Based on the DVD footage I've seen, I would tend to agree. If you like FPS games AT ALL, this looks to be a must-buy. Whether it will be an all-time console classic like Goldeneye.. well, I'll wait until I've played it.
By Rob on Sunday, October 28, 2001 - 06:00 pm:
Yeah, half of gamespotting is all about Halo. Maybe I do need a console...
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 03:04 am:
I spent nearly the entire weekend playing Xbox games. And most of that playing Halo.
I finally finished it this afternoon. Whew! The single player game takes maybe 15-20 hours, depending on your skill. There are *TWENTY SIX* multiplayer variants after that, if you want to do the split-screen or LAN thing, and co-op with one other player through the campaign (which I'm eager to try).
Anyway, yes indeed, all the gushing praise you're reading all over the web is true. When you read so many people from so many places praising something, particularly when it's people who have no agenda and no other reason to praise it, it's generally pretty reliable.
Expect some VERY high review scores for Halo. Expect the kind of critical success that sells games, and the kind of popular success that sells systems. All you have to do to make your friend buy an Xbox is have him come over you your house, start up a new game of Halo, and play for about an hour. Then you'll probably have to MAKE him stop, at which point he'll go to the mall and buy the damn console to keep playing.
Hyperbole? Could be, but I stayed up until 4 am on Friday and 5 am on Saturday to play the freakin' thing. I'm a major night-owl, particularly on the weekends, but it's been a LONG time since a game made me do that.
By Mark Asher on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 04:18 am:
When does the PC version of Halo come out?
By Alan Dunkin on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 03:16 pm:
Jason you lucky bastard..
By Greg Vederman on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 05:36 pm:
Nah, it'll be out for the PC sometime in 2002... (**crosses fingers and prays to God**)
An editor around the office who has been playing a ton of Halo has said of the game: "As great as all the weapons are in Halo, the absolute best weapons would have been a mouse and keyboard." True. True.
I have access to the system and its games because PCG is in the same building with NextGen and the Official Xbox Magazine, but I'm limiting myself a great deal because I want to keep my excitement level high for launch. The good news is that, everyone I know that is playing Halo is LOVING it -- without exception.
By Sean Tudor on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 09:10 pm:
What is "Halo" ? I haven't been following this particular title. Something about angels ?
By Rob on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 09:42 pm:
Don't give me that you sick Aussie. You follow every game with a fine-toothed comb.
By Sean Tudor on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 11:47 pm:
Hehe. You are a very perceptive Rob. I am just miffed that it is a console-only game. :-(
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 11:54 pm:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Every game should be ported to the PC. (Well, except those that suck...)
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - 10:39 am:
"As great as all the weapons are in Halo, the absolute best weapons would have been a mouse and keyboard."
I agree, although I will say that Bungie made some serious improvements to the gamepad control since E3, and now I find it quite playable (this from a person who typically hates first-person shooters on consoles, mostly for control reasons). It's a lot less twitchy now, and after messing with it for twenty minutes or so it starts to feel pretty natural. Mouse and keyboard would still be better, of course, but the Xbox version is quite playable.
As for the game itself... wow. It's amazing. First-class Bungie material. Jason Cross and I played a bit of co-op in the main story last night, and it was a blast.
By Aszurom (Aszurom) on Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - 11:24 pm:
My only real question now about the Xbox is this... can I hook it to my cable modem?
By Jason McCullough on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 02:09 am:
"An Ethernet port for rich, fast-action online gaming via a broadband connection."
It looks like it. I'd assume they'll have all their multiplayer games connect to the Zone.
However, exactly how many console games are playable with lag? I'd assume fighting and racing games are unplayable.
By Brad Grenz on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 06:52 pm:
There have been online multiplayer 2D fighting games for the Dreamcast in Japan. I never heard how well that worked. I'd be interested in hearing, though.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 12:29 am:
>It looks like it. I'd assume they'll have all their multiplayer games connect to the Zone.
They will announce all their online plans "soon," as the online part launches in the first half of next year. Which is pretty quick to get online play going in a major way.
