Halo 3 (Xbox 360) review
"“It's what you all been waiting for ain't it” "
“It's what you all been waiting for ain't it”
It's the game fans have wanted ever since November 10th 2004. The sequel and conclusion to one of the premier and flagship gaming franchises, Halo 3. A large reason fans have wanted the game is how Halo 2 left off with the famous “Sir, I’m finishing this fight” line and no definitive answers. Halo 3 wraps up the story arch beautifully and leaves very few unanswered questions. The game looks gorgeous, has one of the finest multiplayer components around, and features one of the most outstanding soundtracks to ever grace a videogame. It encompasses you and wins you over with sheer size, scope, and attention to detail. Bungie aims for the stars and rests nicely amongst them.
“Everything I'm not made me everything I am”
Halo 3 corrects the mistakes of Halo 2, and makes it the Master Cheif’s game again, no side story required. It starts off a little while after Halo 2 ended (to bridge the gap read the Halo: Uprising comics) with the Chief being picked up by Sergeant A.J. Johnson. The covenant have taken over earth and are excavating an object in Africa, and within moments of starting your taking off through a luscious jungle in search of a UNSC base to regroup and end this fight. As the plot progresses you gain incite into the forerunners, the goals of the Covenant, the architecture of the Flood, and what the ending of Halo 2 meant. The story has a few genuinely surprising twists, and is more emotional then previous installments. Using longer and more effective cut-scenes Halo 3 clears up confusion from Halo 2 and lingering questions from Halo 1. Of course, it helps the story out when the characters look life-like during cut-scenes. Their are times where you swear its someone in a suit standing there not a computer generated character. The story is cohesive and wraps up the story arch wonderfully.
“This is just basic”
At it's core Halo 3 is a first-person shooter, where you take control of the faceless cyborg Master Chief. You'll constantly be making your way through vast levels, using a variety of guns and defeating a huge array of foes. You'll use a ton of different weapons and with the exception of turrets and driving vehicles, (where it shifts to third person) you play entirely through the Master Chiefs visor. Your HUD is simple as you see a health bar, what two weapons your carrying, and a radar showing where your enemies are. Whether your fighting people online or the covenant and flood in single-player, you see the same HUD. This has been the core of every Halo game and most shooter games, but it’s what Halo better and in addition to that make it such an awesome experience.
“That don't kill me, can only make stronger”
The first thing Halo veterans will notice is that the flaws from Halo 2 the weapon balance, frame-rate problems, and starting weapon are fixed. In addition, the game expands its weapon count by allowing you to carry around turrets, two new grenade types, and more brute weapons (including the wicked Gravity Hammer). A lot of the weapons have received a gameplay and graphical make over. The needler has gone from useless to one of the strongest guns in the game and the pistol shoots slower and stronger allowing it to be useful in a pinch but not a main gun. Almost all of the weapons have a punch and purpose to them ensuring that everyone has a fighting chance, making for excitement as any person can be the victor.
“And after all of that you receive this”
Probably the largest thing differentiating Halo 3 from other shooters is the addition of equipment, which drastically alters battle outcomes. In both campaign and multiplayer you'll have access to a variety of items you can use to change the circumstances of any battle. Whether you drop a bubble shield to avoid that rocket, throw a shield regenerator down right as your about to face a deathly spike, or toss the gravity lift and launch right up stealing the rocket launcher before anyone else has a chance to get it, it’s becomes apparent that equipment adds a unique strategy to the game, despite a moderate learning curve.
“To whom much is given, must is tested”
One of the strengths of Halo has always been its A.I. and Halo 3 is no exception. Your foes are intelligent, ruthless, and voracious. When in danger brutes will not hesitate to cascade a bubble shield over themselves. They frequently yell out commands to each other and will flank you from both sides if your hiding. Even the grunts seem smarter, by using cover and jumping out of the way. They won’t even flinch when they stick two grenades to themselves and attempt suicide run at the demon. The A.I. is stunningly sharp on the legendary setting, where they will dodge grenades and shots without a wince before firing back mercilessly. Every battle feels like a challenge as you know the A.I. is more then up to the challenge of killing you.
