As the previous two games, the story is still as convoluted as ever with twists and turns at every level
As this review comes a couple of days after the game is released many of those who wanted the game have already bought it and this review will only be something to compare their own experiences to rather than act as a buyers guide, as many reviews often do. However, for those of you who are still sitting on the fence and will only listen to the eminent words from the highly skilled Strategy Informer reviewers then this is for you. If you’re sitting there with your fifty pounds in your hand, poised and ready to spring onto the bus and make your way to the nearest video games shop and just need some words of encouragement from us here at SI then stop reading now and get on that bus before the shops close as you really won’t regret it.
The lighting and bloom effects are breathtaking
This map looks familiar! New Mombasa makes it’s return for Halo 3
Reviewing a game of this scale and magnitude can be a tricky affair: What do I leave in? What do I take out? How can I say something about a game that hasn’t already been said by all and sundry? Anyway, that’s not your problem, it’s mine and to be honest it’s these very questions that make Halo 3 such a masterpiece. There’s so much to see and do, so many experiences both in the Campaign mode alone or with friends over Xbox Live or simply on the multiplayer maps with the new and rather amazing real-time level editor, Forge that to include everything that’s good about the game would take forever. The game simply oozes fun from every orifice and if you like your console first person shooters or even if from what you’ve seen so far you might just be a tinsy bit interested, then Halo 3 will not disappoint.
As with the previous two games, the story is still as convoluted as ever with twists and turns at every level which is just as difficult to follow amongst the mayhem on screen but somehow it only serves to add to the replay value of the title. The fact that there’s something else going on, some purpose to your mission really helps with the immersion and makes you grip the controller that little bit tighter as you plough through each level and makes you feel even more proud of yourself as you look back on a now barren wasteland that ten minutes ago was fully of enemy Covenant.
When I say full of enemy Covenant I mean it, too. The sheer scale of the battle arena really is jaw-dropping at times. I remember fighting two huge enemy tanks (who will remain nameless due to not wanting to spoil anything for those who haven’t played it yet) which were surrounded by Ghosts, the new Covenant vehicles the Brute Chopper and the Prowler, whilst I drove on one of several Mongoose with rocket launcher toting marines on the back trying to take everyone and everything down. All the while there’re screams as Grunts get blown to smithereens and yelling and whooping from my AI controlled team-mates as we zigzag across the battlefield at breakneck speed. There are so many scenes of this nature that to list those all in detail would take too much time than I get paid for!!
Whereas Halo 2 suffered some frame rate issues and texture pop-in, Bungie have got it spot on this time around. All these huge battles are executed without the slightest hitch and the game is all the better for it. It does come at a cost however. The graphics simply aren’t what we’ve come to expect from a next-gen title but let me stress that they in no way impede your enjoyment of the game. The character models do look very simplistic and the lack of anti-aliasing means that jagged edges – ‘jaggies’ if you’re street – are apparent throughout. To make up for this however, we are treated to some of the most spectacular lighting I have seen in a game. As the hub of a ship opens and the sun shines through to reveal a vast, open desert crowned by ethereal cloud formations and enemy craft really is a sight to behold. So what Halo 3 might lack in character detail it makes up for in environment.
The Grunts are as funny and as lethal as they ever were
The size and scale of the multiplayer maps alone are more than worth the entrance fee
Marty O’Donnell doesn’t disappoint as his rousing, bombastic musical score intensifies many a set-piece and only serves to accentuate the importance of your mission. It’s amazing the difference music makes to a game, or in fact any form of visual media and it surprises me that many other videogame developers don’t seem to concentrate as much effort on the score as they do on other parts of the game. Bungie really have raised the bar in this regard and hopefully other development companies will follow.
The multiplayer segment of the game is so chock full of things to see and do that there really is something for everyone. You can either dive right in or design a map from head to toe. You can control everything from where you want weapons placed through to dictating the location of spawn points. The hours and hours you could spend on honing the perfect multiplayer map is worth the entrance fee alone. Also, with Bungie’s new Forge map editor you can actually edit the map in real-time. So if you’re testing and idea with some friends and having a tank makes the game imbalanced, you can take it out right there and then. Or if the level needs a Mongoose and not a Warthog, you can simply swap them over as you and your friends a playing.
The ability to play through the Campaign mode with a friend or three on Xbox Live has now been added and this really opens the game up for some frenetic battles and means that no level will ever be the same no matter how many times you play though it. You and a friend can now share your experience with the community at large due to the new Theatre Mode. This enables you to save a video clip of your game and upload it to Bungie.net where other users can then download it to their Xbox and watch as you go through a group of enemies at lightning speed or whatever it is you want to share.
I could go on and on I really could. But the crux of the matter is that with a game of this magnitude it has to be experienced firsthand in order to fully understand what it is I’m talking about. The simple matter is that Bungie have done their level best to create an atmosphere in which you feel like you’re in the midst of this colossal event and they pull it off with ease. The multiplayer element alone is a complete experience in itself let alone the amazing campaign.
Finally the mystery surrounding Cortana is explained. It was worth the wait
Is that a huge weapon you’re carrying or are you just pleased to see me?!
So if you made it to the end and your fifty quid is now soggy after being held so tightly for so long then I guess you can and will never be persuaded - or just that my review wasn’t any good, one of the two! To sum it up in just a few small words it’s simply the most fun I’ve had playing a video game for the twenty-five years or so I’ve been playing games. Full stop. Don’t just take my word for it though. See for yourselves!