Having won numerous acclaims by the gaming community, Halo is a fast-paced first- and third-person shooter with science-fiction roots. You play a character known only as the "Master Chief," a cybernetically-enhanced Marine. Your enemy is the Covenant, a brutal alien race who desires nothing but to destroy every last vestige of humanity.
The battle takes place on the Halo, a mysterious, ring-shaped artifact floating in space - you, the Master Chief, as well the Marines and your ship, the Pillar of Autumn, have crash-landed there after being shot down by a Covenant fleet.
Wield a variety of weapons, take control of human and alien vehicles, fight side-by-side with your fellow Marines - and if you can, win.
Many things about Halo differentiate it from the usual first-person shooter. For example, Bungie elected to limit the number of carried weapons: the Master Chief can carry up to two weapons, plus a supply of grenades and ammunition. The two-weapon limitation forces players to think logically about what equipment they'll need to bring into the next battle.
When Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in June of 2000, many fans lost hope that they would ever see the game outside of Microsoft's gaming console, the Xbox. Bungie has stated, time and time again, that a port of Halo for PC and Macs would be available. Nearly three years later, Gearbox Software has ported Halo to the PC, and Westlake Interactive (along with MacSoft ) took Gearbox's revised code and ported it to the Mac platform. The two versions were not simulaneously published: Halo PC was released September 30, 2003, while Halo Mac was released December 3, 2003.
There has been a considerable amount of controversy about the release of Halo PC/Mac. While many users enjoy playing Halo PC and Mac, the system requirements to run the game at an acceptable framerate are much higher than the average PC. Additionally, patches designed to fix performance and networking problems have been held at the gate by Microsoft. Finally, Gearbox elected to release a version of Halo entitled Halo Custom Edition that promises more frequent updates, better performance and updated networking code. Additionally, Halo CE is required to use custom maps, levels and items created with the Halo Editing Kit. Currently, a list of download mirrors for these two applications is available at the Gearbox Software Forums; there is no word yet as to whether, or when these improvements will be released for the Mac platform.
Halo for the Xbox was a resounding success; over four million copies have been sold as of December 2003, making Halo the Xbox gamer's definitive gaming choice. Halo also is credited with being one of the first mass-market games supporting local area network (LAN) gameplay over a console. Halo's excellent multiplayer capabilities have spawned Halo tournaments, competitions and countless LAN parties.
Community forums that offer some information on Halo for PC/Mac would include the halo.bungie.org forum (deals with all things Halo), the official Gearbox Software forums (where developers from Gearbox frequently answer community questions), and of course, The Junkyard's own Halo forums can offer some insight about the game.
For more information on the story of Halo, check out The Fall of Reach, the Halo backstory novel by Eric Nylund.
Another book that covers the events of the game is Halo: The Flood by William C. Dietz. A third book, detailing the events between the end of Halo and Halo 2 -- "Halo: First Strike" by Eric Nylund -- is another good resource for backstory. All of the above books are worth a read if you're interested in Halo's (and some of Halo 2's) backstory.