The release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary yesterday also saw the passing of the franchises’ tenth year in existence. Yes that’s right, good old Halo is 10 years old, if you can believe it. It seems only yesterday that I was waiting for Reach to fall or finishing the fight, but there you have it. Halo has been such a fixture in my gaming life that I can’t really let this occasion pass by unnoticed.
I played Halo: Combat Evolved more than any other game, even Knights of the Old Republic 2, which absorbed a large part of my life. I played through the campaign on solo and co-op on every difficulty except for Easy, and I had dozens of LAN parties with friends, trying to to see who could out-pistol each other. It’s kind of amusing to me that the most iconic weapon in Halo’s history is reportedly a tweak that was put in by accident by a developer that more than doubled the pistol’s damage right before ship.
Halo 2 had almost as much of an impact on me; it was the first game I lined up at midnight for, and it also showed me that multiplayer could be done well on consoles. While I was still very much a PC player then, the fact that I could have a great experience on my TV was kind of revolutionary. Halo 2’s campaign was also pretty decent, story blunders and the fact that I would have to wait four more years to get a Halo game set entirely on Earth.
Once the Xbox 360 came out, I knew it was only a matter of time before we saw the conclusion of the Master Chief’s story, and Halo 3 delivered on all fronts. It was the whole package: a great campaign, four-player co-op and a whole host of great multiplayer options like Forge and the Theater. Being able to go back and watch matches and take screenshots is a feature that’s kind of taken for granted now, and I think Bungie deserves a bit more credit for this invention. Forge is especially forward-thinking for a console product, and we’re starting to see both of these features slowly make their way into other titles.
Halo 3: ODST was kind of a surprise, mostly because a small-scale Halo title hadn’t been put out (aside from Halo Wars, but let’s focus on Bungie for now) and it was the first title to be less than perfectly received by critics. The funny thing is, until Halo: Reach came out, I thought ODST had the best campaign since CE and the Firefight mode was a nice new addition to Halo.
Halo: Reach, being Bungie’s grand send-off to their baby, is my favorite Halo game, with Combat Evolved coming in a close second. The story of Reach’s downfall was amazing, Firefight and multiplayer were tighter and more fun than they had ever been, and there were many email threads between the GS crew detailed our co-op and multi games the night before with accompanying screenshots. Halo: Reach was the culmination of the “Halo experience” where every part of the game finally came together under one banner and knocked it out of the park. I sometimes regret having traded in my copy of Reach, especially with the Anniversay map-pack I got with the re-release of CE.
It’s been a great 10 year ride and I’m looking forward to what the next 10 will bring. Even though Bungie is no longer at the helm, I think that Halo still has its place in gaming and will continue to entertain us for years to come. While Halo 4 will make or break that, I’m sure that Microsoft understands what they’ve got and are going to try to do their utmost with it.
What about you guys? Any Halo memories? Thoughts on the last 10 years with the Chief?