Saturday, June 4, 2011

Halo: Combat Evolved – The Silent Cartographer

An entire island in one gaming mouthful. The Silent Cartographer is a barnstorming mission, a heady combination of beachhead assaults, warthog dashes, intense corridor firefights and panoramic vistas.
FREEDOM FIGHTER. The vast, open-ended island is the perfect sandbox environment, yet to bettered.

With Spielberg’s brutal Saving Private Ryan seared into collective memory, you’d think it hard for a game – inhabited by aliens that bleed gaudy purple gloop - to have the same impact. But it did. Dumped on a covenant-infested island with only a handful of marines to aid you, it was here, on the sand, that Bungie created one of the most memorable moments in FPS history. The overwhelming alien firepower always struck me as unfair, but then this was never going to be an easy encounter. After all, the stakes could not be higher. The very fate of the universe depends on your ability to infiltrate the Cartographer. This isn’t so much a fight, more a last desperate roll of the dice.

MARINE LIFE. Tiny creatures live in the lip-trembling ocean that surrounds the Cartographer.

Equally impressive is the glorious epiphany that you can, if your heart so desires, scarper in completely the opposite direction from the brutal intergalactic clash that rages on the beach. Yup, you can slink away to another part of the island while your men are cut to pieces by fizzing plasma rounds. I only tried it the once mind. Master Chief doesn’t run from fights. He finishes them.

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