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Halo is a military science fiction first-person shooter media franchise centered on a series of video games managed and developed by 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Xbox Game Studios.
Halo was originally developed by Bungie Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. The Covenant, led by their religious leaders called the Prophets, worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished while defeating the parasitic Flood.
The central focus of the franchise builds off the experiences of Master Chief John-117, one of a group of supersoldiers codenamed Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana. Other characters, such as Noble Six from Halo: Reach, are also introduced in the series.
The term "Halo" refers to the Halo Array: a group of immense, habitable, ring-shaped superweapons that were created by the Forerunners to destroy the Flood, but which the Covenant mistake for religious artifacts that, if activated, would transport them on a Great Journey to meet the Forerunners. They are similar to the Orbitals in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, and to a lesser degree to author Larry Niven's Ringworld concept.
The games of the main Halo trilogy were developed by Bungie, and are first-person shooters in which the player experiences most action from the protagonist's perspective. The first title in the series is Halo: Combat Evolved on Xbox, released on November 15, 2001. The game was initially intended to be released for Windows and Mac OS until Microsoft's purchase of Bungie in 2000 led to the game becoming an Xbox launch title and delaying any release for personal computers for 2 years. Halo: Combat Evolved introduced many gameplay and plot themes common to the whole trilogy. Players battle various aliens on foot and in vehicles to complete objectives while attempting to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo. One concept introduced in Halo: Combat Evolved, is limiting the number of weapons players could carry to two, forcing them to carefully select their preferred armament. Players fight with ranged and melee attacks, as well as a limited number of grenades. Bungie refers to the "weapons-grenades-melee" format as the "Golden Triangle of Halo", which has remained fundamentally unchanged throughout the trilogy.
Following Bungie's split from Microsoft, 343 Industries – a studio established by Microsoft in 2009 – took the helm of the Halo franchise. 343 had already co-developed the Halo Legends animated series and had overseen the production of Halo: Reach and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. The next game in the series, Halo 4, was announced at E3 2011 as the first entry in what would be a new series of Halo games, also known as the "Reclaimer Trilogy". The game included many staples of previous games, such as new or redesigned weapon types, an improved map-editing tool, and expanded multiplayer options and maps. Halo 4 was released worldwide on November 6, 2012, achieving record sales for the franchise. In a new addition to the series, a story-driven multiplayer campaign entitled Spartan Ops was released over the weeks following Halo 4's release, telling what happened after the end of the main game.
The success of the main Halo trilogy spurred the creation of spin-off games. Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game developed by Ensemble Studios for the Xbox 360. Set in the year 2531, the game takes place 21 years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Much effort was spent on developing a control scheme that was simple and intuitive, unlike other console strategy games. The game was announced at X06 and released in February and March 2009.
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