Exclusivity has never been Microsoft’s strong suit, bar from one valid expectation; the Halo series. On that note, the Halo franchise is one of the video game industries most beloved IP’s. Furthermore, the Master Chief is an iconic protagonist of elite status; no doubt enshrined in gaming folklore.
The Halo series is crucial for many a reason, mainly because it single-handedly redefined the FPS genre and continued to do so with each instalment. Also, it raised the profile of Microsoft’s landmark console, which had stiff competition from the PS2, and that’s no mean feat. Besides, the PS2 was a beast of a console in all aspects, eventually, going on to become the biggest selling of all time.
As a result, the Halo effect is far-reaching, spreading its vast tentacles throughout all forms of media and merchandise. From the silver screen to thematic toys, the impact Halo has had on the world stage is undeniable. Even now, to this very day.
So, in celebration of a sacrosanct franchise, today we honour the Halo franchise, in order of best to worst. Here lies a list of my five favorite games from the Halo series. I also include, in some form or another, all 11 entries that the series has to offer.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Although many Halo games would achieve better polish and presentation further down the line, at least from a visual standpoint, the original is very hard to trump. Only rarely, especially within the FPS genre, does a game strike the perfect balance between world building, and narrative.
In truth, Halo had it all, with a rip-roaring OST, wonderfully atmospheric environments, and mind-blowing set-pieces. With that in mind, and speaking from my perspective, it is without deniability, Bungie’s glistening jewel in the crown.
Besides, who can forget the adrenaline pumping, high stakes escape mission as an endgame sequence? Pure quality from start to finish. But, if that’s not your bag, then the highly addictive local co-op mode could have you and your friends playing well into the early hours of next morning.
Considering the widespread success of the first entry in the Halo series, a half-baked rehash of the original could have still shifted copies many times over. But instead, Bungie stepped once more into the unknown. Guided by ambition and steered through sheer innovation alone, Halo 2 does everything a sequel should do.
Not only did Halo 2 give us unique insight into the burgeoning conflict between the Covenant ranks, it also rolled out Xbox Live compatibility for the first time. Thus, players were allowed to lock horns with each other, halfway across the globe, all while tightening up gun-play and giving us a new playable character to play as. Priceless.
Following the release of Halo 3: ODST and Halo 3, Bungie looked as though it had thrown in the towel and called the curtain on the Halo series altogether. But before it would move onto fresh pastures in the form of Destiny, the studio had one last trick up its sleeves.
And so, Halo: Reach was born. A prequel to the first game, which added new dimensions to the Master Chief’s story arc, while fatalistically demonstrating the military might of the Covenant to horrific effect.
Not only that but Halo: Reach mixed up the multiplayer mode, giving players added depth and unprecedented choice. On that note, both high levels of customization and special suit powers could change the dynamic of a match on a whim. Plus, unique gear perks and a fleshed-out Forge option gave players an almost unlimited supply of enjoyable content to savor.
The Halo Series: Halo 3
At this point, the Halo series was gearing up to a climactic conclusion, and in terms of sheer spectacle, Halo 3 delivered on that. Although the mission structure was less engaging than in previous games, a story of great impact made the enduring war between humanity and the Covenant a compelling one. Even if fans remain split on the ending, to this day.
But the area in which Halo 3 truly excelled was multiplayer. Given a vast array of weapons to wreak havoc with and a superb slew of maps to enjoy, Halo 3 set the benchmark for online play, despite Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare breathing down its neck in what would eventually evolve into a fierce rivalry that would later define online FPS games.
The Halo Series: Halo Wars
Halo Wars is a unique real-time strategy game that allows the player to take on the military might of the Covenant onboard a ship, entitled Spirit of Fire — with an all-new command system, giving you license over the spartan unit during combat and the option to pick between a vast range of vehicles and units. Halo Wars was a frantic yet refreshing change of pace for the franchise.
The Halo Series: Other Titles
Other games would later release. But in my mind, none of them manage to capture the magic of those mentioned above. Despite mass-hype, Halo 4 was always going to suffer criticism from its loyal fanbase following the departure of Bungie as 343 industries took the helm.
Then there’s Halo: ODST. An expansion which deprived players of the Master Chief. But a fast-paced Firefight mode and more en thesis on tactics just about saved the day.
After that, we arrive at the oddity that is Halo 5: Guardians. In truth, it was more in line with fan expectations, but again, chose to shift the narrative focus away from the Master Chief, and onto a ripe recruit, tasked with taking down the legend.
But for all its downfalls, a host of subtle innovations regarding gunplay and a new bag of modes along with authentic mission designs re-balanced the scales in its favor.
And finally, we have Halo Wars 2, the spiritual successor to Halo 5. Halo: Spartan Strike, which Xbox chose not to add to its vast console library. And Halo: Spartan Assault, the twin-stick, birds eye shooter which acted as more of an on-the-go mobile game than a worthy installment in the Halo series.
So, there you have it, folks, every Halo game. But we want to hear from you, the gamer. What are your Top Five Halo games of all time? As always, we welcome any contributions. So please, get in touch via the chat below.
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