Cortana is a fictional artificially intelligent (AI) character in Bungie Studios' Halo series of video games. Voiced by Jen Taylor, she appears in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2 and Halo 3, as well the novels Halo: The Flood, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who assumes the role of the Master Chief. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.
Bungie first introduced Cortana—and Halo—through the Cortana Letters, cryptic emails sent during Combat Evolved's production in 1999. Since then, the character has been used extensively to advertise the series. Action figures of the character were sold in conjunction with the latter two games, and she appeared in other forms of marketing for Halo 3. Cortana has been recognized for her sex appeal, believability, and character depth; she was rated as one of the ten most disturbingly sexual game characters by Games.net and one of the fifty greatest female video game characters ever by Tom's Games. (more...)