Halo: Combat Evolved

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Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo - Combat Evolved (XBox version - box art).jpg
Artwork for U.S. and European releases, depicting the player character Master Chief
Developer(s) Bungie
Gearbox Software (PC)
Westlake Interactive (Mac)
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Jason Jones
Producer(s)
  • Hamilton Chu
  • Rick Ryan
Designer(s) John Howard
Artist(s) Marcus Lehto
Shi Kai Wang
Composer(s)
Series Halo
Platform(s)
Release
November 15, 2001
  • Xbox
    • NA: November 15, 2001 [1]
    • EU: March 14, 2002 [2]
    Microsoft Windows
    • NA: September 30, 2003 [3]
    • EU: October 10, 2003 [4]
    Mac OS X
    • NA: December 3, 2003 [5]
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s)

Halo: Combat Evolved, also known as Halo: CE, is a first-person shooter game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released as a launch game for Microsoft's Xbox video game console on November 15, 2001. Microsoft released versions of the game for Windows and Mac OS X in 2003. The game was later released as a downloadable Xbox Original for the Xbox 360. Halo is set in the twenty-sixth century, with the player assuming the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced supersoldier. The Chief is accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence. Players battle aliens as they attempt to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world.

Contents

Bungie began the development of what would eventually become Halo in 1997. Initially, the game was a real-time strategy game that morphed into a third-person shooter before becoming a first-person shooter. During development, Microsoft acquired Bungie and turned Halo into a launch game for its first video game console, the Xbox.

Halo was a critical and commercial success and is often praised as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game's popularity led to labels such as "Halo clone" and "Halo killer", applied to games either similar to or anticipated to be better than it. Its sequel, Halo 2 , was released for the original Xbox in 2004, and the game spawned a multi-billion-dollar multimedia franchise that incorporates games, books, toys, and films. The game inspired and was used in the fan-created Red vs. Blue video series, which is credited as one of the first major successes of machinima (the technique of using real-time 3D engines, often from video games, to create animated films).

More than five million copies had been sold worldwide by November 2005. A high-definition remake, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary , was released for Xbox 360 on the 10th anniversary of the original game's launch. Anniversary was re-released for Xbox One as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in 2014, and was released on Windows PCs in March 2020.

Gameplay

The Master Chief fires his assault rifle at a pack of enemy Grunts. Ammunition, health, and motion sensor displays are visible in the corners of the screen. Halo - Combat Evolved (screencap).jpg
The Master Chief fires his assault rifle at a pack of enemy Grunts. Ammunition, health, and motion sensor displays are visible in the corners of the screen.

Halo: Combat Evolved is a shooter game in which players experience gameplay in a 3D environment almost entirely from a first-person view (FPS). The player can move around and look up, down, left, or right. [6] The game features vehicles, ranging from armored 4×4s and tanks to alien hovercraft and aircraft, many of which can be controlled by the player. The game switches to a third-person perspective during vehicle use for pilots and mounted gun operators; passengers maintain a first-person view. [7] The game's heads-up display includes a "motion tracker" that registers moving allies, moving or firing enemies, and vehicles, in a certain radius of the player. [8]

The player character is equipped with an energy shield that nullifies damage from weapons fire and forceful impacts. The shield's charge appears as a blue bar in the corner of the game's heads-up display, and it automatically recharges if no damage is sustained for a brief period. [8] When the shield is fully depleted, the player becomes highly vulnerable, and further damage reduces the hit points of their health meter. [9] When this health meter reaches zero, the character dies and the game reloads from a saved checkpoint. Health can be replenished through the collection of health packs scattered around the game's levels. [8]

Halo's arsenal consists of weapons from science fiction. The game has been praised for giving each weapon a unique purpose, thus making each useful in different scenarios. [10] For example, plasma weapons need time to cool if fired too rapidly, but cannot be reloaded and must be discarded upon depletion of their batteries, whereas conventional firearms cannot overheat, but require reloading and ammunition. In contrast to the large weapon inventories of contemporary FPS games, Halo players may carry only two weapons at once, calling for strategy when managing firearms. [11]

Halo departs from traditional FPS conventions by not forcing the player character to holster its firearm before deploying grenades or melee-range blunt instruments; instead, both attacks can be utilized while a gun is still equipped, supplanting or supplementing small-arms fire. [8] Like the game's other weapons, the two types of grenades differ; the fragmentation grenade bounces and detonates quickly, whereas the plasma grenade adheres to targets before exploding. [12] [13]

