Review by Kiriyama_X
The Halo series goes out with all guns blazing
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 Im happy to say Master Chief hasnt 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 theyve delivered.
At the end of Halo 2 things werent 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 werent all bad the Covenants 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 elites 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 its still a little confusing with enemies turning into allies and back to enemies more frequently than Lindsay Lohans 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 fans request by returning to the roots of the original.
The action in Halo 3 is spectacular. Youll 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 wont work anymore. Enemies will exhibit very intelligent A.I., staying on the defensive when needed and charging when youre 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 its the Marines 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. Thats right. Up to four people can fight side-by-side through any of the campaigns 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 youll find in any game on the market.
Outside of the campaign, theres the Xbox Live online multiplayer, which Im sure is the reason the majority of people are going to purchase this game. In a nutshell, it is what is, its Halo deathmatch. The game youve 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, Im pretty bored with it by now. It makes no new additions to liven up the experience; its 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. Theyre pretty bland and tiresome, whats worse, there are only 11 maps in the game. And while Im 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 youve played the multiplayer for an hour youll have seen all the game offers. The fact that some maps are repeated just makes it feel lazy. Its 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, Ill 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. Theres 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, theres no other way of putting it. And although the multiplayer didnt 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 doesnt steal the throne from 2006s Gears of War but its easily the best game Ive played so far this year. The tagline for Halo 3 has been Finish the Fight and they sure as hell werent kidding.
+ 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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