the Andrew Bailey

No, it's not different this time!

Screenshot of Halo 3: ODST, fighting a brute and a grunt in the streets.

Halo 3: ODST

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm going through the Halo Collection by order of original release, not by order of story. This installment follows the stories of a team of drop troops during Halo 2 and 3. Halo 3: ODST largely slipped by me unnoticed when it first came out 10 years ago. I don't recall any of my friends getting psyched out by it. The hype machine was more restrained.

Screenshot of Halo 3, fighting a brute.

Halo 3

I remember back in the day when Xbox 360 was big. For members of the PC Gaming Master Race, it felt like we were being shunned. It seemed like everyone had a 360, and soon their moms and grandmas would too, alongside their Wiis. So few things were pushed to such stratospheric levels of hype, that you could barely get out of bed without hearing about them. The few in my lifetime: Y2K, Segway, iPhone, iPad, December 2012, coronavirus, and atop this particular pile, Halo 3. It was so big that Pure Pwnage got in on the hype. LoadingReadyRun made such a surreal video about it that I instantly became their fan. I'm positive that similarly sized gaming hype trains have come and gone since, but I can't recall any that topped this. (My preorder warning might have accidentally had some.) Since Pi-hole, browser addons, and not watching TV have made me immune to most ads, maybe I'm too blind to notice.

Screenshot of Half-Life 2, showing clones three headcrab zombies wandering into a trap.

Half-Life 2

I wasn't a properly initiated hard-core gamer back when Half-Life 2 came out. My only connection to the series was "oh, that weird box on the store shelf." After going to that one college, I realized that I needed a radical change in how I evaluated choices. I couldn't be a dumb kid that coasted through life on whatever the world gave me. I started by disregarding my friend's advice that Half-Life 2 was a bad game, or at least so much that I avoided it, so I bought it and started playing.

Screenshot of Max Payne 2, showing Max shooting mobsters

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

In the hallmark of a decent sequel, Max Payne 2 continues the story of a betrayed police detective. Max seems to have gotten over his wife and daughter, and is going after the mobs that are making his life a living hell. Like the first game, the game takes place in New York City, but does not take place in a blizzard. Instead, it's raining the entire time, in true film-noir style.

Screenshot of Halo 2, showing a fight

Halo 2

Halo 2's single player campaign is criticized for being short, and ending on a cliffhanger. I agree, because I was able to finish it in 3 days. Compare it to the original Portal: it says what it needs to (and more if you're observant), and doesn't overstay its welcome. Before I shot a gun in this game, I practically had an encyclopedic knowledge about the Covenant compared to the first game.

Screenshot of Halo: Combat Evolved showing unevolved combat

Halo: Combat Evolved

Two days after dissecting Borderlands 3, the time had come. In all my life, I had played a grand total of about 5 minutes of the entire Halo series (in Halo 3, probably). After making a threat to buy it over 5 years ago, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has come to Steam, which I bought in the last sale. Selecting it in Steam, I hesitated clicking the play button as I contemplated the gravity of the situation. Although Halo was on PC shortly from the start, the series became something different in my eyes, as it became an Xbox icon. As a member of the PC Master Race, I see Master Chief as a horseman of the PC gaming apocalypse. Even after a generation, the Halo scar is still tender. But Halo isn't what it used to be, and from all accounts, is coming back to PC. All of it; even the new stuff. Still, it felt like I was about to betray my values and violate something deeply sacred. I gulped and clicked.

Screenshot of Borderlands 3, showing blowing up a car

Borderlands 3

I've been a fan of Borderlands since about when the first game launched. Despite this being out for about a year, I've only recently bought it in the last Steam sale about 3 weeks ago, and almost keeled over at the 100 GB install size. (I guess I haven't been keeping up with current generation games.) Although I've heard the drama around this game, I will not be reviewing that. I also heard that it was not as good as Borderlands 2. I agree, so as the foremost Borderlands expert writing for this blog, let me lovingly pick it apart.