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It was a great article.
Date: 9/5/14 8:19 pm
In Response To: Re: Nice revisit of Silent Cartographer (Grizzlei)

: What I can glean from this is that while Halo has advanced considerably with
: advancing technologies in game development, it has also found itself
: abandoning a lot of core features which made it so unique and
: recognizable. In essence, with new tech, the game can mature to what it
: has always dreamed of becoming, but with that, it has lost much of what
: made it truly Halo.

I too feel that the sequels lost some of what made the original not only groundbreaking, but incredibly fun. Take for example the article's mentions of shields & health:

"Speaking of shields, Halo: Combat Evolved's approach to health is great. A traditional health system would discourage most players from trying to engage an Elite in a fisticuffs, because health loss is guaranteed. With the shield system, the health loss is only a possibility. You'll lose some shield energy when you take a hit, but you'll only lose a bar of health if you allow the shield to be depleted and fail to find a safe spot so that the shield can recharge. The health system is another invitation to dance, a calculated risk rather than a guarantee."

"It doesn't give you a health system that encourages you to stand still and take pot shots."

In the sequels, and Halo 2 especially, the damage scale was altered to where the enemies base damage level was increased substantially, thus making the Chief (or Arbiter) feel much more fragile. Further complicating this was the total absence of a health meter and health packs in Halo 2 & 3. In some ways, those games were sometimes like run-of-the-mill military shooters in this regard. The articles describes the flow of those games as "Run into a room full of enemies, take some damage, the screen turns red, duck into cover, wait a few seconds, repeat. If you die, you're back at the checkpoint." Halo 2 & 3 often feel like that, except you have a shield gauge instead of a reddening screen. Reach isn't quite as bad in that regard as you have a health bar once again with which to measure your health, but there's still the problem of OP enemies. Altering the damage scale in turn completely altered the flow and cadence of combat in Halo, forcing players to make more use of cover, to take fewer risks, and generally just to move less and take pot shots at the enemies. If you were good, you could take an Elite up close with just an AR in Halo 1, but if you try that in the sequels you may die before getting close.

Another way that Halo changed was in the level design. Halo 1 still has some of the biggest and most open levels in the series. Whether its the freedom of The Silent Cartographer and the "Reunion Tour" segment of the second level or the immense scale of Assault on the Control Room and Two Betrayals, Halo 1's levels were all amazingly fun and not only served to complement the excellent combat and encounter design, but also to give players freedom to explore. Whether it was attempting to reach the bottom of the substation on SC or the bottom of the bridge room in Halo or the bottom of the shaft at the beginning of AotCR or just finding little side rooms with Easter eggs, there were plenty of things to go see and do in the first game.

Halo 2's levels by comparison were far more linear and constrained, though there were a few opportunities for breaking out the level and finding out of the reach locales (e.g., exploring the outside of Cairo Station or the mountains of Delta Halo). Still, there were few if any alternate pathways, and the relative lack of big open outdoors areas that did not have vehicles meant fewer options for approaching encounters. Halo 3 took some steps to alleviate this, but it still fell short of Halo 1; it was with this game that Bungie started to make really heavy use of invisible walls as a barrier of exploration. ODST was an even bigger improvement, with the relatively open-world Mombasa streets, though the individual "spoke" levels, while well-designed with frequent branching pathways and sometimes even spacious open-air areas, are simply too short and can be completed much quicker than levels in main series titles.

Reach had a couple of levels where you could tackle multiple objectives in different orders just like the "Reunion Tour" chapter in the first game, but there were still few open large-scale areas that could be completed on foot. The two biggest areas in the game by far were mandatory vehicular sections that needed to be large to encompass combat involving fast-moving flying vehicles. There were also a couple of on-rails sequences, which would have been much more interesting had the player had some sort of agency in the flow of the encounter; in fact, in one of them there isn't even any combat, with some prime real estate that could have involved enemy encounters (thinking of a roadblock on the way to the Visegrad relay). Finally, Reach involved increased use of invisible walls and introduced soft-kill barriers, which gave players to the count of ten to come back inside the intended play space.

Halo 4 continued where Reach left off, but without even the benefit of having levels like Winter Contingency, ONI Sword Base, or Tip of the Spear. Halo 4 has perhaps the most constrained and linear levels in the series. Combined with the art design and all the other issues that post-CE games share, it feel like the least Halo-like Halo game, the antithesis of all the good things about Halo 1 that the article talks about. It's not a bad game in and of itself and still plays better than most other shooters, but it's not a great Halo game.

Messages In This Thread

Nice revisit of Silent CartographerKermit9/5/14 3:11 pm
     Re: Nice revisit of Silent CartographerGrizzlei9/5/14 4:34 pm
           It was a great article.Gravemind9/5/14 8:19 pm
     Re: Nice revisit of Silent Cartographerserpx9/6/14 1:00 am
     Re: Nice revisit of Silent Cartographeruberfoop9/6/14 1:40 am
     Re: Nice revisit of Silent CartographerQuirel9/6/14 12:17 pm
     Re: Nice revisit of Silent Cartographerrobofin1179/8/14 12:11 am

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