The Austin Chronicle

Get in the Game

New Fast Fun for Xbox and PlayStation2

By Marcel Meyer, March 29, 2002, Screens


Bungie Software

Xbox When George Lucas let loose Star Wars upon the masses in 1977, word-of-mouth buzz drew moviegoers to cineplexes like the siren song of a black hole. Luke, Han, Leia, and Co. frolicked about a universe previously unfathomed in the minds of Americans. At light speed, our crusaders leapt across vast expanses of space, wielding energy weapons, beating back a dark menace, and nearly single-handedly helping to define a then unheard-of term in the film world: the blockbuster. Some might imagine it a stretch to compare such a landmark cinematic achievement to a mere video game, but make no mistake about it, Bungie Software's groundbreaking first-person shooter, Halo, is no mere diversion. It is composed of the same stardust as Lucas' most memorable work, and as such, Microsoft has long been promoting it as Xbox's flagship title. Set in a galaxy far, far away in a time not yet recorded by man, Halo casts you as the quiet anti-hero, a plasma-gun-toting cyborg known only as the Master Chief. One part Clint Eastwood, one part Han Solo, Master Chief has the job of unraveling a complex story of warring alien species, and, most important, discovering the ancient secret of the behemoth, ring-like world known as Halo. And what a world it is. Finely detailed, flowing rivers. Lush blades of vegetation. Towering rock precipices. Azure blue skies. Dripping-red sunsets, and more alien intelligence than you could shake a light saber at. And just as Lucas advocates the critical importance of sound in his films, so do Bungie's engineers. With full support for Dolby 5.1 Surround sound, the music, voice talent, laser blasts, and hundreds of original Foley effects are poured out with the same care as a master barkeep's best pint of Guinness. And Halo goes down just as smooth, just as rich, creating a similarly intoxicating effect. With all-terrain vehicles that churn up mud, hovercraft that zoom across the landscape, and spaceships that zip across the sky, you simply cannot help but go back for more and more until you are completely drunk in the reality of this non-reality. Halo is a world filled with secrets, epic war zones, magical artifacts, romantic sparks, and first-rate adventure -- all in keeping with the best of the blockbusters.

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