Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved, or simply Halo, is a video game in the first-person shooter (FPS) genre, created by the Microsoft-owned Bungie Studios. It was released for the Xbox game console on November 15, 2001.
Halo is a killer app for the Xbox, considered by many to be that platform's "must-have" game. Many consider Halo to be one of the best first-person shooters of all time. For example, the usually harsh Edge magazine gave it a full score of ten out of ten. Nevertheless, Halo has its weaknesses; some criticise its gameplay as too repetitive. Halo is a FPS (first person shooter), in which you play the role of Master Chief, a cyborg with MJOLNIR battle armor and accompanied by an AI construct. Although Halo has an impressive campaign, (single player mode), it is most popular for its multiplayer function. One of the first games to take advantage of the “system link” function has made Halo a huge hit. This allowed up a player to hook a max of four Xboxes together at the same time and play with 16 other people. There are many multiplayer game types including CTF, Team Death Match, Death Match, Assault, Oddball, and many more. The game is relatively simple compared to other first person shooters. With a weapon count of only 8 weapons (not including grenades and other weapons that are only found in the campaign mode) it is proof that simplicity is key in a good game. With Xbox Live, you can play with anyone from around the world.
Prior to Bungie's takeover by Microsoft, the initial release of Halo was planned for the Mac OS and Windows platforms; in fact, the game was first previewed at the Macworld Conference & Expo, New York, in 1999. It was also originally planned as a real-time strategy game.
In the Windows version, however, some problems existed, largely stemming from its porting. While the plot and content remained the same, certain segments of the population had trouble with framerate issues. Most of the issues, however, were caused by users who used detail settings from other games as a starting point for Halo's settings. When detail settings (many barely noticeable when active) were removed or lessened, framerates typically rose to acceptable levels.
Halo's gameplay is characterized by several features which set it apart from less acclaimed first-person shooter games:
- Storyline execution: Halo's gameplay and storyline have been known to be tightly interwoven, and delivered in a convincing manner which is consistent with the flow of the game.
- Vehicles: Halo incorporates many vehicles into its single and multiplayer games, including flying ones. Some vehicles a player faces, such as the Covenant tank, cannot be operated by the player. No flying vehicles are available in multiplayer.
- Weapons system: Halo's weapons system is unusual in two respects. First, it allows one to carry only two weapons at any given time, forcing the player to switch weapons often and make trade-offs when choosing which weapons to carry. Second, Halo has an independent button for throwing grenades.
- Artificial intelligence: Halo's AI was quite sophisticated for its time. For example, the more cowardly types of enemies would panic when one of their superiors was killed. If a speeding vehicle came at them, they could dive out of the way, and they could take cover from explosives or suppressive fire.
Movement and aiming
Movement in Halo is similar to other first-person shooters, allowing the player to move forwards, backwards, and strafe left and right independently of their aim. On the Xbox, strafing and aiming are normally separated between the two analog sticks; and on the PC, between the mouse and the keyboard.
Halo also allows the player to crouch and jump, although jumping from a high ledge will often result in death.
- Health: The player in Halo has a finite, non self-regenerating health which can be fully restored by picking up health-packs. Running completely out of health will result in death, but having lower health does not impede player actions. A player's health can only be reduced if his shields have failed.
- Shields: The player carries a shield which protects all parts of his body from damage. The shield will decrease in strength every time it is hit by a weapon, and will fail after taking enough hits, but will quickly regenerate if the player is not attacked for a short period of time. The shield represents a marked departure from most first-person shooters, in which one's health bar is basically augmented by picking up "armor," and it is entirely possible, in the single-player campaign at least, to simply not have enough health points to survive the next section of gameplay. Halo players, on the other hand, have a more-or-less permanent buffer of health at their disposal (assuming they manage to find time to regenerate the shield), making it less of a disaster to take hits in combat.
There are three types of powerups available in Halo:
- Health packs: Fully restore the health of the player.
- Active camouflage: Drastically reduces the player's visibility for a period of time, making all but a faint outline of him transparent. This effect is reduced if the player is hit by weapons fire or if he or she fires a weapon or throws a grenade.