The game's main enemy force is the Covenant, a group of alien species allied by belief in a common religion. Their forces include Elites, fierce warriors protected by recharging energy shields similar to the player's own; Grunts, which are short, cowardly creatures who are usually led by Elites in battle, and often flee in terror instead of fighting in the absence of a leading Elite; Jackals, originally space pirates, who wear a highly durable energy shield on one arm and a form of handgun on the other; and Hunters, large, powerful creatures composed of small worm-like colonies with thick armor plates that cover the majority of their bodies and a large assault cannon that fires explosive rounds of green plasma. [14] A secondary enemy is the Flood, a parasitic alien life form that appears in several variants. [15] Other enemies include Sentinels, aerial robots designed by an extinct race called the Forerunners to protect their structures and prevent Flood outbreaks. Sentinels are able to hover around in enclosed spaces and produce an energy shield when under attack. They lack durability, but use powerful laser weapons and are immune to infection by the Flood. [15]

The artificial intelligence in Halo has been favorably received. [16] The player is often aided by United Nations Space Command (UNSC) Marines, who offer ground support, such as manning gun turrets or riding shotgun while the player is driving a vehicle. [10]

Multiplayer

A split screen mode allows two players to cooperatively play through Halo's campaign. [6] The game also includes five competitive multiplayer modes, which all can be customized, for between two and 16 players; up to four players may play split-screen on one Xbox, and further players can join using a "System Link" feature that allows up to four Xbox consoles to be connected together into a local area network. [6] Halo lacks artificially intelligent game bots, and was released before the launch of the Xbox Live online multiplayer service; therefore LAN parties are needed to reach the game's 16-player limit, [17] a setup that was a first for a console game, but was often deemed impractical by critics. [10] Aside from this limitation, Halo's multiplayer components were generally well received by critics, and it is widely considered one of the best multiplayer games of all time. [7] [11] [18]

Although the Xbox version of Halo lacks official support for online multiplayer play, third-party packet tunneling software provide unofficial ways around this limitation. [19] The Windows and Macintosh ports of Halo support online matches involving up to 16 players and include multiplayer maps, not in the original Xbox release. [20] However, co-operative play was removed from the ports because it would have required large amounts of recoding to implement. [21] In April 2014, it was announced that GameSpy's servers and matchmaking, on which Halo PC relied, would be shut down by May 31 of the same year. [22] A team of fans and Bungie employees announced they would produce a patch for the game to keep its multiplayer servers online. [23] The patch was released on May 16, 2014. [24]

Synopsis

Setting

Halo: Combat Evolved takes place in a 26th-century science fiction setting. Faster-than-light travel called slipspace [25] :3 allows the human race to colonize planets other than Earth. The planet Reach serves as an interstellar hub of scientific and military activity. The United Nations Space Command (UNSC) develops a secret program to create augmented supersoldiers known as Spartans. More than twenty years before the beginning of the game, a technologically advanced collective of alien races called the Covenant begins a holy war against humanity, declaring them an affront to their gods. Humanity's military experiences a series of crushing defeats; although the Spartans are effective against the Covenant, they are too few in number to turn the tide. In 2552, Covenant forces attack Reach and destroy the colony. The starship Pillar of Autumn escapes the planet with the Spartan Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 on board. The ship initiates a jump to slipspace, hoping to lead the enemy away from Earth. [8] :4–5

Plot

The game begins as Pillar of Autumn exits slipspace and its crew discovers a large ringworld structure of unknown origin. The Covenant pursues the Autumn and attacks. With the ship heavily damaged, the Autumn's captain, Jacob Keyes, entrusts the ship's artificial intelligence (AI) known as Cortana to Master Chief in order to prevent the Covenant from discovering the location of Earth. Keyes orders the crew to abandon the Autumn and pilots the ship to a crash-landing on the ringworld.

On the ring's surface, Master Chief and Cortana rescue other survivors and help organize a counter-offensive. Learning that Keyes has been captured by the Covenant, Master Chief and a small contingent of soldiers rescue him from the Covenant cruiser Truth and Reconciliation. Keyes reveals that the Covenant call the ringworld "Halo" and that they believe it to be a weapon. Intent on stopping the Covenant from using Halo, Keyes searches for a potential weapons cache, while Master Chief and Cortana mount an assault on the ringworld's control room. Cortana enters Halo's computer systems and, after discovering something, sends Master Chief to find and stop Keyes from continuing his search.

Searching for the captain, Master Chief encounters a new enemy, the parasitic Flood. The release of the Flood prompts Halo's caretaker, the AI 343 Guilty Spark, to enlist Master Chief's help in activating Halo's defenses. After Master Chief retrieves the ring's activation index, 343 Guilty Spark transports him back to Halo's control room. Cortana intervenes before Master Chief can activate the ring; she has discovered the purpose of the installation is to destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, starving the Flood of potential hosts. When Cortana refuses to surrender Halo's activation index, 343 Guilty Spark attacks her and Master Chief.

