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Review by PickHut

"Halo the 3rd"

When all is said and done, Halo 3 is more of the same, except there's much more of it going on this time around. And that's a good thing.

Remember that Scarab you chased after throughout the entire city in Halo 2, eventually ending with you jumping onto it from above and killing everyone on board? It was a pretty cool moment, but this time around, you get to mess with the Scarab a bit more. As you exit a building on The Ark, a desert mission on Campaign, you see a giant, robotic leg hit the ground right in front of you. A Scarab. Eventually, its whole body sets foot on the sandy ground, quickly making its way out of your sight. Seeing as the robotic monster didn't spot you at all, you quickly turn your attention to the battlefield ahead: Warthogs, Ghosts, Tanks, Wraiths, and Phantoms litter the large area. As you make your way down to the next building with your crew, destroying everything in your path, the Scarab makes its return, this time to fight. With its large, powerful laser beam, it makes quick work of the Marines, as usual. But you're the Master Chief, see, and you don't go down that easily, as usual. This is where your creativity comes in, since you can pick different types of ways to get inside the Scarab. You can go the easy route and just use the tank to quickly damage the legs. Or, you can jump inside a Warthog, drive up a huge ramp, and attempt to jump on top the dang thing, killing some Brutes in the process.

But that's a long ways off in Campaign, you have a lot to fight through before you get to this. From spotting Jackal snipers in the jungles, to desperately trying to save your base from various Grunts and lots of Brutes (with jetpacks!), and then fighting the Flood in a wreaked city, you'll be traveling all over the place in Halo 3. While the Campaign mode itself isn't very original when you compare it to the last two games, it's the best and most balanced of all of them. Basically, Bungie tried their best to get rid of all the annoying flaws of the last Campaigns, like the repeating corridors, the return of assault rifle as the main weapon, and the annoyance of switching between Chief and Arbiter. In a sense, they used the majority of what made Halo 1 fun to play, incorporated some of Halo 2's best moments and made them better, and out came this game. Even the Flood missions aren't as bad. The first Flood mission is pretty short, and while I hated the second one at first, it has grown on me. Unlike the predecessors, where I would only play certain missions, I can see myself playing through all of Halo 3's missions more than once without growing frustrated with them.

However, Campaign is just only half the experience, with the multi-player being the other half, obviously. There's an absurd amount of variety in the online matches to the point that you'll never get tired of playing. Start a game of Neutral Assault on Valhalla, and you'll be in for quite a lengthy match trying to plant the bomb in your opponent's base. Whoever has hold of the bomb is just painting a huge "KILL ME!" sign on them, so where ever they are, expect lots of explosions. Whether it's by the use of a skilled group in a Warthog, gunning down anyone who dare stands in the open, a Banshee diving down on its prey, then avoiding heat-seeking missiles, or just the might of a lone player, lots of things will go boom. Join a Big Team Slayer match on Sandtrap, and just go nuts killing people, blowing Banshee's out of the sky with the super-powered Spartan Laser (the pleasure of actually hitting one never gets old), or try to jump on rampaging Wraiths in an attempt to throw a grenade in. Then there's the Elephants. Take control of one of these "moving fortresses" and try to collide with the other Elephant heading in your direction. Shoot, if you're lucky, you might even get your vehicle on top of theirs, creating a hilarious battleground.

Then there's the absurdly goofy Rocket Race match, where groups of two ride around on Mongooses (they're like buggies), trying to reach marked areas on the map before the other groups do. And considering the passenger of each Mongoose has a rocket launcher, it's really chaotic, and the vehicles have a nasty habit of flipping into the air, doing barrel rolls in the process. Kill snipers with your own sniper rifle in Shotty Snipers, hold the ball for as long as you can in Oddball, capture territories, capture flags, the list just goes on. And you'll be playing all these matches on over 10 varied maps, with more on the way. Heck, if you're not satisfied with the default maps, you can go in Forge mode and modify them to your pleasing, moving objects and weapons where you want them.

In Bungie's continuing quest to prevent you from playing another game for the next 3+ months, they've included quite a number of features enhancing both the single-player and multi-player modes. The inclusion of a Theater mode allows you to rewatch any of the last 26 gaming sessions you've played in, and allowing you to save certain ones before they disappear. That doesn't sound so great on its own, but while viewing these films, you get to have the opportunity to take pictures and record clips of certain moments. If you happen to be on Live, pictures automatically get sent to your Service Record on Bungie's website, allowing other players to see your moments of glory... or moments of shame, if you so choose. Of course, you can go one step further and upload clips, or even entire play sessions onto your file share. This provides an amazing amount of replayability for those who want to show off to others their experiences. Another cool addition is the ability to play co-op in campaign with three other people online. This is really fun if you want to do a Legendary run, as it provides a lot of crazy moments. The only fault with this is that you have to invite people to the co-op session, instead of waiting for them to join like in a deathmatch. It's a small flaw, but it's still pretty silly.

I really wanna list more things about Halo 3, but I don't want this review to turn into a FAQ. Here's the bottom line: it's a really balanced game overall, providing you with both a solid single-player and multi-player experience. I hope that when you're playing this, you're not avoiding certain aspects, because when you get a chance to see everything that this title has to offer, you'll understand why it's such a blast to play.

Like I said, when all is said and done, Halo 3 is more of the same. In a good way. A very good way.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/29/07

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

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