On November 15th, 2001 Halo: Combat Evolved shook the world. I was probably still in diapers at the time, but I still remember growing up with the original Halo and Halo 2. I don’t believe I managed to beat either until well after the Xbox 360 was on the streets, but I’ll never forget how terrified the Flood made child Mike.
Once I was old enough for my own Xbox 360 some of the first games I played were Halo 3 and Halo 3 ODST. They continue to define what a FPS title should be like for me. Smooth gunplay paired with a tense narrative, and all the Sci-Fi workings you could image.
To say that I wouldn’t be the gamer I am today without Halo would be an understatement. Thousands upon thousands of hours poured into each game, the campaigns alone I have replayed probably two dozen times each. There’s also a lot more to this franchise than just games. No matter what medium I was in the mood for, Halo has always been there for me with books, comics, music, movies, and more. The impact it has had on my life can’t really be measured, so to Xbox, Bungie, 343 Industries, and everyone involved in the creating of this universe; thank you.
Source: Press kit
With Halo Infinite set to release on December 8th I just wanted to share some of my personal favorite aspects of the mainline Halo games. There isn’t a single Halo game that I don’t love, so it was quite difficult for me to choose on many of these.
My favorite Halo Campaign has to go to Halo Reach. Out of all the games it managed to make me care for its cast of characters more than any other. The constant threat of death hanging over every character shattered my heart as a child and continues to effect me as an adult. While it was difficult to settle on one game for Best Campaign, I had to follow my heart. I have played the Halo Reach Campaign more than any other by far. From all the different difficulties, to all the unique skulls, to the scored mode with my siblings. Every time I played Halo Reach I was able to get a slightly different experience that continued to hook me more with each playthrough.
Source: Press Kit
Not counting Halo Infinite since I haven’t had the opportunity to play the campaign yet, I would have to give Halo 3 the best gameplay in the series. While I do still love the gameplay in Halo Reach, the load outs and such just weren’t something I was super into. Whereas Halo 3 still possessed dual-wielding, and many of the weapons felt better to use than they did in Halo Reach and Halo 2 specifically. I don’t believe any of the Halo games have “bad” gunplay perse, however some certainly do feel less like Halo than others. I don’t believe any game has gunplay more definitively Halo, than Halo 3.
Source: press kit
Given enough time I can see Halo Infinite taking this crown, but as it stands now I would still have to say that Halo Reach has my favorite multiplayer. There’s just so much to love about the many offerings that the multiplayer system offered. I loved the military title ranking system and the amount of customization that earning credits allowed for. I really did feel like I could make my own Spartan and standout from everyone else. Halo Reach also contains my favorite Forge mode and Fire Fight mode in the franchise. I really love the Halo Reach Forge World level and just how much freedom you had in it. My siblings and I used to all spread out and make our own bases and then try to conquer each other. The online multiplayer itself was also a ton of fun. So many amazing game modes, most in the series I believe. I loved grinding challenges, or just binging game modes like SWAT, Infection, and Grif Ball.
Source: press kit
Everybody who knows Halo knows that the OST is consistently some of the best in the entire industry. This was probably the hardest category for me to settle on to the point where I left it up to a coin flip between Halo 2 and Halo 3 ODST. Ultimately, Halo 2 seems to have won. If that upsets you because you feel like ODST is better, feel free to substitute the game in wherever I say Halo 2, as my feelings for them are genuinely about the same.
Halo 2 has an OST that is not only timeless but also simply as iconic as they come. The second you boot up the game the intense orchestral tracks beging to get the blood pumping. There’s this perfect understanding of what the player is feeling at any given moment and the music is utilized in such a way to heighten those emotions. When the gunfights get intense it’s easy to lose yourself in the moment as the music applauds you, encouraging you to go faster. There’s simply few other games, even in the FPS genre that have managed to define themselves in such a way with music.
Source: halo 2
Halo is one of the best universes to ever be created. I’ve been able to lose myself in its lore and gameplay since I was but a wee child, and even as I continue to pass through my 20s, Halo is still here for me. There aren’t many other pieces of media that I can say have extended past the confines of their original medium and managed to continue to effect me in such meaningful ways. Here’s to the next 20 years of Halo!