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    The franchise that defined the Xbox, Halo contains some of the most popular games ever released. The Halo FPS titles are revered for their excellent gamepad control and high-quality online multiplayer. The franchise now contains novels, soda tie-ins, an RTS spin-off, toys, and more.

    Top 5 Best Campaigns in the Halo Series

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    Edited By GhostlyEnigma

    Before I take my daily trip into the cesspool known as Xbox Live, I like going back to play the campaigns of the Halo games every once in a while. Now that Bungie's magnum opus has come to a halt (Until Microsoft's 343 begins the milking), I thought it would be fitting to countdown my top 5 favorite campaign in the series. My list will be quite controversial to many, but this is purely an opinion piece and you can feel free to disagree. So, here are my top 5 favorite campaigns in the Halo series. 
     

    5. Halo 2:

    Watching the E3 2003 game demo was a lot more enjoyable than playing the actual campaign. It was an incredibly underwhelming campaign compared to the original. It never had a single memorable set-piece, the mission design was uninventive, lacked open levels, the A.I. was dumb downed and the pacing was inconsistent. The story had an interesting premise by having to play as an Elite and showing the Covenant’s side of the conflict, but the transition from Master Chief’s tale to the Arbiter’s was jarring and convoluted. Then there’s the infamous cliff-hanger “ending” that we all know and hate. The campaign isn’t bad; it’s just mediocre. 

     

    4. Halo: Reach:

    This is a controversial pick, as fans consider it to be one of the best, except for me. The story tried to be emotional, but it was less heartfelt and more half-hearted. The characters were undeveloped and dull for a character driven story. Bungie didn’t expand some of the new elements it brought to the series, such as the jetpack plat-forming, zero-g gravity segments, space combat, and on-rails shooting segments. The planet wasn’t as atmospheric or immersive as Bungie claimed. It also lacked memorable set-pieces or big battles that Bungie were hyping up; where were the Scarab battles? While the enemy A.I. was excellent, the friendlies are dumber than they were in Halo 2 & 3. But I have to admit, the Elites were a bit too hyperactive and occasionally cheap on higher difficulty levels.  

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the campaign. The level design was rock solid, it was well paced, and there were good variations in the mission design. It’s just that the campaign had so much potential that Bungie didn’t tap. I will say that the ending was phenomenal; easily the best part of the entire campaign.

     

    3. Halo 3:

    This is controversial choice, as fans would consider it as one of the weakest. I’d say it was one of the strongest. It brought back the compelling mission structure, big battles, great enemy A.I. and open environments I loved from Halo: CE. The Scarab battles were one of the game’s biggest highlights; they made Half-Life 2’s Striders pale in comparison. The four-player co-op component was awesome too. The only complaints I had were its short length, the mission Cortana, friendly A.I. and its storytelling. The storytelling was very lackluster; it had so much potential to be more than a macho war story. Well, at least the ending was good. 

     

    2. Halo 3: ODST:

    Once again, along with Halo 3, it’s considered to have one of the weakest campaigns in the series. I on the other hand, find it to be much underappreciated. The contrast between moody night-time and high-octane day-time levels was brilliantly executed. The campaign is expertly paced and had the level design is superbly. The film-noir approach to the story worked very well too, and the characters were most humane in the series. It’s also, by far, the most tactical game in the series. The night-time levels were a fresh change of pace to the chaotic action of the series, focusing on exploration and atmosphere. It’s short, but sweet. I liked it, so bite me. 

     

    1. Halo: Combat Evolved:

    Well, this was expected. Even today, many fans consider CE to contain the best campaign. Why not? It had everything; inventive mission design, epic set-pieces, tight pacing, compelling storyline, great level design (The corridors aren’t as repetitive as people make them out to be), smart A.I., and a great ending. Sure, The Library was painful, but a lot of great games had one bad level. Play Half-Life's Xen and Ocarina of Time's Water Temple if you don't believe me. Every other mission was superbly designed, and brimmed with memorable moments. I will never forget storming an assault on the covenant infested beach on The Silent Cartographer. This was the game that started-off the series with a bang. Till this day, I consider it to have one of the best single-player experiences in the genre. 

