Halo: Combat Evolved 
Developer: Bungie Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio
Game Rating: M (Mature)
[Blood and Gore, Violence]
Release Date: November 15, 2001
$49.99 / $14.99: Video Library GV
Players: 1 - 4
System Link: 2-16
Dolby 5.1 Surround, HDTV 720p, Custom Soundtracks
Playable on Xbox 360
The Halo Timeline
By Alex McLain
2160-2200: EARLY CONFLICTS
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat has a distinctive multiplayer game mode known as Conquest with three sub-types to choose from. It includes enough varied FPS gameplay and tactics that it feels like several games rolled into one. Let me break it down:
This period in human history was marked by a series of brutal conflicts between various governments and factions in our Solar System. Conflicts of particular historical importance included the Jovian Moons Campaign, The Rain Forest Wars, and a series of clashes on Mars.
As overpopulation and political unrest on Earth increased, a number of new political movements formed. The most noteworthy dissident movements of the period were the "Koslovics" and the "Frieden" movement. The Koslovics—supporters of neo-Communist hardliner Vladimir Koslov—sought a return to the glory days of Communism and the elimination of corporate and capitalist influence, particularly in orbital facilities and offworld colonies.
The Frieden movement was a resurgence of fascism, springing from anti-Koslovic sentiment that had taken root in the Jovian colonies (largely backed by Unified German Republic corporations, frequent targets of Koslovic "workers' crusades"). "Frieden" literally means "peace"—in this case, they believed that peace could be achieved only once the "oppressors on Terra Firma" were eliminated.
March–June: The Jovian Moons Campaign began. Jovian secessionist attacks on United Nations Colonial Advisors on the moon Io led to three months of fighting between the Earth military and Jovian "Frieden" forces. Though this was not the first armed conflict in our Solar System, it was easily one of the bloodiest, and is generally considered to be the spark of increased friction and militarization that followed.
The Rain Forest Wars: Armed conflict ripped through South America, as Koslovic, Frieden, and UN forces all clashed over ideological differences, sparking additional conflicts off-planet.
December: In a conflict that stemmed from the Rain Forest Wars, the three primary Earth factions clashed again, this time on Mars. A series of lightning strikes against Koslovic forces near the Argyre Planitia marked the first extra-terrestrial deployment of Marines. The campaign was an unqualified success. As a result, future military doctrine favored large contingents of Marines for ground assaults and ship-boarding actions.
2164: INTERPLANETARY WAR
UN-sponsored military forces began a pattern of massive buildups, culminating in the first real interplanetary war. After the successful Marine deployment on Mars, recruitment drives and propaganda tactics strongly bolstered UNSC (United Nations Space Command) forces. UN forces defeated Koslovic and Frieden forces on Earth, then began a systematic and dedicated drive to crush their remnants on the various planets they held throughout the system. At the conclusion of these brushfire conflicts, Frieden and Koslovic forces were defeated in the face of a massive, unified and very powerful UN military.
A unified Earth government was formed in the wake of these conflicts. Now, the victors were forced to deal with a less obvious but equally serious threat: overpopulation and a massive military that had no enemy to fight.
In the postwar period there were massive population surges and the overpopulation, coupled with the destruction and famine bred by the Rain Forest Wars, threatened to destabilize the economy.
2291: FASTER THAN LIGHT
A team of researchers, physicists, and mathematicians working in secret developed the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, a practical means of propelling spacecraft across vast interstellar distances.
This new engine allowed ships to tunnel into "the Slipstream" (also called "Slipspace"). Slipspace is a domain with alternate physical laws, allowing faster-than-light travel without relativistic side-effects. Faster-than-light travel is not instantaneous; "short" jumps routinely take up to two months, and "long" jumps can last six months or more.
The SFTE generated a resonance field, which when coupled with the unusual physics of the Slipstream, allowed for dramatically shorter transit times between stars; however, scientists noted an odd "flexibility" to temporal flow while inside the Slipstream. Though no human scientist is sure why travel time between stars is not constant, many theorize that there are "eddies" or "currents" within the Slipstream—there is generally a five to ten percent variance in travel times between stars. This temporal inconsistency has given military tacticians and strategists fits—hampering many coordinated attacks.
2310: FIRST WAVE
The Earth government unveiled the first in a line of colony ships—and volunteers were in great supply. Conditions on Earth had deteriorated in the face of overpopulation, so hitching a ride out to a colony became an attractive option.
Each colony ship was assigned military personnel and escort ships to help better utilize the massive (and expensive) standing fleets that, in the collapse of armed dissent, were soaking up a great deal of funding and resources.
