The Halo series is undeniably the most important series in gaming over the past decade.
Before you scream bloody murder… hear me out as I present to you the 5 reasons Halo series not only deserves respect - but demands it.
Unlike anything before it
1. Groundbreaking gameplay
The FPS genre has had a long and storied history since the early nineties - from forerunners such as Catacomb 3D and Wolfenstein 3D, through to modern day blockbusters such as Call Of Duty 4 and Vietcong 2.
However, no other title can match the impact that a certain game had when it launched in November 2001 with the revolutionary Xbox entertainment console. Originally designed to be a real-time strategy title, the game was overhauled to become a 3rd person shooter for the Windows and Mac platforms. Developer Bungie then revamped the game once again to become the masterpiece of design that we now know today as Halo: Combat Evolved.
Taking the world by storm, Halo: Combat Evolved transported hardcore gamers to stunning battles on alien worlds, intense firefights atop moving vehicles, and tunnels after tunnels of gripping gameplay against the most intelligent game AI ever created.
Gamers were bombarded with innovation after innovation; recharging shields, vehicular combat, limited weapon supply, multiple styles of grenades, seamless loading, procedurally respawning enemies, high definition graphics with real physics, sniper rifles - none of which had ever been seen in the world of FPS games before. The title also paved the way for the popularity of online FPS multiplayer - a flag which was later carried on with pride by games such as Counterstrike, Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament.
Proof - the impact and subsequent fallout from Halo can still be seen in many of today’s popular titles; Left 4 Dead (only carrying a maximum of 2 weapons at a time and dual-wielding pistols), Call Of Duty 4 (ranking and matchmaking systems) and Gears Of War (emphasised melee combat and grenade tagging).
2. Narrative Genius
Before the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, plots didn’t exist in FPS titles. Fuck, they barely existed in gaming at all. Sure, it was always about some space marine heading to alien worlds to battle alien monsters using huge guns and explosions… but nothing really too complicated.
Then came the Chief.
The word ‘masterpiece’ is thrown around too often - more often than not at undeserving and superficial fairy tale archetype narratives that fail (or are too scared) to push the boundaries of this interactive medium we all love called gaming.
But Halo? Put simply - the introduction of Master Chief into the gaming narrative landscape is comparable to the impact of On The Waterfront to film, Dark Side Of The Moon to music - or Animal Farm to text.
A modern day Beowulf, the chronicles of Master Chief are intricately woven through tales of loss and death; life and love; betrayal and redemption. Even after the end of the story with Halo 3, The Chief lives on as a literary icon - Cortana his Juliet; The Arbiter his Mercutio… his adventures likened to those of Odysseus, Oedipus and even Jesus.
Spartans! Turn the other cheek!
3. Cultural Impact
The biggest hurdle for the medium of computer entertainment, is that video games are seen as nothing but a ‘toy’ by the general non-hardcore gamer public. Although the medium displays equal (if not more) propensity for cultural stimulus and sensory gratification as do text, music, film and fine art - games are simply not taken seriously.
Hence - the more impact a game has on culture outside the world of video games, the higher the chances of the medium gaining proper recognition.
Thanks to Halo
, we are now seeing credible Hollywood directors such as Peter Jackson and Uwe Boll taking chances with blockbuster film adaptions of popular games.
Thanks to Halo
, we are now seeing Mass Effect and Gears of War books on the shelves in Borders, right next to A Tale Of Two Cities, The Lord Of The Rings and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Master Chief has become arguably almost as recognisable as the Pope (the dead one) or Mother Teresa (circa 1997). With this amount of cultural integration - who can argue against the importance of Halo as the most viable ambassador for the artistic medium of interactive entertainment?
Which leads me to the next point.
4. Women love Halo
If the biggest hurdle for video games is earning fair and just recognition as an artform in today’s post-modern society - the biggest hurdle for hardcore gamers these days is easily not being able to get their dicks wet.
Before Halo came along on that dusty Thursday in November 2001, the only ways hardcore gamers such as myself could get any action involved one of two things; sedatives or money - sometimes both just in case.
But after Halo: Combat Evolved launched and blew the whole world away, gamers could finally get a chance to finally blow a load off and actually have the confidence to ask chicks out. Why Halo, must you ask? Well, we can all thank that mountain of mancock otherwise known as Master Chief.
The Chief might as well call himself Master Pimp after all the ass he’s herded gamer’s way since launch. Why women are so universally attracted to the Chief I’m not entirely sure; either it has something to do with the ‘Tall, Dark Stranger’ thing, the macho buff hero complex women are conditioned to be attracted to - or that he’s packing a 12″. Either way, that is a whole seperate debate. All you need to know, is that the only reason you or your friends have ever gotten laid was because of this man.
Which brings me to my 5th and final reason for why Halo is the most important series in gaming over the past 10 years.
5. This image
Written by Endstiem - a true Halo fan. read