|Developer: Bungie||Publisher: Microsoft|
|Release Date: September 25, 2007||Also On: None|
Quite possibly the most highly anticipated video game of all time, a little game known as Halo 3 has finally been released. Microsoft's financial giant is looking to pick up some momentum for the Xbox 360 that Gears of War started last year. Halo has already sold nearly 12 million units worldwide, and Halo 3 should likely increase the sales well over 20 million when all is said and done. The franchise has been pushed hard by Bungie and Microsoft to be the biggest launch of all time, appealing to the fans who supported Bungie in its ultimate goal of world domination. There were a lot of doubts that they could deliver on all the promises they made, but the incredible team at Bungie does bring us an incredible game of epic proportions.
When we last left the Halo universe, Earth was in bad shape and overrun by a Covenant armada. Delta Halo was kept from going off, but now has all the other rings on standby for activation at the Arc. Following the Prophet of Truth back to Earth, Master Chief, the human race, and the Covenant Elite hierarchy are out to stop him and all of his followers from setting off the rings and bringing doom to life across the galaxy. From there, you will play through nine levels in the campaign; however the story of the Arbiter has been completely abandoned. You will instead play only as the Master Chief, just like in the original. The Arbiter will be by your side through most of the game, but only as your wing man. He is not nearly as important as Master Chief though.
While Halo 3 is nowhere near as good looking as Gears of War, it still is a masterpiece in its own right. With the addition of the replay editor (which I will explain later) everything needs to be rendered for optimal playback. While the frame rate holds well through 95% of the game, you do have the occasional loading hiccups that you always get in Halo. Besides that, everything is rendered very well and has that extra layer of polish people expect from a next generation title, especially in HD.
Character models are very well animated. Where the models really shine are in the Brute hierarchy. You are really able to decipher the different ranks from the distinctions in their armor. It is much easier to pick out than the Elite's armor was in Halo 2. The cutscenes are nearly flawless and really help to build on to the story. Even more detail has been added to the explosions this time around and are worth taking a second look at in replays to appreciate all the fine detail. The addition of fire effects allow things in the environment, as well as characters to light ablaze.
A big problem in both Halo 1 and 2 was that there was a lot of back tracking and repeated environments that players got confused and lost in. You would play in a lot of environments that are similar and it just seemed to feel like you were playing the same levels multiple times. Halo 3, however, changes environments a lot from a jungle, to close quarters, caves, and open snowy areas. The levels also feel larger and more open, much like the original Halo was, yet you still can not even begin to compare the two games. A huge hole in Halo 3's campaign is the second to last level which is horrible and a waste of a level. So much more could have gone into that level which would have made it more enjoyable, but it will only be an annoying chore when all is said and done. Having one bad level is not acceptable, but it really won't affect too many fans after they play the final level.
What players will rave about is the Co-Op mode which allows up to four players to play cooperatively through the campaign at the same time. To add to the fun, you can turn on a scoring system that can either be set to total scoring or individual scoring to see who can get the most points. The higher you set the difficulty, the more points you get for certain things. For instance, a multiplier of 4 is awarded for playing the game on Legendary. You can also set to turn on the skulls in the campaign, which will add even more to the score if you find them and make things more difficult. However, after playing Co-Op once on Legendary with four people, you will see it needs to be harder.
If there is any game out there that should be played in full surround sound, Halo 3 is that game. With the phenomenal score done by Mary O'Donnell and his crew, they really get you deep into the game. It could be quiet one minute, then you hear Halo's pounding theme and you can't help but feel the adrenaline pulsing through your veins. The sound effects will blow you away as the gunfire has improved ten fold and the explosions sound incredible. The ambiance constantly reminds you there is a war going on in your living room.
There have been a lot of new additions to Halo 3 that fans are sure to go crazy for. There are a few vehicles such as the Hornet (human Banshee), Mongoose (the ATV we will all love), and the Brute Chopper (one bad ass motorcycle). Out of these, you will really enjoy the Mongoose the most with its speed, although it is extremely hard to run someone over and kill them. Having a buddy jump on the back and shoot is fun and you will drive players nuts with it.