- Overshield: An enhanced, non-regenerating shield which is three times the strength of the normal one. The overshield functions on top of the regular shield - when it is active, the normal shield does not take damage. In the single player game, the overshield is reduced only when the player is hit, while in the multiplayer game, it also weakens gradually with time. (see MJOLNIR MARK V battle suit)
Three factions of allies/enemies are encountered on Halo: the Covenant, the Flood, and the Forerunner Sentinels.
- Covenant: The Covenant, ruled by the High Prophets through the Particular Justice Fleet Supreme Commander Elite, the future Arbiter from Halo 2 (although he is not mentioned and does not appear in the first game), are an alliance of different species, including the cowardly Grunts, the weak Jackals with their visible energy shields, the Elites with their personal energy shields, and the huge, tough Hunters with strong armour. The Covenant wield plasma weapons of varying power, including energy swords carried by some Elites and fuel rod cannons used by Hunters and Special-Op Grunts. They also make extensive use of vehicles.
- The Flood: The parasitic Flood are encountered in 3 forms: Infection Forms, the lowly parasitic spores themselves, which usually die from a single shot; Combat Forms, walking forms of former humans and Covenant whose nervous systems have been taken over by the parasite, which are tough and may carry either human or Covenant weapons; and exploding Carrier Forms, which cause splash damage and release Infection Forms.
- Forerunner Sentinels: The Sentinels, led by the probe 343 Guilty Spark, are hovering robotic drones designed to protect Halo and help contain the Flood. The Sentinals possess a powerful beam weapon and, while immune to infection by the Flood, are not particularly durable or resistant to damage. Sentinels will target Covenant forces and the Master Chief if ordered by 343 Guilty Spark.
See the main article List of weapons in Halo: Combat Evolved
See the main article List of vehicles in the Halo universe.
A number of easter eggs have been discovered in Halo: Combat Evolved, deliberately put there by the programmers of the game to make their "mark." Some of the most notable are:
The Meg easter egg was a private gift from Jaime Griesemer (Designer on Halo, Lead Designer on Halo 2) for his significant other, Meg Sagi (a.k.a. Pallor). It can be activated by completing a sequence of events, or "triggers," that are not included in the normal sequence of the game. It was a personal gift and therefore not intended to be seen by the normal player, but its discovery sparked a massive hunt to find how to unlock it. According to Meg, the gift incorporated many elements of the game that she enjoyed - "senseless carnage, insane tasks, blood, bullets, dying, and an old fashioned image." There no Megg in the Halo port for PC, even though you can still get to the area where it was by fulfilling the same triggers.
Bridge Bulletin Board
There is a bulletin board outside the bridge of the Pillar of Autumn which has several posters on it, most of which are eggs.
Multiplayer Select Screen
There is an image of a Spartan to the right with little captions pointing to various parts of his body. On closer inspections these captions are actually easter eggs:
- Sometimes I give myself the creeps/Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. (This is a lyric from the Green Day song 'Basket Case'.)
- Hydraulic suspension thigh pads with cool kevlar crap
- Action/Reload one way flexible joint system
- UV protectant: See visor for protection from elements
- UV protectant: See armor for protection from elements
- All your base are belong to us
- Directional Lock MJOLNIR Cyborg Dealer Parts
Halo features a wide variety of environments in which combat occurs, including the human starship Pillar of Autumn in the level of the same name and The Maw, the Covenant ships Truth and Reconciliation and the Flood-infested ship in Keyes , ancient buildings on Halo itself, and vast outdoor expanses of varying climates, including the temperate lands of the levels The Silent Cartographer and Halo, the desert in the first half of the level Truth and Reconciliation, the winter wasteland of the levels Assault on the Control Room and Two Betrayals, and the spooky forests and swamps of the level 343 Guilty Spark. Six of the ten levels feature a substantial amount of combat outdoors.
16 players can play together in one Halo game over a local area network, using four Xboxes that have been connected through an Ethernet hub. The game's seamless support for this type of play, as well as a few large maps that can comfortably hold up to 16 combatants, is a first for console games.
Players can customize each round of multiplayer with a wide variety of settings:
- Weapon sets - Human only, Covenant only, Snipers, Rockets, Pistols, random, etc. Grenade types (either plasma and fragmentation) can also be customized.
- Game length - Either by the number of kills or a certain amount of time
- Game mode - Determines the way the game will be played. Capture the Flag (based off a game popular in playgrounds), Oddball (a game where players fight over a "ball"), King of the Hill (another game popular in playgrounds), and others, including Slayer (a standard deathmatch mode), are available from the start, but players have the ablility to create a comepletely new game setting by manipulating a wide variety of options.
