Xbox 360

Halo: Rankings Evolved

The Xbox division of Microsoft might not be here today if it wasn’t for their original console exclusive hit, Halo: Combat Evolved from Bungie. The first-person shooter revolutionized the genre that GoldenEye had set the standard for in the console generation before. Over the years, we’ve had several sequels and even a prequel to the Halo franchise, each one attempting to build on the lore, following the paths of Master Chief and Cortana and even expanding on the surrounding universe. It is easily one of the most successful video game franchises of this century.

With that in mind, I am providing my ranking of the games. I am not including the Halo: Wars RTS or any of the digital only games. With that in mind, we are looking at seven different games. Additionally, I am only going off of the original versions of these games and not the Anniversary or Master Chief Collection versions. For those who don’t know, that means I’m going on their original releases. That means Bungie’s work is in play here. The remakes of the games do change things, especially since Bungie was not directly involved in the remastering of their games. So, here we go.

#7. Halo: ReachHalo Reach Box Art

So, we got a prequel. It’s not a prequel about Master Chief, it’s about Cortana and where she came from. While her origins are important and they provide some interesting insight into her creation, the game just doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the universe. The team you play with are decent enough NPCs and the graphics are good but being a prequel, you know where things are headed. You are going to die. There is nothing you can do. It’s going to happen. In fact, it’s going to happen in a fairly lame way and I’m going to spoil it. You should someone needs to stay behind so your ship with Cortana can escape. So you do it. You stay behind and fight off an endless wave of Covenant troops until you eventually die. There is no score. No time keeper. No ranking list. You just die and the credits roll. Talk about a waste of time.

#6. Halo 3

Halo 3 Box Art

It’s a good game, not great. It recycles a lot of the first game with the addition of a super intelligent Flood enemy that, for a reason that is still unclear to me, has stolen Cortana. The game doesn’t do much to add to the franchise and the gameplay is fairly simple. I find it mostly a forgettable game in the franchise but there isn’t really anything wrong with it. It does provide some emotional support for the relationship between Cortana and Master Chief which becomes very important in the later games.

#5. Halo 2

 

Halo 2 Box Art

The story in this one is pretty convoluted. I think the dual storyline was handled much better in Halo 5 but they tried. As someone who is color blind, I found the Covenant storyline particularly frustrating because I never knew who was an ally and who was an enemy. I constantly attacked my own people and it got old real fast. This game does deserve some credit because it introduced the dual-wield of weapons and online multiplayer. Both concepts were huge advancements for console gaming and are still leveraged today. I blame the game a bit for pushing campaigns to the back burner because of the interest in online multiplayer

#4. Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo Combat Evolved Logo

Yes, this game launched the franchise but it is not without its faults. It’s a solid game with a decent story. The graphics were good for their day but I found the Anniversary edition to be an improvement on the game. In short, this game opened the door for the genre and each game after it was able to build on the universe in a positive way. I found the higher ranked games to be enhancements and better games overall but this is certainly not one to miss.

#3. Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3 ODST

You are not Master Chief. In fact, you’re not even a Spartan Solider. You have no over shield. You are not a super human. You are a Marine, just a man\woman. In fact, you’re several of them. The story takes place from several different perspectives that you get to play over the course of the game, each individual adding to the overall picture of the plot. The re-addition of med-packs made the game more challenging and felt more like the original. The story, taking place on Earth, allowed for street combat and just a more relatable experience. I loved the story. I loved the game play and I loved feeling more human during it.

#2. Halo 4

Halo 4

This game brought the franchise to a new level. The graphics, enhanced by the new Xbox One, were impressive. We finally got to see the Forerunners and use their technology throughout an entire game. The addition of the new technology, weapons, and enemies made for an exciting and fresh experience for a franchise that had been primarily bogged down in fighting the Flood. The Cortana story was brought in new depth to both her and Master Chief. If you finished this game and did not feel a connection to both of them, then I don’t know what to tell you.

#1. Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5: Guardians

While note quite a direct sequel to Halo 4, we find Master Chief in a hunt for his long lost friend, Cortana but things are definitely not what they seem. The game built on the new style and graphics developed for the previous game but added additional elements. It brought back the dual-pronged story Halo 2 leveraged but did it better. The voice acting, with the help of some star power like Nathan Fillion, was brought to a new level. The enemies were tougher, the story more complex and the game not only ends on an epic cliffhanger, making me want more, but launches a whole new story path for the franchise that had been far too focused on aspects from the first game. I consider this game an improvement on everything done in the franchise, keeping it alive and well.

Halo 5 Guardians

What do you think of my ranking? Is yours different? Comment below with you thoughts!

Halo: Rankings Evolved

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

Overview:

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a downloadable title available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, as well as their next generation counterparts. The story follows the quest of two brothers looking for a tree that will cure their sick father. Along the way, they encounter wild animals, trolls, giants, cultists, and many other strange things, some good and some not.

