Under Fire: The Halo Challenge

Penny Arcade - Halo Comic

Back in my Kombo days, a fellow writer challenged me to play through the Halo games after I rolled my eyes about them at E3 2010. I told everyone I didn’t get the obsession because while watching friends play it years ago on the Xbox, I was so bored. I also may have dropped the comment that Halo fanboys were worse than Call of Duty.

I had just finished my Portal challenge with another Kombro (he had to play Heavy Rain), so this friend challenged me to play through the Halo games so I could see for myself what they were like. I said something like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” and then got sucked into whatever released that fall, the next spring, and so on. You know, like what usually happens when you plan to play an older game right before a massive release schedule. I did ask a friend of mine who is a diehard Halo fan if I could borrow his games, and then they sat there collecting dust for six months before I simply gave them back. I called quits on the challenge simply for lack of time and lack of interest, and I went back to my ways of making fun of Halo fanboys.

Fast forward a year later to the point when I joined the Gaming Angels staff as the shooter expert. What’s my first assigned game to review? That would be Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Well, shit. Now I can’t avoid playing it. And wow, look at all of the Halo fanboy-friends of mine who are cackling with glee. Ugh, karma can be SUCH a bitch at times.

If you read my review for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, then you know how much I liked it. My podcasting partner, Blake Grundman, was so gleeful, he bought me copies of Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST for Christmas. I didn’t pick them up until recently, due mostly to time and review schedule, but with E3 on the horizon and Halo 4 looming ahead, it was time.

I burned through Halo 2 and Halo 3 in two weeks. I can’t sugarcoat my loathing for Halo 2 at all. That game was God-awful. The visuals blended together too well, so it was incredibly difficult to see enemies until they were right on you. It was also incredibly easy to get lost because everything looks the fucking same. And then there was the atrocity that was the non-ending. I really can’t believe Mass Effect fans went so nuts over the ending of the last game, considering it HAD an ending. Halo 2 can’t even say it had an ending, much like Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Thank God for Halo 3. Halo 3 redeemed my bitterness toward the series and showed me how it can be a fun game with a decent story once again. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite game in the series thus far. My favorite parts have to be the fact that you don’t have Cortana throughout most of the game (she is so effing annoying), and you don’t fight Flood for a long time. I’m looking forward to ODST, since it’s something completely different, but it’s going to have to wait until after E3 as I have so much to work on before then. I will also admit that I have gone on ahead and bought Halo: Reach (yay for Amazon sales!), so it looks like I will complete my Halo challenge in full.

This is one reason why I like gaming challenges between my friends. I like pushing someone to play something they wouldn’t normally play, as it may turn them on to a new genre or make sure they don’t miss a particular experience. I’m very thankful for the Portal challenge, as without it, I never would have experienced the greatness of Portal 2. It looks like Halo has gone the same route for me.

What was next on the challenge list? A little game called BioShock….