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If you were to take a microscope and examine Xbox’s DNA, you’d find something like Halo: The Master Chief Collection nestled at its heart.
Their green-clad super-soldier is now indistinguishable from the brand he represents, and the fuss surrounding these re-mastered games is a reminder of the leading force this series has become.
Except – and let’s have a dramatic gasp at this stage – you could argue that Halo is far past its sell-by date.
In fact, you could dig the knife deeper and claim it’s been superseded in the years since.
You could do that…
… But this would make you a bit of a fool (and breathe, Xbox fans about to call for my lynching).
In spite of having a love/hate relationship with the franchise, I’d say you’d have to stick your head in a mountain of sand to ignore the influence it’s had on this industry.
I used to be scathing of the series because I was frustrated by what I saw as a confusingly mixed tone, hobbling between comedic and deadly serious at the drop of a hat.
The hero’s pompously grand name and AI which has absolutely no idea how to respond to ranged attacks didn’t help either.
Except then something happened to me; something which catches us all eventually.
I grew up.
Metro’s review puts it perfectly in its opening paragraph. Our own Mr Hargreaves points out that, in absence of Halo, ‘the Xbox would’ve been a flop and Microsoft may well have never even bothered with the Xbox 360… [and] it was Halo 2 that made online deathmatch the defining video game experience of the modern era’.
I could bang on about this sort of thing, waxing lyrical when it comes to multiplayer or co-op.
That’s too obvious though, and not what I admire most about the franchise.
For me, Master Chief’s games have always shown off phenomenal visual design; besides instantly recognisable, distinct foes, the eye-popping colour palette still hasn’t been matched by any other FPS I can think of.
Shooters are, if you go by many big names, brown or grey.
Halo didn’t get the memo, evidently.
This makes its world a warm and exotic place to visit.
Perhaps that’s why it’s endured for so long in other media.
In a sentence, we want to visit it.
Similarly important is its sense of fun – take a bow, squeaky-voiced Grunts – and this even translates into its weaponry.
Halo has the most original slew of guns I can think of for a mainstream shoot-’em-up (the Needler is a genius invention).
Crucially, it also understands how to make you feel like an old-fashioned hero.
With an epic score and a battle for every life in the galaxy, it’s the best kind of popcorn entertainment.
We may have our differences, but I raise my glass (and a plasma grenade) to Halo.