To stop Halo's activation, Master Chief and Cortana decide to destroy the installation. Needing Keyes' command codes to destroy the Autumn and Halo with it, Master Chief returns to Truth and Reconciliation, only to find that Keyes has been assimilated by the Flood. Retrieving the codes from the captain's remains, Master Chief returns to the Autumn, and manually destabilizes the ship's reactors, narrowly escaping the ensuing detonation in one of the Autumn's fighters, while the majority of the remaining Covenant, UNSC forces, and infected Flood are destroyed along with the Halo installation. Cortana justifies their sacrifices and believes their work to be finished, but the Master Chief states that they are only getting started. 343 Guilty Spark is shown to have survived Halo's destruction in a post-credits scene.

Development

Prototypes

In 1997, Bungie comprised around 15 people working in south Chicago, Illinois. During the development of Myth II: Soulblighter , a group of three:7'02''–7'05''began work on a real-time strategy game (RTS) with a focus on science fiction, realistic physics simulations and three-dimensional terrain. [26] Early versions used the Myth engine and isometric perspective. [27] The project had the working title Monkey Nuts, then Blam! after project lead Jason Jones could not bring himself to tell his mother the original name. [28] :ix [29]

Experimenting with ways of controlling units, Bungie added a mode that attached the camera to individual units. The vantage point continually moved closer to the units as the developers realized it would be more fun for players to drive the vehicles than have the computer do it. "And controlling [the vehicle], just that double tactile nature of load a dude in, get a dude out, hands on the steering wheel—it was like, this shouldn't be an RTS game," Bungie founder Alex Seropian recalled. By mid-1998 the game had become a third-person shooter. [26]

Peter Tamte, Bungie's then-executive vice president, used his contacts from his former position at Apple to get Joseph Staten and Jason Jones an audience with CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs, impressed, agreed to debut the game to the world at the 1999 Macworld Conference & Expo. [26] Anticipation built for the unknown Bungie game after favorable reviews from industry journalists under non-disclosure agreements at Electronic Entertainment Expo 1999. [30] [31]

The first official screenshot of Halo. First official halo screenshot.jpg
The first official screenshot of Halo.

Days before the Macworld announcement, Blam! still had no permanent title; possible names had included The Santa Machine, Solipsis, The Crystal Palace, Hard Vacuum, Star Maker, and Star Shield. [32] Bungie hired a branding firm that came up with the name Covenant, but Bungie artist Paul Russell suggested alternatives, including Halo. Though some did not like the name—likening it to something religious or a women's shampoo—designer Marcus Lehto said, "it described enough about what our intent was for this universe in a way that created this sense of mystery." [26] On July 21, 1999, during the Macworld Conference & Expo, Jobs announced that Halo would be released for MacOS and Windows simultaneously. [30]

The story premise at this point involved a human transport starship that crash-lands on a mysterious ringworld. Early versions of Covenant aliens arrive to loot what they can, and war erupts between them and the humans. Unable to match the technologically advanced alien race, the humans resort to guerrilla warfare. [33] At this point, Bungie promised an open-world game with terrain that reacted and deformed from explosions, persistent environment details such as spent shell casings, and variable weather, none of which made it into the final product. [34] [35] [36] These early versions featured Halo-specific fauna, later dropped following design difficulties and the creatures' detraction from the surprise appearance of the Flood. [37] The Master Chief was simply known as the cyborg. When Halo was shown at E3 in June 2000, it was still a third-person shooter. [38]

Move to Xbox

Bungie's financial situation during Halo's development was precarious. Ahead of Myth II: Soulblighter's release, Bungie was surviving on Myth sales and had missed release dates. A glitch that caused Myth II to wipe the contents of the directory it was installed to was discovered after 200,000 copies had been produced for the December 1998 launch. Bungie recalled the copies and issued a fix, costing the company $800,000. [39] As a result, Bungie sold a share of the company and publishing rights to Take-Two Interactive. [26]

Still facing financial difficulties, Bungie's Tamte contacted Ed Fries, the head of Microsoft Game Studios, about a possible acquisition. Fries was working on developing the software lineup for Microsoft's first game console, the Xbox. Fries negotiated an agreement with Take-Two Interactive wherein Microsoft gained Bungie and the rights to Halo, while Take-Two kept the Myth and Oni properties. [26] Jones and Seropian pitched the purchase to the rest of Bungie as the way they could shape the future of a new game console. [26] Microsoft announced its acquisition of Bungie on June 19, 2000. [40] Halo was now to be the tentpole launch game for the Xbox. [26]

