Tommorow is the release of Halo 2. Ironically, despite the fact that I consider myself a “hardcore” gamer (whatever that means) I won’t be getting it. There’s a couple of reasons why – the fact that there’s so many good games coming out, the usual “lack of time” issues, the fact that Half-Life 2 on DVD is eating most of my money, etc. But the real reason is this – I’m just not that excited about it.
Halo was a good game, don’t get me wrong – but it didn’t really “do it” for me. I personally thought that, as far as console based FPS’s go, Metroid Prime was a much better game. Another game I need to get to this holiday season is Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, but since I never got all the way through the first game, I need to go hit that up first. Heck, I never made it through Halo either. Of course, if someone out there got me Halo 2 I’d play it to death, but I’m not one of the millions of people sitting outside right now waiting for midnight and the game to drop.
Instead, I’m one of the ones wondering – what was the big deal, really, about Halo? I mean, it was a good game – there’s no denying that. It did a number of things very well. And when my born again Christian sister wants to do Halo deathmatch like she does at her Christian singles parties, I know it’s penetrated the Zeitgeist. Someone had a theory – people have a soft spot in their hearts for DOOM because it was their first FPS. Some have a spot for Quake because it was their first deathmatch experience. Halo attracts a ton of people who don’t game on the PC and never experienced an FPS before. Most PC gamers detest console FPS games because of the controller, but console gamers who love Xbox are more or less unanimous on their choice.
Plus, Halo was a launch title – Xbox wound upbeing the only one of the three consoles with a strong launch title. The PlayStation 2 could only muster up SSX (not even an exclusive) and the GameCube had Luigi’s Mansion (Metroid Prime didn’t come out for another couple of months). Microsoft is doing all it can to make Halo 2‘s launch rival that of early Rolling Stones albums. Apparently though there’s a bit of backlash from the hardcore crowd. That’s to be expected.
I’m not sure what went wrong but apparently the conversion of Halo to the PC has been considered “botched” by many. I never played it (already owned it on Xbox) so I’m not sure if it was just disdain over the course of the game’s development (originally a 3rd person PC game, then a FPS console exclusive, then two years delayed on the PC) or if it was just considered a below-average game by many’s standards. It occurs to me that I thought the Atari Jaguar game Tempest 2000 was an amazing game on that system, and the critics agreed – but the game was damned on the PC. It occurs to me – it could be that, by Jaguar standards Tempest 2000 was indeed an amazing game but by PC standards it was crap. Perhaps it was too with Halo.
And for some reason the “Special Edition” Halo 2 bugs me. Of course, if I was getting the game I’d probably get that one (same reason I opt for the Extended LOTR DVD’s) but to be so self-congratulatory on a game before it’s release disturbs me. At least when some movie gets a special edition DVD treatment, it’s because it had a chance to prove itself at the box office. But games don’t get a second chance really. Of course if they had released the special edition later, then gamers would be mad that they had been suckered into the “regular” edition. What a mess.
The ultimate irony however is that most non-print reviews I’ve seen of Halo 2 say that it’s essentially “more of the same” of Halo. It has online Xbox Live gameplay and the usual spate of enhancements, but it’s apparently just an improved Halo. Not that this is bad – the sheer popularity of Halo implies it was at least a good idea, and plus it’s not like it’s a mission pack or a pseudo-sequel like the last two GTA titles, but in an industry where innovation is supposedly everything (witness the quick backlash DOOM 3 experienced) people en masse seem to want exactly what Bungie is serving with Halo 2.
Well anywho, perhaps I’ll pick up the game. Ah hell, who am I kidding – I know I’ll buy it. Just not tommorow.