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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 08:29 GMT
Probing Halo's enduring appeal
What is it that gives some games like Halo their enduring appeal, asks Daniel Etherington of BBCi Collective in his weekly games column.

Screenshot of Halo
Halo's multiplayer options were undervalued originally
Picture the scene. A darkened room. Some beers. A bowl of tortilla chips. Five 30-something men huddled around a large TV.

No, we are not watching porn, we are playing multiplayer Halo.

You have to admit, it is mighty impressive that a game released two years ago still gets this much attention.

True, it was hailed as a masterpiece on its release, but only a true classic has this sort of enduring appeal.

Frag with friends

Games from the "golden age", like Pac-Man, Space Invaders and simple addictive games like Tetris, as well as PC games like Counter-Strike which generate entire communities, have long-lasting appeal.

But in terms of solid console games, how many can you say you will keep on going back to?

Screenshot of Halo 2
There is something genuinely special about a gathering for some offline multiplay, replete with booze, snacks and stream of banter

Personally, I pick up Resident Evil titles intermittently, and my House Of The Dead on Dreamcast will always have a role, but unique high quality titles with true longevity are rare.

Only those that have received absolute critical acclaim seem to hold their appeal - Ico, Rez, Shenmue maybe, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.

But when a game is a single-player, narrative-based affair, inevitably that appeal can wane. It could be argued only obsessives play repeatedly to discover every item, nook and cranny.

Originally, Halo's multiplayer options were somewhat undervalued in favour of its compelling single-player story, but today they maintain its appeal.

You have all the elements of the much-loved adventure you probably completed a few years ago, like visuals and control system, but you can simply dip into this world in a much more disposable, quick-fix manner - fragging with your friends.

Two years spent with the title give it warmth and familiarity like an old sofa - there is something comforting about donning the Master Chief's armour once more.

Something special?

I am increasingly an exponent of online multiplayer gaming, and my obsession with Sony's PC landmark PlanetSide - a game I came to because I thought the screenshots had a resemblance to Halo - is on record.

But there is something genuinely special about a gathering for some offline multiplay, replete with booze, snacks and stream of banter, by turns good-natured, competitive, foul and surprisingly witty.

It will be very interesting to see how this balance is altered by the appearance of Halo 2.

How much life will then be left in Halo's longevity?


SEE ALSO:
Halo sequel delayed until autumn
02 Feb 04  |  Technology
PC bugs undermine Halo shooter
13 Oct 03  |  Technology
Halo shines at Bafta Awards
10 Oct 02  |  Technology


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