I've spoken with J Allard and Seamus Blackley about it, and they couldn't be specific, but... Their online plans are MAJOR. Like, HUGE. They've got back-end type work going on the likes of which makes the Zone look pitiful. Allard said there are more people working on Xbox's online infrastructure stuff and the business and service deals than there were on the console itself. (!!) They liken it to DisneyWorld: in order to make the park so great, the Disney Underground beneath, where all the operations take place, has to be three times its size.
Games won't connect through the Zone, though. Or at least, if they do, you'd never know it. You won't ever leave the game to play online, it'll all be from within the games. Kinda like Phantasy Star Online or something.
No word yet on whether you can use your cable/DSL or not. They want to allow it for sure, but there are quality of service issues - if they're going to be the first console that requires and makes use of broadband latency and bandwidth, they have to make sure you're not using some shitty DSL provider that's giving you 128kb/s bandwidth and backing you up in their routers for 140ms or something.
Brad - those 2D fighting games weren't really "online" in the usual sense. There was a matchmaking service and then you direct-dialed your opponent for a straight peer to peer phone connection. Like the old modem PC gaming where you'd directly call a friend and their computer would answer. The only reason it was possible is because Japan's all on one phone system (NTT), so they could hand your call off to your opponent without disconnecting you.
By Jason Becker on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 04:46 pm:
I hope Halo does make it for the PC. Just can't stand FPS with a gamepad.
Also will the Xbox have a VGA adapter? The DC did and I've seen pictures of one for the Gamecube.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 10:18 pm:
"I hope Halo does make it for the PC. Just can't stand FPS with a gamepad."
I can't either--I absolutely controlling shooters with a gamepad. That said, I'm finding Halo very playable on the Xbox. They did some serious improvement on the control since E3--it's less twitchy now, and fairly easy to get used to. Mouse and keyboard would still be better, but the gamepad didn't stop me from spending the better part of the afternoon blasting away against the Covenant...
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 11:59 pm:
>Also will the Xbox have a VGA adapter?
I asked J Allard at E3 about this, he said no. He said that they checked with retailers, and they sold all of 17,000 VGA adaptors for the Dreamcast, mostly to hardcore PC gamers who post on message boards, apparently. =) He also said they surveyed hundreds of gamers, and most of those who got a VGA adaptor used it for awhile, and thought the games looked great with it, but eventually just went back to the TV so they could sit back from a larger picture. I can believe that - it's what I did. MAN did Soul Calibur look awesome on my monitor, but I just wanted to play on my futon in front of the big screen. And I wasn't about to crowd a buddy in front of my monitor to play some sports or fighting game or something.
I don't know if they're going to prohibit or discourage 3rd parties from making a VGA adaptor, but I haven't seen one planned yet. It SHOULD be technically possible - I think developers have access to them for the XDKs to fine-tune and pixel hunt their games during development.
>but the gamepad didn't stop me from spending the better part of the afternoon blasting away against the Covenant
And running them over with the Warthog, which just NEVER gets old. I mean, I've put in like 20 hours with the game, finished it, and I was just WATCHING you, and it was a riot. =D
By Jason Becker on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 02:35 am:
Yea it doesn't surprise me that a VGA adapter would be a niche product. I just liked the thought of being able to plug a Xbox into my nice 19' and then possibly a keyboard/mouse and wholla a pretty nice gaming rig for $300. Thats doesn't take into the account the type of games the system won't have that I like though.
By Jason McCullough on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 03:24 am:
'Yea it doesn't surprise me that a VGA adapter would be a niche product.'
Why don't they just make it mail-order only, then? I can't imagine they'll lose money.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 03:29 am:
Well, it's not like they can just produce them one at a time. They have to produce bulk, and they probably don't pay off quickly enough -- i.e., they produce 10,000, and they sell 1,500 the first month, but then none for a couple months, and maybe a couple hundred a month after that -- it's just not good business.
By Jason MCCullough on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 03:07 pm:
Sure, it's not good business, but it makes the hard-core market happy and probably amounts to .001% of Xbox revenue. Why not?
By James Galimo on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 03:35 pm:
I think it's time to get a PS2. X-box just doesn't have the games I'm looking for. I played Devil May Cry a little on my friend's system, now I have to have it. Mouse and keyboard? Oh yeah, that'll work. Not that I have any need to play Unreal on my TV, I have my computer for that. But I'm going to have to get these games.