In less than a year, Bungie had to turn Halo from a loose collection of ideas into a shipping product on an unproven console. To make players feel more connected to the action, Jason Jones pushed to turn the game's perspective from third-person to first-person. [41] A key concern was making sure the game played well on the Xbox's gamepad; at the time, first-person shooters on consoles were rare. Spearheading the effort, designer Jaime Griesemer wrote code to discern player intent and assist the player's movement and aiming without being obvious. The game buffered player inputs so that the result was the desired player movement, rather than the movement players were actually making. [26]

Other Bungie projects were scrapped, and their teams absorbed into Halo in the rush to complete it. Griesemer said that after the Bungie team moved to the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, he was so busy he did not unpack his belongings for six months. [26] The designers prototyped encounters and enemy AI on a sandbox level, "B30". The success of gameplay on this small chunk of the game energized the team, and B30 became "The Silent Cartographer", the fourth mission. [42]

Bungie cut features drastically to make the release date. The open-world plans were scrapped, [42] :14'40''–14'45'' and it became clear the lengthy planned campaign was not feasible. Staten described his role as putting "story duct tape" over gaps that appeared to smooth them over. To save time, Lehto suggested reusing campaign levels; glowing directional arrows were added after playtesters got lost. [26] Microsoft game writers Eric Trautmann and Brannon Boren performed last-minute rewrites to improve the script a week before voiceover sessions, but were not allowed to view the game.[ citation needed ] An online multiplayer component was dropped because Xbox Live would not be ready. Only four months before release, it was decided that the multiplayer was still not fun, so it was scrapped and rebuilt from scratch, using team members who moved from the defunct Bungie West team after completing Oni. [26] [42] Some personnel took to sleeping in the office for the last few months to make sure the game made its deadline. [28] :ix–xi

Design

Bungie's social culture—and the rush to complete the game—meant that team members provided input and feedback across disciplines. [28] :4, 67 Aspects such as level design demanded collaboration between the designers creating the environments for players to explore, and the artists who developed those environments' aesthetics. [28] :65 Initially artists Robert McLees and Lehto were the only artists working on what would become Halo. Bungie hired Shi Kai Wang as an additional artist to refine Lehto's designs. [28] :5 The aliens making up the Covenant began with varied exploratory designs that coalesced once each enemy's role in the gameplay was defined. [28] :28

Spearheaded by Paul Russell, the game's visual design changed in response to the changing gameplay and story. The artists made efforts to distinguish each faction in the game by their architecture, technology, and weaponry. [28] :76–77 The UNSC's original curved look was made blockier to distinguish it from the Covenant; [38] likewise human weapons remained projectile-based to provide a contrast to the Covenant's energy weapons. [26] The interiors of Pillar of Autumn drew significant influence from the production design of the film Aliens . [28] :75 Organic, curvilinear forms along with a color palette of greens and purples were used for the Covenant, [26] while the Forerunner came to be defined by their angular constructions; the interiors originally drew on Aztec patterns and the work of Louis Sullivan, before becoming more refined just five months from the game's completion. [28] :79

Audio

Composer Martin O'Donnell and his company TotalAudio were tasked with creating the music for Halo's MacWorld debut. Staten told O'Donnell that the music should give a feeling of ancient mystery. [43] [26] O'Donnell decided Gregorian chant would be appropriate, and performed the vocals alongside his composing partner Michael Salvatori and additional singers. [26] Because he did not know how long the presentation would be, O'Donnell created "smushy" opening and closing sections that could be expanded or cut as the time required to back up a rhythmic middle section. [44] The music was recorded and sent to New York for the show the same night the piece was finished. [45]

Shortly before Bungie was bought by Microsoft, O'Donnell joined Bungie as a staff member, while Salvatori remained at TotalAudio.[ citation needed ] O'Donnell designed the music so that it "could be dissembled and remixed in such a way that would give [him] multiple, interchangeable loops that could be randomly recombined in order to keep the piece interesting as well as a variable-length". Development involved the creation of "alternative middle sections that could be transitioned to if the game called for such a change (i.e. less or more intense)." [46]

O'Donnell sat with the level designers to walk through the levels, constructing music that would adapt to the gameplay rather than be static; "The level designer would tell me what he hoped a player would feel at certain points or after accomplishing certain tasks." Based on this information, O'Donnell would develop cues the designer could script into the level, and then he and the designer would play through the mission to see if the audio worked. [46] He made sparse use of music because he believes that "[music] is best used in a game to quicken the emotional state of the player and it works best when used least," and that "[if] music is constantly playing it tends to become sonic wallpaper and loses its impact when it is needed to truly enhance some dramatic component of gameplay." [47] The cutscenes came so late that O'Donnell had to score them in only three days. [26]

Release

Ed Fries described the period before the Xbox's launch as chaotic; "You’ve got to imagine this environment of panic combined with adrenaline, but money’s mostly no object at the same time. So we were spending lots of it, trying to do all this crazy stuff," he recalled. [26] After several planned video game tie-ins to Steven Spielberg's film A.I. Artificial Intelligence were scrapped it became clear that Halo had to serve as the tentpole title for the Xbox, [26] a role which the game was never intended to fill. [48]

Halo's debut had been well-received, but its move to the unproven Xbox console caused press treatment to be colder than it was before. [49] :16 While a playable demonstration of the game at Gamestock 2001 was well-received, [50] critics had mixed reactions to its exhibition at E3 2001, [51] [52] [53] where the game was shown off in a very broken state, with poor frame rates and technical issues. [49] :17

Even within Microsoft, Halo was divisive. [48] After Bungie refused to change the Halo name to appease marketing research teams, the subtitle "Combat Evolved" was added to make it more descriptive and compete better with other military-themed games. [26] [54] Fries recalled analysts had suggested that Halo had the "wrong" color palette compared to competing console games; Fries never showed the results to Bungie. [48]

The game was released in North America simultaneously with the Xbox, on November 15, 2001.

Halo: The Fall of Reach , a prequel novel to Halo: Combat Evolved, was released a few weeks before the game. Science fiction author Eric S. Nylund penned the novel in seven weeks. [55] The novel was nearly killed halfway to completion; Nylund credits Trautmann with saving it. [56] The Fall of Reach became a Publishers Weekly bestseller with almost two hundred thousand copies sold. [57] The following novel, entitled Halo: The Flood , is a tie-in to Halo: Combat Evolved, describing not only the experiences of the Master Chief but also those of other characters on Installation 04. Written by William C. Dietz, this novel appeared on the Publishers Weekly bestsellers list during May 2003. [58]

On July 12, 2002, a Halo port for Windows was announced to be under development by Gearbox Software. [59] Its showing at E3 2003 was positively received by some critics, [60] [61] with skepticism by others. [62] It was released on September 30, 2003, [3] and included support for online multiplayer play and featured sharper graphics, but had compatibility issues that caused poor performance. [20] [63] Halo was later released for Mac OS X on December 11, 2003. [5] On December 4, 2007, the game became available for the Xbox 360 via download from the Xbox Live Marketplace. [64]

Sales

While Halo was not an instant runaway success on release, it had a long tail sales rate and a very high attach rate for the Xbox; [26] during the two months following Halo's release, the game sold alongside more than fifty percent of Xbox consoles. [65] One million units had been sold roughly five months after release, a faster pace than that of any previous sixth-generation console game. [66] The game sold three million copies worldwide by July 2003, [67] four million by January 2004, [68] and five million by November 2005. [69] By July 2006, its Xbox version had sold 4.2 million copies and earned $170 million in the United States alone, while its computer version sold 670,000 copies and earned $22.2 million. [70] Next Generation ranked it as the second highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. [71]

Reception

Halo received "universal acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic, based on reviews from 68 professional critics. [1] Ste Curran's review for Edge praised the game as "the most important launch game for any console, ever" and commented, " GoldenEye was the standard for multiplayer console combat. It has been surpassed." [11] GameSpot claimed that "Halo's single-player game is worth picking up an Xbox for alone," concluding, "Not only is this easily the best of the Xbox launch games, but it's easily one of the best shooters ever, on any platform." [10] IGN remarked similarly, calling Halo a "can't miss, no-brainer, sure thing, five star, triple A game." [7] AllGame editor Jonathan Licata praised Bungie for doing "a remarkable job with Halo, taking many successful elements from previous standouts in the genre to make one very playable game". [72] Among the specific aspects that reviewers praised were the balance of weapons, the role of drivable vehicles, [5] [7] and the artificial intelligence of enemies. [5] [11]

The game received numerous Game of the Year awards, including those of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, [75] Electronic Gaming Monthly , Edge, and IGN. [76] GameSpot named Halo the third-best console game of 2001, and it won the publication's annual "Best Xbox Game" and, among console games, "Best Shooting Game" awards. It was a runner-up in the "Best Sound" category. [77] The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awarded Halo "Best Console Game," and Rolling Stone presented it with their "Best Original Soundtrack" award. According to Xbox.com, the game received a total of 48 awards. [76]