- Map (see below)
- Vehicle sets - Limited to Human Tanks , Warthogs , and Ghosts, or all of the three combined. Only certain maps can support vehicles.
The PC version of Halo adds online play, new vehicles (Banshee and a Warthog with a tri-barrel rocket launcher), and weapons (Fuel Rod Cannon and Flamethrower) for multiplayer.
The list of multi-player maps are:
- Battle Creek, "Splash Splash, Bang Bang", 2-8 Players
- Sidewinder,"Red Blood, White Snow", 4-16 Players
- Damnation, "Covenant Hydro-Processing Center", 4-8 Players
- Rat Race, "Up the Ramps, Down the Tubes", 2-6 Players
- Prisoner, "Get on Top", 2-8 Players
- Hang 'Em High,"Tombstones for Everybody", 4-16 Players
- Chill Out, "Dude, you really need to...", 2-8 Players
- Derelict, "Deep-Space Anomaly #0198", 4-8 Players
- Boarding Action, "Ship-to-Ship Combat", 4-16 Players
- Blood Gulch, "The Quick and the Dead", 4-16 Players
- Wizard, "Round and Round and Round", 2-8 Players
- Chiron TL34, "Spartan Clone Training Complex", 2-6 Players
- Longest, "A long walk down a short hall...", 2-8 Players
The Warthog jump is a game trick popularized by a series of videos made by gamer Randall Glass, who was given the role of "Vic" on the Halo-themed movie series Red Vs Blue as a result. It is purely for fun, as it is of no tactical value whatsoever.
The Warthog jump involves a Warthog vehicle backed against a boulder. Then a series of players intentionally die around the Warthog, dropping grenades in the process. Once there is a large pile of grenades, they can be detonated by throwing a live grenade into the pile, causing the Warthog to jump into the air and fly to the top of the map. This move can be done in Multiplayer or in a Campaign map such as The Silent Cartographer.
Halo's storyline is linear; there is only one ending (in contrast to other first person shooters such as Deus Ex). It is presented to the player through an instruction manual, scripted events and conversations during the game, and a number of cut-scenes rendered using the game's graphics engine. This method of storyline delivery is common among modern video games.
Halo, like previous Bungie releases such as the Marathon series, has an intricate plot.
The "Halo" in the title refers to an enormous (approximately 10,000 kilometers in diameter) artificial space habitat similar to a Culture Orbital discovered by the warship Pillar of Autumn. The central character, the Master Chief Spartan-117, is aboard this vessel at the start of the game. With the help of his fellow marines and the ship's artificial intelligence, Cortana, the Master Chief discovers some of the secrets of Halo while fighting off members of the Covenant, archenemies of humanity who, presumably, wish to find Halo's secrets for themselves.
The events which transpire in Halo's gameplay must be understood in the context of its backstory, created by Bungie and elaborated in several novels written after the release of the game. A summary of this backstory is presented below.
Unreleased Macworld 1999 and E3 2000 versions of Halo
The Player is a Marine Recon Unit of the Human Empire. Pursued by Alien Covenant ships, the Human ship is destroyed and crashes on Halo and the player must defeat Humankind's sworn enemy through a Guerrilla war over air, land, and sea above and below the surface of Halo.
In the years 2160-2200, various governments and factions fought for control of Earth and its first Colonies. As overpopulation and unrest on Earth mounted, new political movements formed including the Jovian Frieden and Koslovics led by Vladimir Koslov, resurgences of Fascism and Communism which waged the Interplanetary and Rain Forest Wars Campaign and Mars clashes and were defeated by the United Nations Space Command.
Other conflicts include the Hydra System massacres.
The human colonization of the Orion Arm
In the years 2170-2291, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) successfully develop humanity's first faster than light drive, the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine. For the first time in history, the rapid colonization of other worlds is made possible. By 2390, 210 worlds have been occupied by humans, and are being actively terraformed to suit man's needs. These worlds are to become known as the Inner Colonies. By 2490, the UNSC's fledging Interstellar Empire has expanded to over 800 planets throughout the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. During this period, the planet Reach becomes one of the two headquarters of the UNSC military and government ( the other was Earth itself), and is destined to become the most heavily fortified world under human control and the Inner Colonies became the heart of the United Nations Imperial Government
In addition, there were brushfire wars in the Outer Colonies in which Rebel Insurrections including the one at the Eridanus System led by Colonel Robert Watts were suppressed.
