Free sci-fi first-person shooter
Halo: Combat Evolved is a sci-fi first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios. Halo: CE was the first game in the massively successful Halo series and despite its age, it continues to be popular today. The game features a fast and furious solo campaign, and multiplayer game options, that introduce the PG Gamer to the mysterious world of the Halo.
Can you play Halo: Combat Evolved on Windows 10?
It is possible to play this demo version of Halo: Combat Evolved on Windows 10. Simply download and run the .exe file and follow the on-screen instructions to tell the software where to install on your PC. During installation you can choose to create a desktop icon and install the now-defunct GameSpy Arcade.
Installation is smooth and quick. You'll need to restart Windows to ensure the game functions correctly. Before you do that, however, it's useful to open and save the Readme file that is accessed from the restart menu. This document contains information to help you troubleshoot issues.
After you've restarted your PC, the first time you run the software you'll need to accept an End User License Agreement.
When was Halo: Combat Evolved released?
Halo: Combat Evolved was released in North America as a launch title for Microsoft's Xbox video game console on November 15 2001. A huge success, it was title one in what would become the enormously popular Halo series of first-person shooters.
The Halo series has gone on to include the major installments Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite, along with countless spin-offs and smaller releases.
Many players wonder why the game was called Halo: Combat Evolved. The Combat Evolved subtitle was added by marketers at Microsoft, who felt that the title Halo alone was not descriptive enough to compete with other similar military-themed games.
Microsoft released versions of Halo: CE for Windows and Mac OS X in 2003. The game was later released as a downloadable Xbox Original for the Xbox 360.
A high-definition remake, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, was released for Xbox 360 on the 10th anniversary of the original game's launch. The anniversary edition was re-released for Xbox One as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in 2014 and a PC version was released for Windows in March 2020.
In 2004, Gearbox Software released Halo: Custom Edition for Windows, which allowed players to use the Halo Editing Kit to make custom-made maps and create game modifications. Halo: Custom Edition is only available as multiplayer and players need an original copy of Halo for PC to install it.
Classic demo of an iconic game
In Halo: Combat Evolved, players take on the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced supersoldier living the 26th century. The chief is aided by Cortana, an artificial intelligence. Players battle main enemies The Covenant, an alliance of alien races, as they try to discover the mysteries of the Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world.
Players experience gameplay in a 3D environment almost entirely from a first-person view. You can move around and look up, down, left, or right. The game features vehicles, ranging from armored 4x4s and tanks to alien hovercraft and aircraft, many of which you can control.
Occasionally Halo: CE switches to a third-person POV during, for example, vehicle use for pilots and mounted gun operators. Passengers in these vehicles maintain a first-person view. The game's on-screen display includes a motion tracker that displays moving allies, moving or firing enemies and vehicles within a certain range of the player.
First impressions when playing are that, despite Halo: CE first being released in 2001, it looks surprisingly good for its age. While it's certainly no rival to the high definition games of today, the graphics suited the technology available 20 years ago and are still pretty slick. There are some frame rate and texture issues, but nothing that distracted us too much from gameplay.
The single-player demo gives you a good feel for the dynamic combat in the main campaign. You can choose the difficulty of your campaign and controls will be familiar to anyone who has played an FPS before. For the uninitiated, control instructions can be found (and adjusted) under the Controls Setup menu, accessed by the Escape button.
Unfortunately, due to GameSpy Arcade no longer being available, the online multiplayer demo does not work. You can, however, still set up a game and play against your friends through the LAN and direct IP multiplayer modes.
One negative aspect is that when you quit the demo, it forces you to watch an annoying promo video for the full version of the game. It's not possible to quit this or navigate to other programs on your PC while this video is playing so it's a bit irritating to see it every time you want to log-off.
Twenty years of epic gameplay
The Halo series of first-player shooter games have been around for almost two decades, meaning there are plenty of alternatives to Halo: Combat Evolved for PC gamers.
You might want to try Halo 2, which is dated but a lot of fun and still features The Covenant as the main bad guys. Alternatively Halo: Reach is the fifth installment in the Halo series and a direct prequel to Halo: CE. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is an enhanced version of Halo: Wars, released for Windows in 2016. A sequel, Halo Wars 2, was released the following year and continues the saga.
There's a reason it's popular
With its fun gameplay, beautiful score and excellent-for-its-time visuals, Halo: Combat Evolved remains a classic FPS game. The demo is a great intro to the Halo series for any first-time players who want to try before investing in the paid-for version.
Long-time fans of the series will also enjoy revisiting the game where it all began. You'll marvel over how good it looks for a 20-year-old game and be thankful that the original Halo game will still run relatively smoothly on almost any of today's PCs.