The Good:

1. Brothers is a truly unique game in how it handles both protagonists. The older brother is controlled through the left thumb stick and left trigger. The younger brother is controlled through the right thumb stick. This can really play tricks with your mind if you’re right-handed like me and the brothers somehow end up on opposite sides of the screen from your controller. I had to stop more than once to get them switched around. Nevertheless, this setup made for some rather interesting puzzles that challenge parts of the brain one does not usually use.

While flying, you have to move the brothers left or right to steer the glider.

While flying, you have to move the brothers left or right to steer the glider.

2. This is a platform game and, as previously mentioned, it has a lot of puzzles that require the brothers to work together. However, each brother has his own skill-set. For example, the older brother can pull levers while the younger brother does not have the strength. Meanwhile, the younger brother has the ability to slip into places that are too small for the older brother. The collaboration of the brothers is a lot of fun and it is nice to not be totally alone in those dark and dangerous places. The brothers are also different in their personalities. Whereas the older brother is more mature and strong, the younger brother is compassionate and a bit of a goof.

3. The supplementals of Brothers work quite nicely. The graphics are not high detail like a Call of Duty title or Mass Effect. Rather, they are more like out of a storybook like Fable‘s graphics. This fits the fantasy genre quite well. Likewise, the music enhances the experience and draws on emotion with a sound that has a sort of wooden flute as the lead instrument. There is also no spoken dialogue, but the game makes it pretty easy to know what is going on based on tone of voice (they do speak but it’s no language I know) and symbols.

The brothers meet plenty of strange people and things, some that will help you and others that will not.

The brothers meet plenty of strange people and things, some that will help you and others that will not.

4. Level design is not lazy in the slightest in Brothers. The player goes everywhere from a village, caves, mountains, the air, a giant fortress, among other places. With the exception of the first section, I was never bored with the setting. Rather, I was drawn into it and wanted to keep playing. Add terrors and monsters to the equation and you have a diverse and dark game-play experience.

The Bad:

1. Minor glitches still hurt this game. The only ones I came across involved the older brother (never the younger brother surprisingly) getting stuck in areas and not being able to move. I would have to reload a checkpoint to be able to get out of it. Since the game saves fairly frequently, this was a minor concern. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a nuisance.

2. I am still not sure how I feel about the ending. I will not give it away here, but the story takes a rather bold move that may upset certain audiences. I give it credit for boldness, but I’m truly not sure if it was the right move.

brothers3

The brothers have to work together in puzzles. In this one, one grips a surface while the other swings across to the other side with the attached rope.

Conclusion:

I have never played a game quite like Brothers. The control scheme is innovative even though it can be trying at times. The story is dark and sometimes even brutal. The game is very short, but for someone who does not have too much time to spend on video games nowadays, I like a decently short game. If you’re one for a variation on platformer games, then this is certainly a game you should check out.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

Halo 3 – Retro Review

The following is a review I wrote in 2010, three years after the release of third installment of the legendary Halo series. So forgive the poor writing of a 17 year-old high school student.  I simply thought it would be a fun throwback on a huge game in my history.  I’ve edited some glaring grammar mistakes and some things that didn’t make any sense, because they were really bad….I’m an English teacher, forgive me. But other than that, the review is complete in all it’s retro glory, so enjoy!!

Halo 3

Halo 3 has a very bland campaign as far as story line goes, but comes jam packed with action and conflict offering a very balanced difficulty on all four playing levels: Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary (and Mythic after locating and activating the Mythic Skull) which is where I think that the first Halo may have made a mistake. Feel free to argue with me on this one, but I think that the campaign on Halo: Combat Evolved was far too difficult. This may be simply an excuse cause I have yet to finish it on Legendary but that’s beside the point.

Halo 3 - Chief & Cortana

Like I stated earlier the campaign on Halo 3 is very bland and offers little character development or story. In this area, its predecessors succeed where it fails. If you are planning on buying this game simply for story then you will be disappointed. It’s very difficult to follow and all the characters (including Master Chief) are very flat. It took about three plays through the game to actually figure out what was going on.

Halo 3 - Master Chief

Now on a much brighter subject the multi-player. The Halo franchise is and always will be about the multiplayer. If you are one of those wackos who still think it’s all about the story, please read again the first couple of paragraphs. (Future Kyle interruption, you probably also read those horribly written books too!  Ok future Kyle out.) Halo 3 brings a few extra things that the originals didn’t offer such as additional equipment like power drains and bubble shields. I am still trying to figure out if I like these or not and I’ve been playing this game for quite a while. They add little to the gameplay and seem pointless at times but there are a lot of people who can execute them with great skill and it really adds to their game strategy, then there are people like me who just don’t use them that much. Ehh to each his own I suppose. One of the earlier complaints about the multiplayer was constant lag. The game still is somewhat laggy online on a few occasions but for the most part its pretty normal. Not nearly as bad as MW2. The only problem that people have expressed and I am going to completely shut down the argument is that the shields your character have are completely unrealistic and stupid! Well the point of the matter is OF COURSE THEY’RE UNREALISTIC THE GAME TAKES PLACE IN THE 26TH CENTURY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!!!! They can get away with stuff like that, and its not a bad thing that it is harder to kill someone; it just requires a different skill and technique.

