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Oct 16th 2000

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page






TBA 2001


Read our full preview for this exciting title on the way from the team at Bungie.

Although neither Microsoft nor Bungie will reveal just how much was spent in the acquisition of the Chicago-based developer, it's arguable that every penny spent was worth bringing Halo to the Xbox. Widely considered to be one of the most technologically advanced games ever developed, Halo has become a staple at trade shows thanks to its ridiculously gorgeous visuals and unbelievably realistic physics. Never before has the term "blockbuster" been any truer.

Halo's story pits next-generation Marines against a race of alien baddies known as the Covenant. Both races have landed on a ring shaped planet (hence the name "Halo") with an atmosphere that's very similar to that of Earth's. The screens shown of the game are set in an environment full of rolling hills and lakes, which are by far some of the most detailed settings we've ever seen in a game.

In fact, the environments could easily be mistaken for photographs taken directly from the pages of National Geographic. The attention to detail the team at Bungie has put into Halo's settings is unbelievable. Every minute detail, down to the dust that's left behind a speeding vehicle, appears flawlessly rendered.

The lighting effects are perhaps the most visually impressive aspect of the game. Never before has sunlight been reproduced as realistically as it is in Halo. The position of the sun affects the shadowing of the environment and even changes the color of clouds as it's rising and setting. Aquatic plants can be seen near the edges of a body of water and the horizon fades out beautifully in the background.

During conflicts, the game encourages players to use the environment to their advantage. Using rocks and trees as cover substantially heightens your chances of success. Positioning your forces on higher ground also provides a clear advantage over your opposition. Surprising enemies from small depressions in the terrain will also prove useful during the course of battle.

"Far more so than in Myth, the Halo world is governed by a detailed physics model..." says Halo designer Jason Jones. And who are we to disagree? From what has been shown of the game in action, there's certainly no denying that Halo puts to use one of the most impressive physics engine ever created. Bullet casings bounce off the ground after being fired, marines react accordingly when traveling over the terrain in the game's various vehicles and the suspension of the vehicles respond realistically when hitting the ground after a jump.

Speaking of vehicles, Bungie plans to make transportation a major part of the gameplay. The marines will drive more conventional vehicles, such as the aforementioned jeep as well as tanks, boats and the like. The aliens, on the other hand, will, of course, pilot UFO-like war machines, most of which hover above ground. As far as weapons are concerned, the marines, again, use more conventional, propulsion-based weapons such as machine guns, while the aliens put to use more futuristic, energy-based weapons.

One of Halo's most innovative features is the ability it gives gamers to work as a cohesive unit yet control their respective characters completely independent of one another. For example, when using the jeep, one player will have the responsibility of driving, while another will ride shotgun and another will man the rear-mounted machine gun. Each player will have complete control over his/her character, making teamwork a crucial aspect of gameplay.

When looking at what Bungie has been able to achieve with Halo on a G3 Mac, it's incredibly exciting to think of what the Microsoft-owned developer will be able to achieve on the Xbox. Utilizing hardware considerably more powerful than anything that the game has been shown running on thus far, Halo for the Xbox should be nothing short of amazing.

Josh White

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