Let me start right off the bat and say that I’m a newbie when it comes to the Halo universe. I had played Halo 2 for about five minutes once at a friends place and that was the most exposure I’ve ever had to the Halo series. Some might say I come in with a fresh slate while others would say that my unfamiliarity of the series might taint my perception of Halo 3, whatever you may think I’ve got an opinion on it and it’s sure to ruffle some feathers.
After endless months of hype the time had finally come, Halo Day. With it brought great expectations and hopes, even hopes of failure by a certain few. After taking the time to sit down and go through the campaign and multi-player I can finally say that Halo is 70% hype and 30% fun. What we’re left with is a messy narrative, mixed bag of graphics, and somewhat satisfying multi-player. After you finally finish the fight, you’ll wonder what all the hype was about.
If you’re a newcomer to the series with no Halo experience you’ll be lost within the game. There’s so much back story that right off the bat you’re questioning what happened and why you’re doing what you’re doing. As the game moves along though you’ll be able to catch up, for the most part. It also helps if you’ve got friends that are Halo fanatics and can fill in some of the blanks for you. The game starts with you, as Master Chief, falling to Earth from space and being found by a squad of Marines. From there they get you back up and running and you’re off on your mission to stop the Prophet of Truth from finding the Ark. One thing you’ll notice quickly is how fast paced the game is, with constant movement and action. Unfortunately it’s interrupted when you’re forced to slow down as images of Cortana speak to you. In a game that’s dependent upon its fast pace, this completely screws gameplay and feels a bit out of place as well.
The assortment of weapons and vehicles that can be used is actually a bit impressive. Weapons seem balanced and controlling the various vehicles, like the Tanks or Warthogs is pretty fun. New to the mix are the Hornet, the UNSC’s answer to the Banshee; Brute Chopper,think of a motorcycle with one huge ass front wheel; and the Prowler, similar to Halo 2’s Spectre or so I’m told. For the most part the three handle well, but the Chopper and Hornet’s handling can be a bit trickyat times.
One of the improvements being touted in Halo 3 was its AI. Your soldiers seem to be your typical red shirts featured in most games, going into a situation guns blazing without a care in the world. unfortunately it hurts you since they’re your backup and they’re getting killed too early into the fight. The enemy’s AI seemed to be better than the fellow Marines, it was exciting to see a Brute knock everything out of the way to get to you or climb around and dive to avoid death. It’s not something you see in most games and it was refreshing to see. Overall the AI was a mixed bag, but seemed to be improved on most games out there. I played the game on Legendary, the hardest level, and you could definitely tell that the enemy was smart and accurate.
Perhaps the biggest selling factor for a lot of people is Halo’s multi-player feature, which many tout as being the best out there. Personally I found many of the different types of online play to be boring. Wielding a Hammerzeist, a huge electrified battle axe, around a map while trying to hit other players bored me to tears. Some of the different online types were fun, such as the big deathmatches, but overall I wasn’t impressed with it. I will give Bungie credit in that they offer a lot of different online game types and maps, and most of all you can have 16 players on each map yet for me it didn’t draw me in. If anything I preferred playing the campaign more.
The visuals in the game while good, are nothing amazing or groundbreaking. Halo 3 is running at 640 resolution, so technically you can claim that it’s not even an HD game. But with the 360 upscaling it that argument can get touchy. Bungie claims that they sacrificed the resolution to give a better look to the game, if so great but please don’t tout this game as being amazing when it comes to looks. It’s not to say the game looks bad, far from it. It’s just that I personally feel there are better looking games out there. The sound though, they did a great job with.
Overall I’d have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with Halo 3. There was a lot of hype surrounding the game and unfortunately for some I didn’t buy into it. I’ve seen so many 10/10 reviews I’ve got to question what people where thinking when they played this game. You’ve got to hand it to Microsoft though, they built the hype and it paid off. They’ve got a hit and a goldmine on their hands. I’d definitely recommend a non-Halo fan rent this game, or buy it on the cheap, but I can’t recommend they shell out $60 for it. If you’re a die-hard Halo fan though I’d say go out and get it.