Halo as a PC multiplayer game
Revisiting a classic
When it comes to the landscape of the PC online gaming community, it's hard to find a bigger contributor than Halo: Combat Evolved. Most of you will be aware that Halo: Combat Evolved is a first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios and MacSoft. Halo: Combat Evolved has been widely praised as one of the best FPS games of all time. It topped the charts for an extended period of time and set many new records in the gaming world. Before 2005, five million copies of Halo: Combat Evolved were sold. Although this sounds low in comparison to the games of today, believe us, Halo proved its worth quite nicely, and greatly impacted the landscape of the gaming world.
History & Background
Development by Bungie started in 1997. It was named Halo. Many people wouldn't know that Halo was originally a Mac exclusive, and was first demonstrated publicly by Steve Jobs in 1999. Microsoft purchased Bungie a short time later, and Halo then became one of the pillars of its Xbox console. Halo was initially released for Xbox in 2001 and after some time, in 2003, it was brought to PC and Mac by Gearbox.
Halo's Campaign mode story revolves around a soldier playing the role of Master Chief with enhanced sensory and communication abilities. The Chief is accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence. Players battle various aliens as they attempt to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world.
The multiplayer mode, accessed via the server list or direct IP, contains 5 game-modes: Slayer/Team Slayer, Oddball, Capture The Flag, King of the Hill, and Race. CTF and Slayer are generally the most widely played, and the only game-modes available in the free trial.
GameSpy initially hosted the server list, until its servers were terminated in mid 2014. Members of the modding community rallied to provide workarounds to keep the game alive, which are still available to this day. Several of the larger maps that weren't included in the Xbox version were added for the PC, including Danger Canyon, Death Island, Ice Fields, Infinity, Timberland and Gephyrophobia. Additional weapons were also introduced, including the Flamethrower and Fuel Rod, which could be previously be seen (but not used) in campaign mode.
A trial version ("Halo Trial" for PC, "Halo Demo" for Mac) was also available. Despite lack of support for dedicated servers, and only Blood Gulch (the game's flagship map) in multiplayer mode, dedicated members of the community were quick to develop mods and other workarounds to enhance the game.
Server modding is heavily prevalent in the standard version of Halo: Combat evolved, thanks to tools such as SparkEdit (typically used to add/remove/relocate map objects, such as weapons, spawn points and vehicles), Eschaton and Halo Mapping Tools (typically used to modify object properties, such as weapon strength and range). In the later 2000s, developers were also able to modify the Halo Dedicated Server executable, and later release extended server applications Phasor and SAPP. These enabled server hosts to write their own Lua scripts, eliminating the need for third party admin applications such as BigBrotherBot. This allowed for GUID hash-based admin identification as opposed to a shared RCON ("remote console") password, complex game modes such as "Zombies" (which were previously only possible in Halo Custom Edition), and provided other helpful features such as AFK kick, high ping kick, map voting functionality, and muting disgruntled players (as opposed to kicking/banning). This all worked to breathe some fresh air into the multiplayer community, and helped contribute to the game's longevity.
Halo, like most other popular multiplayer FPS games, was impacted by players cheating, however by no means as badly as other games of the time. Tools such as SightJacker and aimbot detection Lua scripts did help server administrators to alleviate many of these problems.
No official game-wide leaderboard, stat tracking or long-term server statistics were ever part of the game, which is where ServerScores.com comes into play.
Halo: Custom Edition
Halo: Custom Edition (a multiplayer-only "expansion pack" to Halo Combat Evolved) provided server hosts with the ability to run sophisticated mods and user-generated content. There were also several minor improvements from the original Halo release, including generally reduced network latency. An editing kit (Halo Editing Kit) was provided, making it easier for the community to modify maps.
Difference between PC & Mac OS Versions
The PC and Mac OS versions were released at the about the same time. There were just some minor differences between these games, most notably that the Mac version has the chat box on in the top corner, which PC version lacks. However, the PC version generally allows for more text to be simultaneously displayed. All the other features were same in both versions.
Other Games in the Halo Series:
Following the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, many sequels were released, and still continue to this day. Recently in 2020, an updated PC version, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition was released with the same storyline but new features, including updated graphics.
Following are some other games of the Halo series:
- Halo 2 (also released for PC, but lacks the mods and customization present in Halo: Combat Evolved). Halo 2 was initially released for Windows Vista, but never kicked off online to the same extent as its predecessor.
- Halo 3
- Halo Wars
- Halo Reach
- Halo 4
- Halo: Spartan Strike
- Halo 5: Guardians
Halo: Combat Evolved has been one of the best FPS video games of all time. Although it obviously lacks the sophistication of newer games, it is still incredibly playable, and like many older multiplayer games, has an active, dedicated player and modding community.
What were your some of the best mods you played in Halo: Custom Edition? Do you remember sitting in the gunner seat of a Warthog in Sidewinder, helping blue team to defend its flag? Were you perplexed by the "Sniper's Dream Mod"?
Or, did you try to glitch out of the map in "Zombies", so the other team couldn't hunt you down?
Our team at ServerScores.com has heard many stories about the Halo series – it's not uncommon to hear of Halo Trial infiltrating high school computer labs in the 2000s!
Check out our list of Halo servers to see how this game is still running!