Halo - Combat Evolved
The Xbox is finally here and what a console it is too. All those who have been luck enough to have purchased one today will no doubt have picked up a copy of Halo to accompany it. There is no doubting the fact that Halo is a masterpiece in many respects and that most people will play the game until they have completed it many times. Cast your eyes around the websites and magazines and the game can't fail to obtain an almost perfect score and you know what if this was a website for hearing gamers we would do the same thing. However, we cater for you, deaf gamers and it breaks my heart to say it but the game is going to offer the deaf gamer very little at all in the way of enjoyment, at least in single player mode.
The gist of the story is that it is the year 2552 and with Earth being over populated many humans have moved to other planets. However contact has been made with a race known as the Covenant and they see humans as an insult to their gods and therefore see fit to destroy the human race. To do this they are seeking the Halo an all powerful weapon that has the power to wipe out anything that exists. Your mission is to get to the Halo first and prevent the Covenant from obtaining it.
We'll start on a positive though and say that Halo is the most visually pleasing FPS you've ever played. The graphics are unbelievable. The textures are incredible. On the parts of the game where you are on snow and ice covered terrain the whole thing looks real. You may have purchased an Nvidia graphics card in the past and run the technology demos that you get with the card of a lady or garden and they look absolutely fantastic but that quality never appeared in the games did it? Well the sheer quality of the Xbox enables the whole of Halo to look like a technology demo. Whether it be ice, glass, brushed metal or fauna it looks so real that you'll find yourself just gazing at objects the first time you play.
A mention must go to the control system. I had my doubts about Halo's control system. I've played all of the FPS games on the PC with the old trusty mouse and keyboard and I could never see anything equalling the smoothness of this dynamic duo. Various console shooters have only confirmed this all too often. Halo though makes a hell of a good stab at fully utilising the Xbox pad. The use of the analogue sticks and the buttons is superb. Don't get me wrong I'd still plump for the keyboard and mouse combination but I would say the Xbox pad is about 90% as good and that is incredible for a launch title.
And so we come to the bad news. Nothing in Halo is subtitled. Cutscenes aren't subtitled, conversations aren't subtitled and there are very few visual clues. To make matters worse you have a holographic, virtual woman called Cortana uploaded to your battle suit when the Covenant attack your ship. Cortana remains with you during the game and verbally instructs you on where to go and how to go about certain things. It is horrible that her advice isn't subtitled and it effectively kills the single player game for the deaf gamer. There are some visual clues such as the directional arrows that show you from which direction you are being attack and a very brief and vague mission briefing can be accessed by pressing the start button but you are probably going to be completely lost.
One saving grace could be the multiplayer mode. Co-operative play really is still a no-no unless one of your mates is a hearing gamer. Capture the flag, King of the hill, Slayer, Oddball and Race are all present. You all know what the first two are about so I'll tell you about the final three variations. Slayer is basically the first player to eliminate a set number of enemies. Oddball is all about finding the ball and keeping it for as long as possible and there are many variations for this game. Finally Race is all about tagging objection points that appear.
The real shame though is that it is the Campaign mode where the real Halo Experience is at. These multiplayer modes are fun but they are not what people are all raving about. Some of the battles in the campaign mode are reminiscent of scenes from classic films such as The Empire Strikes Back and for deaf gamers to not fully enjoy them is devastating.
Overall Game Rating: 6.5/10 This is probably the lowest score this work of art is going to get and it gives me no pleasure in issuing it. The campaign mode, the main part of the game, is virtually impossible for the deaf gamer. Fun can be had on the multiplayer side of thing but this ain't what you're going to buy Halo for, now is it?
Deaf Gamers comment: Memories of Half Life return to haunt us as yet another technological masterpiece is useless to the deaf gamer. If you are a hearing gamer then feel free to bump that score up to 9.5 because the complaints we have with the game aren't anything that will concern you. Let's hope, no pray! that if Halo 2 ever sees the light of day that it will be fully subtitled.