Review by Mutated Spleen

Reviewed: 09/28/07

Quiet Down, Fanboys.

Well, it’s Halo. If you don’t know what that means, I question how you are reading this, what with the lack of calcium you must have had from living under that rock for so long. Anyhoo, something about some dudes with guns, called the UNSC, and some big lizard-type guys called The Covenant. Basically, Halos kill things, and you don’t want that to happen. That’s all I know about Halo, but I believe there were some books or something about it. Not that that is important - this is a multiplayer game. That’s all you’ll remember about it after about a week anyway.

Gameplay - 8/10
ZOMG! He didn’t give it a 10 out of 10! BLASPHEMY! HERETIC! Well, allow me to explain. Halo 3 is, so far as I can tell, the same damn game as Halo 2, minus a few miniscule upgrades, and a lot prettier. Play-wise, it’s the same old point ‘n shoot as it has been since Halo:CE. You get guns, you point them at the things you want to die, and you shoot them until they do said dying. Pretty simple. Grenades, beat-downs, turrets, vehicles, etc. It’s all still here, and aside from a bit of a graphical enhancement, it’s all pretty much the same.

There are two new grenade types since H2 (brute grenades, which I personally refer to as ‘spiky nades’ and firebombs, which I have yet to actually find anywhere in multiplayer.), and a couple of new guns (the spiker, a little brute gun that shoots, you guessed it, spikes; the Spartan Laser, whose nickname is not appropriate for this family-friendly website, that shoots a bigass laser that destroys anything and everything it hits in one shot; the mauler, a wicked strong little brute pistol thing that pretty much acts like a shotgun - that is dual-wieldable; the assault rifle, which I believe is a favorite returning from Halo 1; and the gravity hammer, which is pretty much just a big hammer, with which you can deflect rockets, etc.). All the favorites return - the beloved sniper rifle (which I am told closely resembles that of H:CE), rocket launchers, plasma rifles and pistols, the good ‘ole BR, the SMG (which is actually useful now!), the brute shot (which is not), the carbine, the slicy awesomeness of the energy sword, the slightly changed pistol, the slightly-weaker shotgun, and the wholly improved (although no longer dual-wieldable) needler. Long story …well, long…there are a lot of ways in which you may kill an enemy, so have fun. Oh, also, fuel rod cannon. Yeah, it’s neat.

Also ranking up pretty high on the neat-o-meter, is the equipment Bungie was kind enough to add. The bubble shield Mr. Master Chief is seen using in the trailer, for example, quite usable in game, and quite helpful. Power drainers which deplete shields, regenerators which build shields, portable shield, bubble shield, trip mines (which are actually land mines, not trip mines), radar jammers, and grav lifts…they add a ton of experience to the multiplayer aspect of the game, not so much to campaign mode.

The warthog, ghost, wraith, banshee, and scorpion all make returns, in addition to several new vehicles. The chopper, which I originally mistook for a UNSC vehicle, is a covenant vehicle that somewhat resembles a backwards motorcycle. It drives a bit differently, but it has great traction for going up hills and what not. And it shoots things, which is always a plus. The UNSC has a flying vehicle now, known as the hornet, which I have yet to find on any multiplayer map. And of course, the mongoose. A four-wheeler or ATV. Someone drives, and you cal put someone on the back to shoot, or hold the flag while you haul ass away from the people with guns.; Adds a new element to CTF-type games, but it’s a good one in my opinion. The most interesting new vehicle, in this humble reviewer’s eyes, is definitely the big sand-crawler type thing on the Sandtrap multiplayer map. It’s a rolling fortress which you can drive - very slowly - around the map while your teammates (or random people I suppose) shoot the hell out of things with the three mounted turrets. Just a little FYI - “Pirate Ships” is an incredible game type.

This is why people play Halo. There is no question that this is a franchise completely based around the online aspect of the game. However, don’t expect a new game. This is Halo 2 repackaged with shiny new graphics, shiny new weapons, and shiny new bubble shields. There are some clear differences, of course, like the changing of maps, and a pseudo-new Rainbow Six-esque rankings system, but all-in-all, it’s the same old game it always has been. No leaps and bounds, no revolutionary introductions, but still that good solid online experience that makes $50 for XBL worth it. Kind of. Bungie, as always, did a frustratingly good job with the maps, though for a player new to FPS games, some of them can get damnably complicated with tunnels and lifts and teleporters and the MAN CANNON (an object which deserves capital letters), but it’s a quick learning curve. From Guardian, a map many believe to be like a mix of Lockout and Ascension from H2, but I find personally to be more of an entity of its own, will show you some fast paced action, mixed with a bit of tactical lift use, and some plain old luck (for example, chucking a sticky right past someone, only to have it fly up the lift, and stick someone a floor above you ); to Last Resort - a remake of the ever-popular Zanzibar from Halo 2, with some noticeable differences - The maps won’t have you bored. Well, unless you are forced to play shotty snipers on Snowbound six times in a row - By the way, Bungie execs reading this, could you make that not happen please?

