Halo 3 Reader Review
Reviewing this game puts me in a very difficult position indeed. How do I review a game which is so near and dear to me? Halo, my favourite game franchise, how can I criticise thee? This is a sort of retrospective of this game, with Reach fast approaching, I felt that I should give my favourite game of all time a good analysis. Brace yourselves, this one could get soppy.
This is most definitely the weakest part of the game. However, having said that, Halo 3 is a fitting conclusion to one of the greatest franchises of all time. Taking place after Halo 2, we pick up exactly where we left off, just after the moment when Master Chief said that oh-so memorable phrase "Sir! Finishing this fight!". Master Chief has crash landed in East Africa and things are looking grim. Luckily, he is found by The Arbiter, and the funky man himself, Sergeant Johnson.
Your main mission is basically to save Cortana. Another 'Save the Princess!' Story? Most certainly not! Bungie capture the relationship between the Master Chief and Cortana beautifully. You get frequent messages from Cortana throughout the nine missions which remind you of the two's closeness.
The other part of your mission is to destroy the Halo rings as the Gravemind is trying to rebuild itself. This of course means that you will need to rescue Cortana to enable you to destroy the rings as she has the code.
So there are two parts to the story, and they interlock with each other, which, for me created a captivating Cinematic experience.
Halo 3 is what you've come to expect from the franchise; tight, responsive controls allowing a multitude of abilities to be pulled off. However, Bungie have thrown in a few more variables, with the addition of equipment, shields can be deployed, enemies shields can be drained and flares can be thrown.
The new equipment works well in campaign, as it is implemented well due to the fact that enemies can use equipment in certain situations which adds another layer to Halo's AI. However, in multiplayer it can be a bit frustrating as it takes a long time for equipment to deploy and is really just a means for a cheap kill, but in no way, shape or form does it get in the way of the fabulous and robust multiplayer experience Bungie has finely crafted.
New exciting weapons have also been added such as the flamethrower from Halo PC, the Gravity Hammer used by Tartarus from Halo 2 and our old friend the Assault Rifle returns from Halo 1. Of course old favourites such as the Battle Rifle, Shotgun and Rocket Launcher return with a few tweaks which really balance out the experience.
This is definitely no Halo 2.5 when it comes to graphics. Textures have been drawn in much more detail with techniques such as bump-mapping used, while lighting is some of the best I've ever seen in a game thanks to the engine's new High Dynamic Range lighting. The graphics won't win the game any awards, but it is a stable engine which has a smooth framerate at all times and allows for some awesome battles and set pieces.
From the lush Jungles of Africa, to the hostile icy conditions of the Halo Ring, Bungie have outdone themselves with some great locales which really show the beauty of the graphics engine. Footprints are shown in the snow and plants and shrubs rustle in the wind.
Halo 3 certainly maintains it's colour palette of deep purples, and covenant architecture coupled with a lot of interesting Forerunner spaces which are interwoven with technology. It all means a nice change from the greys and browns from today's military shooters.
Multiplayer is what Bungie does best, and Halo 3 is no expection. Matchmaking has seen a facelift with new features such as searching for different variables such as 'best connection' and 'close skill range' which give a bit more customization, but overall, Halo 3's matchamking reminds me of the old phrase 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
11 maps were included with Halo 3 at launch with more maps released over the next two years which included many remakes mainly from Halo 2. The truth is the launch maps weren't all that great apart from some awesome maps such as Construct and my personal favourite, The Pit.
I would strongly advise either picking up ODST cheap, or purchasing the map packs because many playlists require the new maps and they are very well designed indeed.
What I think really makes Halo is the new ground-breaking features they introduce for consoles. Halo 1 had it's tight, responsive controls and awesome campaign, then Halo 2 had the awesome matchmaking experience coupled with some of the most awesome, memorable multiplayer maps ever made. So what did Halo 3 conjure up? It conjured up Forge and Theater, which allow the community to really make the game better.
These two features alone are what gaming is all about. It lets people be creative. Capturing Machinima has never been so easy! A detachable camera means so much. Awesome gameplay moments spread throughout the veins of the Halo community. I'll always remember the clip where a guy gets splattered by a traffic cone. And that in itself is all kinds of awesome.
Then we move to Forge. Not a map-maker so to speak, but a editor and manipulator. Weapons and scenery can be deleted and moved to change the flow and feel of a map. At first, Forge wasn't a massive deal, but the community changed all that. I recall countless nights of unbelievable fun, just downloading and playing custom maps and gametypes with friends, and that for me is what Halo is about; pure fun.
For those more into the competitive side of Halo, then Bungie has got you covered. If you link your Gamertag to Bungie.net (Bungie's website) then you have access to all sorts of awesome statistics including kills and deaths, heatmaps of where you get kills and die and weapon breakdowns.
Halo 3 is really the complete package. A blast of a Campaign, a dollop of Multiplayer, a sprinkling of Theater and a cherry of Forge combine to make a delicious gaming cake. I really can't say anymore than that.