The Xbox division of Microsoft might not be here today if it wasn’t for their original console exclusive hit, Halo: Combat Evolved from Bungie. The first-person shooter revolutionized the genre that GoldenEye had set the standard for in the console generation before. Over the years, we’ve had several sequels and even a prequel to the Halo franchise, each one attempting to build on the lore, following the paths of Master Chief and Cortana and even expanding on the surrounding universe. It is easily one of the most successful video game franchises of this century.
With that in mind, I am providing my ranking of the games. I am not including the Halo: Wars RTS or any of the digital only games. With that in mind, we are looking at seven different games. Additionally, I am only going off of the original versions of these games and not the Anniversary or Master Chief Collection versions. For those who don’t know, that means I’m going on their original releases. That means Bungie’s work is in play here. The remakes of the games do change things, especially since Bungie was not directly involved in the remastering of their games. So, here we go.
So, we got a prequel. It’s not a prequel about Master Chief, it’s about Cortana and where she came from. While her origins are important and they provide some interesting insight into her creation, the game just doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the universe. The team you play with are decent enough NPCs and the graphics are good but being a prequel, you know where things are headed. You are going to die. There is nothing you can do. It’s going to happen. In fact, it’s going to happen in a fairly lame way and I’m going to spoil it. You should someone needs to stay behind so your ship with Cortana can escape. So you do it. You stay behind and fight off an endless wave of Covenant troops until you eventually die. There is no score. No time keeper. No ranking list. You just die and the credits roll. Talk about a waste of time.
#6. Halo 3
It’s a good game, not great. It recycles a lot of the first game with the addition of a super intelligent Flood enemy that, for a reason that is still unclear to me, has stolen Cortana. The game doesn’t do much to add to the franchise and the gameplay is fairly simple. I find it mostly a forgettable game in the franchise but there isn’t really anything wrong with it. It does provide some emotional support for the relationship between Cortana and Master Chief which becomes very important in the later games.
#5. Halo 2
The story in this one is pretty convoluted. I think the dual storyline was handled much better in Halo 5 but they tried. As someone who is color blind, I found the Covenant storyline particularly frustrating because I never knew who was an ally and who was an enemy. I constantly attacked my own people and it got old real fast. This game does deserve some credit because it introduced the dual-wield of weapons and online multiplayer. Both concepts were huge advancements for console gaming and are still leveraged today. I blame the game a bit for pushing campaigns to the back burner because of the interest in online multiplayer
#4. Halo: Combat Evolved
Yes, this game launched the franchise but it is not without its faults. It’s a solid game with a decent story. The graphics were good for their day but I found the Anniversary edition to be an improvement on the game. In short, this game opened the door for the genre and each game after it was able to build on the universe in a positive way. I found the higher ranked games to be enhancements and better games overall but this is certainly not one to miss.
#3. Halo 3: ODST
You are not Master Chief. In fact, you’re not even a Spartan Solider. You have no over shield. You are not a super human. You are a Marine, just a man\woman. In fact, you’re several of them. The story takes place from several different perspectives that you get to play over the course of the game, each individual adding to the overall picture of the plot. The re-addition of med-packs made the game more challenging and felt more like the original. The story, taking place on Earth, allowed for street combat and just a more relatable experience. I loved the story. I loved the game play and I loved feeling more human during it.
#2. Halo 4
This game brought the franchise to a new level. The graphics, enhanced by the new Xbox One, were impressive. We finally got to see the Forerunners and use their technology throughout an entire game. The addition of the new technology, weapons, and enemies made for an exciting and fresh experience for a franchise that had been primarily bogged down in fighting the Flood. The Cortana story was brought in new depth to both her and Master Chief. If you finished this game and did not feel a connection to both of them, then I don’t know what to tell you.
#1. Halo 5: Guardians
While note quite a direct sequel to Halo 4, we find Master Chief in a hunt for his long lost friend, Cortana but things are definitely not what they seem. The game built on the new style and graphics developed for the previous game but added additional elements. It brought back the dual-pronged story Halo 2 leveraged but did it better. The voice acting, with the help of some star power like Nathan Fillion, was brought to a new level. The enemies were tougher, the story more complex and the game not only ends on an epic cliffhanger, making me want more, but launches a whole new story path for the franchise that had been far too focused on aspects from the first game. I consider this game an improvement on everything done in the franchise, keeping it alive and well.
What do you think of my ranking? Is yours different? Comment below with you thoughts!