Although Halo's overall reception was largely positive, the game received criticism for its level design. GameSpy commented, "you'll trudge through countless hallways and control rooms that all look exactly the same, fighting identical-looking groups of enemies over and over and over...it is simply frustrating to see a game with such groundbreaking sequences too often degenerate [into] this kind of mindless, repetitive action." [9] Similarly, an article on Game Studies.org remarked, "In the latter part of the game, the scenarios rely on repetition and quantity rather than innovativeness and quality." [78] Eurogamer concluded, "Halo is very much a game of two halves. The first half is fast, exciting, beautifully designed and constantly full of surprises. The second half is festooned with gobsmacking plot twists and great cinematics but let down by repetitive paint by numbers level design." [73] Halo was released prior to the launch of Xbox Live, and the lack of both online multiplayer and bots to simulate human players was criticized by GameSpy; [9] in 2003 GameSpy included Halo in a list of "Top 25 Most Overrated Games of All Time." [19]

Halo's PC port received generally favorable reviews, garnering a score of 83% on Metacritic. [3] GameSpot stated that it was "still an incredible action game ... [and] a true classic," awarding it 9.0 out of 10. [63] It received a score of 8.2 out of 10 from IGN, who stated, "If you've played the game on the Xbox, there's not much for you here." [20] Eurogamer called the game "a missed opportunity," but stated that the online multiplayer component was "a massive draw ... for Halo veterans." [21]

Halo has been praised as one of the greatest video games of all time, [79] [80] and was ranked by IGN as the fourth-best first-person shooter made. [81] The game's popularity led to labels such as "Halo clone" and "Halo killer", applied to games either similar to or anticipated to be better than it. [82] [83]

Legacy

Halo is accredited with modernizing the FPS genre. [84] According to GameSpot, Halo's "numerous subtle innovations have been borrowed by countless other games since." [85] The game is often cited as the main reason for the Xbox's success, [86] and it began what is commonly regarded as the system's flagship franchise. [87] Game designer Vox Day credited the game with using science-fiction environments to follow Half-Life in eschewing static levels and a similarity to dungeon crawls, which the FPS genre inherited from Akalabeth . Day further wrote that Halo spurred a sustained trend of many other FPS console games. [88] In July 2006, Next-Gen.biz published an article estimating Halo as the second-highest revenue-generating 21st century console video game in the United States, behind Grand Theft Auto: Vice City . [89] The game's popularity sparked the usage of terms like "Halo clone" [90] [91] [92] and "Halo killer." [83] The Halo engine has been used for the game Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse . [93]

Halo has been featured at both Major League Gaming and the World Cyber Games. [94] [95] The game's sequel, Halo 2 , made US$125 million with unit sales of 2.38 million on the first day of its release, [96] earning it the distinction of the fastest-selling United States media product in history. [97] Three years later, Halo 3 shattered that record with the biggest opening day in entertainment history, taking in US$170 million in its first 24 hours. [98]

In addition, the game inspired and was used in the fan-created Red vs. Blue video series, which is credited as the "first big success" of machinima (the technique of using real-time 3D engines, often from video games, to create animated films). [99]

Halo: Custom Edition

On March 15, 2004, Gearbox Software released Halo: Custom Edition for Windows, which enabled players to use custom-made maps and game modifications via the Halo Editing Kit developed by Bungie. [100] Halo: Custom Edition consists of multiplayer maps and requires an original copy of Halo for PC to install. Custom maps can be both single and multiplayer. [100]

Remake

During the Microsoft press conference at the 2011 E3 Expo, it was revealed that Halo: Combat Evolved would be remade by 343 Industries with an in-house game engine and would include achievements, Terminals, and Skulls. It was released for the Xbox 360 on November 15, 2011. The release date marks the 10th anniversary of the original game's release. [101] The remastered version of the original game includes online multiplayer and cooperative play functionality. [102] The remake is also the first Halo game to include Kinect support. [103] The game is a mix of two game engines—the original Halo engine created by Bungie which provides gameplay and a new engine created by 343 and Saber which is responsible for improved graphics—and the player is able to switch between the improved and classic modes of the game at any time. [104] The game's multiplayer component uses the Halo: Reach gameplay engine, tailored with a map playlist to mimic the original multiplayer, as opposed to including the original game's multiplayer mode.