Devil May Cry
Metal Gear Solid 2
Baldur's gate: Dark Alliance
Soul Calibur 2
Yup, it's definitely time to get a console.
X-box be damned.
By Brad Grenz on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 07:00 pm:
--now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord Halo to keep... coming for the PC.
By Sal Accardo on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 07:36 pm:
First time post. :)
I've been playing through a preview of Halo as well. I think it's a pretty solid shooter, but has a few major flaws that drag it down somewhat.
Bungie's done a pretty good job with the controls. They feel pretty intuitive and comfortable compared to most other console shooters I've played, and the force feedback is especially effective. You're still turning at a fixed rate, though, which isn't much better than keyboarding, and it's going to frustrate a number of people. Some of the levels get a bit repetitive as well -- on many occasions, you're just shooting through the same enemies over and over, and it's easy to overlook where you're supposed to be going, and wind up wandering around for a while.
There are ton of multiplayer options, but they seem a bit wasted on a brand-new console with no internet support. If this was on an established platform like the PC, or a console with internet support, I could see a community springing up overnight, but the odds of having 16 friends spend $400 on Xboxes and drag their TV's to your house to play seems a bit slim, and 2v2 CTF isn't much fun on a splitscreen. :)
If Halo were released today on the PC, I think it would be a major, major hit, and if you were already buying an Xbox, I'd tell you to buy Halo in a heartbeat. From what I've seen so far, though, there is no way in the world I'd recommend anyone spending $400 just to play Halo.
James -- I'm starting to agree with you. I've never been a PS2 fan, but MGS2, Tony Hawk online, and Devil May Cry and making me wonder if I need a PS2. If only it weren't $300. :)
Jeff, I believe I still owe you a spotlight on the music site. :)
- Sal "Sluggo" Accardo
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Saturday, November 3, 2001 - 01:15 am:
>X-box just doesn't have the games I'm looking for.
Just curious, but where did you play a whole bunch of them so you can make that assesment?
I will agree that the PS2 has probably the strongest software lineup this Christmas. After 18 months on the market, they damn well better.
>There are ton of multiplayer options, but they seem a bit wasted on a brand-new console with no internet support.
I sort of disagree with that. They may not get a lot of use, but hey, it's extra stuff. If you never use it, it doesn't make the rest of the game any worse.
>the odds of having 16 friends spend $400 on Xboxes and drag their TV's to your house to play seems a bit slim.
I don't really see where that's much worse than them spending $2000 on a PC and dragging it, a monitor, speakers or headphones, keyboard, mouse, maybe CAT-5 cable over for a LAN party. It'll be a very niche thing, except at college dorms, but it's nice that it's there.
I certainly don't think anyone would go wrong with a PS2 this holiday season, but it's the same cost as an Xbox and certainly has a lot less legs. And damn if I don't find at least a few of those Xbox launch games really very appealing in their own right.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 12:12 am:
Yeah, PS2 isn't exactly cheap. Guess those rumors of price drops to $249 or $199 were just that-- rumors. There are some packages on ebworld.com where you can pick up a PS2 + GT3 or PS2 + GT3 + THPS3. Not exactly cheap @ $449, though that includes two controllers and a memory card.
Still, it's tough to justify $299 for an Xbox when there is really only one blockbuster title-- Halo. PS2 has at _least_ three and as many as six, depending on your tastes and how picky you are as a gamer.
So here's my question-- when is the Xbox going to become a PS2 emulator? I think this is possible through software, as the Xbox is at least 3x as powerful as the PS2 by my estimation. And it would be a massive coup. There is some historical precedent... remember the coleco add-on that let the colecovision play atari 2600 games?
By Brian Rucker on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 01:16 am:
Xbox was going to be my console but, as usual, a single title spurred me to upgrade in a different direction. Frankly, I'm much more excited about the Xbox's technology than the PS2 and I'd like to play Morrowind on my big TV with my comfortable entertainment setup.
On the other hand, as far as one can tell from Rockstar's website, GTA3 isn't coming out for the Xbox unless there's been recent news. That and the fact I'm having doubts about the potential for the Xbox's success given the state of the economy and the 'marketing strategy' it's getting right now, Microsoft's billions not withstanding, pushed me to make the PS2 call.
