My cousin was gifted an original Xbox bundle, sometime early in 2002. It had three games included in it. I can’t recall the titles of two, but one certainly was Halo: Combat Evolved.
I grew up on Mario and Zelda. For the longest time Ocarina of Time was the GOAT.
But Halo hit. It was a breath of fresh air. I remember so fondly the LAN nights, my first LAN nights. Something that has sadly been lost. There is something about have ten people in a room (or rooms in the same house) all playing a game they love.
There is something special about that double kill when you hear two people a room over scream in both rage and joy. It cannot be replicated. Halo CE, was special. I attended the Halo 2, Halo 3, and Reach midnight launches.
I am a seasoned Halo veteran. I hosted Halo CE LAN nights, I was on the Halo 2 top 1000 leader boards for FFA, Team Slayer and BTB. Unfortunately, this was a high point and I have since lost many of those skills, (something to do with writing books taking up time). I also was part of both Halo 3 and Reach betas.
I have not enjoyed a beta more than Infinites. From the moment I started playing, even in my rusty state I could feel the Return. The classic Halo feel, mixed with something fresh. How it looked to the games Halo inspired and bore, then took what it could learn from them back home. It was like a tradesman in his early forties. Decades of experience, but not yet phoning it in. Willing to learn and adapt.
The weapons are close to perfect. Distinct yet balanced. With the BR back, and perfectly familiar. As it should be. Of course, some weapons need a buff, but it’s a ten year game and it’s been out for a few months.
I could tell playing the Infinite beta that I was witnessing the return of the king. I loved each time I heard Geoff Steitzer announcing, “Grapple-Jack” or "Cluster-luck”.
But the betas have always been a hype machine for the campaign, for me at least.
I don’t really play games that much anymore. It was not the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but Halo Infinite that brought the eighteen-year-old me back. Not since Halo 2 have I enjoyed a Halo campaign so much. That about sums up my review.
In every moment, Halo Infinite feels like Halo. Steve Downs as the voice of the Master Chief does his best work to date. He’s been playing the character for twenty years now, you can hear he has aged. Just like the Chief. I don’t know what 343 will do when Downs retires. Hopefully retire the Master Chief with him.
To quote a line from the chief himself: “at the end he was just a soldier.”
It’s the story that matters and I hope in the long run over this ten-year game, they do this great character justice and have the balls to realise it is a universe they have created. A universe with thousands of passionate fans. Not just this one soldier.
It took me years to realise, but Halo had replaced The Legend of Zelda as my favourite game series.
I’m glad, after over eleven years we finally have The Return of the King.