Anyway, there is a sort-of-new ranking system in place. Aside from the normal ranked games we are all used to, where your awesomeness is measured via number, there are social matches which do not keep track of your numerical rank, but do keep track of your ‘army’ rank. You know, recruit, private, corporal, etc. Basically, that latter rank goes up by gaining experience points in matchmaking. Winning games, getting the most medals, being the MVP, that sort of thing. It’s more of an accurate way to see who is good, I think, because it is tracked over all game types (save for custom matches).

Aside from the normal ranked stuff everyone is used to, where you can only take in your team of four and hope you don’t get paired up with the MLG nuts who cite Halo as the bible, there are social matches which I personally find to be the best. Your party can be up to ten people, meaning you can play pseudo-ranked slayer with your friends, vs. your friends if you so desire. It’s still matchmaking, so you don’t get to pick the individual options, but you do get to select from rumble pit, to team slayer, team objective, etc, etc. It’s pretty sweet. In addition, you can play the same old custom matches as before, but now you get to use the Forge. Basically, it’s real-time map editing. You get to zoom around as that little robot thing that annoyed the hell out of me in the Library of Halo:CE, and put guns and stuff on the map, for your teammates, or your enemies. Or you could be like me, and try to drop tanks on my enemies. Whatever. It’s fun, and innovative - but at the same time, it kind of loses its spark quickly when you find out everyone has all the best weapons and a fortress made of warthogs. Finally, there is the theatre, where you may view any saved movies or clips you might have. Which is another neat thing - you can save movies of matches you were in. Get a really badass stick from all the way across the map that nobody will ever believe? Save it and show the suckers first hand! Want to know where that dude that just assassinated the hell out of you came from? Save the video and check it out! By far my favorite addition to the franchise, the theatre will put an end to people putting video clips together of impossible Halo moments, and claiming themselves to be gods. Thank you, Bungie.

In addition, the one big disappointing factor of online ranked matchmaking, is that “Lone Wolves,” the ranked rumble pit, is only five players, instead of the former eight. Way to make it less fun, Bungie.

Story - 4/10
Ok, so basically, Halo 3 - just like all the other Halos - pretty much revolves around multiplayer. There is a campaign mode, which to my pleasure, is up to 4 players co-op through split screen, system link, or Xbox Live. I went into this with high hopes. But I was disa-damn-ppointed. I wanted a Gears of War experience. A next-gen co-op bonanza. And I did not get it. Campaign mode plays basically the exact same as it did before, except now you are not walking through the same room over and over and over and over again (thanks H:CE). Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole ton to say about the campaign mode…the only bits of replayability I can manage to find would be if either a) You are a total Halo nut and NEED to complete the game in every single difficulty and find every single skull, etc; or b) You have a lot of friends that love co-op games, and won’t stop messaging you with game invites.

Graphics - 7/10
They ain’t bad. No doubt. But when we have Gears of War and Bioshock to base our graphic wants off of, you have to do a wee bit more than make Master Chief shiny. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you’ll be watching stick figures walking around with guns - we had enough of that in Halo 2, thank you very much. But it’s just not revolutionary. Not that it matters, who is going to be focusing on how things look when you’re about to destroy someone with the gravity hammer?

Sound - 5/10
Boom, boom, boom, arghhh! Pyah! Pyah! Pyah! Squirt! Blip! Ka-pow! Oh, sorry, this isn’t Batman? Gun sounds, and the sound of people getting hit by guns. As for the music…well, it’s the same old symphonic chorus bit it’s always been. I’d say the sound is relevant to whatever you happened to put on on your Dashboard.

Replayability 10/10
Halo is a multiplayer franchise. Period. Story mode is excessively short, even if you play through it multiple times. Do not buy Halo 3 because you want to play single player. You’ll finish in a few hours and be pissed that you didn’t rent it. Halo 3 is all about replayability though, just like Halo 2 and Halo:CE were. That is what this franchise is about, and while I personally don’t think they do it the best, the general gaming population disagrees with me. While I would desperately love to go play some Multiplayer Hello Kitty: Island Adventure, the Xbox community has chosen the Halo franchise as their online game, and being the PvP fanatic I am, I must bend to their will. Long story short, you’ll be at this one for a while.

Hey Look, We’re At The End
Should you buy Halo 3? More than likely, yes. If you like playing games on the interweb, and you like shooting things, it probably would be a decent idea. Are you a hermit that only plays single player? I wouldn’t waste my time. If it’s worth anything - The ONLY reason I ever played campaign was because my real life friends wanted to do some co-op, and they saw me online. Halo ain’t perfect, and I honestly doubt it will win Game of the Year (not entirely even because there are so many other stellar games coming out soon), but do I think people will still be playing religiously online until Xbox 720 comes out? Yeah. As Snoop would say, fo sho’,. It’s cool, ‘cause I can tear a game apart based on the sound, graphics, storyline, etc, but still give it a decent rating because it’s just so popular online. Good

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Halo 3 (US, 09/25/07)

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