      
    Now before any annoying Halo hater hijacks this thread, you can share your top 5 favorite single-player components in the series if you actually bothered yourself to read this.
     

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #1  Edited By GhostlyEnigma

    Before I take my daily trip into the cesspool known as Xbox Live, I like going back to play the campaigns of the Halo games every once in a while. Now that Bungie's magnum opus has come to a halt (Until Microsoft's 343 begins the milking), I thought it would be fitting to countdown my top 5 favorite campaign in the series. My list will be quite controversial to many, but this is purely an opinion piece and you can feel free to disagree. So, here are my top 5 favorite campaigns in the Halo series. 
     

    5. Halo 2:

    Watching the E3 2003 game demo was a lot more enjoyable than playing the actual campaign. It was an incredibly underwhelming campaign compared to the original. It never had a single memorable set-piece, the mission design was uninventive, lacked open levels, the A.I. was dumb downed and the pacing was inconsistent. The story had an interesting premise by having to play as an Elite and showing the Covenant’s side of the conflict, but the transition from Master Chief’s tale to the Arbiter’s was jarring and convoluted. Then there’s the infamous cliff-hanger “ending” that we all know and hate. The campaign isn’t bad; it’s just mediocre. 

     

    4. Halo: Reach:

    This is a controversial pick, as fans consider it to be one of the best, except for me. The story tried to be emotional, but it was less heartfelt and more half-hearted. The characters were undeveloped and dull for a character driven story. Bungie didn’t expand some of the new elements it brought to the series, such as the jetpack plat-forming, zero-g gravity segments, space combat, and on-rails shooting segments. The planet wasn’t as atmospheric or immersive as Bungie claimed. It also lacked memorable set-pieces or big battles that Bungie were hyping up; where were the Scarab battles? While the enemy A.I. was excellent, the friendlies are dumber than they were in Halo 2 & 3. But I have to admit, the Elites were a bit too hyperactive and occasionally cheap on higher difficulty levels.  

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the campaign. The level design was rock solid, it was well paced, and there were good variations in the mission design. It’s just that the campaign had so much potential that Bungie didn’t tap. I will say that the ending was phenomenal; easily the best part of the entire campaign.

     

    3. Halo 3:

    This is controversial choice, as fans would consider it as one of the weakest. I’d say it was one of the strongest. It brought back the compelling mission structure, big battles, great enemy A.I. and open environments I loved from Halo: CE. The Scarab battles were one of the game’s biggest highlights; they made Half-Life 2’s Striders pale in comparison. The four-player co-op component was awesome too. The only complaints I had were its short length, the mission Cortana, friendly A.I. and its storytelling. The storytelling was very lackluster; it had so much potential to be more than a macho war story. Well, at least the ending was good. 

     

    2. Halo 3: ODST:

    Once again, along with Halo 3, it’s considered to have one of the weakest campaigns in the series. I on the other hand, find it to be much underappreciated. The contrast between moody night-time and high-octane day-time levels was brilliantly executed. The campaign is expertly paced and had the level design is superbly. The film-noir approach to the story worked very well too, and the characters were most humane in the series. It’s also, by far, the most tactical game in the series. The night-time levels were a fresh change of pace to the chaotic action of the series, focusing on exploration and atmosphere. It’s short, but sweet. I liked it, so bite me. 

     

    1. Halo: Combat Evolved:

    Well, this was expected. Even today, many fans consider CE to contain the best campaign. Why not? It had everything; inventive mission design, epic set-pieces, tight pacing, compelling storyline, great level design (The corridors aren’t as repetitive as people make them out to be), smart A.I., and a great ending. Sure, The Library was painful, but a lot of great games had one bad level. Play Half-Life's Xen and Ocarina of Time's Water Temple if you don't believe me. Every other mission was superbly designed, and brimmed with memorable moments. I will never forget storming an assault on the covenant infested beach on The Silent Cartographer. This was the game that started-off the series with a bang. Till this day, I consider it to have one of the best single-player experiences in the genre. 