Halo 3 - Master Chief Running

 

On a different topic, let’s discuss game types for multiplayer: there are a lot of game types because year after year they have added so many. The classics are all still there like slayer, territories, odd ball, ctf, and juggernaut. Some new ones like assault and now online plenty of strange and different variations of these games have been designed such as Griffball, fiesta slayer, SWAT, and Team Sumo. All of them (with the exception of territories) rock in their own way; everyone has their opinions. It’s up to you to decide what your favorite game type is and which ones suck, no review could tell you otherwise, but just so you know, territories suck… a lot! (Future Kyle interruption, which is why this playlist no longer exists.)

Halo 3 - Legendary Edition

What did you think of Halo 3? Was it worthy of the franchise? Comment below!

 

Halo 3 – Retro Review

Call of Duty 2 – Retro Review

The following review was written in December 2010. It has only been modified in the way of format.

Overview:
Call of Duty 2 was one of the last World War II first person shooters. A launch title for the Xbox 360, the game alternates between three major fronts in the war. In the first section, you play as a Russian in Stalingrad. In the second, you play as a British soldier in North Africa. In the third, you play as an American storming the shores of Normandy. As far as a story goes, that about sums it up.

The Good:
call-of-duty-2-131. The game features a lot of varied level design (once you get past Russia) and gameplay. For example, in North Africa, you will fight and take over a village. Once you have the village, you have to climb to the top of one of the buildings and call in mortar strikes on advancing tanks. This helps keep the game interesting enough so you don’t get bored of just gunning down Nazis (which is still pretty fun).

2. The Nazis do not stop coming until you have reached the position you are supposed to take. Remember when you could just sit back and take out the enemy one by one with the sniper rifle? Well, this is not the case in Call of Duty 2. The game forces you to advance and fight the Nazis close and personal. If you do not do this, then the Nazis will continually spawn until you get the nerve to go after them.

capitan_price_call_of_duty_by_march3lo3. In Modern Warfare, we are introduced to one of the most memorable characters in the game: Captain Price. It turns out Price has been around for a long time because he makes an appearance in the game. Of course, the natural conclusion could still be that he’s a descendant of this World War II veteran. Still…

The Bad:
1. This game has absolutely no story and no character development. I do not remember any of the names of the characters you play. The basic premise of each level goes along the lines of “Take this town!” or “Destroy those guns!”

2. Modern Warfare gave us the perfect control scheme; however, this control scheme went through quite a few stages of evolution before being refined in that game. In Call of Duty 2, the sprint button is replaced with some pretty worthless binoculars. Sure, they are kind of cool; however, I rarely used them and found them to be more of a nuisance rather than an aid in combat. The melee also leaves much to be desired since it is not always responsive when you press it. There is no knife.

cod23. Your squad is very unhelpful. They mostly tell you what to do and watch while you go out and get shot. I could overlook your squad’s utter uselessness if it was not for the fact that they also get in your way when you are moving to cover. This often results in your death and makes you want to shoot and kill all of your squad members.

4. My biggest complaint with this game is a glitch that kept me from finishing the game. Call of Duty 2 skips the last British mission and moves you straight into the American campaign; however, upon completion of the British mission, the game moves into the first American mission again. I attempted to replay the first American mission again, but, even then, the game would not let me progress.

Conclusion:
Call of Duty 2 was very nostalgic for me. I got my start in first person shooters with the Medal of Honor series. Overall, I enjoyed Call of Duty 2; however, the game relies too much on chaos to keep going. The whole game is fighting past one chaotic thing after another. It ends up being mostly about explosions and not much else.

COD2_Screen_06For some people, this fact would not hinder the game’s enjoyment. For me, part of what keeps me hooked on a game is the story. Part of the reason I finished Modern Warfare 2 so quickly was because I really wanted to know how it was going to end. This is not the case with Call of Duty 2. After walking down another street and seeing yet another tank waiting to be destroyed by my rocket launcher, I got bored.

Thankfully, developer Infinity Ward solved this problem by leaving the World War II genre altogether and giving us Modern Warfare. If one looks at Call of Duty 2 as a bridge between the World War II games of old and what we have today, then one can appreciate its place.

Call of Duty 2 – Retro Review