Because FTL travel in this period was still fairly new and expensive, colonists and military personnel faced a stringent regimen of physical and mental testing. In theory, only the best-qualified citizens and soldiers were allowed to colonize "nearby" worlds. This was the birth of the Inner Colonies.
2362: THE ODYSSEY
The Odyssey launched on January 1, 2362. The lead ship in a fleet of colony vessels, the Odyssey—laden with troops and terraforming gear—spearheaded the colonization of a new world. This sparked the first wave of human expansion beyond the confines of the Solar System.
2390: INNER COLONIES
By 2390, the colonization of the Inner Colonies was fully underway. There were 210 human-occupied worlds in various stages of terraforming, and the population burden across human-controlled space was largely stabilized.
2490: THE BIRTH OF THE OUTER COLONIES
Expansion continued at a rapid pace, and by 2490 human space encompassed more than 800 worlds throughout the Orion Arm of the Milky Way (ranging from fairly well-tamed planetary strongholds to tiny hinterland settlements). Outward expansion continued, and the Inner Colonies become a political and economic stronghold, though they relied heavily on raw materials supplied by the Outer Colonies.
During this period, the planet Reach (orbiting Epsilon Eridani, right on Earth's metaphorical doorstep) became the UNSC's primary Naval yard and training academy. Reach was a major producer of warships and colony vessels, as well as a training ground for covert operatives and Special Forces.
2525: THE COVENANT WAR BEGINS
On April 20, 2525, contact with the Outer Colony, Harvest, was lost. After failing to re-establish contact with Harvest, the Colonial Military Administration sent a scout ship, the Argo, to investigate. Contact with the Argo was subsequently lost after the ship arrived in the Harvest system.
The CMA dispatched a battle group to Harvest, consisting of three warships. The lead ship in the battle group, the Heracles, returned to Reach, badly damaged and with heavy casualties. The ship's commander reported that an alien warship with powerful weaponry was present, and had decimated Harvest, exterminating the colonists (and presumably destroying the Argo).
The battle group engaged the alien warship and was thoroughly routed. The Heracles—following the destruction of the other two ships in the group—jumped out of the system, but due to the damage she had sustained, took several weeks to make it back to Reach.
The Earth military immediately upgraded their alert status and began preparations to move in and retake Harvest. By December, a massive Earth war fleet under Vice Admiral Preston Cole mobilized, one of the fastest such mobilizations of such a large fleet in the history of humankind.
2525: THE BATTLE OF HARVEST
Cole's war fleet engaged the alien warship responsible for the decimation of the colony, scoring a victory (though the battle cost Cole two-thirds of his battle group). Only a last minute tactical inspiration turned the tide of battle.
After returning to Earth, Cole—promoted to Admiral—learned that a number of outlying colonies had been destroyed, leaving behind no survivors. Cole began to move his fleet around in an attempt to intercept the invaders. Ground and ship-to-ship battles began in earnest, raging throughout the Outer Colonies. During one ground engagement, human forces captured one of the aliens. Before he succumbed to his wounds, interrogators learned that the aliens referred to themselves as "the Covenant."
THE OUTER COLONY MASSACRES
Over the next several years, Cole's forces were hammered, despite his excellent leadership and tactical brilliance. It was simply a matter of being outgunned; Covenant kill ratios tend to top four to one in ship-to-ship combat.
By November of 2535, virtually all of the Outer Colony worlds had been destroyed by the Covenant. The "Cole Protocol" was established by military order: All human vessels must ensure that Covenant forces do not find Earth. Human ships—when forced to withdraw—must not travel on an Earth-bound vector, even if that requires jumping into Slipspace without proper navigational calculations.
If blind jumps are not possible, the ship's captain must order self-destruction if capture is imminent. In addition, it is also imperative that the powerful ship A.I. data cores not fall into Covenant hands, so part of this protocol involved either the removal or destruction of the ship's A.I. in extreme situations.
2536-2552: THE SIEGE OF THE INNER COLONIES
Covenant forces swarmed into the Inner Colonies. For several years the war fell into a pattern: humans emerged victorious from isolated battles—typically during ground operations—but at a horrible cost. In space combat, the humans lost at a precipitous rate, and one by one, the colonies fell.
Covenant forces arrived at Reach and obliterated Earth's last major military stronghold. The battered cruiser, the Pillar of Autumn, fled the devastation, carrying with it the sole surviving SPARTAN. The SPARTANs—an elite unit of supercommandoes, equipped with the fearsome MJOLNIR assault armor—were created as the ultimate soldiers.
Now, only one SPARTAN remains to carry the fight to the enemy. In accordance with the Cole Protocol, Captain Jacob Keyes—the Autumn's commanding officer—plotted a random, long-distance jump, hoping to lure the Covenant fleet away from Earth.