However, if GTA3's popularity is a sign of things to come folks will be demanding more titles with that level of immersion, complexity and polish. That's a good thing for Xbox as it better has the power to deliver.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 01:39 am:
>GTA3 isn't coming out for the Xbox unless there's been recent news.
But you'll be able to play that on your PC in a few months.
Xbox as PS2 emulator? No way in hell. They'd need PS2 ROM to do it, which is copyrighted, and Sony would have a FIT. They might be able to reverse engineer it like the Bleem guys did, but I still don't think it has the power. It's more powerful for sure, but we're talking about emulating a VERY different architecture here. Bear in mind that the PS2 uses a true 128-bit CPU, and it ain't going to be easy to get a 32-bit Pentium III core to break that down.
>Still, it's tough to justify $299 for an Xbox when there is really only one blockbuster title-- Halo. PS2 has at _least_ three and as many as six, depending on your tastes and how picky you are as a gamer.
I would call Project Gotham and DOA3 blockbusters as well - especially DOA3. Then there are the "blockbuster" titles that will be on both platforms, like SSX Tricky and Madden.
But that's really not the point. If you're going to make that $300 investment based only on how many blockbuster titles you'll be able to play this christmas, then PS2 is definitely the way to go. If you're making that $300 purchase as an investment for the next 2-3 years, I personally would put the favor in Xbox's corner. I think they're going to have more "gotta have that" games in the long term.
This, of course, is why I end up buying all the damn consoles. Just too many great games on each of them.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 02:04 am:
"I would call Project Gotham and DOA3 blockbusters as well - especially DOA3. Then there are the "blockbuster" titles that will be on both platforms, like SSX Tricky and Madden."
Well, I agree those are both good games, but I think they fall short of "omigod must have that game" emotional reactions that causes people to buy a console. DOA2 was equally impressive upon release but it wasn't a system seller. I don't see why DOA3 would be any different. And racing games.. well.. that's a narrow field, and I don't see Gotham being better than Gran Turismo 3.
Halo is the only *UNIQUE* content on Xbox that qualifies as a blockbuster. Fighting games and racing games are all serviced with equivalent blockbusters on the PS2.
"If you're making that $300 purchase as an investment for the next 2-3 years, I personally would put the favor in Xbox's corner. I think they're going to have more "gotta have that" games in the long term."
There is no logic in these statements. I feel like a fool for buying the PS2 at launch when I could have just waited and picked one up this month. Why would I want to repeat that mistake with the Xbox? If you're a pragmatic consumer, the time to buy the console is when the games start peaking. And that takes about 12 months, at least if we use history as our guide..
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 02:10 am:
Sigh. It's too bad the PS2 has so many great games, because the hardware inside is so poorly designed. It really is the Sega Saturn of its day-- theoretically "powerful" but in practical, real-world terms.. it's weak. Low-resolution graphics, low-resolution textures, and not a lot of "oomph".
By Brian Rucker on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 09:17 am:
Content is king. IMHO, I've got great racing and fighting games on the Dreamcast already and there's a slew of other wonderful titles for it.
I spent four hundred and so dollars for the pleasure of playing GTA3 on my big TV with a great sound system and a comfy couch. I could be playing this for months and gleefully justify to myself that it's less than I'd spend on an equal amount of hours in a bar or going on a vacation (which is one of the things I'd been saving for).
That there are other games for the PS2 is great and that I've never owned a PSOne is additional incentive. When Xbox comes out I'll be cleaning up at the used game counter for a pittance.
And eventually, I will upgrade the PC and get an Xbox. Just right now I'm in no rush.
Yes, Mr. Gleeful Justification is single and the sole accountant in his household. Kids don't try this at home.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 08:30 pm:
>I feel like a fool for buying the PS2 at launch when I could have just waited and picked one up this month.
Why should you feel like a fool? It's not any cheaper now. You spent the same money, and you had another 12 months to rent games, play SSX, whatever.
