The games that shaped a generation: Xbox

2. Halo
Bungie | Microsoft | 2001

Anticipated for years, the epic tale of Master Chief and his race to save mankind finally debuted as an Xbox exclusive. You know the rest

What made it so great?
Halo overwhelmed us all when it first arrived... and not just because of the massive Microsoft marketing push. The sci-fi shooter simply excels in so many categories that it's hard to know where to begin the praise.

There are, of course, the big things. The action is spectacular, constant and a breeze to master. At the time, Halo's control scheme was the most intuitive a console FPS had ever seen. More impressively, the deep and engrossing story feels like an organic part of the gameplay experience, never overshadowing or taking a backseat to the battles. The graphics prove what the Xbox is capable of technically and the music proves what it is capable of artistically.

Then there are the little things, seemingly insignificant at first but actually crucial elements of what make Halo so special. Hearing the surrounding Marines react to your heroics as they fight and seeing miniature space vessels make their way across the atmosphere above you all contribute to a fully realized, breathing universe that none of us hope to leave behind for a very long time.

Get ready to play
If you're entering the Halo world for the first time, don't be chased off by the never-ending barrage of generic-sounding terms and names. The Covenant, Forerunners, Pillar of Autumn, Cole Protocol, Guilty Spark, SPARTAN-II Project, MJOLNIR and United Nations Space Command all sound like something cooked up in the caffeine- and Star Trek-fueled brain of a 7th grader. Trust us... the mythology that develops is worth memorizing all the nonsense.

Been there, done that?
The jungles of Far Cry Instincts inspire the same wide open fighting environments as the planets of Halo do. The graphics here are probably brighter and crisper as well. You don't get to fight aliens, but hey, you do get to claw people's faces as a mutated man-beast.

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