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Marcunio avatar 11:49 AM on 12.24.2012  (server time)
The Twelve Games of Christmas: Day Ten

It's that time of year again, folks. The days are short and cold, the nights are long and even colder, and one of the best places to be is in your nice warm house. Since you're there, you may as well break out the good ol' videogames and make those chilly winter evenings go by a little faster.

In honour of this, I'm going to be posting about one game each day in the run-up to Christmas, finishing on the magical day itself. Keep in mind that these aren't necessarily going to be games that feature Christmas (although some do). Rather, they're going to be a mix of winter warmers, personal nostalgic favourites, and games that echo some traditional Christmas pastimes. I'm sure other people will have their own winter favourites, but this is my unique list and I'm going to do my best to give a little history on each game and explain why they're featured here.

So, without further ado, onwards with day ten!

Halo: Combat Evolved

History: The history of Halo is actually rather interesting. Originally announced as a Mac exclusive at Macworld 1999, the game eventually surfaced as a launch title for Microsoft's Xbox in 2001. Many would argue, myself included, that without Halo the Xbox wouldn't have been half the success it was, or may even have outright failed. But it all worked out in the end and Halo is now one of the most recognisable and successful franchises in videogame history.

In many ways the game played like a classic first-person shooter; mow down hundreds of enemies with a variety of weapons in order to reach your goal, run through tight corridors and open plains on an alien planet, and die many times in the process. But it also introduced some key concepts that have now become standards of the genre, including the ability to carry only two weapons at a time, and the first inklings of a regenerating health system.

Perhaps most important, though, was the multiplayer. As the game released before the advent of Xbox Live, multiplayer was limited to split-screen and system link. But even system link was more than console gamers of that age were used to. Being able to connect four Xbox's and four TV's together was something of a revelation, ushering in a brief age of console LAN parties before everyone went online when Halo 2 came around.

Why It's Here: For me Halo: CE was all about the LAN party, sure the single player was great, but multiplayer was really where it was at for me and my friends. I've mentioned bringing friends together a few times before in these posts, and while it's certainly true that Halo brought us together, it damn near tore us apart too.

A lively Halo LAN among friends should resemble a traditional family Christmas argument. Everyone shouting over the top of each other, some people sitting quietly stewing in their own rage, the detritus of a large gathering of people strewn across the room. But when it all calms down we remember it's just a bit of fun, and stories of the time that guy quit because "someone was too good at sniping" still get a laugh many years down the line.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a good squabble, and Halo caters for both your videogame and real life fighting needs. Now, who's been using my controller and why does it feel like their hands were covered in bacon grease?

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