“But I am going to be the bigger man”
One of the things that pushes Halo's single-player over the top is the amazing level design. With the exception of the brutal level “Cortana” every level is rich in design and wide open allowing you to try different tactics. Will you stay back and shoot from afar or move through cover and risk a head to head confrontation? The levels beautifully range from lush jungles, to the barren dessert, to mechanical corridors, and snowy mountains. These outdoor environments are where the graphics truly shine, as sunlight clamors through breaks in the the trees and reflects off enemies and allies, you don't even realize just how much the game is doing. Unlike Halo 1 and 2 every level is different, which eliminates dullness or repetitiveness. When the single-player concludes, after about 6-10 hours, you can't help but smile. It's a fitting send off for one of gaming’s finest heroes. Yet, there is always something to come back for with four difficulties and meta-game scoring, Master Chiefs story will live on. Whether this is truly the end of the story arch is arguable, but needless to say it concludes wonderfully and is deeply satisfying.
“I Did it all for the glory”
Of course, for some the main excitement and draw of any halo game is its online play, and Halo 3 delivers an excellent, crazy, and often hilarious multiplayer component. With a ton of choices like four player online co-op, forge, deathmatch (slayer), capture the flag, and numerous other game-types, Halo 3's multiplayer is sure to be around for a long time. The online co-op works smoothly and it’s hilarious playing through legendary with friends, as people yell out crazy things and try strange tactics to see what happens (like standing on top of a scarab as its about to blow up). However, where you earn your stripes and rankings is the matchmaking. Where you can play by yourself or with a maximum of 12 friends. As you win online matches, two ranks go up, the first is an army rank based on on experience points. You gain these experience points by winning matches in social (unranked) and ranked matches. The other rank is a level system where wins raise your level in ranked matches. This is a terrific system that rewards excellent players and people who play a lot of Halo 3.
“Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud”
The final features and touches that make Halo 3 multi-player outstanding are the saved films feature, custom games, and the forge. Custom games allow up to 16 people to play whatever game-type they feel like, and with the right set of people is an enormous amount of fun. Especially with insane game-types like Rocket Race, Territories and Zombies. And when your done you can re-watch your battles using the saved films feature. The only problem with saved films is that you can't fast forward or rewind easily, which can get annoying as you try to narrow down a specific moment. However, it allows for snapshots and clips that can be uploaded for the world to see. Lastly, but not least is the forge, a map editor that allows you to alter spawn points, weapon placements, vehicles, and everything appearing in a map. It doesn't sound interesting, but with a little effort it can create a crazy new game-type that can be loads of fun. Up to 8 people can do it at once, and there is something instinctively satisfying about dropping a tank on someone’s head. The forge is a great tool that with bungie.net's support is sure to become a fan favorite.
“Have you ever walked in the shadow of a giant”
With Halo 3 the bar was set ludicrously high due to the success of Halo 2 and Halo: Combat Evolved. Thankfully, Halo 3 is better then the previous two games, more refined, complete, and outshines them in every aspect. It doesn't re-invent the wheel, but it refines it to a perfect circle. The game is put together so perfectly, between the epic Martin O'Donnell score, the beautiful graphics, the forge, the multiplayer, and the campaign. Halo 3 is easily one of the best games of the year, and a standout for videogames in general. It succeeds expectations and delivers one of the most fun gaming experiences available on the market. It's a must own title for anyone with an Xbox 360.
“If you admire somebody go ahead and tell'em, people never get the flowers while they can still smell them”
Reviewers notes: I'd like to take this time to thank Bungie for delivering the best trilogy in gaming over the last 7 years and delivering on all their promises. Best of luck in whatever project you aim to do next, rest assured, I'll be in line buying my copy day one. Additionally, the subtitles are all lyrics from Kanye West's Graduation CD. Credit to him.
Community review by ghostyghost (October 07, 2007)
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