Content of the article: "I embarked on the great journey and played halo 1-4. It’s an exciting adventure of constant improvement."
In order to get ready for halo infinite I played halos 1-4, including reach, not including ODST. I had played all halos in the past but I wanted to sit down and knock out all of them back to back to really get the feel and comparison of each.
This one is a classic. Every level is a new adventure and the story is exciting and engaging. The game slowly builds up the tension with every level building upon the story. You are first introduced to the covenant, then halo, then the forerunners, then the flood. It's a near perfect escalation and story telling that makes the later levels like Two Betrayals and Keyes so epic. It caps off the game with a warthog run that will be viewed at as a keystone for other halos to follow. This halo does not come without its flaws. The game feels clunky. I remember back when I started playing halo 2, I bought marathon (an alternative to the original doom made by bungie) and it feels like that. Along with this, the reuse of half the levels does seem a little lazy. Yet, I do see the value in the reuse of levels. It really adds to the amount of epicness and cements how much has changed since the beginning of the game during the last two levels when you are going through the covenant and human ships and just see all the destruction that halo was brought.
Halo 2 is a natural progression in the halo series. It improves upon the story and gameplay. For better or worse, the chief is no longer a lone ranger and has a lot more of the backing of humanity. The story feels like it's on another level. The game is pretty much broken up into two pair levels throughout the game. Playing through it had some great moments, new mombasa and the scarab, delta halo, high charity, and the first actual boss fight. Yet, the both the story and the levels fall a little flatter. Nearly all levels are in pairs which makes some of the settings drag on a bit, especially the ones with the arbiter. The first arbiter setting/plot point is not very exciting or interesting but two levels are devoted to it. The same can be said for when he is searching for the library. Halo 1 seems to get away with this because when settings are repeated, it feels like a long time has passed since you last were there. The story itself is also weaker. Throughout the whole campaign it feels like Master Chief is reactive, rather than active. Protecting the orbital guns, chasing down mercy on earth, chasing down mercy on halo, chasing down truth on high charity. It feels more like Chief is along for the ride. While the arbiter's actions are more active, they are things we don't really care as much about. Stopping a covenant heretic and getting the index. The story itself does not have a smooth escalation nor really has the engagement that halo 1 or others do. I would say this is the weakest halo story line.
Halo 3 is the first one that does not feel clunky. I would say the game play still holds up quite well today. It's improved gameplay is one reason why it's many favorites of the series. Moving forward from halo 2, halo 3's story and campaign also starts off a little rough. You can tell Bungie was really trying to make this game truly epic and show you are in the middle of a war. The first level is interesting by being in the jungle but the next four levels really blur together. Level 2 you are running through tunnels fighting covenant (not progressing the story at all), level 3 still has the bland coloring and not much more than getting from point A to B. Level 4 and 5 are also uninteresting. The first half of halo 3 is such a drag. Then it turns into something else. The second half of the game is a great step up. You jump onto the ark with other human forces battling scarab after scarab. The whole game truly feels grand. But it does not last two long and despite 5 levels spent on earth, only 2 are dedicated to these epic battles on the ark. Once you kill truth, the tone drastically shifts and you taken away from that in the middle of a war to lone wolf. This sudden shift in pace from the levels Covenant to Cortana is jarring. Despite the pace shift, I did enjoy cortana and the last level. It starts tying things up and starts to build that "we are on the point of collapse" feel. Overall, I think the story was quite lackluster. Again, you are simply chasing truth on earth and then chasing truth on the ark, kill him, and then blow up the ark.
Halo Reach was a great improvement. The gameplay tightens up a little more and the story is one of the best. The story progresses really nicely with going from safe and secure to "oh shit" to "let's make a last stand". The levels are varied really nicely and you get to explore all different settings on and off of reach. It's the first one to bring in space combat and does it pretty well. Whereas halo 2 and 3 TRIED to make it seem like you were in the middle of a war, halo reach very much succeeds. There are scenes and levels that are filled with allies and covenant in which you are fighting to gain just enough ground to complete your mission. These levels also improve where halo 2 and 3 have failed. Instead of just chasing X or Y, there are more exciting objectives. This isn't to say that it isn't perfect. There are some slow points and some of the levels do feel a quest like with little impact to the overall story progression. Overall, one of the best in the series but I think it does well as a stand alone. As fun as it is to be part of the war, I think halo really shines when you are more of a lone wolf either by yourself or a small team.
Again, Halo 4 progresses nicely and naturally. The addition of sprint feels natural and needed. Despite the criticism, I found halo 4's levels to be one of the best in the series. The game brings in all sorts of mechanics and each level feels fresh and different. I feel like it progresses nicely with you by yourself and rejoining the human forces after such a long time. The story itself is fine. Compared to previous halos, I found it to actually be better than halo 2 and 3, but it did not feel like I could get that involvement that I had during the first trilogy. The forerunners feel like a pale comparison of enemies compared to the covenant/flood, the didact serves as a weaker antagonist compared to Truth, and the threat of the composer doesn't have as much gravity as setting off the halos. The halo universe is starting to get more and more complex and it's losing that simplicity that the original halo had which made it so successful.
As halo infinite approaches, it will be interesting to see how and where they take the story. After halo 5's mess and ending it remains on of the biggest questions. I still believe that Halo 1 had the best campaign and story but the aging gameplay is very noticeable at this point. The strength of halo 1 was able to support halo 2 and 3 but it's clear that halo 4 was not strong enough to support the stories of halo 5 and puts the strength of halo infinite in question.
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