The path that lead us away from Earth, away from Reach, and toward a number of extremely engaging battles is now coming to a close. Halo 3, the first of the series to appear on the Xbox 360 but the last Halo game to be ever, has been released to hungry Halo fans all across the world. It’s time to see where the story ends and also to see what the Xbox 360 can -really- do. Is it up to it?
That’s what this review is all about.
The worker bees at Bungie didn’t stint we fans when it came to shoveling out the eye candy for us. The environments and the characters in them have been improved drastically over the last game to an impressive degree. The environments were well designed with visual and auditory effects like the rustling of leaves in the forest, the sounds of running water from the rivers to be found therein, and there were also numerous cunningly contrived vistas that created an amazing illusion of distance that was reminiscent of what you saw in Elder Scrolls IV but without that level of immensity. It is safe to say, though, that it was a wonderful experience for the eye.
The NPC AI’s have also received a considerable upgrade, not just in terms of how they look, but also in how they interact with you. The reactivation sequence of the Master Chief at the start of the game is in easy example, but it the degree of interaction is much wider then initially presented. There are times when you perform a really impressive attack like sticking a Brute with a plasma grenade which then explodes killing the Brutes around him causing one soldier to laugh and say “Man, I have got to hang out with you!” Overly enthusiastic praise it might be but you can’t say it isn’t appreciated.
So what is new about this third installment of the Halo series? The Brutes are back but the combat system with them has been altered to ensure that every Brute you encounter is a different challenge with a different variety of weapons and vehicles for you to use against them and for them to use against you. The Arbiter is also present in the game and will fight alongside the Master Chief throughout the game but as he no longer has anyone to take revenge against he is not a playable character but he is still there and he still is extremely cool,.
There also new toys of destruction for you to throw at, shoot at, or run over your enemies with. For example you will be introduced to two new types of grenades: the spiker and the incineration grenade. The function of the incineration grenade is pretty obvious: when it explodes it creates a pool of flame that will ignite anything that touches it. The spike grenade is a projectile weapon that can attach to both organic and inorganic substances before exploding in a flurry of spikes that will severely ruin the day of anyone standing nearby…just make sure you’re not one of them. On the subject of spike weapon there is also a new Brute weapon called a Spiker which is something along the lines of a heavy duty needler which fires a group of heavy spikes into whatever they’re aimed at and also for your use there is the gravity hammer which is similar to the hammer the Brute Tartarus used in the final battle of Halo 2. The most innovative addition to this arms parade is the ability to rip mounted turrets off their base and carry them around with you for heavy artillery on the go.
It’s worth taking the time here to state that Bungie hired Nathan Fillion of Firefly game to provide the voice of one of the NPC sergeants in the Halo 3 story mode. Firefly fans rejoice!
Okay, that’s enough.
Halo 3 is packed full of large shiny graphical wonders, like the articulated motion of the gears and gizmos that move the Convenant Scarab tank, but there are also many smaller touches that show the care that Bungie took in putting together this last game of the series. For instance the scope of the sniper rifle, a digital viewfinder that displays a computer enchanced image of what the wielder is looking at, is also visible when running around the terrain with the scope held away from your eyes. Depending on where you are or what you’re looking at the image will always change.
Halo 3 makes for a pretty quick play through by and large but playing through it over that time was a throughly enjoyable-though often challenging-experience that that moss of boredom never had time to grow.
The in game CG sequences w ere also planned with a definite cinematic angle in mind but it also flows from those non interactive sequences into the missions as you play through them. In the first mission you encounter a Brute holding up a human soldier high off the ground while attempting him to terrify him into giving up information. You can either shoot the Brute and save the soldier or let the Brute drop him down and kill him. It’s a mix of the staged and the cinematic that blended very well together.
This review would not be complete without mentioning the multiplayer mode that is back and largely brand new. The design of the new multiplayer mode that is supposed to keep the multiplayeer mode a continuously dynamic experience once you’ve finished the main storyline of Halo 3. Team matches, solo matches, and your old favorites like Capture the Flag are brought back to life in this new body. All in all for fans of the series or just the FPS genre itself Halo 3 is a fine addition to anyone’s game collection.