Jeez, get over yourselves...
The friendly engineers give me a brief tutorial on how to move and look around.
I've got to head to the bridge. Captain Keyes has some concerns about the alien attack and he's invited me upstairs for a calm and rational discussion.
Along the way, Mr. Halo's MP3 player kicks in. Rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...du-rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...du-rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. A calm and even meter to accompany my slow saunter to the bridge while everybody around me dies screaming.
I'd help in the defense, but nobody's seen fit to give me a weapon yet and the aliens are too lousy to kill anyone who has one. Looks like the scripted death of most of the crew is under control here. I'm off to the bridge.
Mr. Halo's deep whispering voice is a comfort to the Captain.
"Don't get any funny ideas."
Except, the game isn't making this easy. When an enemy is in front of you, the reticle turns red. Fair enough. However, if you attempt to move left or right while the reticle is red, the game interprets this as an attempt to circle around the enemy rather than move in a straight line. If, for example, I was in a narrow corridor leading into a room, and I wanted to use the frame of the door as cover, I could never move in a straight line across the width of the opening and hide on the other side. Instead, I'd lock on to the enemy and be pulled into the room when Mr. Halo tries to circle the enemy.
I'm hoping that I can turn this off in the menu later. During the tutorial, the engineers said I could invert the aiming controls in the menu if I didn't like them. What they didn't tell me is that you can't change the controls during gameplay. You have to quit right back to the main menu to change them. Stupid.
And what kind of aliens are these anyway? They keep giggling and shrieking and bouncing around the place. At least the pistol makes a nice loud bang and the aliens go down in a single hit. Doesn't fire anywhere near as fast as the Red Faction pistol though.
These controls are stodgy as hell. There's an observable delay between moving the stick and walking. It's making it really awkward to move, especially when there's Marines and aliens running about and bouncing. If I accidentally face an enemy, the lock on forces me into walls and benches. It's taking some effort to make my way across the room.
This gun's terrible. It makes a noise, but it doesn't seem to do any damage. If I start shooting this blue fellow, it takes twenty rounds to lower his personal shield and another twenty for him to fall down.
With this useless assault rifle, I really don't want to be this close to the enemy. Thanks to the lock on, I really don't have much choice, every direction seems send me spiralling around him instead of letting me retreat. When you're facing an enemy, your rotation speed is reduced. When the enemy is this close, it takes several seconds to tear Mr. Halo away and see where you're running to.
Guh... there's debris and jagged wall shapes everywhere. I can barely move. Every time an alien crosses my path, I'm helplessly refracted into a wall.
Hold X to swap for... that shape.
Don't ask why only the pistol is the only weapon that can zoom. Mr. Halo's magic helmet doesn't have a zoom on it. Hell, it doesn't even have night vision. Poor sap has to carry a torch.
Mr. Halo. Calmest man in the universe.
This has to be a new level, so I'm going to quit back to the menu and turn off this aim magnetism.
Ha! I guess I'm not! Game knows best!
Who cares if I make a mistake anyway? I've got recharging shields!
More aliens are landing in the distance to the right. If they think they're going to take over my bouncy castle, they have got another thing coming.
I'm not convinced that there isn't some small amount of auto-aim at work here. That is, I can fire a shot while standing still, expecting the shot to damage enemies if they're dead centre in the circle. Instead, my shots seem to be able to hit enemies anywhere in the circle and slightly beyond. This pistol must fire bullets the size of tin cans! That could be why it's doing so much damage.
It's quite something. Not only does the game adjust my bearing so I'm automatically facing enemies and not only does it count off-target shots as hits, but shots fired from the needler HOME.
I've just noticed that my desperate defense of the last remaining survivors of the Autumn is accompanied by a soundtrack of absolute silence.
Gee. Defense missions sure are fun. You get to see lots of interesting scenery REPEATEDLY as you have to do the same thing REPEATEDLY until the game tires of your dance and allows you to proceed with the game.
"Uh oh! Another bandit dropping in behind us! They're trying to flank us!!"
Nah. I stand around trying to get a good shot of the structure. They can wait.
I don't hear any gunfire. I don't hear anything except birdsong, but I don't see any birds. Are the aliens waiting for me?
As the dwarves bound across the screen, I figure I'll see how well the Marines do without me.
Nothing much happens. Mr. Halo is the sole catalyst for action in this game. Time to move.
Standing still was a bit stupid.
WOW! I press a button and I'm back at the last (very recent) checkpoint. None of this Contract J.A.C.K. make-a-cup-of-tea-while-its-loading nonsense. Very good, Halo.
I've finally defeated all the aliens here. Reinforcements are arriving to pick up the surviving Marines.
The trees sway in the wind. I can't remember whether at the time these graphics were considered good. To me, in 2011, they look reassuringly bland.
Looks like one of the Marines has stuck around to give me a hand. Who could pass up the opportunity to kick ass with the legendary Mr. Halo?
Mr. Halo puts on his favourite track... rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...du-rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...du-rum-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta.
It doesn't drive like a car. It drives like an ice cube being pulled along by a string. Maybe they thought that this indirect control system would be more intuitive. Intuitive perhaps to anybody who's never driven a car in a game before.
I thought that too. Thanks, Cortana. The biggest giveaway was that it was square and made of metal.
"Someone built it so must lead somewhere."
Or it could lead to a dead end. It could be used for keeping shoes in. It could be anything. You don't know a damn thing, Cortana. Either shut up or pull your finger out and do something useful.
Okay... that's better.
"They're actually broadcasting tactical data on unencrypted channels. We should show them who they're dealing with."
Oh, you just cheated. That's less impressive. Call me back when you've actually achieved something.
Where are we anyway? This place is wonderfully ominous.
There's squeaky aliens all over the place, but the car's too loose and wild to target them without flying all over the place.
And we're back at the ominous entrance.
I would hope that it's self-evident that the player needs to have complete control of their ingame avatar if they're to be responsible for their positioning, aiming and evasion. If the player isn't supposed to control their avatar in your game, then don't be deceptive by calling it a first person shooter. If you want to make a rail shooter, make a rail shooter. If you want to make an FPS with lock on, then assign a lock on button.
I can't imagine that potential players of Halo are the sort of people who seek out layers of indirection in their controls. It's my assumption that they want to have the game respond immediately and predictably to their input.
Personally, I want controls to do exactly what they promise to do. I don't want the controls to be context sensitive. The very last thing I want to be context sensitive is the analogue sticks.
There's plenty of buttons on your typical game controller, so there has to be a combination that allows the most often used buttons to be placed within easy reach. If you put in an options screen sophisticated enough so the player can create their own, it ceases to be your responsibility.
It's always a shame when this happens because time was wasted devising aim magnetism, then designing it, then implementing it, then testing it. If they had just left it alone, they would have saved an incredible amount of time and the game would have been better for it. If you're going to try and be a smartass and offer a Fascinating and New control system, you need to make it optional because sometimes you're wrong.
Halo is worse than Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza.