We are going to blow the hell out of those dumb bugs until we don’t have anything left to shoot ’em with! And then, we are going to strangle them with their own guts!
This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
14) Halo (Xbox/PC)
Chris: For better or worse, Halo revolutionized the first-person shooter.
I’ve never been a huge fan of this series, but I still have this game in my top 25, and that’s for two reasons: I loved the original, and it’s just too important to the industry. Master Chief is a boring protagonist, but he’s manageable when paired with the witty and feisty Cortana. The game doesn’t exactly innovate in individual terms — yet the sum of its parts make it an extremely crisp and enjoyable experience.
Halo had a compelling story and the tightest mechanics ever seen in an FPS. The fact that you could control Master Chief with ease is a testament to excellent game design, especially when you consider the giant, bulky mess that was the original Xbox controller (oh, black and white buttons, we miss you). It also set the standard for multiplayer, with 16-person battlegrounds becoming popular even with people who had never played in that setting — myself included. I didn’t really like competitive play, FPSs or LAN setups, yet I loved the handful of chances I got to play Halo with a large group.
The series went downhill fast in my book (Halo 2 doesn’t even have an ending!), but the original was still a hell of a game.
Shaun: Halo is why I bought an Xbox. It’s true. I wish I could say it was for something more unique, like “I wanted to be on the forefront of online gaming. It’s the future!” or “Morrowind is looking really solid.” Nope. Halo. Just like every other Xbox adopter in existence, Halo was the killer app that made me pick up the system.
And here’s another bit of truth; even if Halo was the only game released for that ugly console, it would have been worth the purchase. Halo was unique to me because it blended an awesome “behind enemy alien lines” story with the tightest shooter controls I’d ever used. Goldeneye was fun, but involved little strategy besides “run down this hall and hold the trigger.” Halo was a whole other beast. On the harder difficulties, mismanagement of field position, melee charges, and grenade usage spelled death frequently. Thankfully, the forgiving checkpoint system emphasized battle freedom, encouraging me to try epically risky maneuvers without fear that I’d have to replay the entire level to get back to the same point if things went awry.
Say what you want about the Chief’s lack of personality or the sometimes repetitive level design; the fact is that Halo advanced the “shooter” so drastically that it — along with Half Life 2 — revolutionized the genre, leading the FPS shooter to being gaming’s most dominant genre today (for better or worse). If you played Halo when it was released and didn’t enjoy it, you’re lying.
Dave: While Halo isn’t the sole reason I bought an Xbox…it’s about 75% of it. I can’t even begin to explain the wonder of a 17-year-old kid in 2002 having a ton of his friends at one house playing the same game against each other on 4 different TVs. This was huge stuff back then, and led to the superior, Xbox Live-fueled Halo 2. However, Halo is better because of the single player campaign. While the levels were long, it still felt like an epic achievement each time you finished an area, only to be thrown into a more perilous position right afterward. The initial goal of Halo’s single player mode is to kill a few Covenant along the way…then the Flood come, and your singular goal is to survive in any means necessary.
I’ve never once been good at a FPS. Most of the time I have a difficult time remembering the map layout, or I can’t move the triggers accurately enough to get a headshot, or most of all, I couldn’t even see the person that killed my player, causing endless rounds of frustration. But with Halo, that was all changed. The tightness of the controls allowed me to learn the proper touch, and the repetitiveness of the levels allowed me to figure out some of the layout. When you take into account that everyone loved this game (yes, even my fiance got into it a little bit), it made it all the better. For the first and only time in my lifetime, I was able to win at an FPS. While that’s not the only reason this game is one of the best ever, it’s definitely one of my reasons.
MORE FROM AT THE BUZZER’S TOP 25 LIST
(15) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
(18) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
(21) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
(22) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask