Review by Mechsaurian
"A moving series-ender with a few flaws."
Halo 3 is the most anticipated game of our generation... it is to us what "Star Wars" was for our parents. It had a lot of expectations to live up to. It was hyped. A lot. I waited an extra day for my preordered copy, solely because I feared going to Best Buy could be potentially dangerous. When a game is looked forward to on this strong a level, its guaranteed to have two very large groups of vocal fans: those who waited and waited, and loved ever morsel of the game, and those who, well, considered it a letdown. A victim of overhype. Whether or not Halo 3 is one of these is open to interpretation, but I'll do my best to deliver a fair review. This review was based on two things: my Xbox Live playing of the Beta, and my 8.5 hour Heroic first-playthrough I just finished. Let's get right to the meat of it.
I won't beat around the bush. When I fired up Halo 3 and started playing 9 hours ago, I was in awe. Don't let people say they are "bad compared to Gears of War" or "not up to potential" or whatever. This game looks frickin' astonishing. It maintains the art style of Halo 2 but makes everything more believable, more animated, and more diverse. The environments in particular made me want to cry; the foliage, sand, grass - everything was perfect. Later in the game, some of the architecture looks a little plain, but once you're to that point in the game, everything starts being a little subpar anyways.
Most of those 8 points are from the excellent voiceovers, sound effects, and astonishingly diverse array of random comments made by marines, grunts, and brutes. The music, sadly, was a huge letdown - I was entranced by Halo 2's music, but Halo 3 tries to do something different and ends up crucifying itself by basically remixing tracks from the previous two games - with an emphasis on Halo: Combat Evolved; I had some fairly nostalgic moments here and there, before realizing that the themes had been mangled very badly. However, the music is an inconsequential part of the package this time around; the game is so intense, you're unlikely to notice whether it's bad or good.
I'm willing to bet that the Halo 2-hating, Halo 1 obsessed fanboys will be horrified, but in my honest opinion, this story is by far the strongest of the three games, and it is definately told the best; Halo 2 made everything seem somehow akward or forced, and Halo 1, while having a more coherent and interestingly told story, ended up getting a little long, and to be honest, the Halo universe's back story hadn't been fully fleshed out at the time, so a lot of things didn't fit.
On the other hand, Halo 3 is a textbook example of how to pull off a trilogy-ender absolutely perfectly. All the characters have been made very believable and worth feeling empathetic towards. Humans are still determined to survive, but do it with more style. Elites are still peerless warriors, but now have a sense of elegant nobility surrounding them. The Brutes are just that - savage monsters who you will WANT to kill, therefore making the game that much more involving. Almost all (living) characters make an appearance, and without giving anything away, if you have a favorite secondary character from Halo 2, it's a very good bet that he or she is in Halo 3 and is of some importance.
In short, the story is great. Even during the most frustrating moments of the campaign (more on that in a sec), I was still propelled onward, determined to find out what happened next. Normally I don't get very worked up over stories in games, but H3 did the trick; I hope it will for you too.
"8/10???!?!?! are you nuts??!! It's HALO!!!!" Well, yeah. I know. I'll explain myself. There's a lot of information, so rather than make you wade through 4 or 5 boring paragraphs of text, I'll divide the gameplay into pro's and cons.
- This is still Halo. Banish from your mind any thoughts of dramatic gameplay changes.
- Fighting platoons of Brutes is AWESOME. They have pretty decent AI, surprisingly.
- Flood are more reasonable. Melee attacks work, and they dont take a clip and a half to kill.
- The first 3/4 of the campaign is completely epic, almost worth the 60 bucks alone.
- All of the new guns and vehicles are totally great. Trust me.
- Online is amazing. You already know this.
- The customization is very, very good. No two people should look the same anymore.
- Finally, while we're on the topic of multiplayer, the weapons have finally been decently balanced. YAY!
- INSANE difficulty on Heroic and Legendary
- You never get to play as the Arbiter (some see this as a good)
- There is a bit too much driving in some of the levels.
- Drones are now a lot weaker but a lot more numerous. ARGH!
- Marines and the Arbiter are dumb as rocks. Still.
- Halo + Multiplayer = 8 year olds owning you and talking incessantly in their high-pitched voices. :-(
- The last 2 levels of the campaign. These are the two worst levels in the entire Halo series, hands down. Without giving away story elements, both involve lots of flood and lots of backtracking. Super-lame.
By 8/10, I mean it's incredibly, insanely fun, but only most of the time. Sometimes H3 can be frustrating, and sometimes its can be so frustrating you demolish your controller in a fit of rage. There are some moments in the campaign that are so incredibly, horrifically cheap that you will literally spend 45 minutes beating a SINGLE PART. Certain parts of the 6th, 7th, and 8th levels come to mind. At any rate, as I've said before, this is Halo, and with that word comes all the connotations of fun gameplay, cool weapons, challenging enemies, etc. The majority of campaign mode is excellent. but about 1/4 of it is so bad that you will never want to play certain levels again.
As for multiplayer, well. it's going to be huge. Picture Halo 2, except the weapons are actually balanced, and there's so much variance between strategies that no two games will ever be the same. I'm excited to see how H3 will compare to Gears...
Replay Value: 10/10
Unless you beat Legendary on your first go, you will have to beat campaign potentially three different times. After that, there's Xbox Live; and mark my words, people will be playing this game on Live for years and years.
OVERALL: 45/50 - 9/10
Unless you live in a cave, you know this game and the Xbox 360 have, or will have, a symbiotic relationship. Ownership of this game will probably be mandated by law due to Microsoft lobbyists. Do yourself a favor and save yourself the trouble of having to listen to your friends rattle on about how great it is. Buy it. Now.
RENT OR BUY?
HAH! Rent Halo 3.... that's rich. Good luck with that.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/27/07
Game Release: Halo 3 (US, 09/25/07)
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