Halo 3 is the best Halo yet and one of the best games available on the Xbox 360. Every single aspect of the game is polished to near-perfection from the presentation to the campaign to the multiplayer, Halo 3 does everything amazingly well and adds in a bunch of new bells and whistles to really put it all over the top. And above all else, Halo 3 is one of the absolute best values in the industry. You will be playing this for months and likely years to come. Find out all about it right here.
- Title: Halo 3
- Platform:Xbox 360
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Bungie
- ESRB Rating: "M" for Mature
- Genre: First-Person-Shooter
- Pros: Very solid single-player; online multiplayer is a blast; the Forge editor tool is absolutely amazing; presentation is better than anyone had hoped; incredible value that will keep you playing for months
- Cons No old favorite MP maps (yet); why do so many 12 year olds get to play these "M" rated games?
Halo 3 picks up right where Halo 2 left off, which saw Master Chief is rushing back to Earth, Cortana hanging with the Gravemind, the Elites have broken away from the Covenant, and The Prophet of Truth is en route to Earth with his new Brute-led forces. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just leave it at that. Now, some people don't like the story in the Halo games and think it is too complicated or whatever, and if you are one of those "single-player sucks" kids, the story isn't going to mean much to you. But if you have read all of the Halo books, and loved the single-player in Halo 1 and 2, you will love the story in Halo 3. The story and action peak several times over the course of the campaign, and by the thrilling finale most of the loose ends are wrapped up and the ending is fairly satisfying.
The gameplay in Halo 3 feels mostly the same as in previous games, but there are a few tweaks and additions that really make it stand out. You jump with A, melee with B, and switch weapons with Y, but the X button now allows you to use special equipment. This equipment includes portable shields, shield rechargers, shield drainers, and more. Using these items in the right situations will really save you some headaches in both multiplayer as well as during the campaign. Other gameplay tweaks include the new way you pick up and use weapons. Normally, the right trigger shoots your weapon, the right bumper reloads that weapon, and you also use the right bumper to interact with buttons and other things. The left trigger throws grenades and the left bumper switches the grenade type. When you want to dual wield, you pick up the weapon and reload with the left bumper and shoot with the left trigger. This setup allows you to reload your weapons separately so you shouldn’t ever be caught with an empty weapon during battle. New weapons and vehicles are also some noteworthy additions to the gameplay in Halo 3. We absolutely love the gravity hammer, Spartan laser, and fuel rod gun weapons, and the gravity hammer in particular is so fun it should be illegal. The new vehicles include a marine hover jet and a marine version of a ghost among others. All of the vehicles control very well and are a blast to use.
The campaign in Halo 3 lasts 7-8 hours and the difficulty ramps up quite nicely up through the end. The level designs are on par with what we saw in the first two games, and actually revisits a couple of things, but Halo 3 focuses more on huge battles with dozens of enemies and friendly AI all on the battlefield at once. There are a lot of vehicle sections as well this time around, which is a good thing because the levels are absolutely massive. At one point in the game you move over the crest of a hill and can see a huge battle against a Scarab and it takes a good 3-4 minutes of driving to actually get to the battle. That is just an example of how huge the levels are, but you see things like that time and time again throughout the campaign. Even the battles that take place indoors can include dozens of enemies at a time, and it is pretty darn cool to see how high the bodies stack when the action really heats up. Overall, the action is always fast and furious and a lot of fun. There are, of course, some levels that are a bit better than others, but it is very solid from beginning to end.
We played through the campaign in splitscreen co-op over the course of two days, and I think the 7-8 hour estimation or length is fairly accurate. That includes watching all of the cinematics and only dying a few times in some tough areas towards the end. Co-op really is absolutely the best way to play through the campaign, and now that you can play co-op online, maybe some of the people that claim to not like the campaigns in the Halo games will finally come around.
As much as we love the campaign, the online multiplayer is where you’ll likely be spending most of your time with Halo 3. And just like Halo 2, it is absolutely spectacular. The matchmaking is fast and smooth and painless just like Halo 2, and finding a game with people of similar skill level and mindset has never been easier. The game comes with eleven maps and a bunch of different game types, and just like we saw in H2, the playlists and map list will surely change and grow as time goes on. One slight complaint we have is that there aren’t any old favorite multiplayer maps available. Sure, some maps definitely have the same feel as older maps, but I love Blood Gulch and Battle Creek and Warlock and some of the other old standbys and it just doesn’t feel the same without them. That isn’t to say the new maps aren’t a lot of fun on their own, though. In fact, I would say the set of maps is probably of an overall higher quality than what we saw with Halo 1 and 2. There are some great ones, and some merely good ones, but I can’t think of any maps that I want to try to avoid, which is something you can’t say about Halo 2. Another nice touch is that you can fully customize your armor for multiplayer, and you can put together some pretty slick looking combinations. All in all, the multiplayer is just as fast and smooth and great as it was in Halo 2, but the new weapons and vehicles as well as the new equipment really make Halo 3 the superior game.
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