Your assesment that Gotham is not as good at GT3 is based on what, exactly? Have you played it for a few hours? Same with the assesment on DOA3... have you seen the way half a dozen other people stand around and gawk at it? One of our high-school interns who didn't know a whole lot about Xbox was just FLOORED by it. We had half a dozen people just standing around watching it, oohing and aahing and shouting out when something happened that looked especially painful.
It's not the quality of gameplay that Soul Calibur has, but it's absolutely solid enough and definitely has the flash to be one of those "gotta have that" games. In fact, it's more immediately appreciable than Halo. Give someone five minutes with either one, and DOA3 will do more to make them want to have it.
By Brad Grenz on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 03:52 am:
>"So here's my question-- when is the Xbox going to become a PS2 emulator? I think this is possible through software, as the Xbox is at least 3x as powerful as the PS2 by my estimation"
A PS2 emulator on the Xbox is an absolute technical impossibility. The machines have completely divergent design philosophies. How do you emulate a 48 GBps vram bandwidth on a machine with a UMA design featuring only 6.4 GBps peak bandwidth? You can't. How do you emulate a complicated physics system that uses one of the vector units fully on a Celeron that can't match that one coprocessor's power? You can't.
>"It really is the Sega Saturn of its day-- theoretically "powerful" but in practical, real-world terms.. it's weak."
The PS2 was a grand experiment in alternative systems architecture. Kutaragi were looking for ways around limitations they saw in conventional computer systems. They built a machine with lots of coprocessors and lots of bandwidth. As much as the PS2's small amount is maligned, the Gamecube's GPU uses embedded memory too, and has a megabyte less than Sony's Graphics Synth chip. ArtX/Ati did this because they saw some of the same problems Sony did. I tell you what, though, if the PS2 was coming out this fall along side the Xbox and Gamecube it'd have twice as much RAM, the Emotion Engine would be running a twice the clockspeed, and the Graphics chip would have 8-12 MB of embedded VRAM. It'd be a machine the Xbox would have trouble keeping up with.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 11:44 am:
"A PS2 emulator on the Xbox is an absolute technical impossibility. The machines have completely divergent design philosophies. How do you emulate a 48 GBps vram bandwidth on a machine with a UMA design featuring only 6.4 GBps peak bandwidth? You can't. How do you emulate a complicated physics system that uses one of the vector units fully on a Celeron that can't match that one coprocessor's power? You can't."
Celeron? The CPU inside the Xbox is a 733mhz P3. I agree emulation would be difficult but not because of lack of power on the Xbox side-- the architectures are radically different.
"The PS2 was a grand experiment in alternative systems architecture. Kutaragi were looking for ways around limitations they saw in conventional computer systems."
Then this experiment should be considered a complete and utter failure. It doesn't matter how "advanced" something is when programmers are forced to spend years figuring out how to exploit it. The only metric that we should really care about is what shows up on our televisions. And by that metric, PS2 is mighty weak. Low resolution, blurry textures, and not all that fast.
By Brad Grenz on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 10:38 pm:
>"Celeron? The CPU inside the Xbox is a 733mhz P3."
A P3 with only 128 KB of L2 cache. That, my good man, is what we call a Celeron.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 11:25 pm:
Really? I thought they put the full 256kb version in there! Damn.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 01:49 pm:
As predicted, Halo is the only breakout title in the launch library..
DOA3 is derivative but stunningly pretty, as is Project Gotham.
To be fair, I don't think the PS2 had any breakout titles at launch. No, not even SSX. And the Xbox library is more interesting than the PS2's was at launch, IMO.
By Mark Asher on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 02:38 pm:
The difference was that the PS2 didn't have a ton of competition. They had time to get better games out. Once you get by the hardcore video game fans who want all three systems, the Xbox is competing against the PS2 and Gamecube libraries. Right now, the PS2 wins handily and the Gamecube probably wins with the kiddie market.
By Rob on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 05:10 pm:
I may have mentioned here that certain shooters make me want to puke and have migraines, not because of the poor gameplay (like Age of Sail) but because I have defective ears (or something like that). But certain shooters I can play fine (such as WW2OL and OpFlashpoint), I guess because the running around is fairly realistic (my ears don't bug out then). So, my long winded question is:
Is the movement realistic in Halo? Or is it Doom-like hovering at 60mph? And, can you play it in 3d view (seems to negate pukiness)?