The Human-Covenant Wars begin
On February 3, 2525, first contact is made with an alliance of alien races that refers to itself as The Covenant. On that day, a single Covenant Warship exterminated the surface population of the Outer Colony of Harvest. Three UNSC battleships and a Colonial Military Administration scout ship, the Argo, are sent to investigate this incident, engage the Covenant ship in battle, and are subsequently routed. Only one, the Heracles, manages to return to Reach badly damaged. By December of the same year, the UNSC has mobilized a massive fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Preston Cole, with orders to reclaim the Harvest Colony and stop the Covenant advance.
They also captured a few Covenant troops.
Covenant ships possess several technological features which make them far superior to their human counterparts. First, they have superior maneuvering and tracking abilities when employing faster than light travel (ships in Halo, like many other science fiction titles, achieve faster than light speeds by moving through an alternate realm. In Halo it is called "Slipspace ").
Covenant and humanity use essentially the same technologies to enter Slipspace, but the Covenant are unaware that their engines can be used much more precisely than their human's counterparts.
Second, Covenant ships possess strong recharging shields which must be destroyed in order to physically damage the ship. This is quite difficult, as they can withstand a near-direct nuclear explosion.
Third, Covenant ships employ more powerful weapons, including a form of guided plasma which can often destroy human vessels in a single hit. It should be noted that the Covenant also use plasma to exterminate the surface population of a planet (a process known as 'glassing').
The fall of the Outer Colonies
Cole's fleet manages a victory at Harvest, but at a high cost - two thirds of his ships are destroyed. Despite significant tactical brilliance on the part of Human commanders, Covenant technology guarantees a four to one kill/loss ratio in most battles. One by one, the Outer Colonies fall below the onslaught, and by 2535, virtually all have been destroyed.
The Cole Protocol
Quoted from Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 135:
- "To safeguard the Inner Colonies and Earth, all UNSC vessels or stations must not be captured with intact navigation databases that may lead Covenant forces to human civilian population centers.
- If any Covenant forces are detected:
- 1. Activate selective purge of databases on all shipbased and planetary data networks.
- 2. Initiate triple-screen check to ensure all data has been erased and all backups neutralized.
- 3. Execute viral data scavengers. (Download from UNSCTTP://EPWW.COLEPROTOCOL/Virtualscav/fbr.091)
- 4. If retreating from Covenant forces, all ships must enter Slipstream space with randomized vectors NOT directed toward Earth, the Inner Colonies, or any other human population center.
- 5. In case of imminent capture by Covenant forces, all UNSC ships MUST self-destruct.
- Violation of this directive will be considered an act of TREASON, and pursuant to UNSC Military Law Articles JAG-845-P and JAG 7556-L, such violations are punishable by life imprisonment or execution."
Unfortunately it eventually fails, and Earth is invaded in Halo 2, but it led humanity to Halo.
The SPARTAN Project
Several decades before contact with the Covenant was made, the UNSC military embarked on a secret project to create a group of elite soldiers that would deal with occasional unrest in the Colonies. Codenamed SPARTANs, these genetically enhanced troops were trained from the age of six into a life of battle, and became a great asset against the Covenant. While humans suffered defeat after defeat in space, they could almost always prevail with the help of the SPARTANs in ground engagements. The main character of Halo's gameplay, the Master Chief, is a veteran SPARTAN.
Covenant's equivalent of the Spartans in Halo 2 are the Arbiters.
All SPARTANS were given special armour designated MJOLNIR, which can increase their strength and speed. They were the only ones who could wear it, as those without the proper SPARTAN body training or body augmentations (like the SPARTAN upgrades) killed themselves with strength enhanced convulsions.
The Battle of Reach
By 2552, many of Humanity's Inner Colonies have been destroyed by the Covenant (although they were routed at Sigma Octanus IV). In a move of desperation, UNSC orders a secret plan to capture a Covenant ship using a SPARTAN task force and find the coordinates of their home planet. A group of SPARTANs, led by the Master Chief, are chosen for this mission, and board a specially outfitted Halcyon-class cruiser, the Pillar of Autumn, under the command of Captain Jacob Keyes. This plan, however, is interrupted when the Covenant launch a surprise attack on the fortress world of Reach via automated probe attached to the UNSC Iroquois, but that planned mission finally began in Halo 2 only after Earth was attacked.
