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Re: Halo: Combat Evolved Discussion - Please Rate This Discussion :P
Now, Halo could be seen as communicating the same sorts of themes as other standard FPS games, and its developments could be seen as being in aid of strengthening the communication of these themes. At the same time though, while this concept of a world where virtue is rewarded fairly is one of the things an fps communicates, it also works with the particularities of the variables which it extracts from the real battlefield (or other sort of combat scenarios). In this way, every little change could be seen as one which changes the messages of the game.
Anyhow, when we examine Haloís attempt at imposing this world of fairness onto the battlefield, without judging the concept itself, we can see that it makes gallant strides toward this goal. I have already listed a number of clever alterations it makes to the form in this vain, but the game is still far from achieving its vision of this balanced perfection. One problem is the scoped pistol, which is effective at both medium and long-range, and not too bad at short range either. This leaves it with only a little weakness which can be easily made up for with a good short range gun like the assault rifle. This results in a player with no weakness to be exploited, while almost every other combination will have a weakness, forcing the player to decide which combination would be most suitable for the anticipated scenario. Other problems are more subtle, and theirí solutions would involve further undermining the battlefield reality in favor of the abstract reality. Further balance would surely be reached if all appropriate weapons were always available to the player, but the 2 which could be used could only be selected every, say, 5 minutes? The grenade system, with a maximum of 4 grenades of each of the 2 types is certainly an improvement over other games, as is the frequent availability of re-fills, but I think further balance might be reached by having them be rechargeable in the same way the shield is, only, they should take longer to re stock. Again, though, this would undermine the battlefield reality, so these would not necessarily be improvements to the game as a whole.
Now what more is there to say? I donít think anyone would like me to go through listing all of the ways in which Halo improves on the communication of the balance concept. This is precisely the problem with this sort of review. I have spent so much time illuminating the general nature of videogames and particularly fpsís that it would seem a laboured task now to explore in detail all of the ways Halo could become more balanced and more skilful in its representation of the battlefield scenarios, and the ways in which it has improved on its predecessors. Come to think of it though, this is basically all a review could do at this point (apart from talking about such interchangeable things such as its graphics, sounds and such). This is because the actual concepts were stated with the first of the FPS games, (Doom, Duke Nukem, or what ever it was), and so the basic ideas it expresses were discussed back then (they werenít of course, but this is besides the point). For some reason though, it has been deemed acceptable for countless games to try and improve on them. Perhaps it should not be acceptable, and a review of Halo should run through its improvements before dismissing it as a copy of the original FPS. But I suppose this happens in other art mediums as well (the copying and improving I mean). I think you can think of your own examples of this. Perhaps though, the occurrence of this is particularly allowable in videogames, because itís such a young medium. One might suggest that developers came up with ideas, like the FPS, which, because use of the medium was so undeveloped, they didnít have the skill to execute to full effect. On the other hand, one might suggest that the person who came up with the idea was simply not talented enough technically, and it was necessary for someone else, like Bungie, to take the idea, and execute it better. This all works on the false assumption though that the idea is limited to the combination of the two realities to which I refered earlier. In actual fact, the end product also depends largely on the particular parts of the combat reality that the creator chose to extract. Therefore it is not enough that Halo copied the welding of the two realities, to pass it off as a copy, Halo has, arguably, created a different game, as opposed to an improvement of the first FPS, by extracting different elements from real life battlefield-like scenarios. If nothing else it adds vehicles. Gears of war could be seen as more of a different game, because, while it copies the idea of imposing the world which fairly rewards virtue onto one based on a battlefield, the actual elements of the battle field that it represents are more fundamentally different, mainly because of its use of the cover system. Nevertheless, it is still very similar, and I think it may be about time we started making things a bit more different.
Now then, any IGN readers present; would you like me to discuss any of the games features, graphics, or sound?
Just as a little note to anyone who is unconvinced by my idea that the FPS imposes the world of justice onto the world of the battlefield, think about what a game which was modeled accurately on a battlefield would be like. It would not actually make a very enjoyable game, powerfully expressive perhaps, but not fun in the sense that your skill would be rewarded as it is in Halo. In a real battlefield, your fate would be largely down to luck. Does the enemy happen to shoot you or your companion standing next to you? Do you get shot out of no-where by a sniper a couple of miles away from you? It only turns into a game comparable to Halo when this abstract world where justices rules is imposed onto the basic foundation of the battlefield.