      
    Now before any annoying Halo hater hijacks this thread, you can share your top 5 favorite single-player components in the series if you actually bothered yourself to read this.
     

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    flaminghobo

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    #2  Edited By flaminghobo

    This blog would've made a lot more sense if there were more than just six Halo games. 
     
    I can only comment on four of these five campaigns but I'd have to say that Halo: CE was definitely the best out of all of them.

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #3  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
    @FlamingHobo said:
    " This blog would've made a lot more sense if there were more than just six Halo games.  I can only comment on four of these five campaigns but I'd have to say that Halo: CE was definitely the best out of all of them. "
    I pretend Halo: Wars never ever existed.
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    Gargantuan

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    #4  Edited By Gargantuan

    1: Halo: CE
     2: Halo: Reach
    3: Halo 3  
    4: Halo: ODST
    5: Halo 2

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    ssj4raditz

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    #5  Edited By ssj4raditz

    You should've just included Halo Wars, too. Get 'em all in there!

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #6  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
    @ssj4raditz said:
    " You should've just included Halo Wars, too. Get 'em all in there! "
    Like I said before, I pretend that game never existed. I really hated it, not just because it was an over-simplified RTS, but it's Ensemble's last game. Those guys went out with a whimper.
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    nintendoeats

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    #7  Edited By nintendoeats

    Halo:CE has some of the worst level design I have ever seen. Its repetitive, its samey, its repetitive, it all looks the same, its repetitive, and the game essentially boils down to the same 3 seconds of gameplay repeated ad-infinitum. I haven't played Reach or ODST yet, but I'm guessing that my list would be exactly the opposite of yours.
     
    EDIT: Oh yes, those levels are confusing to navigate as well. Mostly because they are so repetitive, in both geometry and texture.
     
    REPETITIVE!!!

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    ShaneDev

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    #8  Edited By ShaneDev

    Odd title for this list. I always see people list Halo CE as the best campaign of all the Halo games but I dont see a single thing you listed there to prove that. The level design wasn't great and any level that was was repeated enough so it got tedious and those corridors are as repetitive as people say. The game had one good set piece which was the assault on the beach but Halo 3 had more, it had scarab battles and taking down big AA guns or destroying dropships in air battles. You mention smart AI but every Halo game has got intelligent enemies and Reach blows all of them out of the water in that regard. 
     
    ODST for me would be near the bottom I enjoyed the game but it was at its best in the night time segments where it had a good atmosphere, most of the day time missions where just kinda the same. 
     
    I really like all the games but Halo 3 is the one with most improvements and additions from its predecessors and it had probably the best campaign with a really good ending. I would place them like this Halo 3 == Reach > Halo CE == Halo 2 > ODST. I did not play Halo Wars but it looks OK.

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    EpicSteve

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    #9  Edited By EpicSteve
    @nintendoeats said:
    EDIT: Oh yes, those levels are confusing to navigate as well. Mostly because they are so repetitive, in both geometry and texture.  REPETITIVE!!! "
    Walk straight and shoot dudes. 
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    lemon360

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    #10  Edited By lemon360

    Halo CE for campaign, Halo 3 for Multiplayer.

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    owl_of_minerva

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    #11  Edited By owl_of_minerva

    Although I haven't played Reach, I would go (1) Halo 2 (2) Halo 3: ODST (3) Halo: CE (4) Halo 3.
     
    My reasoning for Halo 2 is what an unexpected move it was to play as the Arbiter, which opened up an interesting dimension of the Halo universe. The Arbiter is awesome and actually a fleshed-out character, which I appreciated. It's a bit like Raiden, I don't understand why people disliked playing as him when he was a cool character and added a different dimension to the story.  Also, dual-wielding (at least for me) was huge. I liked the different enemy types and weapons they added in, and the corridors felt less corridor-y. Didn't miss the openworld environment. The ending was a brutal cliffhanger but I really don't play Halo games for the narrative anyway. 
     
