The fact that I’m putting the almight Halo 3 in fourth is not an indictment of the game, but an indication of how good this year has been for games.
Halo 3 will almost certainly be the biggest-selling game of the year by some margin; it does things with its online community that Little Big Planet has been promising for over a year; there is enough multiplayer content to play for months without touching on every permutation. I loved how it brought the story to a close, providing closure and an emotional bookend to the story. And, with the exception of a certain level which was fucking godawful, the campaign managed the great feat of even making the Flood a bearable enemy to fight.
Multiplayer was fantastic and, until another game (wait a couple of days) came and stole its thunder, was certainly the best of the year. Halo still has that je ne sais quoi in its multiplayer suite – a wonderful balance between its weapons and maps that isn’t upset by the addition of the potentially game-breaking deployable equipment – and has ironed out the flaws of Halo 2. I think it’s certainly got the best multiplayer of the three, and I’ve barely touched on the file share, saved films, screenshots, co-op, etc. As almost every FPS since Halo has had a two-weapon limit and Halo 2 brought recharging health to the masses, expect to see those features a lot over the next year.
While I undoubtedly expect Halo 4 before too long, with any luck the separation of Bungie and Microsoft will let them try something new. I can’t wait to see what they can do now, with the budgets they command and the polish that they’ve applied to Halo 3. Just don’t make it another Oni.