After deactivating the drive, the Autumn dropped into a distant, uncharted system. There was a Covenant fleet in the system as well, near a planet-sized ring-shaped construct, “Halo.”
Halo is the best first person shooter ever made. It's not the first, it's not the most influential, it's simply the best. The combination of great control, amazing story, excellent enemy AI and slick level design adds up to a truly impressive game indeed. Is it the best launch game ever for a system? It would be hard to argue with Super Mario Bros. in this category, but Halo will have you rethinking this. It will have you rethinking a lot of things. Like which console you're going to buy this holiday season. Like whether or not you need to eat. Or sleep. Or do anything you should be doing. The single player game is a masterpiece, and the multi-player will keep you and fifteen of your closest friends warm for years to come.
The basic controls of Halo are simple and intuitive, but expert application of these controls takes time to master. We'll help you get a head start on the Covenant with some tactical suggestions and helpful hints. Read on!
ht Analog Stick: Look/Aim Weapon
Left Analog Stick: Move
Right Trigger: Shoot Weapon
Left Trigger: Throw Grenade
X: Reload Weapon/ Get on Vehicle
B: Melee Attack
Y: Change Weapons (You can hold two at a time)
White Button: Turn on Lamp
Black Button: Cycles through Grenade types
Right Analog Stick: Point Camera
Left Analog Stick: Accelerate in the direction the camera is pointing
Right Trigger: Shoot Weapon (If at gun turret)
In Halo, you are only allowed to carry two weapons at a time: one in your pack, and one in your hands. This means you're going to have to be pretty savvy at knowing which weapon works best in which situation.
- In close combat situations, make sure you have a good run-stopper. The Shotgun is excellent for these encounters. The Rocket Laucher, however, is not, as it will blow up in your face.
- Always be sure to have a quick-firing weapon. The enemies in Halo come fast and furious, and it's good to have a weapon that can keep up. An Assault Rifle is always a safe bet.
- Use your grenades wisely. Don't waste a Plasma Grenade on a single Grunt, for instance. Instead, attempt to toss them into groups of unsuspecting enemies, or boxed in groups of foes. The less options you give the enemy, the better.
- If your weapons are full and you can't pick up more ammo, but there is a large pile of it on the ground, remember the spot where you saw it and return there after you've forged ahead.
- Whenever possible, use the vehicle-mounted weapons to take down enemies. These weapons have infinite ammo and will not deplete your sacred hand-held supply.
- If a weapon is out of ammo, don't hang on to it. Any other weapon is better than an empty one.
- Always reload behind cover. Reloading in the midst of a firefight is a good way to lose shields and life.
- Tailor your weapon choices to the enemies you've be facing. If you're up against the charging Flood, it's a good idea to keep a Shotgun handy.
- Most of the Covenant encounters in the game will be fought using some kind of cover. Dodge out and shoot, then return to a position of safety. There is plenty of cover in the levels of Halo. Wall supports, rocks, trees, columns... all provide you an opportunity to fall back, reload, and not get hit!
- Focus on the small, nagging enemies first. Once the weak are out of the way, go after the strong. The less weapons pointed at you, the better.
- Fall back. Always fall back. When shooting at charging enemies, keep back-pedalling until they all drop. Or, turn and run, seeking a position of safety to regroup.
- Don't throw a Plasma Grenade at a charging enemy. It will stick to him, and he'll keep charging. Can you say kamikaze? I knew you could.
- There are a bunch of areas in Halo when you can run by enemies, but it is not wise in most cases. The AI is so good that usually the aliens will catchup with you, and then you'll have double the trouble.
- When driving a vehicle, pick up as many buddies to ride with you as possible. They will help out tremendously in clearing out the enemy.
- Use whatever you're driving as a battering ram. Running over most enemies kills them automatically, saving you the trouble of having to mow them down.
- If you lose all of your shields, seek shelter. The shields will replenish as long as you're not hit. By being cautious and patient and using your shields, you can make it pretty far in a mission with only one health blip.
- If you can make it to the end of a fight without picking up a nearby health, do so. The longer you can hold out before fully healing, the farther you will go.
Weapons & Vehicles
Clip: 12/ Holds: 120
The pistol may be small, but it packs a powerful wallop, especially against the large Hunters found later in the game. The main problem with it is that the fire rate is not rapid enough to mow down charging attackers and it does not hold enough ammo for grand scale combat situations. It does, however, have a scope, which magnifies your target 2X. If you can zoom in on an enemy's head, the gun is powerful enough to drop him in one shot.
