Wow. Take all of the hype that you’ve heard since Halo‘s release, add a little more enthusiasm to it and then BELIEVE IT. Although I have never been a huge fan of the FPS genre, I can honestly say that Halo is one of the best system-launch titles of all-time, and in my opinion, the best FPS game that has ever been created (as of this writing, of course).

Taking place on a huge, ring-shaped world in space (appropriately named “Halo”), the game pits you against the evil “Covenant” as you attempt to discover the secrets of what exactly Halo and its purpose is. Along the way you will you use a diverse assortment of weapons and vehicles to do battle with a relentless swarm of enemies, in locales that range from underground tunnels to lush open environments. There’s an amazing level of depth to the gameplay, all of which is backed by an engrossing story that never seemed to wear thin or become uninteresting.

Halo: Combat Evolved -- Warthog

Squashing bugs with the Warthog.

Much has been made about Halo‘s visual presentation and the accolades are definitely legitimate. Everything is highly detailed, and effects such as reflective metal and realistic lighting elements left me thoroughly impressed. The environments are seriously realistic and really help to draw you further into the game’s world. Unfortunately, though, the intense graphics come with a price: slowdown. You’ll find that somewhat often the game will bog down when there’s a lot of action going on. However, the slowdown is minimal and it should not deter anyone from giving this game a try.

Although not exactly uber-original, Halo takes the greatest features of FPS games of years’ past (Quake, Goldeneye, Aliens Vs. Predator, Half-Life, Serious Sam, etc.) and somehow makes it all feel fresh in a genre that has been so played out that freshness is an extreme rarity. Some games alone are simply worth the cost of a console, and Halo is such a game. Except for the occasional slowdown (and the main character’s highly unimaginative name of “Master Chief”), this game is otherwise a perfect title which has not only improved my feelings for the FPS genre in general, but has also restored some of the lost faith that I once had for the gaming industry.

To sum it all up, this brilliant game is a triumph, and any serious gamer would be doing themselves a great disservice by not experiencing what it has to offer.