The Fett Effect: Combat Evolved

Master Chief: Natural enemy of Sarlac Pits from here to Tatooine

So, Halo: Reach beta – I really enjoyed it. Yeah, I said it. After almost 10 years of evolved combat, the newest iteration of Halo still has enough gusto to grab my attention. But why is that? Two words: Jet Packs.

When Halo ODST came along, it seemed thoroughly mediocre. The inspiration behind the game seemed like a solid foundation. I liked the jazz score, the dark lighting, the general ambiance, the Firefly cameos, but the excitement was missing. So, when I booted up the Reach Beta, I was doing it out of a sense of obligation (sort of like how I need to watch the Lost finale, but I don’t want to). And to my surprise, there were jet packs!

Flying really changes (evolves?) the game’s combat to the point where everything feels fresh and new again. As with each new release, there are new weapons too, but they aren’t the game changers that will bring in new fans while exciting the old. Flying is.

More importantly, the Halo series has added a new mechanic to the tired FPS genre. People frequently lament that all FPS’s are essentially the same game, but players would be hard pressed to say that about Halo: Reach after a few play throughs.

So, congratulations Bungie; You created a cool new mechanic for a genre that hasn’t really changed in the last ten years.


  1. Sharat

    Not being much of an FPS player or in the Reach beta, I can’t say how much the jet pack revolutionized the gameplay in Halo. What I do know is that Starsiege: Tribes had jet packs in an FPS over 10 years ago. My question is why haven’t there been that many games since that used it? The only other one I can think of is Dark Void.

  2. Good point Sharat – this definitely isn’t the first instance of a flying mechanism in an FPS. Tribes’ spiritual successor, Fallen Empire: Legions (GarageGames browser based game on InstantAction) released in 2008 used a flying mechanic focused on horizontal propulsion instead of the vertical movement that the flying in Reach specializes in. So not only has this mechanic existed for a while, but it’s been put to use in several different ways.

    While I haven’t played Dark Void, both FE:L and Reach are very non-cover oriented games, so it does stand to reason that flying in something like Gears of War or Modern Warfare wouldn’t be a great fit. However, I’m sure they could still come up with an interesting way to fit new mechanics into their gameplay.

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