In November of 2001 Microsoft did the unthinkable: They launched a game console. With the console, the only game worth owning (at the time), Microsoft published a small title called Halo. Now, the series has become a world wide phenomenon. So where does the third, and supposed finale, fall in the grand scheme of things?
I can tell you it lives up to most of the hype, but it really comes down to what you were expecting. If you were expecting the second coming, you can cry in shame. What Halo 3 is, is a solid gameplay experience. The core mechanics of the game itself haven’t changed, and the single player and multiplayer might as well be called Halo 2.5HD. Why 2.5? Because of the change to the controls of the game. It took me a good mission and a half to fix stupid mistakes like reloading with the X button. The move to the bumper is far and above the best improvement Bungie has made to the solid foundation they were building on.
The new feature for the X button is equipment. Well… more like ‘multiplayer-odds-increaser’ instead of equipment, as it doesn’t really do much as far as the single player is concerned, aside from the occasional shield. This new addition is a great way to expand multiplayer battles, and add an different lair to the strategy. Speaking of multiplayer the strongest addition is that of an old favorite: The Assault Rifle. The only change being the clip size, it is now here to stay, replacing the stupidity the SMG created as a starting weapon, but don’t count the SMG out, as it receives a much needed upgrade. The balance for the weapons is spot on, allowing you to feel as if you have an edge, albeit a small one at times. This has changed from Halo 2 where it was nothing but a contest of power weapons.
The story is bland at best. It does tie everything up nicely, even with its cliffhanger ending. However it doesn’t feel like the story was a third act, but more of an extension to the second. I guess it does what it needs too, as I am itching for more, but not up in arms about it. It would have been cool to have seen Master Chief’s face, but I guess they could save that for something else. It will be interesting to see where Halo Wars takes the series, and if that will be the new face of Halo, as apposed to the run-and-gun presented by Bungie.
While not a direct part of the game, Bungie.net cannot go without mention. The sheer ammount of support provided for Halo 3 games is unparrelled as far as additional content. From uploading screenshots to allowing Saved Films to be downloaded to you Xbox by clicking a link online, Bungie has surpassed themselves from what they provided from Halo 2. All of the Halo 2 functionality is still there, but the additions are always welcome and will add to the replay value ten fold.