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The 'rhythm' and delayed satisfaction of Halo 1
By:RC Master
Date: 4/19/13 8:53 pm

So I had a sudden urge to play Halo 1, so I dug out my original disc (NOT Anniversary) and went through the whole game this evening. First two levels on Heroic, then just blasting through on Easy for the rest of the game. It was awesome.

I love the rhythm the game has to it. The way you sometimes wait until the right time, or you can project your power out into the world and have it pay off later down the line.

I love the way grenades are super powerful but have that really long fuse. It allows you to set up what is going to happen, then sit back or move on, and let it play out. It gives you time to appreciate that you've already won, in effect, and then actually deliver the goods and everything dies.

A great example was on the bridge of the PoA on the Maw - there is an Elite in an alcove just before the bridge and some Grunts on the bridge itself. I LOVE sticking the Elite with a Plasma Grenade and then charging into the bridge with a shotgun to tackle the Grunts. The Plasma Grenade in Halo 1 had that full 3 second fuse after it stuck/came to rest. I actually find that SUPER satisfying.

I can stick the Elite, glimpse him freaking out, hear the screams and reactions as I'm already in the bridge itself delivering a faceful of pellets to the nearest Grunt, then the grenade explodes and I hear the signature sound of the grenade exploding and the screams of Elite. It's like a double-hit of satisfaction right at the same time: one for the Elite that I set up three seconds ago, and one for the Grunt I'm blasting right now.

Then of course, another few blasts: all Grunts dead. Their FRGs dropping to floor in a distinct sound. I know I've already won, but I just need to be a little careful of these FRGs. Couple of seconds later - boom! A chain reaction with their dropped Plasmas. Now I know the room is truly safe and completely mine.


In the other Halo games, everything is generally much more immediate. With less ability to set up destruction and let it play out. Grenades in particular: they explode so quickly, that of course they can't have them so powerful. They're weaker, and hence less awesome. They're firecrackers popping at the enemies' feet. They don't blast you off your feet, they don't engulf the entire corridor in blue flame.


But it's not just the grenades that have this great rhythm to them in Halo 1. The rockets move slow with a massive delay between shots, but when they hit, they properly wreck the place.

The Needler has a MASSIVE delay between when the requisite needles hit, and when it actually detonates. They also move pretty slow too, so in it's ideal range, you can strafe and watch the individual needles hit, see their flight-path bending towards the enemy, know that victory is yours already and watch the fireworks happen. Again it's like a double dip of win-sauce - knowing you've won, and then seeing the plan unfold.

I think this is a similar thing I like in C4 in the Battlefield games (CoD too I guess, but less so): the way you can set up the violence ahead of time. A sneakily placed pack near an area you're defending, you see an enemy move in, you know you've won, then you press the button, the area turns to rubble, and they lose a ticket. Or placing it on a 4x4 or little truck, racing towards an enemy tank, leaping out, that brief moment as the truck makes the final distance without you, it slams into the side of the enemy tank. You've won. You smile. You depress the button and the tank is engulfed in a cloud of smoke and shrapnel.

One weapon that kinda had this property was the Grenade Launcher in Halo: Reach. If you wanted to EMP down a banshee or warthog, you had to aim ahead and keep your finger on the trigger - it was very deliberate, and you have to time the release.

Moving back to Combat Evolved:

I love making Flood Carriers flop down beside me to explode, but running so fast past them that it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

I love the way the sniper and pistol are spammable, but it feels OH so much more rewarding to wait to line up your shot properly first and deliver a proper, powerful headshot and watch things drop instantly.

I love how powerful the shotgun is. I love how you can deck multiple enemies in a single shot. Shotguns that only work from two meters away are lame.

Also, there is NOTHING like a Halo 1 AR just layin' down the spray. The super-strong visual feedback of each bullet impact is SO good in Halo 1.

The PP Overcharge tracking was a bit trickier than I remember in Halo 1. Then again, I often just would use the normal shots - which still felt AWESOME btw, and not like I was using a stapler *ahem*

Of course, I'm probably just majorly fanboying-out with my nostalgia glasses on full rose tint. So *shrugs*

P.S. Going back to it, I just realised how nightmarish 25fps Halo is - screw differences in regional TV standards! Especially emulated and with occasional massive slowdown. I definitely appreciate the fact that Halo games were standardized to 30fps across the board from Halo 2 onwards. Though I seriously want to see a natively 72fps Halo game. But don't tell me to get Halo PC - there are many broken shaders in that version that make it aesthetically inferior to the Xbox version.

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