Though this is a site primarily concerned with co-op, we have to mention Halo's non-co-op multiplayer components. As a launch title for the Xbox, Halo didn't support online play (there was no Xbox Live yet). But it did support system link, and the limit for players was a whopping sixteen! This was a revolution as far as consoles were concerned. Sure, it was a hassle to get all those TVs and Xboxes hooked up, but certainly it was far easier and probably cheaper than a PC LAN party. Gaming stores everywhere had Xbox systems linked up and ready to go for patrons to come in and play some Halo. Even in the small rural town of about 10,000 that I live in, there was just such a place, where you could rent some time and frag your friends. Halo: Combat Evolved was quite simply the gold standard for console multiplayer.
Of primary interest to Co-Optimus readers, of course, was Halo's support of co-op play. Two partners could team up and play through the entire campaign together, requiring only one copy of the game. Being able to play with a friend makes any experience both easier, and more enjoyable. When the experience is as fine as that of Halo, co-op just cannot be beat. Halo: Combat Evolved is an important game in co-op history. If the game had not included co-op, we might not have seen the recent resurgence of co-op in video games today. Later games in the series continue to support co-op.
The legacy of Halo: Combat Evolved is far reaching. Halo 2 was arguably better than the original, adding in online multiplayer over Xbox Live. On the current gen Xbox 360, Halo 3 and Halo 3 ODST are both available, and maintain the high standard of gameplay of previous titles. Halo Wars, an RTS offshoot, took the franchise in a new direction but still maintained the same quality we've come to expect from the series. User content features in Halo were also instrumental in the rise to prominence of machinima, most notably the series Red vs. Blue.
If you looked back at the past decade in gaming, it would be difficult to find a more important game than Halo: Combat Evolved. It was instrumental in the success of the Xbox, leading to further success with the Xbox 360. All modern FPS games are inevitably compared to the Halo series. A live action Halo movie has long been rumored, and soon, an animated film will join countless other Halo tie-ins in books and comics. Just over the horizon lies Halo: Reach, set before the events of the first game. The Halo franchise has become a true juggernaut. By anyone's definition, then, Halo: Combat Evolved is a true classic.