Year released: 2001

Halo: Combat Evolved has the distinct honor to rank alongside Super Mario 64, Soul Calibur, and Super Mario World as possibly the greatest launch title of all time. It legitimized the upstart Microsoft in the console race, an unexpected development considering it was a release from a relatively untested developer best known for Apple Macintosh games. Borrowing liberally from sci-fi writers such as Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven, Halo is one of gaming’s great space opera, and the original remains surprisingly humorous, lacking the po-facedness of the most recent entries.