I have been a fan of the Halo series ever since I played the first game. Unfortunately, that was the only Halo game I played until I finally got a change to play through Reach yesterday.
I must say, playing a Halo game is refreshing, and not just because of the level of detail, but mostly because Halo games are winnable no matter what difficulty you play on. There are three key points that define a Halo game for me:
- A shield that regenerates: Throughout the game, your health is supplemented by a shield that quickly regenerates. No matter how much fire you’re taking, you can always run for cover and wait a few seconds while your shield builds back up to full strength.
- Abundant checkpoints: Checkpoints are littered about everywhere, so you rarely have to worry about repeating the majority of the level if you die. And, most of the checkpoints appear to be location-based, so you can keep running back to the same location every few minutes to save your progress.
- Random enemy deployment: There is absolutely no pattern to enemy deployment when you rejoin the battle after dying. Sure, this can get frustrating as there’s no way to predict their movements, but most of the time you just get lucky. In the final level, I was having a terrible time knocking down four Brute spread across the map, and one had their equivalent of a rocket launcher. After I died three times, I awoke to find all four clumped in front of me, and took them out with a single grenade.
Because of these factors, Halo games have always stood as the pinnacle of “winnable” for me. As long as you have the time and willingness to try again, you will beat the game.
I think a lot of games these days are winnable, much more so than in the past. I’ve completed Halo Reach, Bad Company 2 (and almost finished 1) COD WAW, MW1+2 and I got bored of the hand holding on Black Ops.
Even though I was a big fan, I never finished Quake or Quake 2 or Doom 1 or 2, but I did use the cheats to see later stages.
I think you’re right about the eye candy thing. Normal difficulty now is easy in the 90’s but devs want us to see their games and as long as there’s some sort of challenge or variety I’ll be happy to go along with that. Certainly beats replaying Armalyte (C64) dozens of times just to get to level 4 again.. 🙂
True, I just started Bad Company 2 and I’m noticing the same thing. I really love these regenerating life things. It’s really nice to know that you can experience impending doom while still enjoying the game.
I definitely have to agree there with “devs want us to see their games.” It used to frustrate me to no end when it was impossible on some older games to make it past the first level. I’d sometimes want to call up the developer and ask if they wanted me to see the rest of the game, or if the first was level was the only good part.