Clip: 60/ Holds: 600
The bread and butter weapon in Halo is the assault rifle. It chatters in your hands, it rips through rounds quickly. It mows down anything in your path. In the early levels in the game, it is the most effective and most commonly found weapon. The clip holds a ton of rounds, and it reloads quickly. The only problem with it is that against some of the more powerful or persistent enemies in the game, it may not have enough power. But it's a good gun to always keep in your pack.
The Plasma Gun is an alien weapon primarily carried by Grunts and Jackals (and later by low-level Flood). It delivers either short energy bullets or one large energy blast. An energy blast will completely deplete an enemy's shields, allowing you to move in for the kill. To do it, press and hold the trigger until a green ball of energy collects at the end of the weapon. Then let go. The Plasma Gun works great against the Jackals' shields, but is not powerful enough to take on anything too big.
The preferred weapon of the Covenant Elite, the Plasma Rifle delivers a fast-paced barrage of energy bullets. It's great at eating through Covenant shields and taking down distant Elite. Don't hold the button down too long, though, or the gun will overheat in your hands. This is a great alternative to the Assault Rifle.
Clip: 20/Holds: 80
While it looks cool, the Needler is the weakest weapon in the game. Like the Reaper in Perfect Dark, its ammo is too scattered and weak to be of much use. The only real advantage to this gun is that it will track its target. The pink ammunition burrows into soft flesh and explodes, doing decent damage. It's recommended you stay away from this one. It's no good against Jackals, and hard to use against crafty Elite.
Clip: 4/Holds: 64
The Sniper Rifle is a powerful weapon, indeed. It allows you to strike at enemies from afar, out of the range of their weapons. To activate the sniper scope, push down the right analog stick, once for 2X and twice for 10X. Activate Night Vision by pressing the White Button. When using the Sniper Rifle, aim for the enemy's head. Certain foes, like Elite and Jackals, can be dropped with a single head shot. Don't use the gun against the Flood--it's completely worthless. And never use it up close. The Sniper Rifle is a distance weapon, and is usually placed in areas where it will be used most effectively.
Clip: 12/Holds: 60
As in most videogames, the Shotgun is also the best weapon in Halo. The perfect close-range weapon, the Shotgun has serious stopping power, plus its ammo spreads to drop multiple enemies at once. Great against Combat Flood, the Shotgun is also an effective close-range tool against the pesky Elite. Two shots will eliminate their shields. One more will drop them. The only disadvantage to the Shotgun is the fact that it takes a while to reload. If cornered, reloading can be dangerous. Always seek safe ground before reloading.
Clip: 2/Holds: 8
The Rocket Launcher is big and powerful. Powerful enough to take down enemy tanks. Powerful enough to drop hefty Hunters. Powerful enough to kill you if fired in close quarters. Use the Rocket Launcher to tenderize the enemy, or to get distant, powerful enemies out of the way before moving in to clean up.
The Warthog is an all-wheel drive mobile assault vehicle, capable of holding you and three other Marines. Built to go anywhere, this is a rugged ride. Climb rocks, squeeze into narrow spaces and roll in the wide open. If you have someone in the gunner seat, they will focus on the closest enemy and blast away with infinite ammo. The Warthog is a powerful vehicle. If you want to clear out a group of enemies, rev up to high speeds and drive into them. The Warthog is relatively impervious to damage. If it flips, get out and flip it back over (X). But be careful: if you flip your ride with other Marines inside, they could all lose their lives.
To drive it, you will point the blue arrow (the camera) in the direction you want to go with the right analog stick, and accelerate with the left stick. This takes some getting used to at first, but always remember that you'll move toward the blue arrow, and things will work themselves out.
The Ghost is a small alien hovercraft that will help you traverse large distances quickly. It is mounted with energy pulse guns, much like the ones the Covenant carry by hand. In addition to moving forward and backward, the Ghost can strafe side-to-side. However, it is not recommended you use this as an assault vehicle, as its weapons just aren't up to snuff.
There is much joy to be found when driving the Scorpion, a huge mobile tank with room for four extra marines. Pick up as many as possible to gather what amounts to a moving fortress. In addition to the firepower provided by the Marines, the Scorpion packs a double-fisted punch. The left trigger fires a bad-ass cannon, and the right trigger shoots a steady machine gun. The tank is also quite handy for running over even the biggest enemies. It's a little less maneuverable than the other rides in the game, but more than makes up for that with power.
The Banshee is like a flying Scorpion of sorts. Since it moves in three dimensions, it's a little tougher to control, but again, wherever the arrow is pointing is where the Banshee will move. This alien craft also has two weapons: a powerful energy cannon on the left trigger and a pulse gun on the right trigger.