What would the gaming world look like without Master Chief and the Halo games? It's certainly something worth thinking about. Clearly, Bungie and now 343 Industries have changed the gaming world more than once, and this ranges from single-player to multiplayer and even online gaming. It's no exaggeration to say that the Master Chief even carried the entire Xbox on his shoulders, and without him things would have been very different today. As the series celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, then, we think this is cause to celebrate, and we're doing it by ranking the top 10 Halo games. Enjoy!
(10) Halo: Spartan Assault
IOS, PC, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One / 2013
After 343i had taken over the helm of Halo and squeezed out Halo 4, the studio turned its attention to the handheld market with Halo: Spartan Assault. Although it doesn't follow the classic Halo template and isn't nearly as epic as its big brothers, Vanguard Entertain's twin-stick shooter still managed to capture the special feeling that only Halo can convey. The game was released for a variety of devices and was infinitely better if played with a trigger-happy partner. Although it feels like a funny little detour, Spartan Assault is worth remembering, and definitely worth playing.
(9) Halo: Spartan Strike
IOS, PC, Windows Phone / 2015
The idea to make a simple arcade game based on Halo wasn't a bad one at all, and the so-called "twin stick" concept fits like a glove. After the micro-transaction party that was Spartan Assault, 343i and Vanguard invested in something more user friendly, and playabilty became more of a focus. They also gave themselves a boost thanks to the varied environments that also had a lot more life, and even on a small smartphone screen you could battle through massive explosions, large buildings, and howling banshees, allowing for really memorable battles. Hardly a modern classic, but a big step in the right direction for portable Halo games.
(8) Halo 4
As 343i's first contribution to the series after Bungie had left the scene, Halo 4 split the fan base dramatically. There were those who felt that it was contradictory and that the multiplayer was too similar to Call of Duty, but there were also those who loved it. One big thing we noticed and admired when playing Halo 4 was how much effort had gone into making Cortana more interesting and thus developing the series. In addition to nicely developed characters we got a well-made and still underrated multiplayer experience, not to mention some of the best graphics we've seen on the Xbox 360.
(7) Halo 3: ODST
After Halo 3 players had become accustomed to being Master Chief and sitting in his iconic armour, so it was a big step to play as an ODST warrior instead, or Halo universe paratrooper, if you so wish. The weapons no longer functioned the same way, the enemies became deadlier thanks to a revised shield system, and the world was infinitely more dangerous despite the fact that the adventure took place on Earth with relatively few enemies. Because you didn't heal automatically any more, the momentum was slower, a perfect fit for the melancholy jazz inspired music. It's also worth noting that it was the first introduction of the firefight mode that we've seen regularly since. Halo 3: ODST stole our hearts and in many ways it seems a little forgotten classic that shows how flexible this universe can be when you look beyond John 117.
(6) Halo 2
Xbox / 2004
Few game developers have had the same pressure as Bungie had during the development of Halo 2. The hype that existed in the autumn of 2004 was unprecedented, and it seemed no game could have lived up to that level of expectation, especially not one that was accelerated by Microsoft to save the Xbox from a premature death. The campaign in Halo 2 may have taken aim at being an epic space opera with a new perspective, but the story was short and, ultimately, incomplete. The game's rescue came instead from the multiplayer, which was a huge hit with fans. With convenient matchmaking, clan support, and a revolutionary lobby system, Halo 2 took the online world by storm, inviting console owners to an experience that earlier you could only find on PC. Tell us what you want about the campaign, but Halo 2 stands out as one of the most influential games ever. What other game could have ensured the success of Xbox Live on its own? Also, dual wielding.