Halo is the Most Overrated Game In History.

Halo 1. The characters are bland, the plot is predictable, the flood are made of nothing but clichés from science fiction established during the last 25 years (as are the covenant), there's no drama, no conflict, no artistic merit, no addition to the genre and no memorable moments that stick with you.

Halo is, and always will be only one thing- safe. Bungie just take whatever works on other games and cobble them together to create something that takes no risks, pushes no boundaries and challenges no preconceptions- and that's just the gameplay. The story is so simple, so straight forwards, so damn linear and predictable that it's impossible to salvage. It's junk food, pure junk food. If it was a book it would be a bad Stephen King novel.

For my fix of mindless shooters, I prefer Gears of War. While the plot and characters are one long testosterone soaked macho fantasy (which means unlike Halo, it at least has an identifiable style, as opposed to a vanilla presentation). The gameplay is (well... was) innovative, tactical and fresh. Take cover, shoot, relocate if cover is compromised, time your advance to get a better position... as opposed to Halo's way of doing things- Walk around and shoot. Walk around and shoot. Walk around and shoot. Lost shields? Find a large rock. Then walk around and shoot. Halo has never, and will never do anything new.

GoW II is an example of a well done sequel, building on the positive aspects of the first game and bringing in many technical improvements, as well as more fluid control. Halo II was... an expansion pack. It brought nothing- NOTHING new to the table. And don't talk to me about dual wielding weapons. We had that as far back as the N64 with Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. It was exactly the same game with a couple of bolt ons, nothing more.

Halo III? A little better- in fact I nearly enjoyed it. The plot had certainly moved on, but the story telling was left with ways to go (seriously those flashes of Cortana really pissed me off). Gameplay and graphics wise there where also slight improvements, but again the problem is that there was nothing new. Halo III did exactly what Halo did- cobble together the good parts from other popular titles at the time and chuck out some bastard Frankenstein's creature that you can't really criticize in any way other than it's sheer banality. Still, at least it was a new game. The banality thing though, that's the rub. Halo is so average, so bland, and yet it's so popular. How many people say vanilla is their favourite ice cream? A few, but not many. This by the numbers FPS though, with no innovation is somehow bigger than Jesus. In fact, here's an experiment you can try. Look up the number of people who play Halo online, in your country/state if you can, and then compare it to the number of church/temple/mosque/synagogue/grove/whatever goers. Post link and sources below.

Okay, Halo isn't a terrible game, but by God it's not worth paying £35 for. It never was, it never will be. Did you know that ODST was originally supposed to be an expansion pack? My guess is that Bungie never actually added anything to it, and just charged the full whack for the game because they know Halo fans are drooling Pavlovian canines. You ring the little Halo bell and out they come, braying like wild animals, begging for scraps of meat from the creative table. Meanwhile the rest of us are enjoying gourmet cuisine, making polite conversation and trying not to mention Bobby Kotick.

I think this brings up the other serious problem with the Halo franchise- it's fans. No game, with the possible exception of the Final Fantasy series has ever produced such a die in the wool, fundamentalist militant group of gamers. When Halo 2 came out I was still in school and two kids actually followed me around for three fucking weeks, laying into me because they overheard me saying how much of a disappointment Halo 2 was. Now okay, it was school and we were kids, but God dammit if that's not the attitude that so many Halo fans share.

I have never played in an online community that actually insulted you just for killing someone in the damn game. Don't get me wrong, every game has its share of cockmongers who always have a reason why they died apart from sucking, or how you killed them in a cheap way or with an exploit, but in Halo these twats are everywhere! There are a far greater proportion of wankers playing Halo than Horny Tit Vixens Interactive.

I'm sure there are a few Halo players out there who are insulted by this generalization, and to them I apologise- but you're probably the intelligent minority who see Halo for what it actually is: An alright game, good to waste a few hours and few bucks on, but certainly not this fucking messianic title that everyone seems to make it out as.

How did a game that deserves no more place in history than a footnote, get this sort of crazed cult following? Someone once told me it as because Halo was, for a generation of gamers, their first step into the world of online play. Well, that's as maybe (must be a generation after mine, and that is a really scary thought- I played StarCraft, MechWarrior 3 and Half Life on a 12.2K modem), and explains one of the titles, but after Halo 2 we had all sorts of great online games. How the hell did this series maintain such rampant popularity, while brilliant, creative games fell by the wayside? Why do Bungie sit on beanbags filled with money while other more creative developers go bust seemingly every day?

I have only one answer. Halo is a religion. You are indoctrinated into Halo, and are told time and time again how great it is until you believe it. You will throw money at it, and gain a huge sense of satisfaction from it because you're a part of it and that's how it works- or else. You give up all reason in exchange for knowing that you are right because loads of people around you say you are. Anyone who insults Halo is a heretic, and must be beaten and abused with full force, lest they use logic to show that Master Chief is not a God. Like any religion, once it starts to gain a following it suckers more and more people in, fed by the numbers within it, and the mutual constant self assurance that Halo is good, Halo is great, those who disagree must be burned, just as soon as we buy the next Halo. Maybe this explains the abusive nature of Halo fans playing online? They're fiercely competitive and insulting as they are trying to prove they are further up the parochial pecking order. Fortunately, there are a few lax Haloites who don't take it quite so seriously, to them I raise my hat. You enjoy Halo, and appreciate it for what it is. You've pulled yourself out of the quagmire that is the rest of the series fan base. I may even play a few games with you.

Still, credit where credit is due. Well done Bungie, L Ron Hubbard would be proud of you.

I wonder if I can get the leaders of the world to jump like puppets on a string if I threaten to burn a Legendary edition of Halo...

2 Response to "Halo is the Most Overrated Game In History."

  1. I think the title of this is possibly hyperbole. I can think of other games which would rank up there for being overrated. Diablo certainly jumps out there. But yes, while Halo is very enjoyable at what it does, it's not fundamentally anything special. I think its success may rest on the fact that it's not a game for 'gamers' (much as I hate that term). It's slick, and sharp, and easy to pick up/hard to put down, and it's good for a quick blast if you're not looking for something involved or complex. It's a beer-n-pretzels alternative and appeals to the mass market. And while it may be indirectly responsible for rubbish like Killzone and Haze, would superior games like Far Cry and Gears of War have been greenlit without Halo's success?

    It galls me that Halo continues to have such a devoted following while other games like the far superior, more tactical (and cheaper) Section 8: Prejudice are almost universally ignored - and when they're not ignored it's only because Halo fans are screeching that it's ripping off their beloved idol.

    Anyway, I think you're on to something with the mob inclusion psychology. Teenagers, in particular, often want to be 'in' something. Some kind of community, somewhere they're included and accepted. If you profess to love and worship Halo then you're 'one of us'. It's almost frightening but makes perfect sense.

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