There are a bunch of new weapons that will make you grin. The spikers and mauler are brute weapons that are pretty deadly when you dual wield them. We have a flame thrower that is really a blast to use (no pun intended), but is only good at close range. The assault rifle returns and has been improved and given a smaller clip. It is kind of a mid-ranged weapon now that can almost match the Battle Rifle in combat. The Spartan Laser is like the rocket launcher, but obliterates everything in its path. Shoot a vehicle and watch them all go flying. Most importantly, you have the Gravity Hammer which will blast everything across the map every time you make contact. You can use it to do such things as blast a Warthog or redirect a rocket blast into the atmosphere. On top of this, the energy sword has been changed so that if both players swing at the same time, their swords will clash and it will almost become a duel. Both the Hammer and Sword also have health, keeping players from completely whoring them throughout a game.
The award winning multi-player is back and better than ever. Taking in all the new features, the multi-player becomes more of a strategy match than ever before. You will be playing on 11 maps that are all fairly good. Only one previous map returns and that is Zanzibar. Other than that, you will be playing on all brand new maps. Matchmaking is virtually unchanged, only now there is a universal ranking system that is based off of game experience. You can even rank this up in social matches. Most of the multiplayer achievements are self explanatory, but many of them are extremely sensitive. Most are only in Free For All, and even when you achieve them you will not get the achievement. There is one for 10 head shots in a game that I have done with at least 10 times already without receiving the achievement. Kyle also told me to note that despite beating the game on both Heroic and Legendary, he never got an achievement when beating the sixth level of the game. My friend also has had this problem with the triple kill achievement, although I got that on my first try.
Adding to the greatness of the multiplayer, the Forge is a sweet level editor that allows you to change things in the maps of Halo 3. You can do things such as delete and move spawn points, change weapons and their placement, or even drop in objects to alter the environment. Creating maps for your own game types is not only fun, but encouraged. You can then take these things and upload them to share with other gamers online. You can even have other players running around in the Forge tampering with the contents. Something fun to do is get two teams and have one guy edit the map for your team to supply the others with all they need. The Forge just adds months of tampering onto an already insane multi-player.
After playing all this Halo and pulling off crazy shots that nobody believes you did, well, now you have proof to back it up with Halo 3's replay editor, known as Theater. Each time you play a game, Halo will save the session in a small video file that you can go through and view. From here, you can cut out a clip, move away from your character to others, or just move the camera freely through the level to get an angle on the battle. Changing from player to player will help you to learn new strategies in the game by seeing just how your opponents took you down and won the match. Using the free camera will allow you to pose for some awesome shots that you can save as screenshots and download them to Bungie.net for use on the site, or on your own computer. You can then take screenshots or video clips and upload them to your server space, which allows you to share 6 files with the community. This can also be upgraded to 24 slots if you are willing to spend 750 gamer points. It's just a blast to watch replays over and over. Losing hours editing is not unexpected.
In the end, Halo 3 will take you about 10 hours to beat the campaign by yourself, and only about 5-6 if you play through Co-Op, even on legendary. While the story is not nearly as epic as the original Halo, you still feel satisfied that you finally finished the fight. Once you complete the campaign, it would be good to watch through the credits to be shown a special treat afterwards. Also, to my understanding, the special treat is even better if you beat the game on Legendary. The multi-player will absorb most of your life as it normally does, and you will be tampering with the Forge and Theater all the time. This really was a game designed for the community and Bungie is showing it by thanking the fans with these modes and a special thank you message at the beginning of the credits to thank everyone for aiding in their ultimate goal of world domination (yes, it seems EA has a competitor finally). With how many units they have sold, Halo 3 will only aid them even more in their goal. If you own a Xbox 360, go buy Halo 3. Even if you don't have a 360, go buy one and then buy Halo 3. It really is worth the price of admission.
|Replay Value/Game Length:||10|
|Written by Shawn||Review Guide|