@ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (May 2022):
Question for @Oscillator about Halo (Combat Evolved).
The phrase “copy-pasted level design” is used without good reason most of the time, but I do think it is very true in case of the first Halo. Time and time again you enter a room, go to another end, walk through some corridors only to enter the same room, only to go to another end again to walk through the same corridors that will lead you to the same room. As a result, when I’ve played this game, I regularly had a feeling that current level should have ended 20 minutes ago, and the game is just wasting my time.
Do you agree that level design is a weak point of this game?
It's a weak point in terms of visual variety - you do see the same geometry over and over. I personally love the pacing, though.
This is specifically from the perspective of Legendary difficulty. The name of the game is challenge. Each room you're presented with is a challenge in of itself. There's a great sense of relief when you clear one and get a checkpoint. But it's not over. You breathe, get your bearings, rearm, and enter the next room. Room after room, intense battle after intense battle, not knowing exactly when it will end but knowing that it will...and then it finally does. In that moment, you're not thinking "oh, that was all the same". The only thing that comes to mind is, "wow, I did that".
Aside from the challenge, two things help mask the reused geometry. One, the geometry looks good. The lighting and textures are constantly eye catching. After clearing a room, I would often settle down by looking at things, like immersing yourself in a painting at an art gallery. Two, enemy placements and obstacles are different in each room, and combined with the way deeper than average AI, prevents you from taking exactly the same plan of attack each time.
On lower difficulties, with less satisfaction in accomplishment, I can absolutely see the repetitive level design sticking out a lot more. But Halo was clearly designed with Legendary in mind. It's not for everyone, but for gamers who crave challenge, that mode is an all-time tentpole.
@brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (May 2022):
To @Oscillator regarding Halo: Combat Evolved:
I would describe myself as a casual Halo fan in that I’ve played all the mainline games (so everything that’s in the Master Chief Collection plus 5 and Infinite), but when I first played the first Halo, I bounced off the series for two main reasons until some friends convinced me to jump back in with Reach. These two reasons are the source of my questions:
1.) The level design in the back half of this game is infuriating. I understand how Bungie was crunching to get the game out and needed to reuse geometry so they could wrap up the game and get it out. But starting with the Library, the game gets confusing where to go. Sure, there are arrows on the floor in a couple levels, but the game never outwardly explains that. Even with Anniversary Edition (which, please correct me if I’m wrong, you’re nominating the Original version, correct?), while the graphics and textures were a major improvement, it doesn’t help with informing players where to go. In addition, I watched a full playthrough from a major content creator a while back and they HATED the game with this being the primary reason and as someone who has played this a few times, it cast it in a new light with that person’s perspective. SO! How do you feel this game can be (if at all) approachable to those who haven’t gotten into Halo before because of the level design? Do you think a solo player can find their way in massive levels like Halo and The Silent Cartographer or the lengthy and twisty corridors of 343 Guilty Spark, the Library, Assault on the Control Room (and Two Betryals), and the Maw without frustration?
The only level I had trouble navigating was 343 Guilty Spark, the interior of which is kind of a series of completely indistinguishable cubes that loop back on one another via small, completely indistinguishable hallways. It was only a serious problem in this level, because the rooms in the other levels are large enough that you can keep your bearings. You know where you entered based on the length, shape, and sometimes the obstacle placement, so you know where to exit. The expansiveness was a significant departure from Perfect Dark the previous year, which went heavy on small, mazey rooms.
@brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (May 2022):
2.) Personally, I despise the Flood. When I heard about Halo, I only heard about the Covenant (and as someone who first played Halo during the 360 generation, the fact I didn’t know about them is a monumental feat I STILL don’t know how I wasn’t spoiled). I did NOT have fun to the point that, while I pushed myself to finish the game, I dropped Halo for YEARS. The Flood do nothing more than constantly charge you, and while there are different forms (Form bi-pedal weapon carriers to small mobs of infection forms, and the slow bulbous carriers), they don’t do anything special beyond their zombie-esque quality of getting up after shooting them down. In your opinion, how well do you feel the Flood change up the combat when contrasted with the Covenant’s different types as you describe in your presentation?
The Flood appear in the back five levels. In four of them, they appear more as an add-on to the Covenant, providing an extra layer to the combat. After the long haul that was the fifth level, Assault on the Control Room, I loved having things mixed up a bit. The waves of small Infection forms were consistently fun to interact with - the pop pop pop of picking them off with the Assault Rifle, and letting just enough of them self destruct on your shields without taking serious damage - but also a legitimate threat when added to crowded battles. The Combat forms were like wild Elites, leaping and slashing, making you keep your distance more than you used to. They also added an element of worry, not knowing when they were dead. The Carrier forms, aka walking bombs, weren't a huge hazard in open areas, but serious business in any kind of tight space. When you see one, you instantly start backpedalling, praying they blow before you bump into something. All three add their own little thing to the action, and what they collectively add is chaos (but not TOO much).
The Flood's definitive level though, is The Library. It's a meme for supposedly bad level design, but, at least on Legendary, it's one of my all-time favorite video game missions, no joke.
It is THE gauntlet. Wall after wall after wall after wall of full-court-press terror. Grenades, rocket launchers, and oodles of those Carrier forms abound. Every section is a pure grind, careful rationing of shotgun shells and fancy acrobatics being your only way through. It is dark and repetitive, but the layout is clean, and quite easy to navigate.
It also has a fantastic atmosphere. Towering black walls and long, cavernous hallways with a light veil of fog, faint accents of gentle electric blue and highlighted exits your only guidance. The flashlight gets a starring moment here, making the polished metal surfaces burst out of the black, and when pointed into the fray, making the incoming Flood glare like the headlights of a truck about to run you down. And during much savored lulls in the fighting, you remain unnerved by the very content humming of 343 Guilty Spark...
P.S. My nomination is for the original Xbox version of Halo, and only the original Xbox version. The footage and photos I've used are from that. Every single port, even MCC after all of its patches, do not display certain lighting and effects correctly, hurting the tight atmosphere. And Anniversary's reskin is garish garbage.