    Halo 3: ODST is number 2 because it had the best setting, the best narrative, cool film-noir aesthetic and phenomenal music, as well as combat that was much more strategic - the day/night difference. Different characters and stories came together in a compelling way. 
     
    Halo: CE is here because of the Library missions. And the awful-looking corridors that do an extremely poor job of suggesting where you're supposed to go and the bland-looking environments in general. And retrospectively no dual-wield.
     
    Halo 3 was incredibly bland and uninteresting as a setting, narrative, as well as having no significant mechanical tweaks. Except ripping turrets out of the ground I suppose. Edit: and some other stuff, but still didn't like it.

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    pweidman

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    #12  Edited By pweidman
    @owl_of_minerva: 

    'Halo 3 was incredibly bland and uninteresting as a setting, narrative, as well as having no significant mechanical tweaks. Except ripping turrets out of the ground I suppose.' 
     
    No offense, but this statement makes it seem like you don't know much about Halo and the series.  Halo 3 finishes the trilogy story wise, it intro'd equipment, and several new vehicles to fly/drive, as well as some new weapons, and the different varieties/classes of the Brute.  While not being open, the game was far less linear than the 'tubular' Halo 2, that was by far the worst campaign imo(although I have friends who really like the Arbiter biz as well). 
     
    Anyway to the topic: 
    1.) CE far and away!  Still holds up very well...play some legendary couch co-op and you'll see. 
    2.) Reach for me...first mature story told in the highest fidelity of any Halo game by far. 
    3.) Halo 3.  Long and varied campaign, intro'd 4 player online co-op, very fun legendary diff w/a friend. 
    4.) ODST.  Underrated for sure.  Very cool pacing changes and levels. 
    5.) Halo 2. Easily the worst for me.  Bungie mailed it in..they were all about focusing on getting the mp dialed and moreover, Xbox Live up and established...and they did, almost single handedly.
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    ssj4raditz

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    #13  Edited By ssj4raditz
    @GhostlyEnigma said:
    " @ssj4raditz said:
    " You should've just included Halo Wars, too. Get 'em all in there! "
    Like I said before, I pretend that game never existed. I really hated it, not just because it was an over-simplified RTS, but it's Ensemble's last game. Those guys went out with a whimper. "
    Understandable. Ensemble's departure was disappointing. I was hoping for a second Halo Wars game; they had some good ideas that they could've improved upon. Well, anyway, you're list is still pretty good, buddy!
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    owl_of_minerva

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    #14  Edited By owl_of_minerva
    @pweidman: You're quite right, ie. what you listed and my relative lack of expertise, especially as one's understanding of the mechanics would change with legendary coop play or multiplayer, neither of which I've bothered with much in the past. It's not a series I'm heavily invested in. But notice that what you're listing for Halo 3, besides the equipment feature, is new content rather than significantly new strategic options. I would argue that dual-wielding is a much more important addition to the series at the time than any of the additions that Halo 3 made (for d-wield multiplies your offensive options exponentially), certainly more so than equips which have quite specific uses.
    And I would also argue that 2's addition of the Arbiter and contextualisation of the Covenant and its motives is much more profound story-wise than anything in 3, even if the latter resolves the storyline and has more epic moments. I found the setting so bland in Halo 3 that I didn't care about the linearity, and I didn't find the story better except for the fact that it had a genuine ending. The return of the Arbiter was still my favourite part.  Basically the things I liked in Halo 3 were the things I already liked about Halo 2

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #15  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
    @EpicSteve said:
    " @nintendoeats said:
    EDIT: Oh yes, those levels are confusing to navigate as well. Mostly because they are so repetitive, in both geometry and texture.  REPETITIVE!!! "
    Walk straight and shoot dudes.  "
    What he said. 
     
    The level design isn't as repetitive as you exaggerate them to be. The corridors look similar, but the details and design differentiated with each other if you paid more attention. The grey color scheme worked to convey a mysterious and ominous tone to the Forerunner architecture. It's not really that easy to get lost, as there are obvious flash arrow that point you to the door to your next destination.   
     
