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Games of the Decade: 2002

Two new consoles and the arrival of an FPS chief

2002 meant severe wallet pain for any serious gamer. GameCube - which was the sequel to the Nintendo-golden-era Nintendo 64 - finally arrived, along with newcomer Microsoft's laughable breeze block that we eventually grew to adore, Xbox. That was 430 quid BEFORE you even spoke of games.

How would you afford it all? How would Nintendo and MS do against the already dominant PS2? Were these consoles 128-bit or what? And how the bloody hell would anyone other than Frank Bruno wrap their hands around that Xbox controller?

The Contenders
Final Fantasy X
Super Mario Sunshine
Metal Gear Solid 2
Halo
GTA: Vice City

The Runners-Up
We could get into fights in the street over this. 2002 was clearly a blinding year for all three of the console platforms when it comes to AAA titles - and we're sad we had to leave out games like Advance Wars, Pikmin and Splinter Cell.

Final Fantasy X was - and still is - one of the best-looking games on PS2, with some of the most incredible video sequences that still stand up today. Vice City has, to this day, got itself a cult following that stand by it being the best game in the GTA series. Metal Gear Solid 2 was possibly the most hyped game in history and delivered one of the most next-gen experiences we can remember from the sixth console generation. And even though some dispute Super Mario Sunshine's hovering mechanic and blobby people, is was trying to live up to being the sequel to the Best Game Ever, and did pretty well.

But there's one game in that list that's practically redefined a genre...

The Winner: Halo

Zoom

Of our five contenders, four were sequels. Each one delivered updates of their tried and tested formulas to a supreme level. All of them were must-buys.

But Halo was the start of something new and beautiful. The arrival of Microsoft's flagship shooting series brought with it some of the most intelligent and absorbing FPS action we'd ever seen. It was the game that would go on to spawn epic sequels that dominated online gaming servers with no trace of competition.

Microsoft aimed to make the Xbox noticeably more advanced that its rivals. Halo truly showcased this power. Ironically, it starts off all a little grey as Master Chief is awoken from cryosleep and battles to escape the dull-looking Pillar of Autumn ship, under siege from the Covenant.

But from the moment you start the second level - crash-landing on the Halo - you know you're playing something truly special. You wander out into a gorgeously detailed, wide open environment, infested with an alien enemy that behaves with an intelligence and charisma that seems almost real.

It was the first time we witnessed the beauty of true 5.1 surround sound as we hear the escape pods of fellow marines swoosh past overhead, and we're able to spot them because of the directional sound. Stepping out into an open field to see the covenant battling the Flood was one of the first times we felt like we were in a real-time battlefield.

If you were lucky enough (i.e. rich enough) to hook up multiple Xbox consoles you were given an early glimpse of what would become one of the most significant online multiplayer games of all time.

We adore the Halo series and this is where it all started.

Your Shout
Okay we've told your ours, now you tell us yours! Your top five, overall winner and most importantly, why, in the comments field below please.

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