Anniversary was later included as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection . [105] [106] [107]

The Anniversary version of the game is the version featured in The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. The single-player game is identical to the Xbox 360 version, including the ability to swap between the updated "anniversary" graphics and the original game graphics. However, unlike the Xbox 360 release, the multiplayer component is the original multiplayer engine from Combat Evolved as opposed to Halo: Reach and is playable over Xbox Live.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach is a military science fiction novel by Eric Nylund, set in the Halo universe, and acts as a prelude to Halo: Combat Evolved, the first game in the series. The book was released in October 2001 and is the first Halo novel. It takes place in the 26th century across several planets and locations. The novel details the events which led up to the game and explains the origins of the SPARTAN II super soldiers, narrating the story of the series protagonist, the Master Chief.

<i>Halo: The Flood</i>

Halo: The Flood is a military science fiction novel by William C. Dietz, based on the Halo series of video games and based specifically on the 2001 video game Halo: Combat Evolved, the first game in the series. The book was released in April 2003 and is the second Halo novel. Closely depicting the events of the game, The Flood begins with the escape of a human ship Pillar of Autumn from enemy aliens known as the Covenant. When the Pillar of Autumn unexpectedly discovers a massive artifact known as "Halo", the humans must square off against the Covenant and a second terrifying force in a desperate attempt to uncover Halo's secrets and stay alive. Though the book roughly follows the same events of the Xbox game, featuring identical dialogue, Dietz also describes events not seen by the game's protagonist, the super-soldier Master Chief.

Flood (<i>Halo</i>) Fictional parasitic alien lifeform in the Halo video game series

The Flood is a fictional parasitic alien lifeform and one of the primary antagonists in the Halo multimedia franchise. First introduced in the 2001 video game Halo: Combat Evolved, it returns in later entries in the series such as Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo Wars. The Flood is driven by a desire to infect any sentient life of sufficient size; Flood-infected creatures, also called Flood, in turn can infect other hosts. The parasite is depicted as such a threat that the ancient Forerunners constructed artificial ringworld superweapons known as Halos to contain it and, as a last resort, to kill all sentient life in the galaxy in an effort to stop the Flood's spread by starving it.

Cortana (<i>Halo</i>) Fictional character in the Halo video game series

Cortana is a fictional artificially intelligent character in the Halo video game series. Voiced by Jen Taylor, she appears in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians. She also briefly appears in the prequel Halo: Reach, as well as in several of the franchise's novels, comics, and merchandise. During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who often assumes the role of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.

Master Chief (<i>Halo</i>) Fictional character in the Halo video game series

Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, or "Master Chief", is a fictional character and the protagonist in the Halo multimedia franchise. Master Chief is a playable character in the series of military science fiction first-person shooter video games Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite. The character also appears in Halo books and graphic novels – including Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: The Flood, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Uprising – and has minor appearances or cameos in other Halo media.

<i>Halo 3</i> 2007 video game

Halo 3 is a 2007 first-person shooter game developed by Bungie for the Xbox 360 console. The third installment in the Halo franchise, the game concludes the story arc begun in 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved and continued in 2004's Halo 2. Halo 3's story centers on the interstellar war between twenty-sixth century humanity, a collection of alien races known as the Covenant, and the alien parasite Flood. The player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced supersoldier, as he battles the Covenant and the Flood. The game features vehicles, weapons, and gameplay elements not present in previous titles of the series, as well as the addition of saved gameplay films, file sharing, and the Forge map editor—a utility which allows the player to perform modifications to multiplayer levels.

Gravemind Fictional character in the video game Halo

The Gravemind is a fictional, parasitic, hive mind intelligence in the Halo universe. While only one Gravemind is ever seen in the games, the title is given to the final stage of Flood evolution, in which the Flood becomes a superorganism. The Flood is a highly-infectious parasite which is released several times during Halo's story. The Chief and the Arbiter are captured during their separate missions on Delta Halo, or Installation 05, by a Gravemind, which resides in the bowels of the ancient Forerunner ringworld, where the Flood creature forges an alliance between the two foes in order to stop the activation of the ringworld — an event which would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, and, therefore, starve the Flood to death. The character is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.

Arbiter (<i>Halo</i>) Fictional character in the Halo video game series

In the Halo science fiction universe, an Arbiter is a ceremonial, religious, and political rank bestowed upon Covenant Elites. In the 2004 video game Halo 2, the rank is given to a disgraced commander as a way to atone for his failures. Although the Arbiter is intended to die serving the Covenant leadership, the High Prophets, he survives his missions and the Prophets' subsequent betrayal of his kind. When he learns that the Prophets' plans would doom all sentient life in the galaxy, the Arbiter allies with the Covenant's enemies (humans) and stops the ringworld Halo from being activated. The Arbiter is a playable character in Halo 2 and its 2007 sequel Halo 3; a different Arbiter appears in the 2009 real-time strategy game Halo Wars, which takes place 20 years before the events of the main trilogy.