During this battle, half of Reach is overrun and glassed, and the human fleet is obliterated. Worse still, the Master Chief thinks that all of the SPARTANs but himself are killed on the surface of the planet (the SPARTANs are revealed to have survived in Halo: First Strike). The last remaining SPARTAN, the Master Chief, escapes with the Pillar of Autumn. In accordance with the Cole Protocol, the Autumn makes a blind slipspace jump, and emerges in the vicinity of an unexplored and remarkable world.
Arrival at Halo
The Pillar of Autumn exits slipspace to find a mysterious ring shaped moon orbiting a gas giant. The ring, called "Halo" by the Covenant, is obviously artificial and teeming with life. A Covenant fleet, however, is also present, and a subsequent battle heavily damages the Pillar of Autumn. Captain Keyes initiates the Cole protocol - all records of Earth's location are erased, and the Autumn is crash landed onto Halo. The ship's AI construct, Cortana, leaves the Autumn with the Master Chief in an escape pod which also crash lands on Halo.
Gameplay begins in earnest with the Master Chief's escape from the Autumn, and continues upon landing. The player will soon discover the origins and purpose of this world - and uncover a threat that forces even the Covenant into retreat.
See the main article Halo characters
The first levels of the game deal with an attempt to reach Halo's control center to uncover its purpose. It is soon discovered that the Covenant have accidentally released the "Flood", a parasitic race which gets its name from the way it devastates potential hosts with sheer numbers. The Flood then sweep across Halo and devastate human and Covenant forces positioned on it. The release of the Flood prompts 343 Guilty Spark, an eccentric Artificial Intelligence responsible for monitoring and maintaining the ringworld's systems, to try and get the Master Chief to unwittingly activate Halo's defense system, a pulse weapon that, when fired, would wipe out all life in the galaxy large enough to be hosts for the Flood. Technically, that installation only has a maximum effective radius of 25,000 light years, but the pulse would trigger other installations as well, effectively killing all life in the galaxy. This system is designed to stop the Flood from spreading through the universe if they escape confinement from Halo by the only way possible: starving the Flood of any life source large enough to sustain them.
Naturally, this would wipe out Humanity as well, and so the final levels of the game revolve around the Master Chief's attempts to destroy Halo before it fires.
The game leaves the story open to further developments, with the revelation that there are most likely several Halo ringworlds in the galaxy, due to Halo being numbered "Installation 04" by a robot named 343 Guilty Spark, the Monitor of the installation. (It is revealed in Halo 2 that there were 7 Halos before Installation 04's destruction.)
As of 2004, three books have been written based in the Halo universe.
- Halo: The Fall of Reach is a prequel to the game, written by Eric Nylund.
- Halo: The Flood is an adaptation of the game's story by William C. Dietz.
- Halo: First Strike is the story between the first game and its sequel, Halo 2, by Eric Nylund.
The next episode in the Halo story, Halo 2, was released on November 9, 2004.  Like the previous fan-beloved Marathon, Halo 2 has a return of old characters and new technology in attempt to further a complicated plot line, the object of which is to be deciphered by the end.
Not only this mod, but many, can be found at various sites on the Internet at places like halomods.com, halocity.org and more. The customizable map option has become quite popular with the downloadable custom edition of the PC version, many maps can be found on these sites, ready to be opened and played. These maps can be made with 3D Studio MAX.
HaloGen is a mod for Command and Conquer, Generals. It turns Halo into a RTS.
- Official site
- Official Xbox.com site
- Haloplanet.com Popular "Halo" fansite
- Halomaps.org Popular resource for Halo CE Mod Maps
- MobyGames' entry on Halo
- Halo.Bungie.Org Halo fansite and resource center
- Halo Story Page Fan-maintained site dedicated to the discussion of the Halo story.
- Subnova.com Halo information & FAQs
- Red VS Blue - Machinima using the Halo engine
- Halo for Mac OS X
- Halo Wiki, a MediaWiki site dedicated to everything Halo.
- Halo Editing Wiki
- Warthog Jump
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