    @ShaneDev said:
    " Odd title for this list. I always see people list Halo CE as the best campaign of all the Halo games but I dont see a single thing you listed there to prove that. The level design wasn't great and any level that was was repeated enough so it got tedious and those corridors are as repetitive as people say. The game had one good set piece which was the assault on the beach but Halo 3 had more, it had scarab battles and taking down big AA guns or destroying dropships in air battles. You mention smart AI but every Halo game has got intelligent enemies and Reach blows all of them out of the water in that regard.  ODST for me would be near the bottom I enjoyed the game but it was at its best in the night time segments where it had a good atmosphere, most of the day time missions where just kinda the same.  I really like all the games but Halo 3 is the one with most improvements and additions from its predecessors and it had probably the best campaign with a really good ending. I would place them like this Halo 3 == Reach > Halo CE == Halo 2 > ODST. I did not play Halo Wars but it looks OK. "

    As much as I enjoyed Halo 3, CE had more memorable moments for me. The Covenant attaching their boarding crafts in the Pillar of Autumn's escape pods, The Covenant ambushing every angle at the marines barricaded at the Forerunner tower, the Covenant coming from all four doors when you board the Truth and Reconciliation, being caught in a massive crossfire between The Covenant and the Flood, and escaping the Pillar of Autumn's self-destruct with a Warthog. Those are just a few examples. I don't know what you mean by the day-time levels in ODST are the same. They clearly had different mission objectives from the other, my favorite being the scenario where you had to detonate explosives on the bridge to prevent a Covenant assault.   
     
    Also, I never said Halo: CE was the only game in the series that had smart A.I. With the exception of Halo 2, the A.I. improved gradually in each series and Reach definitely had the best enemy A.I. in the series. But the friendly A.I. became dumber, and dumber as the series continued.
     
    You can like Halo 3 or even Halo 2 more than CE if you want. Different strokes, different folks and all. I'm just giving reasons why I preferred Halo: CE than the others, and I defended ODST a little bit. :/
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    mazik765

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    #16  Edited By mazik765
    @Gargantuan said:
    " 1: Halo: CE  2: Halo: Reach 3: Halo 3   4: Halo: ODST 5: Halo 2 "
    I vote for this order.
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    Siphillis

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    #17  Edited By Siphillis

    I take serious issue with Halo 3's campaign.  As you pointed out, it was significantly shorter than Halo and Halo 2's, featured an atrocious level ("Cortana"), fairly uninteresting/retreaded locales, retarded friendly-AI (worsened by psuedo-co op throughout) and an uninspired finale.  The story also lacked the complexity of Halo 2, with the omission of the Arbiter's separate campaign, and was downright incomprehensible in the final acts.  But most importantly, it killed off my favorite character in the whole series. 
     
    I hated it.

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #18  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
    @Siphillis said:
    " I take serious issue with Halo 3's campaign.  As you pointed out, it was significantly shorter than Halo and Halo 2's, featured an atrocious level ("Cortana"), fairly uninteresting/retreaded locales, retarded friendly-AI (worsened by psuedo-co op throughout) and an uninspired finale.  The story also lacked the complexity of Halo 2, with the omission of the Arbiter's separate campaign, and was downright incomprehensible in the final acts.  But most importantly, it killed off my favorite character in the whole series.  I hated it. "
    I have to disagree with your take on the final act. It found it to be a brilliant homage to the original. It may not have the same feeling of desperation, it has grander in scale. 
     
    The storytelling has always plagued the series. Halo 2 was needlessly convoluted, Halo 3's was overly simplistic, and Reach was just utterly bland. Bungie never seem to take the series rich lore and universe seriously. The series always shown potential for storytelling, but Bungie never seem to have take interest in. I can get away with CE. It's story wasn't deep in the slightest, but it's B-movie antics were intriguing and compelling to say the least. ODST's plot wasn't anything special, but the way it was told with very unique and well executed. The character were likable, but two-dimensional. But Hell, they breathed more life than the stock and forgettable rag-tag Noble team. 
     
