VOTE NOW: The Laser Orgy 500 - the Phoenix's quest to crown the greatest video game of all time.
I often use Counter-Strike as the game to which I compare all other first-person shooters, mostly due to its old-school minimalist style. The game originated as a mod of Half-Life, took off unexpectedly, and remains an oldie-but-goodie for PC gamers. Its simplistic yet realistic gameplay helped it to become one of Jack Thompson's favorite examples of an inexcusably violent "murder simulator."
Counter-Strike's short, hectic rounds capture all the urgency and delight of a childhood game of Capture the Flag ... except it's a bomb, not a flag, and there's death instead of playful tackling. The game remains one of my favorite emergency stress relievers -- not because I like shooting people in the head (okay, okay, I do -- only virtual people, though!), but because it's repetitive enough to be ... relaxing. Annnnd this paragraph ends before I start sounding like a crazy person.
If Counter-Strike is the leader of the PC shooters, Halo would be the quintessential console shooter, as well as the game that put the XBox on the map. Halo's sci-fi setting is, stylistically, worlds away from Counter-Strike. Most of the guns don't look anything like guns you could find in a real store, unlike CS's alarmingly realistic firearms. Your enemies in Halo are aliens, not terrorists. The graphics are garishly colorful, almost childish in comparison to the sand and grit of Counter-Strike.
Shooters have come a long way since these games came out in the late nineties and early aughts. But these two titles paved the way for greats like BioShock, Gears of War, Far Cry 2, and Borderlands -- and they still make for nostalgic LAN party romps.
Go ahead and pick between them -- I can't decide. Many more difficult decisions await your judgement in the Laser Orgy 500!
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