Review by DanLionheart

"Halo 3 is something you have to truly experience to enjoy."

Ah, Halo. I didn't really like Halo much back in the days of the original Xbox. I thought the games were fun, but I hadn't quite played them enough (or online) to really get the jist of it. Halo 3 however, marks the point where I could genuinely enjoy and give the series the respect it deserves.

It's easy to say Halo, or any killer app of a game is just more of the same. Go here, shoot this, stick someone with a nade. Yeah, we get it. We get it if you suck at Halo and you play it the same way every time. While much of the core mechanics remain the same, the new additions of the game make this the sweetest entry of the series thus far.

First off, the Campaign is much improved. Not only is the story more fleshed out and satisfying, but there are more skulls to find, as well as the option of four players online tackling the Campaign. Which is awesome. I mean honestly, why the hell can't four people play through Gears of War (both games) online? It seems like common logic once someone else does it.

Two new additions to Halo 3 are Forge and Theater. I personally have no experience with Forge, so I can't completely judge it. However, based on what's been done with it (Custom Games is highly used, Grifball is huge, and I've seen some crazy stuff online), I can say it's definitely a great feature of the game. It's like that X Factor that sets it apart from all other games, especially in the genre. Theater mode allows you to view the games you've played (limited to a recent time span) and save the replays if you like. You can then record specific clips of the matches and file share them on Bungie's website. This is a great feature, and I would love to see this commonly integrated in any competitive game. I wish Super Smash Bros. Brawl had replays more like this, and it's a sin that Left 4 Dead or Gears of War doesn't.

The multiplayer has always been the focus of Halo, and this being the first Halo I've truly played online, it is a blast. On any given day I see 150 to 250 thousand (that's 250,000!) people online, and I'm sure they're having as much fun as I am. The matchmaking is possibly the best of any online game, but what keeps everyone drawn in are the maps, weapons, and modes. The amount of possible game modes in Halo has always been overwhelming to me. While I prefer playing Slayer like the majority, I've still had fun with most of the other modes. Every mode even has a few variations (by few, I mean 3-5) to it, and I haven't even tried them all.

The weapons are far more balanced in Halo 3 than I found them to be in Halo 2. I remember everyone whoring the shotgun, sword, and sniper in Halo 2. That was pretty much it. Now they've been fleshed out much more. The range of the shotgun has been fixed, but the reason the weapon balance works is because you can be a force to be reckoned with so long as you know how to use your weapon. Everything from the Assault and Battle Rifle to the Gravity Hammer, Needler, and every dual wield weapon (provided they're actually being dual-wielded) can be a viable killing weapon.

Last, but not least. I wrap up this review with the maps. I have always enjoyed the level design in the Halo series. So much that I would regard it to be the FPS with my favorite maps. Bungie just knows what they're doing. Even the most symmetrical maps can be designed to the point where it's not about knowing where to go, it's about knowing how to use every nook and cranny that will give you the win. Bungie has released the Heroic and Legendary map packs and the Cold Storage map. Two of which (Heroic and Cold Storage) are free, Legendary costing 600 Microsoft Points. However, all of them are merely a great topping of an add-on to the already great base levels included in the game.

Halo 3 is a game you have to actually give the time of day to for you to actually enjoy it. I didn't like it much when I hardly played it, but when I immersed myself into the game and experienced it for what it was, I don't know how my Xbox 360 could go any longer without it. I'm personally tired of hearing people claim the Halo series is overrated, because I don't see how it could get much better than this. I have played every other FPS out there, be it console or PC. I think the top breed of this genre is Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike. Between the four of them, I simply find Halo 3 to be the one that appeals to me most. I enjoy it's depth, amount of content, and design very much.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/11/08

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

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