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Halo Combat Evolved
Without mentioning other games that have entered the market (such as Gears of War which I hear is also great) Halo has been around for years, and it is a staple of college campuses, dorms, bedrooms, basements, family consoles and gaming cafes. It’s a favorite of many a console player (think Microsoft's Xbox) as well as PC and MAC players, and for good reason. It is an exceptionally well-made, fun and great game. If you haven't tried playing Halo yet, maybe you should try it.
Most of the fun stems from the fact that the multiplayer online matches unfold in ways that you can never predict, and you always get actual human beings at the other end of the controls, and that is almost always entertaining. Start with single player, then later try online matches or even a LAN party with your friends. The science fiction back story of the Covenant and sprawling maps combined with stunning graphics make for a jaw-dropping immersive video game experience in the single player mission mode also. But this is just part of it—you add to this a variety of fully-equipped vehicles, jeeps with guns and the fun really starts happening, and I’m not even mentioning the freaky menace of aliens that you encounter along the way. I have logged hours and hours on this game—probably in the hundreds of hours, and it’s as fun as any game out there, and with the added benefit that you’re not stuck playing the against the computer and it’s AI. It’s no wonder the Halo multiplayer demo is still popular online even after all these years.
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Call of Duty is another classic award-winning game series, and also with good reason. It’s a different brand, a great brand, and you’ll quickly see why it has also won awards. People have called it “intense,” and you get well-rendered weapons, sounds, language and uniforms, and authentic maps based on actual epic WWII battles. I know it’s cliché — WWII had been done to death by film and novel before video games became popular in the 80's, but this game also delivers action and a very solid game experience that flows from battle to battle. Not as slick and smooth as Halo, but that’s not what you’d expect it to be. It probably should be a little clunky being WWII, and the 1940’s: there aren’t any plasma guns in this one and there don’t need to be.
Battlefield 1942 is also worth a mention in the WWII FPS genre. You get the added benefit of vehicles with this one also, with the wonderful addition of flying planes, which is so much fun it defies description. Think spectacular Pacific theatre dogfights in authentic-looking and sounding WW2 fighter planes. They ended up making this demo unavailable online as multiplayer as many cash-hungry students ended up not buying the full game because the demo was so fun by itself. In fact many took it upon themselves to create their own mods of the demo, changing the planes, scenery and buildings for just the fun of it. *note: some of these demos/links may no longer be available
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The last one worth mentioning is the Tom Clancy Ghost Recon series—people have also modded this one often—but this has a grittier more raw realistic flavor of FPS shooter than the WW2 games mentioned above. With all its intense moments of suspense and thrills, it has all the great elements of stealthy special ops missions, and you’ll find yourself bonding with your online mates from all over the world. You get to hear the enemy grumble in Russian as you sneak up to their hideout and lob grenades in their window. The realism is stunning right down to the sounds of bullets ricocheting off of stone walls. I have also logged hours upon hours on this one during my college days (when I probably should have been working on a research paper or something).
Try Ghost Recon the demo. I've played this one more than all the others. It's realistic, intense, and the multiplayer is awesome too.
A commenter noted that no one plays these games anymore, but if you search you can still find someone to play with. There are usually more than a few loyal players of any given game even if it has been around a few years. The Internet is so big that you might even find yourself playing COD, Ghost Recon, Halo or Battlefield 1942 with guy or gals in Finland, Germany, Australia or even New Zealand. So expand your horizons. Try playing a game with a small but devoted cult following, and you might see why they're still playing it!