Review by horror_spooky

"Amazing Multiplayer, Terrible Campaign"

I don't believe I have ever seen as many gamers excited for a game as much as they have been for Halo 3. People were waiting outside of gaming stores across the nation for this title and many people pre-ordered copies months in advance. This hype was largely due to the major success that the first two Halo games managed to pull off for the original Xbox with their very entertaining multiplayer gameplay and everyone was expecting Halo 3 to expand on that and fix the problems that the Campaign from the previous games had. Halo 3 does expand on the multiplayer aspect and does it damn near flawlessly, but unfortunately, the Campaign is still in the gutter.

I've said it about a million times in my reviews and I stand by my belief that adding co-operative play to a game is always a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of Xbox 360 games have co-operative mode available only online, which is just annoying. Thankfully, Halo 3 stays true to its predecessors and includes split-screen co-op, but it does disappoint in a HUGE way. You see, if you play Halo 3 online, you can play co-op with up to FOUR people, greatly expanding the experience, but for offline players, you aren't given this option. It's good that Microsoft is supporting its online service, but I feel terribly bad for the players who play offline and aren't able to enjoy games to their fullest. Seriously, just add the freaking offline multiplayer for the love of god!

The gameplay from Halo 2 remains largely unchanged for the most part, but with some sweet additions added on. The game switches to a third-person view when you detach a turret and start lugging it around, which really shows off the game's amazing character models. There are new types of grenades and guns, but most interesting I think is the new melee weapon: the gravity hammer. This thing is my new favorite weapon in the Halo series. When you hit a foe they fly into the air and so do some of the objects lying around near where the hammer hit.

Also new to the series are little items that you can use to your advantage. Some of these items screw up your opponent's radar completely while others do things like suck the energy from your shield or they make a little shield for you to hide behind. These things are a very nice touch and adapt nicely to the old gameplay aspects without taking anything away from the multiplayer experience.

New vehicles and new maps are also available to the player in Halo 3. I found the vehicles in the other two Halo titles to be somewhat underwhelming and I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard some of the new vehicles that Bungie was going to put in this latest installment. All of the new vehicles are pretty sweet, but I was somewhat disappointed with the vehicle I was anticipating the most which was the Elephant. Basically, it's a giant carrier vehicle that has some turrets on it for your teammates to gun down your opponents. The only problem with it is that it is barely even implemented into the game and in the level it actually appears in, it's pretty much useless. The new maps are pretty sweet, but for some reason Bungie decided to recycle a map from Halo 2, which I thought was dumb since it's not even one of the better ones! Still, Halo 3 does provide some very, very memorable maps…I just wish there were more of them.

Of course, where the Halo games truly shine is all the different ways that you can customize your multiplayer matches. All of the old games are included as well as some new ones (though some of these are pathetically bad), but the greatest multiplayer game you will ever play is Infection. With these rules applied to multiplayer matches you will have a complete blast. In Infection, one player ends up being the “zombie” and their job is to hunt down the other players…but there's a catch. The player that's a “zombie” can be customized to jump extremely high and move at blinding speeds, which definitely adds a ton of thrills to the gameplay. Bungie did such a great job with Infection that I just don't see why they didn't spend more time making the other match types that much fun.

Sadly, these elements only go so far as the gameplay does get a little boring during prolonged sessions. Online multiplayer this time around seems a little more…empty than it did in Halo 2 and the fact that offline players are pretty much being neglected is a major annoyance. The gameplay in the Campaign is just terrible. I don't know if it was just the enemy placement or the level design, but for some reason the game just never clicked like it should have. The co-op almost saves it, but it still falls short.

You can't just dish out a sequel to a game without adding at least a couple of new options. Bungie realized this and delivered some two interesting features, but they don't deliver like I expected them to. One of these features allows you to save films by simply recording your matches in-game. This feature is a relative disappointment and has very limited appeal since it doesn't even accomplish what I think Bungie was trying to do which was try to give gamers a chance to make their own version of the popular machinima Red vs. Blue (I could be wrong, but I doubt it). Another new mode that was more interesting is Forge which lets you edit multiplayer maps and does actually allow a decent amount of freedom, but still isn't as good as Edit modes available in other games.

I was so disappointed with the story in Halo 3 that I almost felt insulted. For some games it is not necessary to have a terribly great story, or even a good one, but they need to make up for it with gameplay, which Halo 3 definitely doesn't do in the Campaign. Everything that's supposed to be surprising or shocking doesn't do its job at all. The characters are, well, lame, and Master Chief has lost the level of awesome he had earned in Halo 2. Seriously, if Nintendo can give an amazing story to a Super Smash Bros. game then Bungie can make a story that's at least half-way decent for a Halo game. With the lacking story, lacking gameplay, and the inability to play four-player co-op offline, nearly every single aspect of Halo 3's Campaign Mode falls flat on its face.

The amazing multiplayer does make up for nearly all of the flaws present in the Campaign, but the thing that really makes up for the lacking Campaign are the insane graphics present in Halo 3. The character models are the best I've ever seen in my entire life and all the environments look so slick and polished that it's jaw-dropping. Halo 3 is easily the best looking game I've seen on the 360 so far.

Voice-acting in Halo 3 isn't as good as in Halo 2, but it's still pretty good. The background music is forgettable, but it's at least decent to listen to. All of the sound effects sync up nicely and all the weird noises that the aliens make work just perfect with the game.

If you don't have Xbox LIVE, Halo 3 probably won't even last you all that long—maybe a week at most. The Campaign is short, but the multiplayer is great for a while. There is some replayability with the different difficulty modes as well as the task of finding the secret “Hidden Skulls” to unlock some extra content. Unfortunately, if you don't have online available to you, you won't be able to unlock some of the achievements, which is also a pretty big disappointment. Seriously, why are all the offline players being treated so unfairly? Just give them the features, too, for the love of god!

I realize that I've more or less bashed Halo 3 throughout this entire review, but that's only because I was so bitterly disappointed with the Campaign. The multiplayer is the real reason why you'd want to play the game at all and the graphics are really something to witness. Those two factors alone earned the game an above-average score of an eight out of 10 from me, but I'm sure the game would have earned a perfect score if Bungie spent more time on the Campaign. With the trilogy coming to a close and a couple of spin-offs coming our way, I can't help to feel that I was cheated out of the epic ending I was expecting to the series that made the original Xbox good in the first place.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/02/08

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

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