    I pray 343 Industries higher better writers for their first debut in the series.
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    ArchScabby

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    #19  Edited By ArchScabby

    uhhh, isn't that all of them?

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    GhostlyEnigma

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    #20  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
    @ArchScabby said:
    " uhhh, isn't that all of them? "
    There's Halo: Wars, but that didn't count. 
     
    Because: 
    1. It's not a first-person shooter.
    2. It wasn't created by Bungie
    3. It was very, very bad.

    I basically gave a count from my favorite, to my least favorite single-player experience in the series. I may have to update this list when Halo 4 unfortunately arrives.
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    pplus0440

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    #21  Edited By pplus0440

    i agree that CE is 1. ODST is 2 (loved it) and 2 is last because single player was terrible and frank o'conner cant write for shit. literally a highschooler would have come up with the same lame ass story, and halo 3 was also hurt by the fact that it was tied into 2's story
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    ChaosZeus999

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    6. Halo 3: ODST

    ODST was a low point of the series. As fans, we have come to know and love a certain kind of Halo, one that follows the MasterChief and Cortana, and has a focus on the Halo rings, the flood outbreak, the war with the Covenant, and numerous other things. All this was stripped away from us with ODST, when we found ourselves as normal humans, who were given no character development, fighting the Covenant on the surface, with no space travel, big wide battles, or any of the other things we came to know and love in Halo games.

    5. Halo Reach

    Somewhat mirroring the above statement, Reach removed some of the classic Halo elements. We were presented with six individuals who quickly died, and did we care? Not really. They were bland and uninteresting characters not worthy of our time. Whilst the gameplay was fun, and we loved the opportunity to fight on Reach, this Halo game lacked the brilliant storytelling that others provided in bucket loads.

    4. Halo 4

    This game was great when it came out, though when all the fuss had died down, it allowed us to take a step back and really look at the game. There was something missing from it. Something that just can't be explained. Could it be the way the new captains acted? Could it be the lack of grunt speech? Whatever it was, the transition between Bungie and 343 was noticeable. The story in this game progressed nicely, but we just found ourselves hating everyone on the Infinity, due to a style of script writing that Halo isn't accustomed for. In the earlier games, there was complete understanding among the higher ups, allowing for efficient victories, and the way Lasky addresses the MasterChief, in that off hand manner, just makes us hate him even though we shouldn't. And, I can't believe these words are being said, I kind of missed the flood...

    3. Halo CE

    We are out of the deep end and are now getting in to the best of the best. The next three games are brilliant, though there are just small things setting them apart. The story of CE was brilliantly told, introducing this bold, new world that had never been seen before. There was the danger for over complication, but Bungie managed to avoid that through some top-line script writing. This game is in third merely because of those long missions that could have been cut down, namely running through exactly the same corridor time and time again in The Library and Attack on the Control Room.

    2. Halo 2

    Continuing the MasterChief's story is Halo 2. This game topped the story telling and gameplay from Halo CE, although everyone did miss the assault rifle. Halo 2 brought something new into the mix. The Arbiter. Most notably at the beginning of the campaign, when there were the cut scenes comparing the MasterChief's success to the Arbiter's failures, this new angle of approaching fighting was brilliant. Being in the Covenant, and experiencing the hierarchy's betrayal, added new feeling to the campaign. It would have been nice to end on a MasterChief mission though. Fans were surely expecting more when the Arbiter killed Tartarus, another short fight with the Cheif, maybe...

    1. Halo 3

    Halo 3 is quite a controversial choice, but this game, whilst being over-hyped pre-release, has been under-hyped post-release. This campaign saw some of the best missions of all time, notably the Ark and the Covenant, and moments like taking on the two Scarabs, and completing that Warthog obstacle course with that iconic music running at the end of the game, were able to make up for that mission (Cortana). This game brought out the best of Bungie, and saw the world that they had developed evolve even further. For that, I congratulate them.

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