I've always had a sweet spot for classic and/or older co-op games. Maybe it's because it takes me back to my childhood, or maybe I just like games to be simple sometimes. I've mainly covered newer games in this column, and recently covered an older one. So I decided to meet somewhere in the middle with my current co-op game of the week: Halo.
To tell the truth, my sentimental attitude towards older games was not the only factor in choosing to play Halo this week. My 360 Red-Ringed on me, and I just wasn't in a Wii mood this week (I know, something must be wrong with me). However, I was fortunate to discover that my trip back to 2001 would not have all the downsides that some "back-to-the-past" game journeys have. The first Halo holds up quite well, and does the co-op as good as, if not better than many new games.
Halo 1 was a game of firsts. It was the first FPS on a console to truly "get it" (though Goldeneye came close). It was also one of the first really good co-op FPSes (console or otherwise). And for me personally, it was the first game to tell me a story that I cared about. Now some may not like Halo, might find it overrated, and think that Goldeneye was better. However, let's have the game speak for itself.
First off, Halo is a pretty cool game. The enemies seem imaginative and funny, and the Grunts are comedy gold. The weapons are a mixture of the familiar and the "what the heck is that?" Halo was one of the first games that I played through single player and wondered "what would that be like in co-op?" And so I did and loved it. So, I did the same thing this week, and played some Halo co-op style, and walked away rather impressed (though it's not really that surprising).
To be fair, the additional player in Halo is not canonical (unlike, say Gears of War), and the game isn't directly made for co-op, but the game plays very well in co-op. You might want to play it on a higher difficulty level, like Heroic or Legendary. However, once you get the difficulty set right, the game really seems to click. Yes, the game was designed for single-player, but the second player fits right in. Barreling down a hill with your teammate operating the Warthog's turret and mowing down Grunts is an exhilarating feeling. Also, despite being around seven years old, the game has some decent AI, and having another Spartan backing you up is great.
However, the co-op aspect of the game really shines when you encounter the Flood. This is mainly because it boils down to the core idea of co-op: not being able to succeed without your teammate. And in the close-quarters sections that are the Flood areas, you really need your teammate. The Library chapter is particularly co-op heavy. In the single player mode, The Library is a gamer's bane. However in co-op mode, the level seems perfectly designed for you and a buddy. And the epic ending of Halo 1 is made all the more epic when you are racing through the ruined Pillar of Autumn with a buddy in tow.
I've become more and more of a co-op fan since writing for Co-Optimus, and some games just stand out. The Halo series has always stood out for me, and it all goes back to the first one. The first Halo set the bar for solid co-op in a console FPS, and some games still cannot make it to that bar. I'm in some way glad my 360 red-ringed, since it let me take a look at older games that are as good as new games. I can now see why Marc loves the classics so much; sometimes the past did things better than we do now.