Am I the only one who’s been getting some serious Déjà vu while going through the campaign of Halo Reach? And I’m not talking about the backtracking which seems to be the hallmarks of Bungie’s game design. And I don’t mean the little nods to previous halo games Bungie included (the night time sniping mission comes to mind), what I am talking about is how Halo Reach feels like every blockbuster FPS from the last decade.
And I don’t mean that as a criticism
I feel I got this Déjà vu because of the immense influence the Halo franchise has had on the genre since Microsoft threw its hat into the home console wars. The gritty, boots on the ground military atmosphere that Reach took on can easily be compared to the success of the Call of Duty franchise (Much like the Falcon’s grenade launcher level feel so much like the chinook mission in COD4). While Call of Duty has halo 2 to thank for a regenerative health system and one button grenade throwing.
Many other aspects of Reach also seem familiar, and yet were ultimately introduced, or popularized by the Halo franchise itself. The assassination moved seem very close the Gears of War’s chainsaw attacks or Splinter Cell Conviction’s take downs. Yet the whole idea of using melee attacks in first person shooters as something other than a last resort was pioneered in Halo Combat evolved (Duke Nukem and Godleneye both had melee attacks, but you could only use them when out of ammo for everything else).
Same goes for the multiplayer, while Reach hasn’t climbed to the top of the Xbox Live charts yet, the smorgasbord of game modes and variations will ensure players keep coming back. The new Invasion game type is a Halo take on Battlefield Bad Company 2’s Rush mode and the competitive Firefight mode is an obvious take on Gears of War’s Horde mode. Not to mention the new credit system is very reminiscent of Modern Warfare 2’s XP system.
I could go about the impact of Halo’s brand of multiplayer (And I will in a different post) but it’s amazing to think that all of these game modes really had their start in a game released in 2001 by an indie developer on an unproven game console. Do you think that a wide open multiplayer game like Battle Field would be as successful if Halo hadn’t included the large scale vehicle combat way back in Halo 1? Where would Gears of War be if halo hadn’t included co-op into it’s single player? And I personally don’t think the Call of Duty franchise would have taken on if Halo 2 hadn’t changed console online multiplayer the way it had.
and just as I finished writing this, I realize IGN has posted a very similar article about the legacy of Halo. it’s worth a read, as it has an example of Microsoft being, dare is say, altruistic?
I thoroughly enjoyed Halo: Reach, and I think part of it was being reminded of all the great games I’ve played since I first got hooked on FPS, as a 12 year old. It was a kind of neat feeling knowing that I had been there, at the beginning of the evolution of both console gaming, and the FPS genre in particular. Now that Bungie is moving on to a new IP and a new publisher, you can bet I’ll be first in line to experience the next decade of gaming.