An era of gaming has recently passed us with the releases of both Halo Reach and it’s subsequent “successor” Halo 4. An era of multiplayer gaming where accuracy, reflexes, strategy and ultimately skill reigned supreme, Halo was essentially the Counter-Strike of Xbox Live donning a huge player population and intense competition in what was a highly addictive and competitive online gaming environment.
Sniper headshots zooming across the map leaving a trail of air in their wake as they give some unsuspecting Spartan a brain haemorrhage were the norm as were timing power weapon spawns such as the Rocket Launcher and fighting for control over them with the opposition, you had map control strategies to keep enemies pinned down, elaborate grenade bounces off surfaces to negate terrain and dispatch enemies that were otherwise unreachable, the verbal call out of enemy locations so that your team could finish them off (no homo) while in a vulnerable state, team shotting your enemies cohesively to kill them in 2 seconds rather than the usual 5 seconds and the final incentive for all of this fast-paced tactical carnage - levelling up based upon your teams victory and inversely levelling down if your team were simply not up to scratch – kind of like in football (if you’re American/Australian etc, you’re dysfunctional and are the only countries in the world to call football “soccer”), unlike games of new there was no constant levelling up and promotion with no chance of relegation, you had to play well to earn your position and you had to fight to keep it. (Or you paid some guy on Ebay $50 to get you an account to Level 50, if you sucked and wanted it that bad!)
Halo required a lot of skill and yet at the same time it was a team-based game. If you didn’t work with your team, you would get raped by those who did. The game didn’t just require you to be a proficient individual, but it required an understanding of military strategy, flanking positions, timing power weapons and using specific weapons for specific situations, rather than just choosing a gun at the start of the game and sticking with that for the duration, having only brief opportunities to change your arsenal.
Halo multiplayer set an innovative standard of what online FPS should be about, courtesy of the vision of the guys over at Bungie Studios. Where Call of Duty catered to the checkers players, Halo catered to those who prefer a game of virtual chess. Halo was for those who enjoyed working for their kills and outsmarting their opponents whilst everyone in game was mechnically on an equal footing, maps for the most part did not promote a stronger starting position for a specific team and did not comprise of random and unpredictable “special moves” such as the Jetpack.
The only “perks” in the game such as Overshield and Active Camo were rewarded to the players that could get to their respective spawn points on the map first without dying, they had to be fought over, they were not awarded for merely for spawning in to the game. There was no spawning with faster weapon reloads or faster shield regeneration, no ability to spawn power weapons directly in to your own hands rather conveniently via ordinance or going prone in a bush so that your enemies cannot see you simply because you decided to hold down the B button for a few seconds. In fact in Halo 2 and 3, if you didn’t move around the map to get the power weapons as they spawned, you’d essentially be outgunned and forfeit victory to the enemy through a lack of map control.
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