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Halo 3 - Lightning strikes a third time

  • Dec 5, 2007
Pros: Solid gameplay, more of the goodness, amazing multiplayer

Cons: Short campaign, no backstory

The Bottom Line: Halo 3 is a must-have game. While the campaign is little more than a tutorial, the multiplayer will give this game legs for years.

Ah yes, the most hyped game of the year, Halo 3. What is there to say about the most highly anticipated game of all time? Does it live up to the hype? Is it a thrilling conclusion to the Halo trilogy?

Read on, dear reader....

•• Story ••
We’re going to get the negative out of the way first: I honestly had no idea what was happening in Halo 3. See, I didn’t finish the campaign of Halo 2. And it’s been, what, 8 years since I beat Halo 1? I can tell the story is dramatic and fairly deep with twists and turns and changing allegiances. Something about more Halos, the Flood, etc. But that’s about all I could pick up. There is no “When we last left our hero” or “previously on Halo 2…” So people unfamiliar with the Halo franchise will have a hard time getting into the story. I certainly did. And as a result, I felt like I was really missing out on something since I didn’t care much about the character I was playing.

•• Gameplay ••
If you’ve ever played Halo or and any first person shooter since Halo, you’ll be right at home. The controls haven’t changed all that much and it didn’t take me long to get back into the groove of things. It’s was like an old comfie glove that I hadn’t put on in a long time, but still fit and still felt great.

I played most of the campaign in 4 player co-op over Live and this is the single most groundbreaking feature of the game. Playing the campaign with 4 other friends is a real blast. But it also has its issues. Example, like the first Halo game, the end of the game is a race on vehicles. With 4 player co-op, there’s a driver and passenger. My ride and I kept crashing. But since the other 2 were still alive, the game kept going. However, there is no follow mode for those not alive, so I had no idea what was going on. Essentially, I missed out on seeing the end of the game because I was lying in a trench somewhere.

But that’s a minor gripe for an otherwise, stellar feature. The campaign itself is dynamic and varied albeit a little short, even on legendary difficulty. At times, it can be a bit of a grind with enemy after enemy, but in general, it’s quite a bit of fun. Unlike previous Halo games, there isn’t a lot of backtracking. Instead, we are treating to fresh new environments and lots of enemies.

The enemy AI seems to have improved. While most will still bum-rush you, they will often flank you, dodge attacks and dive out of the way of grenade attacks. Halo has always been know for it’s good AI and this game continues that tradition with some subtle, yet much appreciated improvements.

There are a bunch of new vehicles in the game, and while they are all fairly similar, there’s enough difference in their handling that you feel like you’re driving a different vehicle instead of just a warthog with a different skin. The vehicle selection is plentiful; there’s always a ride to hop into if you don’t feel like hoofing it.

For the truly adventurous, there are skulls hidden in each of the none maps. These aren’t like the cog tags in Gears of War, where you’ll find one if you simply look in the shadows. These things are hidden way up in the sky, in lofty crossbeams of unbelievable heights. You have to really use your brain to get them. Or your ability to stack vehicles. Teetering on the verge of idiocy, these skulls reward the player with achievements and finding them all gives a new set of armor for use during Multiplayer games. Show your friends how cool you are. Or how much of a dork once they find out you spent an hour stacking up warthogs. And yes, I’m a dork. I got all the skulls.

In general, the campaign is a solid finale to the trilogy. It doesn’t break tremendous new ground in terms of narrative or gameplay, but it doesn’t need to. This is a continuation, not a complete overhaul, much like Godfather 2 is a continuation of the story, but not necessarily an upgrade.

•• Graphics ••
The first 2 Halo games were solid graphical beasts, but with Halo 3, the challenge has been raised a notch or two. And the game passes with a solid colors. While the game is not as beautiful as Gears of War, it is very sharp looking, while still retaining the Halo look that players have come to expect. In high def, the textures look much sharper and there isn’t any of the texture popping that plagued Halo 2. Everything loads in smoothly and it’s obvious the artists have been given more room to work their magic.

•• Sound ••
Aurally, the Halo games have always been top-notch. Again, the composer is Marty O’Donnell (did you know he wrote the original Flintstones vitamins jingle? “Ten million strong, and growing!”) and the score is operatic, moody and absolutely fantastic. This goes well with the rest of the effects which are all top notch and totally engaging. Sound is one of the most important things for the narrative of any game, and the folks at Bungie know this. They’ve given the love to Halo 3 and as a result, they’ve given the love to my ears.

•• Multiplayer ••
There is no multiplayer in Halo 3.

I’m kidding! The multiplayer is what give this game legs and you will not be disappointed. This is one of the most feature rich multiplayer games ever. Not only do we have the gameplay, it comes with an editor to make your own maps and a storage system to store films, or clips of your previous games. You can then share them with your buddies, or as already shown, youTube. This is really the icing on the cake. Certainly Bungie could have dropped these features. But they went the extra mile and gave us stuff we didn’t know we wanted.

Those who say that Halo 3 is just Halo 2 in high def don’t know what they are talking about. While the gameplay mechanics haven’t changed, there are more maps, new game types, new vehicles and new weapons. Exactly what else is needed to make it better? A total revamp of the gameplay would have left fanboys fuming. So they took what worked, improved on it and added even more good stuff.

So really, what else is there to say about Halo 3 Multiplayer? It’s the same game we’ve loved for years, but now it’s all grown up. More weapons, better balance, lots of vehicles, new maps, new gametypes. Even the energy sword has been given an overhaul. Two wielders who attack each other at the same time will clash swords, momentarily stunned. After that, it’s a race to see who can perform the deadly strike. It’s this nice attention to detail, while still maintaining the core gameplay that makes Halo 3 such a stellar title.

•• Parents Should Know ••
This game is rated M for Mature and contains a fair amount of blood. Certainly not the most violent game ever made, but not exactly family-friendly either.

•• Conclusion ••
Halo 3 is a must-have game. While the campaign is little more than a tutorial, the multiplayer will give this game legs for years.


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Developed exclusively for Xbox 360 by acclaimed developer Bungie, Halo 3: ODST is a new, stand-alone expansion to the Halo saga that lets players experience the events leading up to the epic story told in Halo 3 through the eyes of an entirely new character the ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper), as they search for clues leading to the whereabouts of their scattered squad and the motivations behind the Covenant's invasion of New Mombasa. The game adds a new dimension to an all-encompassing universe that gamers around the world have known and loved since the release of the first Halo game in late 2001.


'Halo 3: ODST' game logo
ODST rookie battling a Covenant enemy in 'Halo 3: ODST'
New hero, old enemy.
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ODST rookie in full gear from 'Halo 3: ODST'
Join the ODST.
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Cinematic cutscreen from 'Halo 3: ODST'
Stunning cinematics.
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Firefight multiplayer mode from first-person perspective in 'Halo 3: ODST'
New co-op multiplayer mode.
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New Campaign, New Hero, New Tactics
Much more than an expansion, Halo 3: ODST allows players to explore dangerous new ground, search the dark, abandoned streets of New Mombasa for clues, and fight back against the Covenant invasion from multiple perspectives. Dropping in as "the rookie," a new member of an elite squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST) sent into New Mombasa on a classified recon mission, you'll be armed with specialized weaponry and upgraded technology, including silenced weapons and a VISR enhanced vision mode.


Separated from your squad, you'll have to scour the city for clues in order to learn what happened to Buck, ...

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Number of Players: 1-4 Players (up to 16 on the Halo 3 multiplayer disk included)
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Bungie Software
Console: Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Release Date: September 22, 2009 (NA)
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