November 15, 2001 was a day that will forever be the launch point of one of the greatest gaming franchises the world has ever known. Halo: Combat Evolved was one-of-a-kind for it’s time and no one had ever seen anything like it at that point. It’s dramatic story captivated gamers worldwide and created an entirely new lore to explore in great detail.
I was only ten years old when this game hit the shelves for the original Xbox and it has been, and always will be, my favorite gaming series. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore why this game grabbed the hearts of so many teenagers.
Back up 19 years and pretend to forget every science-fiction, horror, or action film, or game you’ve ever seen. We get to know a super-soldier called Master Chief. He has weapons galore and some kind of energy-shielded armor that allows him to be a one man army. There is a cognizant AI super-computer capable of unbelievable technological prowess and she fits inside your helmet. There is a threatening alien species we human-folk are at war with and we’re fighting in space. Sign me up!
When Halo emerged, the raging question every gamer talked about was: What the hell is the Halo ring?
In the beginning of the story, the UNSC military of Earth discovers a mysterious planet-sized ring during a battle with the threatening alien species known as the Covenant. This ring was strange. We had no clue what it was, but a forced emergency landing onto the ring gave us players the opportunity to explore further.
After several missions, you learn the Halo ring is a super weapon designed to wipe out all sentient life within 25,000 light years, effectively ending humanity! Who would build such a weapon and why? It could not be allowed to be fired. The reason why it was built is terrifying:
The Flood is a parasitic alien species that has one goal: eat everything in it’s path. They are a terrifying breed and are very difficult to destroy. The only sure-fire way to wipe them out for good is to take away their food supply and starve them to death. Hence the Halo ring, designed to do just that.
The Flood are one of the best villains of all time and it’s amazing how heavily they enter the storyline. Before discovering them, the player thinks the fight is against the Covenant entirely, who is trying to gain sole possession of the Halo ring. This not being the endgame, Master Chief forces his way through hordes of The Flood, as well as the Covenant remaining, to stop the activation of Halo.
Master Chief succeeds and demolishes the Halo ring. Humanity and life everywhere have been saved from the singular threat of the Halo ring, but is it the only installation? As Master Chief states in the ending cut-scene: this is only the beginning.
Before you rage quit on me here, I fully understand that Halo was not the first first-person shooter to have multiplayer. We have the classic Goldeneye and Perfect Dark on N64 to thank for setting up that foundation. However, Halo: Combat Evolved elevated multiplayer to an entirely new atmosphere. As a young teenager, there was nothing better than setting up a LAN network on a Friday night with some Doritos and Mountain Dew, and playing 2-on-2 or 4-on-4 multiplayer in Halo.
Bungie gave us maps that were huge and astonishing. They gave us every weapon in the game to fight however we wanted. Finally, we were able to actually battle in the vehicles and work as a team to win. This was groundbreaking and overall a total blast to play with your friends.
Halo: Combat Evolved is still a phenomenal game to this day. It withstands the test of time, the campaign more so than the multiplayer, and it feels the same as it did 19 years ago. If you have never played it before, I implore you to pick up the Master-Chief collection which includes the first four games in the series and I promise it will be worth it. Trust me when I say that even 19 years later, the Library mission on Legendary mode is still one of the hardest and most frustrating missions in first-person shooter history. Have fun!