Halo: Combat Evolved
When Microsoft decided to take on Sony’s Playstation, they needed some heavy hitters to make the Xbox launch a success. Luckily for them Halo proved to be one of the heaviest hitters gaming has ever seen. Introducing the now-iconic Master Chief, Halo made the most of the Xbox’s dual analogue stick controllers and truly brought FPS gaming to the masses. Fantastic enemy AI, memorable characters, co-op play with a friend through the entire campaign and plenty of multiplayer modes for four-player split screen saw Halo became synonymous with Xbox. Whilst the sequel made Xbox Live a necessity and revolutionised online match-making (which Halo 3 expanded with Forge), the timeless campaign of the original brought a majestic soundtrack, great graphics, adrenaline-pumping shooting and vehicle action together to create a true masterpiece.
Further Reading: FPS History
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Movie licences have never made for great games, but BioWare changed that by setting Knights of the Old Republic 4,000 years before the Star Wars trilogy. Set across star systems familiar to all fans of the films, KOTOR offers game-changing moral choices (which led to Sith powers? No option for me there!) and deep turn-based combat acted out across your party in real time. It was no surprise that KOTOR won accolades across the board. BioWare may have taken the formula to its own universe in the superb Mass Effect, but with assassin droid HK-47 and one of the greatest plot twists seen in a computer game, it’s KOTOR that makes our list.
Further Reading: Review
Peter Molyneux has always been a man with a plan, although his ambition sometimes exceeded what was possible in the final product. Fable and its sequel are products of his desire to create more; to give characters life and give players a genuine attachment to them. It’s a lofty goal, but the staff at Lionhead did a great job and Fable makes it happen. Fable owes as much to Terry Pratchett’s eccentric brand of humour as it does to traditional Tolkien fantasy, but setting your young hero on the path to fame (or infamy) has never been so rewarding as it is in these games. Part action game, part RPG and part Sims, Fable manages to marry these elements (in a bigamist fashion) and creates a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Farting at beggars and chasing girls (or boys) around every local in the world are just some of the myriad distractions available before setting off to make history.
Further Reading: Review, Video Interview Feature
WWF No Mercy
Back in the days when WWF didn’t necessarily feature a panda, one of the last great multiplayer titles for the N64 was released. Graphically inferior and slower paced than Smackdown on the Playstation, No Mercy was nonetheless one of the greatest wrestling games ever created thanks to its character creation tool. Special moves could be assigned diligently, allowing characters to specialise in high flying manoeuvres, or to target specific parts of the body over and over again. What really made No Mercy special was the paper-stone-scissors nature of the combat. The chance to win a fight against all odds when your opponent showboated too much. And most definitely the ability to lay your opponent across a commentator’s table, set up a ladder in the ring, climb the ladder, and jump off it onto your opponent laying two meters away, smashing you, him, and the table to pieces. We all know wrestling is not real. Neither are computer games. But when they offer this level of destruction to your friend’s fine-tuned fighting machines, what’s not to love?