Name: Halo 3
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Halo is one of, if not the biggest game series to ever be released. As much as many gamers would hate to admit it Halo is a massive phenomena. No other game has fans flocking to stores in such numbers as the excursions of Petty Officer Master Chief.
To be honest I was never a huge fan of the originals. It stems from my roots as a PC gamer and early distaste for the Xbox. I just got tired of hearing people who have never played Counter Strike or Half-Life call Halo the best shooter ever.
That said, part of me wanted Halo 3 to be disappointing. I don’t want to admit I was wrong after all I have said. I don’t want to admit that these games are good. Well, after long play sessions with Halo 3 I can say I was pleasantly surprised at the polish and quality of what is sure to be the best seller of 2007.
The single player campaign is just what everyone expected. It isn’t as fun as the first Halo and blows away the second one in both level design and story. Plot wise it moves to tie up all loose ends that the second one left and to be a nice bookend to the trilogy. Then again, it isn’t hard to have a better plot then Halo 2; compared to the ending of Halo 2 this game is freaking Shakespeare.
Every aspect of the single player campaign is enhanced by Bungie’s decision to add 4-player co-op. Four friends (or strangers) can join together on Xbox Live and play through every level of the game. To many, including myself, this is the main selling point of Halo. On Legendary (the hardest setting) the game is much easier with three friends - it is also much more fun. There is little lag and no slowdowns even in the most chaotic battles online. However, this performance came at a price.
Graphics are the fickle mistress of the gaming world. On the one hand, games with fantastic graphics immerse players into the experience and make the game more appealing. On the other hand, this involves much more time spent developing and often result in performance issues. When it comes to sequels it means a complete revamp of the game engine that can end up being amazing (Half-Life) or terrible (Perfect Dark). Bungie didn’t take the chance of screwing up the formula that sold millions of copies of Halo and Halo 2.
It is a sacrifice to make- graphics for performance- and no one is happy with either choice. The game isn’t ugly by any means but it also doesn’t look like much more then a supercharged Halo 2. The environments are very nice looking and the particle effects are upgraded significantly. Explosions are cool looking and grass waves as you pass by it – subtle things that leave you yearning for more. There aren’t going to be any really “next-gen” effects but for the most part the game looks nice. The character models are also shy of impressive but they get the job done. Most of this fades away as the game cruises by at 60fps without any glitches or slow downs.
The multiplayer should prove as an orgy of joy for Halo fateful. As Halo 2 before it, Halo 3 brings 16 players online to wage war in a plethora of game types over Xbox Live. Classics like “Capture the Flag” and “Slayer” remain and additions such as “Infection” bring more to the table.
A bunch of weapons were also added and some problems from the previous title were fixed and balanced for an overall better experience. A handgun/shotgun hybrid (which shall henceforth be called the “Shangun”) and the ever dominating “Gravity Hammer” lead to more options in multiplayer and singleplayer.
The new vehicles also spice up the mix. From the goliath “Elephant,” a moving base with turrets that just begs to be torn apart by Spartan Laser fire, to the “Mongoose” which can seat one comfortably and two sexily. The game is jam packed with new features that cannot be enjoyed in the single player campaign alone.
A new tool, “Forge,” was also added into Halo 3. Forge is a tool that lets players modify every aspect of a multiplayer level that isn’t part of the physical geometry of the map. Spawn points, weapon drops, crates and flag locations, and anything else that isn’t nailed to the ground can be modified in the Forge editor. Not only that, but the option to use Forge in real time in an online match is also available. Players can fight while having a team captain spawn items and vehicles in real time for them which adds depth that can’t even be predicted to the experience.
Theatre mode is an unexpected hit in the game as well. Somehow Bungie was able to give the option to save, replay, and edit replay footage from everything in the game. It automatically saves the last few matches or levels and allows players to go in and watch them. The camera isn’t tied to the characters view, either, a free roaming camera is available which can answer questions like “Who the hell killed me?!” or “How did that missile hit him?” in seconds. This is not a game selling feature, but another aspect of Halo 3 that adds to the overall experience and goal of the game: to be timeless.
Bungie did not set out to make the best game of all time. They set out to make the best Halo experience they could possibly make and they were successful. While the graphics leave much to be desired and bow down in the glory of many of the others on the Xbox360 the multiplayer experience and the inclusion of four player online co-op make this a must buy. Anyone who says it “sucks” is just lying to themselves. Halo 3 has its share of faults, agreed, it could be so much better, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. It is the best Halo experience to date overall and is worth a purchase in every way.