Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
Halo was originally intended to be released on Mac OS, but developer Bungie was bought by Microsoft – resulting in the title becoming an Xbox console exclusive. Apple's loss was Microsoft's gain – players were treated to one of the best FPS games of all time, with a captivating story line, manic action and colourful aliens just begging to be splattered by Master Chief’s armoury of awesome weaponry.
Combined with one of the best multiplayer experiences ever made, Halo was the reason many people sunk their teeth into Microsoft’s console ecosystem. Ten years on, it's still going strong – the recently released Halo: Combat Evolved anniversary edition, which we’ve reviewed here, is the perfect nostalgia fix, featuring improved graphics and Kinect support.
Fable creator Peter Molyneux had to apologise for building up fans' expectations of the game in advance of its release – but the finished product was still an impressive feat. Cast as an orphan taken in by the Heroes' guild of Albion, players were treated to an action RPG which gave dungeon crawling and spell-casting an added moral dimension.
Saving bullied children or rescuing wanderers lost in caves meant that your reputation as a hero was only matched by your dazzlingly charming good looks. Villagers would swoon in admiration and butterflies and rainbows would spring forth at your every step. Behave like Darth Maul on steroids and your features would come to reflect your actions – and people would, unsurprisingly, flee at the sight of your red eyes and devil horns.
More after the break...
Grand Theft Auto III (2003)
Jealous Xbox owners had to wait two years to get their eager mitts on GTA III after its initial PlayStation 2 release, but it was worth the wait – and not just because the Xbox release featured graphical improvements over its PS2 counterpart. The first 3D title of the Grand Theft Auto series gave players a sandbox in which they could cause untold pandemonium and chaos, from blowing up a mountain of stolen cars to wreaking havoc with heavy weapons in epic shoot outs with the law.
When you weren’t too busy having fun with the business end of a baseball bat, you could work your way up through the ranks of the criminal underworld in the main storyline. Despite its silent protagonist, GTA III's plot was gripping enough to keep you coming back for more, as you attempted to get your own back at your girlfriend Catalina – who shot you and left you for dead after a bank robbery. Ouch.
GTA III recently celebrated its 10th birthday – check out our GTA flashback.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
The success of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wasn’t just due to the fact that it was a Star Wars RPG (and therefore the ultimate dream of nerds everywhere). The game offered a highly polished and authentic Star Wars universe, complete with force powers, lightsabers and a thrilling story with enough twists and turns to rival even the original trilogy.
The weight of your actions, both good and bad, determined which side of the force you ultimately became aligned with. KOTOR, as it's affectionately known, more than deserved the numerous game of the year accolades that were bestowed upon it.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)
Sam Fisher’s third outing in the Splinter Cell series refined the stealth-based action that fans had come to know and love with a raft of new features. Sound monitoring, the ability to interrogate hapless guards with a knife and hanging upside down and snapping unsuspecting necks were all welcome additions to your already impressive skillset, while improved AI and a solid multiplayer mode made Chaos Theory one of the best offerings in the whole series.
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