Review by Kiriyama_X

Reviewed: 10/15/07

The Halo series goes out with all guns blazing

Halo 3

It has been quite a journey. No one could have guessed that when a little known developer named Bungie released “Halo: Combat Evolved” in 2001, they were creating the most popular gaming franchise in history. “Halo 2” earned $125 million dollars in just 24 hours upon its release date, yet many, like myself found it to be a disappointment. Now over six years later, the trilogy has come full circle. And I’m happy to say Master Chief hasn’t gone out with a whimper, but rather all guns blazing in one of the best games ever on any console. “Halo 3” had colossal expectations to meet and they’ve delivered.

At the end of “Halo 2” things weren’t looking too good for humanity. The Covenant army had discovered Earth and the humans left to defend were about to be overwhelmed. Master Chief had been separated from his A.I. construct Cortana and was racing back to Earth to “finish the war”. Yet things weren’t all bad – the Covenant’s home had been destroyed by the parasitic alien species known as The Flood and mankind had gained a new ally in some of their former enemies. A Covenant elite known as the Arbiter had opened the elite’s eyes to the true purpose of Halo and now join in the war to stop the Prophet of Truth and the Brutes from activating The Ark. “Halo 3” opens with the Marines discovering Master Chief in the jungles of Africa. Now alongside the Arbiter, he sets off to finish the war once and for all.

The storyline is considerably better than “Halo 2”, though it’s still a little confusing with enemies turning into allies and back to enemies more frequently than Lindsay Lohan’s rehab visits. It does bring the game to full conclusion however; pretty much everything gets resolved and nothing is left in a cliffhanger. The games campaign stretches over the course of nine levels, which may seem short, but these levels are just awesome and echo back to the concepts that made the original such a superb game. In fact everything that had been taken away that I sorely missed in “Halo 2” returns in “Halo 3”. Bungie seems to have learned from their mistakes in “Halo 2” and answered every fan’s request by returning to the roots of the original.

The action in “Halo 3” is spectacular. You’ll be engaged in intense firefights from the first footstep to the final dust-off. The battles are strategically designed this time around, just running and gunning won’t work anymore. Enemies will exhibit very intelligent A.I., staying on the defensive when needed and charging when you’re reloading or recharging your shields. There will also be snipers on higher ledges and towers ready to pick you off when grunts flush you out of cover with grenades. Some enemies may even stick a grenade to themselves and kamikaze you.

One of the exciting new features is the inclusion of defensive equipment. Outside of the standard grenades, you also have access to things like deployable covers, shield regenerators and flares. My personal favorite would have to be the bubble-shield that creates a small bubble that blocks all weapons and grenades from entering but characters can run out to fire several shots then pull back inside to regain their health or reload. These devices are also used by enemies which helps makes the gunfights more unpredictable than is typical. All in all it adds a nice piece of strategy to the action.

As for your arsenal, all of the weapons from “Halo” and “Halo 2” can be found here. The beloved assault rifle once again returns, alongside a horde of new, very cool weapons like the Brute Spike Rifle and Spartan Laser. The garage has also increased with several new additions like a motorcycle-like Brute Chopper, but it’s the Marine’s flying Hornet that steals the show and is just an absolute blast to use in aerial and land battles. Bungie strikes a perfect balance in the campaign of maintaining the frantic action the series has gained fame for from the pervious titles while mixing in these new additions.

Undoubtedly the most exciting new feature of “Halo 3” is the four-player co-op. That’s right. Up to four people can fight side-by-side through any of the campaign’s nine levels. Simply put: “this is a blast.” Co-op has always been my favorite aspect of the “Halo” series and the addition of four people now being allowed to join the fight makes for the most exhilarating co-op you’ll find in any game on the market.

Outside of the campaign, there’s the Xbox Live online multiplayer, which I’m sure is the reason the majority of people are going to purchase this game. In a nutshell, it is what is, it’s “Halo” deathmatch. The game you’ve been playing since the original back in 2001. Some people seem to never get tired of this regardless of the number of hours they log into it. Personally, I’m pretty bored with it by now. It makes no new additions to liven up the experience; it’s the exact same game. Hell even some of the maps from the pervious two are here…again.

As for the maps? Not all that great. They’re pretty bland and tiresome, what’s worse, there are only 11 maps in the game. And while I’m sure Bungie will make more maps available in the future…THERE ARE ONLY 11 MAPS IN THE GAME. (Ever heard of a game called Unreal Tournament 2004? It offered over 100 maps). By the time you’ve played the multiplayer for an hour you’ll have seen all the game offers. The fact that some maps are repeated just makes it feel lazy. It’s still got the endlessly buggy online moments, the horrible community with match after match littered with jerks, racists, quitters and the crippling lag. There are far more exciting multiplayer games available on the 360 and even though I know “Halo” nuts will eat this up, I’ll take “Gears of War” over it any day.

From a presentational standpoint “Halo 3” is impressive for the most part across the board. The graphics are nicely detailed with lush environments and a colorful palette, all the while maintaining a stable frame-rate even in enormous battles. The music is outstanding with another epic score that drives the action perfectly. The voice acting is equally of high-water caliber. The sound effects for the weapons, however, seem a little subdued and not as loud as they should be. There’s also no option to adjust the sound levels, which is a surprising omission.

At the end of the war though, “Halo 3” is awesome. I admit I had my doubts about this game succeeding after “Halo 2”, yet Bungie has delivered. The single player is flawless, there’s no other way of putting it. And although the multiplayer didn’t exactly get my juices flowing, the added additions of being able to record your gameplay during the campaign and deathmatch and upload it on the internet for the whole world to see, the outstanding co-op mode, and presentation make “Halo 3” one of the best action games ever. It doesn’t steal the throne from 2006’s “Gears of War” but it’s easily the best game I’ve played so far this year. The tagline for “Halo 3” has been Finish the Fight and they sure as hell weren’t kidding.

Graphics- 9.5
Sound- 9.5
Gameplay- 10
Overall- 10

+ Superb action
+ 4 Player co-op offline and online
+ Nicely varied levels
+ New weapon/vehicle additions that work
+ Did I mention to 4 Player co-op?

- Multiplayer is tired and buggy
- Lousy multiplayer maps
- Theater mode lacks a few glaring options

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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

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