Cortana, the smart AI leading the player from objective to objective while slowly unravelling the story without ever being expositional or treating the player dumb. There are great characters besides these two however such as Captain Keyes and 343 guilty Spark, easily two of my favourite characters from the entire franchise. The story again is for me timeless, it’s easy to follow and not overly complex but neither is it dumb or silly. It moves along at a great pace, the player learning things about the world as the characters do. Just like the gameplay it introduces new things as the title goes on. What starts out as a desperate fight for survival against a covenant of aliens evolves into a story about saving all sentient life in the galaxy. It really is a fantastic premise, one which is executed perfectly, if there is fault to be found with the plot it is trivial. What separates Halo CE from other games including those found in its own franchise is that it works perfectly well as a standalone title. No prequel or sequel or expanded universe content is needed to enjoy Halo CE’s plot. The game can be enjoyed at any time, by just about anyone looking for a decent plot and for me remains one of my favourite stories of all time to be found in any media.

What is the glue that keeps the gameplay and story stuck so flawlessly together? The soundtrack of course. The soundtrack of Halo has naturally progressed over the years, but for me nothing can beat the original. From the iconic monks chanting to its most dark and unnerving tunes, the soundtrack has something that accompanies all of the games story beats and action sequences. It works so well with the game and can easily be enjoyed without it as well. Its moving, its touching its certainly memorable. A soundtrack so majestic that it can easily be enjoyed for years to come. Graphics and sound are perhaps the two things were the original title does show some age, but this never stops the game from being enjoyable, and there is of course Halo CE Anniversary (Celebrating 5 years) which rectifies the games graphics and sounds. Not to discredit the games original look and sound of course, which even after 15 years are not off putting in the slightest.

So yes, I love this game truly LOVE this game, it means a lot to me as an individual and so naturally there is a certain nostalgia associated with it. The point of this however was not to get all nostalgic about the Halo franchise celebrating 15 years but instead to showcase that even after 15 years Halo CE is still fundamentally a video game masterpiece, which for me has never been beaten and probably never will be. I’ve been enjoying this game for 15 years since I was 7 years’ old and I’ll probably enjoy it for the next 15 as well.

Cortana: Halo, It’s Finished.

Master Chief: No, I think we’re just getting started.

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