Reviewing a game as enormous both in hype and importance as Halo 3
presents a challenge: can you seriously review it as ‘just another game… you know… like any other’? Do you have to understand the implications such a game has to not only its home console but also to the competing platforms? Or do you say to yourself, “Well, basically, I could write out the words Dooh-Dum-Dee-Dah a few thousand times” and people will still buy it? Forsaking the long dark teatime of that philosophical trap, I instead ploughed straight into the game itself.
Not to give too much away about my experience with Halo 3
- it is about as close to living up to the hype surrounding it as anyone could reasonably expect it to be - I have finished the fight, had a blast doing it, and felt satisfied when it was over.
The campaign is a joy to play both on your own and in co-op, but it is not without its flaws. The multi-player maps offer more than enough variety in size and layout to keep anyone entertained for the foreseeable future. The new additions like Forge and the Theater (theatre, even) are both a blast to play with and about as secure a guarantee as you can ever hope to get that you will “get your money’s worth” from a product.
The first thing I should mention, since it is most likely the first thing you will notice and critique yourselves, are the graphics. For starters, it's worth keeping in mind that not only are all the cut scenes in the game performed in real time, but all those models exist on enormous battle fields that contain upwards of 30 characters at a time (maybe more, it’s hard to count when they are trying to kill me). There are also tonnes (tons, even) of vehicles.
Bear in mind – as a comparison – that the largest battlefield in the rather wonderful Gears Of War
was generally no more than a very large courtyard with around 15 characters. So, Halo 3’s
texture quality is superb, as are virtually all other aspects of the game’s stunning engine. The number of particles and exploding bits, the debris breaking of the vehicles, the pyrotechnics, even the ammunition itself is all rendered in spectacular detail. Why Microsoft doesn’t license the engine out I’ll never know.
One of the things that did kind of jar for me initially were the facial animations. Some of the work on the opening scene seemed a bit rough, and brought my expectations down a bit. However, once I completed the first segment of the game and things began to ramp up, all those fears were quickly eased.
As clichéd as the Halo
series may seem to the average onlooker – who will experience a ton of fun with a nice pop-sci-fi story - I have to say that some points in the game were actually moving – emotionally not just vehicularly (sic).
If I had only played the two previous games I don’t think I would care so much. However, having read through all the novels (even the unfortunate second book The Flood
), this was a final farewell to a group of characters I, and many others, have become rather fond of. For those of us who have invested ourselves in the trilogy, this is a culmination rather than just a game. Fortunately, it can be relished as a righteous bang of an end rather than a simpering, sell-out whimper.