3/2 Jeep of the Covenant


     As my first X-box article, this review will probably leave an indelible mark on my reputation as a "MICRO$OFT IS TEH GAY!!1!!" sympathiser. That is if anyone even cares about it any more, as far as I've cared to pay attention to the media buzz box of late the Console Wars have slowed down to a Typical Day in the Middle East pace. In any case, it's not like I own the system or game in question. Hell, I have a pretty small room, I don't think I could fit that crate of circuitboards through the door.

     Anyway, Halo is an X-Box first person shooter. As if anybody actually played one of them for the story, you shoot aliens on a ring-shaped planet. They probably put so much time into that concept that they forgot to name the hero beyond assigning him the rank of Master Chief.

     The system is pretty easy to get the hang of. In spite of the X-Box controller being one of the worst laid-out things ever, it works pretty good for Halo, if not so hot for say, fighting games. Or anything else where you're required to keep track of more than three buttons without looking down at your hands. (This broad, sweeping statement reached mainly by their bizarre start button placement.) The Master Chef, er, Chief, as well as his repaints comrades, have a regenerative shield that allows you to survive a bit longer than the old Doom armor system. Not that I know if anyone still uses Doom. I don't play many FPS games... though that may change soon. Mwa ha ha.

     But Halo's real draw isn't the campaign mode. No, no, no, it's the morbidly addictive multiplayer. It's ingenious in its simplicity- Players pick marines with custom colors and names. You set up an arena and shoot each other until the game ends somehow.

     The basic modes of play include Slayer, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and the woefully sucky Oddball. You can play these in teams or as free-for-alls to amass the most kills/seconds/etc. You can adjust some parameter like the Hill time limit, or how gay the Oddball is.

     Let me introduce you to my squad. Our leader and most experienced trooper is Gnar Killer. He's very tight-lipped about how he came by that nickname- and about just who or what a Gnar is. Then there was The Grapist; who underneath that purple armor and Grimace Happy Meal toys was all man. Then there were the ones we lovingly referred to as the Pink Triad. There was The_Labia, who had done his time in the trenches, Bubblegum, whose uncanny ability to... respawn saved her countless times, and Pinkus, the loose cannon of the team with a strong affinity for grenades. And then, there is my longtime rival and nemesis, the one known as LordHumungus. He always seemed to be able to produce a sniper rifle at just the right moment and find just the right place to wait for his prey to respawn. He might have been in league with the aliens, who were undoubtedly waiting just beyond the ridge at Battle Creek, laughing their triangular asses off as our chain of command collapsed and resulted in endless infighting. My name is PFC Hibiki, and this is my story.

     I found my true calling early on in the fight. Throwing caution to the wind, I leapt into the open shouting YAHOO!!, the sun glinting off my pink blast armor. I leapt into the seat of the Warthog jeep and peeled off for Red Base. Perplexed no doubt, as to why I was spinning donutson their lawn, they sent a scout out. And I ran that fool down! I was a whirling dervish of vehicular homocide, and even in the moment I accidentally smacked into Gnar Killer and a couple others, I felt truly alive!

     That was about when fucking LordHumungus blew me up with the rocket launcher.

     The trooper known as Matt was abandoned by his squad and our team hunted him down and killed him. Fifty times. We did take heavy casualties, but since nobody stays dead in war, it was okay in the end. It was then that Gnar's tendency toward necrophelia began to rear its ugly head.

     We don't see much of the Scorpion battletank in our arena matches. Unfortunately, we see all too much of the alien weapons, or as I've come to refer to them, the Gay Alien Guns. Or Gaylien for short. Basically, they're little tiny plasma guns that fire green bolts of mildly injurious energy, making it really hard to kill much of anything without resorting to clubbing someone over the head with them (which negates the aforementioned shielding.) The alien pistol can charge up and fire an exploding shot, but it's pretty easy to dodge and the area effect isn't as hot as you'd expect. The Needler is a pretty good as far as alien guns go, though, it fires exploding homing projectiles. But the game seems to go a lot faster when you have good old-fashioned slugthrowers. The pistol is probably my favorite since it's easy to get ammo for, reasonably deadly and has a zoom function. The rocket launcher is exactly what it should be- a bulky mass destruction weapon.

     God, I hate sniper rifles. The sniper rifle is crazy powerful and accurate, and has an added bonus to its intended function: It's actually a really good way to plaster the walls with someone at point blank range. It's a good thing the bullets from this thing leave an obvious trail to their point of origin, since getting picked off by something you can't see is annoying as hell as it is. Fortunately, the game supplies you with a list of who killed who. You know, in case you're like me and want to kick LordHumungus in the shin for just happening to be right in your respawn point.

     Halo gets my thumbs-up if only because it made me give FPS a second chance. As for the X-Box itself... eh.




Screenshot 'liberated' from Shin Force. They are truly the mightiest lower legs in the galaxy.

If any of my Halo buddies look at this picture, they'll probably begin convulsing.