Halo 3 a powerful online force

Halo 3 is finally here, and the fight is far finished, folks.

October 03, 2007

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Halo 3Take it easy now - that isn't a spoiler. What I'm referring to is Halo 3's multiplayer mode, which has always been - and still very much is - the bread and butter of the Halo series. It’s better than Halo 2’s superb online offering and will surely have players fighting again and again for a long, long time.

In terms of story, Halo 3 is the final chapter in a trilogy that began with the original Xbox launch title 'Halo: Combat Evolved'. Halo 3 begins almost right where Halo 2 left off, with Master Chief landing on Earth, ready to take on the Covenant for the last time and hopefully save the world. Though Halo 3 has by far the best single player campaign of the three, it still won't win over anyone who didn't like the first two, and it sure as heck has its problems.

The campaign is split up into nine missions, with plenty of checkpoints (which you'll rarely even notice) along the way. Unlike Halo 2, which was billed as a fight for Earth but barely even took place on the third rock from the sun, Halo 3 throws you into several huge battles on Earth and keeps you there for several levels. You'll fight alongside countless human soldiers (all of which can't drive a vehicle to save their lives), all the while mowing down wave after wave of Covenant baddies. Rest assured that you won't just be facing off against Grunts and Jackals. Just know that Scarabs make quite the explosive return to the Halo world.

Where the campaign runs into problems is with the last two levels. We can't say too much because of many possible spoilers, but let's just say that the most annoying aspects of Halo 1 and 2 are back in full force in Halo 3. Why the developers continued along these lines absolutely boggles the mind but mercifully, the majority of the game is solid all-around. The pacing is fantastic, the gameplay is switched up wonderfully with some fantastic vehicle sections, and there are some truly stunning environments that do wonders for sucking you into the plot.

There is also four player co-op available online, which is simply awesome. It works similarly to Gears of War - as long as one player is still alive, the other players will eventually respawn. If everyone dies, everyone returns to the last checkpoint. We were a little frustrated with how the respawns worked - you can only respawn when 'the area is safe', whatever that means - but for the most part co-op is fantastic.

One more thing worth noting - if you simply just want to finish the game and see the ending, and don't care much for a challenge, feel free to play on normal or easy. But if you truly want to get the most out of Halo 3, play on Heroic. It's a completely different game on this difficulty setting and it's the way the game should be played. Legendary is truly a challenge to be reckoned with, and we're guessing most people won't get very far unless they play three or four player co-op.

Halo 3  Multiplayer!The multiplayer portion of Halo 3, meanwhile, is even more robust and addictive than Halo 2. Balancing issues seem to have been sorted out so you'll really have to gain some skill to take other players out (you can no longer just rely on a couple of really good dual-wielded weapons). Every Halo veteran will recognize the return of matchmaking, where you can take friends with you from game to game as the servers choose who you play with and against. A great addition to this is the party system, where you can 'party up' with other random players on your team and they'll battle with you from game to game as well.

Bungie has also added file sharing to Halo 3. What this means is that you can save videos of your battles (it automatically saves your last 25 battles) and view them for yourself and send them to your friends. You can take clips, screenshots and edit sections of videos as well. It's a wonderful idea, though actually going through the process isn't as easy as 1-2-3. Even just downloading screenshots can take up to a few minutes to do. The length of time is our only real gripe though. Not only is it fun to watch replays of games, but it can really help players out. Not sure where that sniper was pegging people off from? Just go into the video of your last game, and enter free-camera mode, where you can view the entire map from any angle and height you'd like. It's actually mildly addictive.

There is also a quasi-level editor called the Forge. In this mode, one player has the ability to drop objects into the map whenever he or she would like. Each object costs a certain amount of money, so you can't just load a map up with 100 tanks. You can't change the map itself (for example, you can't add bodies of water or raise or lower land masses), but you can add all sorts of objects, both big and small. This is another excellent addition to the multiplayer portion of Halo 3, and its benefit to the overall Halo 3 experience is limited only by the player's imagination.

The game shipped with several brand new and redone maps, most of which are superb. There are giant arenas like Sandtrap, small areas like Snowbound, and everything in between (High Ground being our personal favourite). As always, the attention to detail is second to none and the maps are always extremely balanced in terms of spawn points, weapon locations and hiding spots.

With Halo 3, Bungie raised the bar where it mattered most - in multiplayer. It'll be fun to plow through the campaign simply to see what happens to Master Chief and the rest of the main players in the series, but it's the multiplayer that will have people going back for months and years to come.

Halo 3
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site: http://www.bungie.net/Projects/Halo3/default.aspx
Rating: 9 / 10

 
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