Review by Rasnarok

"A Fitting End to the Trilogy"

Halo 3 is the much anticipated finale to one of the most popular console franchises of modern times. Developed by Bungie Studios, Halo 3 is most certainly a fitting end to the trilogy.

Thanks to the processing power the Xbox 360 brings, there are literally hundreds of enemies scattered throughout the levels, usually making for very intense combat situations on the higher difficulty levels. The enemy AI is now smarter and more cunning than ever before with grunts going so far as to murder-suicide you using plasma grenades after they realize their chances of survival are naught. Brutes will now attempt to flank you if they see you coming and your marine comrades will attempt to the same to the enemy, sometimes failing due to poor AI on their part.

With a new sequel comes new vehicles and new things to blow them up with. To give the brutes more of a back story, Bungie have added two new brute vehicles to the game. Both having a cold, violent look to them, the Chopper (brute ghost) and the Prowler (brute warthog) are both equally menacing on the battlefield. The marine AI is quite adept at driving vehicles and will often end in a quick death for you and anyone else in the vehicle. Thus, the marines are best left for the gunner/passenger seat while you take the wheel. A slew of new weapons also changes things up, allowing you to adopt strategies that just wouldn't work for you in previous Halo games.

One of the most notable new features of Halo 3 over it's predecessors is the implementation the equipment system. While they aren't used too often throughout the campaign unless you play on one of the harder difficulties, equipment will soon become the staple of any serious online gamer. Equipment such as the Bubble Shield or Shield Drainer can allow you to quickly turn the tides of battle for players of any skill level. It is this addition, in my opinion, that separates the multiplayer portion of Halo 3 from both of it's predecessors.

Checkpoints are scattered throughout every mission so whenever you die you are just moments away from rejoining the fight. These are a godsend in the higher difficulty levels where you will soon become intimately familiar with death.

Gameplay - 9/10
While the basic gameplay mechanics in Halo 3 remain relatively unchanged, new equipment, vehicles, weapons, and enemy AI revitalize the entire experience and make everything seem new once again.

The halo 3 campaign kicks off exactly where Halo 2 ended. All the old characters are back in full force and all play an integral part in how the final chapter of the Halo story unfolds before you. While not as epic as I was expecting, the story is full of twists and events making for a very enjoyable experience. The campaign is fairly short, with most players being able to go from beginning to end in just under 6 hours on the Normal difficulty level. Playing the game on higher difficulties will extend your playtime but at the same time turning a fun yet challenging experience into that of a frustrating one for the uninitiated. What surprised me was the amount of death in the story, particularly that of certain characters, and made the story much more unpredictable and entertaining.

Story - 8/10
Although not as long or epic as I had hoped, the story was great to play through and was most certainly a fitting end to the Halo trilogy.

The graphical engine of Halo 3 isn't exactly up to the standards set by other Xbox 360 titles such as Gears of War and Bioshock. With no anti-aliasing in the game, the edges of everything a jagged and and quite horrible to look. Most environmental textures are fairly low resolution, contributing to the fairly lackluster looking game world.

That said, marine, enemy, and weapon textures look great, especially on a high-definition set. Plasma has also received a big graphical enhancement, making shots and explosions look absolutely stunning. In fact, all particle effects in the game look great. As like previous Halo games, all cutscenes were rendered ingame, making for some very ugly aerial effects during certain cutscenes.

Graphics - 8/10
The in-engine trailer shown at E3 2006 set the bar for the graphics in Halo 3 and unfortunately, the game was unable to reach that level in the final copy. This is probably the most disappointing aspect of Halo 3 for me.

The sound effects and score are really what separates Halo 3 from any other game I have ever played. The music gives you that epic feeling of being in a full-scale war for humanity. Music drops in and out of the game as you play, increasing in volume and intensity during particularly dramatic or intense combat situations. Even during the sad times throughout the story, the music has never failed to enhance and support the mood. This is, in my opinion, the best part of Halo. I hope Microsoft release an official soundtrack because I'll be the first in line to get it.

Marine and enemy chatter is both A-grade quality and, at times, hilarious. With voice actors such as Terrance Stamp, Ron Perlman and Adam Baldwin, how can you go wrong? It always brings a smile to my face whenever I kill a grunt and another one next to him yells "That was my best friend!" then charges at me on a furious rampage.

Sound - 10/10
The quality of music, sound effects, and voice acting is unrivaled in any game thus far.

Thanks to skulls and Forerunner terminals hidden through the nine campaign missions, the game has a fairly decent solo replayability. However, nothing comes close to classic Halo multiplayer. Years from now people will still be fighting it out on well-designed maps such as Narrows, Consruct, and Valhalla.

Replayability - 7/10
Multiplayer - 9/10
I know many sleepless nights will be spent by millions of people around the world playing Halo 3 online.

Overall, Halo 3 was a fun game but it wasn't worth the hype. I really felt like Halo 3 was everything Bungie wanted Halo 2 to be but it's just a little too late for that. The ending, while satisfying, really left alot to be desired and a few more hours of gameplay would have been even better. That said, I would certainly recommend buying Halo 3 to any Xbox 360 owner as it's just a really fun game, as long as you aren't expecting the epic title Microsoft has been marketing for two years.

Overall - 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/27/07, Updated 09/28/07

Game Release: Halo 3 (Collector's Edition) (AU, 09/25/07)

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