Halo Zero is a fan made 2D tribute to the hugely popular Xbox series. Take control once again of Master Chief and battle against the Covenant invaders.
If the generic sci-fi story of the original Halo games was obscured by their ambition and scale compared to older shooters, it certainly isn't in a 2D 16-bit era landscape. You control the suited space marine, and shoot your way through a variety of forgettable alien onslaughts.
The graphics, as mentioned, are very 1990s, and although they have clearly been created with some care they seem uninspired. Control is via the keyboard and mouse, aiming and firing with the mouse, and movement and other things with the keyboard. It's quite a good system, and you can configure the keys as you like, which is useful.
Gameplay itself is a mixed bag. The sound effects are excellent, with great weapon effects, but the combat is untidy - you can't always see alien gunfire which makes avoiding it awkward!
Halo may have been a landmark 3D game, but Halo Zero does not make the same impact in the world of 2D platform shooters. It's probably one for hardcore Halo fans only.
It's Halo, without the annoyance of that overrated third dimension! Don't get too excited though, it's not as great as it sounds. Halo Zero begins before the events of the first Halo, placing you on the planet Reach, fighting the endless hordes of the Covenant in all their 2d glory!
The game looks just like a Halo game should, with a crisp, almost anime-ish feel to the game and some nifty effects such as solar flares. The sound is nearly as good, with almost all of the sounds coming straight out of the Halo games. It's all there; the music, the familiar beeping when your shields are down, the angry roar of an elite stuck by a plasma grenade. The game captures all the aspects of Halo very well, save for one; the fun. It's great that Halo Zero's so much like Halo, but that's also what's wrong with it. Doberman made very few noticeable adaptations in the game to make Halo into a side scroller, making it exactly like Halo in 2D. Losing the third dimension made Halo lose almost everything that made it worth playing in the first place. Halo Zero would have been a much better game had it contained more elements found in sidescrollers, rather than those of first person shooters.
The story isn't exactly Halo caliber, consisting of you going form place to place killing things for a reason that isn't very well established. You also fight the same four enemy types the entire game, and they're pretty similar. Where are the Flood? Missing in action! That blows indeed!
From the very first level, all you have to do to win is either to meticulously kill every enemy, then hide and wait for your shields to recharge, or run straight through the levels, jumping over the enemies without firing a shot. Since the enemies are virtually gone when they leave the screen, and for the fact that you only need to kill about 5 enemies in the entire game, it's quite possible to bunnyhop through all the levels without fighting anyone. On the other hand, if you decide to play the game as intended, you'll find it repetitive after the first few minutes. The only way to kill all the enemies is to run in, shooting ahead until your shields run out, hide until they recharge, then rinse, lather, and repeat.
Halo Zero's enemies only walk forward, and cover most of the screen, so it's near impossible to miss them. The Covenant only shoot in the middle of the screen, and since you can't jump very high, it's almost impossible to dodge more than a couple of shots. If you hide behind a box or get above or below the Covenant, they can't hurt you.
All the weapons you loved in Halo are here, but they all feel like the same gun with a different skin slapped on it.
You'll find yourself running through the mindless first levels to get to something better that might be hidden in the end. Well, that hidden fun you're looking for is nowhere to be found. Almost every level of the game plays just like the last. Then you make it to the craptacular Warthog levels designed to brake up the game play. Basically they consist of holding down the right arrow key and watching the Covenant sit around as you roll past them. Furthermore, the game can easily be beaten in less than 30 minutes. There is a multiplayer mode, but it feels like Metal Slug would if it were a deathmatch game. Nothing worth seeing there.
It's a shame that a potentially good idea for a game with such great graphics could turn out so mediocre. It feels like there's a great game hidden in Halo Zero that's trying to get out. I would only recommend this game to a diehard Halo fan or someone who, like me, wants every freeware game in the world just to own them.
People who downloaded Halo Zero have also downloaded:
Halo: Combat Evolved, Half-Life, Half-Life 2: Episode One, DOOM³, Half-Life: Blue Shift, Half-Life: Decay, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
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