Halo - Combat Evolved PC CD-ROM
by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Bungie (PC version by Gearbox)
Released: Out Now
The shining jewel in the Xbox crown has finally made its way to the PC. Make no mistake about it Halo was one of the best console launch titles in history and the fact that it still sells in high volumes almost 2 years after the US release of the game is unbelievable. Whilst Halo is an absolute legend of a game, it wasn't without it's problems for deaf gamers. The biggest problem was that it wasn't subtitled and therefore deaf gamers had no idea of the plot. We had hoped the PC version might rectify this issue but unfortunately it hasn't and once more we have a Halo that is a poorer experience for deaf gamers than it is for hearing gamers.
The story goes 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.
Obviously with Halo being on the PC the control system adopted is the traditional keyboard and mouse combination and for a lot of gamers this will be a major plus. In truth the game seems a fair bit easier as aiming seems a lot more precise with the mouse. Having said this though I actually missed the force feedback from the Xbox controller, which I felt made for a more immersive experience. The default key layout is the classic WASD one and is instantly familiar to anyone who has played a FPS before. The 'Q' key enables your flashlight and the 'E' key is used to reload your weapon. The left mouse button is your primary fire whilst the grenades can be thrown by using the right mouse button.
The conversion from the Xbox is simply a workmanlike one and real thrills have been added to the single-player game. The game still uses checkpoint saves, like the Xbox version, and there is no quicksave feature. Multiplayer though is a rather different story. The famed co-operative mode from the Xbox version is no more but in it's place is a bounty of games that should keep everybody happy. There are 12 standard games (such as Slayer which is a deathmatch variant where you have to make 25 kills and Crazy King which is a king of the hill variant where the hill happens to move) and a whopping 26 classic games (such as Classic Rocket where you launch rockets at each other and the first to 25 kills wins). All of these games can be played over either a LAN, Internet or through the Gamespy Arcade network. They support text chat too so it's possible for deaf gamers to enjoy them.
Graphically Halo looks good but not as impressive as it did on the Xbox (although it's worth mentioning I only have a DirectX 8 graphics card and a good DirectX 9 card is supposed to look much better). I was unable to run the game above 800x600 without some serious performance issues so if you're expecting to run the game in a high resolution then you'll have to have a superb PC in order to do so. Anti-aliasing isn't possible on a Nvidia card either but if you're lucky enough to have one of the better ATi Radeon cards then you will be able to enable it. The framerate within the game tends to fluctuate quite a bit and it's worth knocking on the 30fps limiter if your graphics card, like mine, lacks the power to keep the framerate fairly constant. With the limiter enabled the framerate remained smooth throughout the game.
We started by saying the PC version wasn't subtitled and of course this will upset those of you who were hoping that the PC version would be subtitled. Text provision is identical to the Xbox version. You receive very brief objectives on screen and by bringing up the pause menu (the 'Esc' key), you can recall these at any time. In some circumstances there is a nav point to follow that will help you find the direction you have to go. However it's still disappointing that you have no idea of how the story is unfolding. The multiplayer side of the game seems fine as long as your opponents are willing to communicate through text and not voice, but it's a shame that the co-operative mode has gone. The bottom line is that, as before, an excellent game is reduced to a good game by the lack of subtitles, which is a massive shame.
Game Rating: 7.0/10
An impressive amount of multiplayer modes can't really hide the fact that it's disappointment once more because of the lack of subtitles.
Multiplayer is actually good fun but the single player game is limited because you'll be unaware of the plot.