Sunday, September 30, 2007

Halo 3 Review (360)

Title: Halo 3
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Platform: Xbox 360

My Recommendation: Must Own

It should come as no surprise that I recommend this as a Must Own, however there are some caveats. For those only wanting to go through the campaign and not dabble in the multiplayer options, this is purely a game you should rent. It shouldn't take you very long to beat the campaign and then you have the final chapter of the series. If you are into multiplayer and being able to build your own "items" into a given map, this game tops them all and for that it becomes a Must Own.

The campaign itself is well done with a couple sections here and there that I really didn't care for. I've never been a big fan of the Flood and any section revolving around them goes into the "I just want to get through this section" mode instead of the "man, am I having fun trying to think ahead of all these enemies. With the Flood there is no strategy, they are a legion that just keeps coming after you. They have no tactics or anything, they just want to overwhelm you.

Any section revolving around the Covenant is really good. This makes up the majority of the game with the Flood being the pain in the ass toward the end. The enemy AI is really good and grenades almost become useless against the Covenant because they are so smart. There are a variety of Brutes and Grunts you will go through, some with stretches of invulnerability attached to them or a strategic weak point to take them out.

The weapons are nice here as well. I'm happy to say the Assault Gun is back after it was forgotten about in Halo 2. In fact there are many sections where a friend actually throws you the Assault Rifle in a cutscene. It is funny that it was gone for a game and now it is the main basic weapon in Halo 3. The coolest additions to the weapons are the Gravity Hammer and the Laser gun. The laser comes in handy in at least two sections of the game, one of which is a little to cheap if you ask me.

The story overall is done well. Anyone who hasn't played the other 2 games is going to be really lost, especially about the whole Gravemind aspect of the game. The Gravemind is around in this game and you see his tentacles, but (SPOILER!!!!!) you never go against him face to, uh, face.

There are a few boss battles in the game, but nothing to write home about. The first appearance of the Scarab is awe inspiring, but once you encounter them here and there through the rest of the game they don't seem as cool. The boss battle toward the end of the game is a very weak one with the aforementioned laser gun, which is too bad because it involves a character that is a central character to the series itself.

The nicest thing about the storyline is this: (BE PREPARED FOR SPOILERS):

At the end of Halo 3 you come to the realization with the final mission title of "Full Circle" that the series has done just that. You blow up the rebuilding Halo from the first game, you take out at least a sizable chunk of the Flood (if not all of them) and after the credits have rolled you see that the Master Chief and Cortana made it through the portal still alive. The Chief goes into a cryotube and tells Cortana, "Wake me when you need me." That is exactly how the Chief started Halo: being pulled from a cryotube.

Do I think this is the end of the Halo series? I doubt it. Bungie is in a dangerous position. They have to create a new IP that people are going to jump on. If they can't do that I have to believe there will be a Halo 4 in the future. The door is left open for a Wing Commander like rebirth. The Covenant could decide they want to attack again, there could be internal struggles on Earth or there could be an all-new threat. Not killing off Master Chief leaves the door open for him to come out of the cryotube once again.

The multiplayer aspects of the game is where the real meat is. I've only played a little bit online, but I also realize the broad range of games you can play online. There is also the Forge mode where you can drop items into the maps of the game. You can't change the map terrain, but you can create an all-new experience to play with your friends online. Much like Halo 2, chances are multiplayer is going to help Halo 3 live for years and I can only guess that Bungie has a lot of downloadable content coming.

In the end, you really can't say no to Halo 3 if you are into online multiplayer at all. If you only want to play the campaign and see the end of the story I say you should rent the game. It should only take you at most a few days to finish the fight. If this is the end of Halo, it went out on a high note.

The big question is whether it is the best 360 game out there? From a multiplayer perspective probably. From a graphical, story and overall perspective, probably not.