Halo is an American military science fiction media franchise managed and developed by 343 Industries and published by Xbox Game Studios. The franchise and its early main installments were originally developed by Bungie. The central focus of the franchise builds off the experiences of Master Chief John-117, one of a group of supersoldiers codenamed Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana.

Marketing of <i>Halo 3</i> Marketing campaign for the video game

The first-person shooter video game Halo 3 was the focus of an extensive marketing campaign which began with the game's developer, Bungie, announcing the game via a trailer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May 2006. Microsoft, the game's publisher, planned a five-pronged marketing strategy to maximize sales and to appeal to casual and hard-core gamers. Bungie produced trailers and video documentaries to promote the game, partnering with firms such as Digital Domain and Weta Workshop. Licensed products including action figures, toys, and Halo 3-branded soda were released in anticipation of the game; the franchise utilized more than forty licensees to promote the game, and the advertising campaign ultimately cost more than $40 million.

<i>Halo 4</i> 2012 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries

Halo 4 is a 2012 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. The fourth mainline installment and seventh overall in the Halo franchise. Halo 4's story follows a cybernetically enhanced human supersoldier, Master Chief, and his artificial intelligence construct Cortana, as they encounter unknown threats while exploring an ancient civilization's planet. The player assumes the role of Master Chief who battles against a new faction that splintered off from remnants of the Covenant, a former military alliance of alien races, and against mechanical warriors of the Forerunner empire known as the Prometheans. The game features a selection of weapons, enemies, and game modes not present in previous titles of the series.

<i>Halo 3: ODST</i> 2009 video game

Halo 3: ODST is a 2009 first-person shooter game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The fourth installment in the Halo franchise, it was released on the Xbox 360 in September 2009. Players assume the roles of United Nations Space Command soldiers, known as "Orbital Drop Shock Troopers" or ODSTs, during and after the events of Halo 2. In the game's campaign mode, players explore the ruined city of New Mombasa to discover what happened to their missing teammates in the midst of an alien invasion. In the "Firefight" multiplayer option, players battle increasingly difficult waves of enemies to score points and survive as long as possible; Halo 3's multiplayer is contained on a separate disc packaged with ODST.

<i>Halo Wars</i> 2009 real-time strategy video game

Halo Wars is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. It was released in Australia on February 26, 2009; in Europe on February 27; and in North America on March 3. The game is set in the science fiction universe of the Halo series in the year 2531, 21 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. The player leads human soldiers aboard the warship Spirit of Fire in an effort to stop an ancient fleet of ships from falling into the hands of the genocidal alien Covenant.

<i>Halo: Reach</i> 2010 first-person shooter video game

Halo: Reach is a 2010 first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios, originally for the Xbox 360. The fifth installment in the Halo series and a direct prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, Reach was released worldwide in September 2010. The game takes place in the year 2552, where humanity is locked in a war with the alien Covenant. Players control Noble Six, a member of an elite supersoldier squad, when the human world known as Reach falls under Covenant attack.

<i>Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary</i> 2011 video game

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a 2011 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries, Saber Interactive and Certain Affinity. It is a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), developed by Bungie. Publisher Microsoft announced Anniversary alongside Halo 4 at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was released in November 2011, the 10th anniversary of the original Halo, for the Xbox 360 console, and rereleased as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One in November 2014. A Windows version was released in March 2020.

<i>Halo 5: Guardians</i> 2015 video game

Halo 5: Guardians is a 2015 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox One. The fifth mainline entry and tenth overall in the Halo series, it was released worldwide on October 27, 2015. The game's plot follows two fireteams of human supersoldiers: Blue Team, led by Master Chief, and Fireteam Osiris, led by Spartan Locke. When the former goes absent without leave to track down the artificial intelligence construct Cortana, Master Chief's loyalty is called into question and Fireteam Osiris is sent to retrieve him.

<i>Halo: The Master Chief Collection</i>

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a compilation of first-person shooter video games in the Halo series, originally released in November 2014 for the Xbox One, and later on Microsoft Windows through 2019 and 2020. An enhanced version was released for the Xbox Series X|S in November 2020. The collection was developed by 343 Industries in partnership with other studios and was published by Xbox Game Studios. The collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4, which were originally released on earlier Xbox platforms. A "living" anthology of past Halo games, it continues to receive regular updates and new content as more games age-out of being commonly offered in the retail setting.

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