rant

... in case some old sk00l r4nkh00r decides to knock them out after reading this latest column in Narc's Retorts. The gist is, the future for the Halo community might have more to do with statistics than mods.

category: 
game: 

The past few days have seen installments three and four of Rams Report over at Battleground: Halo. There was a considerable gap between issue 2 and issue 3, as the first two came out before PC Halo was even released, and the last two came out only recently.

game: 

The Harcore's Hardcorner column at Xbox.com has reinvented the Vidmaster's Oath, in a way-- insisting that truly "hardcore" players eschew the assault rifle (and nearly all other weapons) for the human and plasma pistols. The most disturbing part, though, is the T. J. Hooker reference. Thank-ee to Louie Woo.

category: 
game: 

Another review that went by the boards by us this past few days was FiringSquad's review of Halo, which is harsh. They call Halo's graphics "dated" and "blocky", and repeatedly say that such-and-such shortcoming is "a huge mistake" or "inexcusable" or "defies logic". However, let it not be said that we rant whenever anyone criticizes our favorite game; a lot of this review's points are spot-on, and raise questions that are more than fair to ask.

A quick rundown on the pro and con side:

PRO

  • AI. "AI is the best in the business."
  • Sound. "The music is as moody and powerful as it ever was."
  • Campaign. "The singleplayer game is, for all intents and purposes, the best pure action on the PC since Half-Life, and maybe ever." (Ed. note: Sheesh, guys... play Marathon sometime.)

CON

  • Weapon balance. "The sniper rifle is abusive. It dominates outdoor matches."
  • No co-op. "Gearbox may not have had the full two years to put it in, but Microsoft and Bungie did. It's their fault that it didn’t make it into the game and quite frankly, it’s a huge mistake."
  • Multiplayer. No boot/ban facilities; text-only chat in same window as console messages.
  • Graphics. Blocky.

Of course, worst of all may be the backhanded compliments:

The abundant use of voices and voice effects is still above and beyond most any other recent game has done. From the friendly, reassuring voice of Cortana, through the chatter of marines ("hey, you stole my kill!") and the surprised yells of grunts, to the frustrated rage of elites - this is the kind of detail and character you'd expect only from a Blizzard game.

Ouch!

The remarks about graphics and co-op especially are worth attention. We've all read articles about how Halo is a "complicated beast", requiring more programmer-hours than other projects to port. I'm sure nobody believes that PC Halo took so long because everybody was on vacation.

However, nearly all these articles give us to believe that what's complicated about Halo-- and difficult to port-- are the rendering routines. When users complain about low framerates even on new machines with decent video cards, they're often told this is just a consequence of just how much work the Halo engine has to do, and the system resources required to do it.

So how then can PC Halo's graphics be blocky and unimpressive compared to other games? Basically, how can the game's engine be so complex that it causes problems for machines that are able to run games with graphics that reviewers apparently believe offer superior graphics to Halo?

Perhaps it's too technical question for there to be a simple answer, but it seems there is a basic contradiction here somewhere.

As for coop.. well, I agree with FiringSquad. The market is hungry for cooperative network play. Playing coop is the most fun I have playing Halo, and also the most fun I had playing Myth, Marathon, and Unreal.

Let's hope there's a patch. Thanks Louis Wu.

category: 
game: 
platform: 
topic: 

Last Wednesday we noted Matt Slagle's review of Halo for the PC platform, which contained a number of not-so-nice things about the game we all know and love, as well as some minor inaccuracies that cast doubt on the amount of due diligence applied by Mr. Slagle in writing the review. Shishka emailed him, as well as many others, and received a reply that the article would be corrected.

category: 
game: 
platform: 

Two years ago, Microsoft's Xbox console debuted with its first must-have game, "Halo: Combat Evolved."

That's the opening line of Associated Press writer Matt Slagle's review of Halo for the PC, appearing now in Yahoo News and, no doubt, in newspapers around the country. Those two years might have been used garnering information pertinent and useful for writing a review of Halo (or indeed for any computer game). Sadly, Mr. Slagle seems to have been doing something else with his time.

The review ranges from the merely inaccurate...

You play as Master Sergeant, an armor-clad space marine in the crosshairs of a war with an advanced collective of aliens called The Covenant.

Master Chief, guy. Look, it's even got fewer letters! It's easier to type than Sergeant!

... to the glib...

I can't remember the last time an action game had me checking my watch so often.

... to the insulting...

After all, the Xbox is essentially a mid-range PC wrapped inside a black plastic case. Perhaps Microsoft didn't want to crimp sales of its marquee Xbox game. Whatever the reason, Halo on the PC is too little, too late.

The Xbox's processor and hard drive might qualify it as "mid-range", but its GPU is not-- and certainly was not when it was launched a full two years ago.

... and finally the contradictory...

For owners of extremely fancy, high-end computers costing thousands of dollars, Halo's graphics are sure to dazzle.

Hold on a second here. At first, the author wonders why Halo took "so long" to come to the PC, since the Xbox is basically a "midrange" PC, and then he complains that the system requirements are too high, because most users don't have the horsepower to see the dazzling graphics?

Here's a clue, Mr. Slagle. The Xbox version was for those people. The PC version is basically for people with high-end computers costing "thousands" of dollars. (Last time I checked, almost all the computers worth having cost "thousands of dollars". If your budget runs more to the "hundreds of dollars" range, and you want to play Halo, buy an Xbox.

And for you, dear readers? Well, if anyone else feels like (politely, please) letting Mr. Slagle feel that he was perhaps ill-prepared to produce this review, then perhaps sending him a nice email would do the trick.

Have a nice day!

Thanks to GlennKM in the HBO forum who pointed out this review.

UPDATE: Shishka, over at HBO, noted that he emailed Slagle, who said a corrected article has been submitted. No note of what (other than the Master Sergeant flub) would be changed. At this moment, the original article is still available.

category: 
game: 
platform: 

As if to confirm our original suspicions, we got another copy of the "you've won an Xbox" mail from another domain, this time prizebounty.com. IANAL, but this one spells S-C-A-M to me.

category: 
platform: 
topic: 

GameSpy, your #1 site for Top Lists Of Anything, came up with a list of 25 Most Overrated Games, and put Halo at #10. Ouch. Thanks to Harry Al-Shakarchi of Oni Central, via Louis Wu of HBO.

category: 
game: 
platform: 

There's a reason why the practice of explaining how a football team could have won a game they lost-- after the fact-- is armchair or Monday morning quarterbacking.

That should be kept in mind when reading the Monday Morning CEO column at Red Mercury.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't a few salient points sneaking about.

category: 
platform: 
topic: 

Jason at Xbox365 has written a short review of the Halo prequel novel, The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund.

Unfortunately, he seems to be laboring under a serious delusion-- namely, that Bungie's game was based on Nylund's book, rather than the reverse:

category: 
game: 
topic: 

The Ministry Of Security has added a new edition of the Myth Enquirer. The second featured article discusses the demise of Myth II and bungie.net's online play though Total Codex isn't ready to give up his favorite pastime.

category: 
game: 

Pages