Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!
The first-person shooter genre is one with some pretty clear landmarks throughout its history. Wolfenstein 3D and Doom cemented the ideals of what the genre would become. Half-Life showed how story and level design could be seamlessly integrated into a shooter. Many of these genre defining games released on PC but not all of them. Today, let’s talk about one of the definitive first-person shooters that landed first on consoles. Today’s game is Halo: Combat Evolved, developed by Bungie and released on the Xbox in 2001.
Halo takes place in the futuristic 26th century where humanity has long been embroiled in a losing war with the alien faction known as the Covenant. A ship called the Pillar of Autumn is trying to evade Covenant vessels which know that it is carrying a secret weapon, a super soldier dubbed Master Chief designed from the ground up to defeat Covenant and turn the tide of the war. The Autumn is found though and in ensuing battle, it is forced to crashland on a mysterious floating ringworld. Master Chief must evade Covenant capture, help save the Autumn survivors, and find a way off of the ringed world of Halo.
While Halo’s most revolutionary changes to the genre may not be as immediately obvious as something like Half-Life, that doesn’t mean it didn’t help shape many games that would come after. Many previous shooters had grenades and melee weapons available but Halo allows them to be used in tandem with other guns, by having a dedicated melee and grenade button. The Halo arsenal of guns is also relatively small, with only seven guns in the original game but each had a specific purpose that made it unique in a way few other games had achieved. Human weapons such as the pistol or assault rifle did heavy damage to health but had a tough time blasting through shields whereas the Covenant’s plasma weaponry was the opposite.
These shields were another element that Halo popularized in first-person shooters. Previous genre entries commonly used non-regenerating health and frequently showed that health as a number out of 100. Halo does still use health that must be healed with health packs, but over the top of that system is a regenerating shield. As long as only the shield has taken damage, the player can get out of the line of fire and their shield will regenerate. Regenerating health has since become the norm in most shooters since.
Finally, Halo features a number of ground and air based vehicles which Master Chief can command, many of which can carry multiple people. The 4×4 Warthog has a mounted turret on the back and can carry other soldiers. The Covenant Ghost is a single-occupant speeder that shoots plasma. Players can even command the Banshee, a low-speed Covenant aircraft.
Halo: Combat Evolved did all of these things and also proved that first person shooters could be every bit as impressive on consoles as on PCs. The game was universally well received and the multiplayer has been some of the most well-remembered in the genre’s history. The original Halo game has since been remade as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and has been released both standalone and as part of the Master Chief Collection on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.
Thank you so much for listening and thank you to Geoff for requesting today’s episode. If you haven’t already, you should really follow me on Twitter or Instagram @vg_oftheday to keep up to date on all of our projects. We have been pumping out tons of new content lately with multiple weekly streams, the TGO podcast, unique blog content, and more. That’s not all either as more is very much on the way. So check out @vg_oftheday on Twitter or Instagram to get notified as soon as that is up. You can also follow on Twitch at twitch.tv/katosepe to be notified when I go live. As always, don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!
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