Everyone has heard of Halo. I believe that is a statement I can make unreservedly, and I think I can also confidently state that almost all gamers have at least given a Halo game a try at some point in their gaming careers.
But chances are good that you’ve never tried this fan-made re-imagining of the Halo games. Released in 2007, Halo Zero is a 2D side-scroller, with gamers once again assuming the mantle of the Master Chief in the fight against the Covenant hordes.
Zero was inspired and based off an earlier attempt to create a similar game called Halo: Blood Covenant. That earlier work sadly ceased production in 2004, but the team at Doberman Software took advantage of the available art assets and began working on Zero.
The game has a single-player campaign of 6 maps, and 4 difficulty levels (Mythic difficulty is unlocked after completing all levels on all other difficulties). It also has a multiplayer option, based on 2 existing Halo multiplayer maps: Zanzibar and Blood Gulch.
The game itself is quite basic. Players use the arrow keys to move (controls can be remapped), and are also able to jump, throw grenades and melee, in addition to firing standard weapons. All the guns from the original Halo have made their way into the game, so you’ll see favourites like the Plasma Rifle and the Rocket Launcher. Enemy AI is fairly basic as well. Grunts, Jackals and Elites all run straight up blasting away.
Even so, there is a novelty of seeing the Halo Universe translated so faithfully into 2D by a group of dedicated fans. The charm of the 16-bit era art also adds so much to the overall experience.
By all accounts, the team that put this game together has since been disbanded. There was also a possibility of a sequel but a lack of funds doomed that project as well. Even so, it’s worth giving this game a try. The Halo years were a period of time that galvanised a whole generation of gamers, and playing Halo Zero seems to be a fitting tribute to that era.
You can download Halo Zero for free here