Halo mini-games provide fun in-game pastimes


Photo Courtesy of Steam

A view from a players perspective while playing “Halo: Reach”. The game was released Dec. 3, 2019.

By Aidan Finn, staff writer

In 2001, “Halo: Combat Evolved” debuted along with the new Microsoft Xbox. Cringe-inducing photo ops of 2000s Dwayne Johnson holding the console like a wet cat didn’t stop the console from hitting it out of the park with several all-time classic exclusives from “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” to “Ninja Gaiden: Black.” The definitive titles of the system that are still actively played and enjoyed to this very day are “Halo 1” and “Halo 2.”

The first-person shooter games were mystifying for 8-year-old me, as I sat in the basement of my cousins’ house as they engaged in swear-filled tangents over cheap deaths and screen cheating. It was the good old times of Nacho Cheese Doritos, those massive CRTVs and poor air conditioning amidst midwestern July heatwaves. Good times indeed. I didn’t get my own Halo game, that being the 2009 prequel “Halo Reach,” until I was older. There, I discovered an entirely new aspect of the Halo series that led to the tentpole gaming experience of my youth.

Halo Custom Games

The Custom Games system is a map/mode editor for the online multiplayer component of the Halo games (although it is most associated with “Halo Reach”) where players can build their own maps and game modes with developer tools and in-game props from the engine. It came in a pre-Minecraft area where crafting buildings and environments wasn’t a feature of virtually all modern games. It allowed players like me to make the most absurd game modes imaginable and run with them. You could have up to 16 online buddies playing, which was rarely stressful on the hardware, surprisingly.

However, the big catch that held back the true popularity of the mode was the archaic, horrifically slow method of sharing maps. For you to share a map/mode someone else created, you had to download it from someone else in your lobby who had it. Not just that, but you have to actively have played such. Only people who begged every lobby leader to play particular maps could get their hands on all the good ones, so it really stressed the party atmosphere when one guy refuses to play until we play the one mode he really, really wants.

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In essence, the method of getting custom games downloaded to your console is reminiscent of going over to the rich kid’s house for a party and playing with all his cool games and toys and then stealing them on your way out. It rewards people with lots of friends and connections and punishes those without friends. Very reflective on life itself, really. Nonetheless, this archaic issue has finally been resolved, with 343 Industries rolling out the Custom Game Browser for “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” A tool that allows you to search for any mode you desire, as well as hop right into a public customs lobby whenever you want – a massive upgrade that is sure to introduce many to the realm of custom games for the first time. Because of such, here is a rundown of the best modes you can enjoy on the browser.

Speed Halo

Probably the most iconic game on this list, Speed Halo is a unique mix of a racing game and pure suffering. It involves one team armed with golf clubs who stand at the bottom of a hill while another team is put in modified trucks. When the trucks go down the hill and crash at the bottom, they respawn at the top of the hill but with the same momentum. Thus, it turns into a race between racers trying to continually gain speed until they reach the near speed of sound and golfers trying to hit the car as it passes down the hill. The collision of the club and car is so fast it causes a violent explosion, knocking the racer off the team and onto the golf team. It’s hard to explain, given its absurd nature, but it is nonetheless a masterpiece of amateur game design and has seen remakes across all future iterations of the Halo series.

Protect Obama

A game mode that is simultaneously dated yet very innovative to this day is Protect Obama. The mode has two teams: a secret service protecting that single unarmed player portraying Obama and another team of terrorists positioned outside the White House, which in-game, is just a shed with white paint and barbed wire. The terrorist team must infiltrate the building and assassinate Obama while the secret service attempts to stop them. A breach-and-clear formula that, aside from its stupid storyline, is actually quite engaging. It’s a predecessor to the popular tactical shooter “Rainbow Six: Siege” and a modern take on the classic PC strategy games like “RS:3” and “Swat 4.” The latter half of the game – when the timer begins to run out – is when the frantic chaos of blowing up every door and endless hallway shootouts shows its head. It’s good fun for those looking for a more coordinated game mode.


On the near opposite end of the spectrum, and my favorite mode is Invasion.2 for “Halo Reach.” Inspired by the iconic helicopter attack scene from 1979’s “Apocalypse Now,” it has a team of soldiers on one island with basic rifles and turrets and one invading team sporting attack choppers armored with mini-guns and grenade launchers. Like the scene, the attackers rise from the horizon and unleash chaos upon the defending islanders. It is pure carnage. Endless carpet bombings meet with the occasional defender making a lucky shot towards a chopper, triggering an even more chaotic crash landing. If “Ride of the Valkyries” could be played from the choppers, it would be just so much more sublime. It is an essential game mode for all Halo fans.

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