Reviews// Halo 3

Posted 25 Sep 2007 14:41 by
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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.
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Comments

alex 25 Sep 2007 19:50
1/10
The game sounds badass. I cant wait to buy it.
Bentley 26 Sep 2007 17:08
2/10
Never liked Halo. To me, it's always been a flashy-but-wimpy FPS. After starting on Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, and evolving through Quake, Unreal Tournament and Half-Life, Halo just always seemed too "toned-down" and dayglo for me to take seriously. Me, I like a nice, bloody headshot, some proper nasty bullets over silly laser guns, and preferably a decent controller and not the Fisher Price toys that come bundled with Microsoft products.

I would be tempted to give it a go if it weren't for all the hype. I find it all insulting, and felt a little bit of sick rise up into my mouth today when I logged on to SPOnG to find my favourite gaming website has been Halo "Threemed". I'm sure it's a competent enough game, but does it really look better than Call of Duty 4? I think not... and I for one am NOT gonna buy into all this ridiculous hype. It's just another FPS, done quite well but without the BANG I want from my bucks... and that bang is, to put it simply, violent, bloodthirsty headshots.

I'd much rather save my cash for Call of Duty 4 and, hopefully, Unreal Tournament 3...
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Tim Smith 26 Sep 2007 17:35
3/10
Bentley wrote:
I find it all insulting, and felt a little bit of sick rise up into my mouth today when I logged on to SPOnG to find my favourite gaming website has been Halo "Threemed".


"Insulting"? That's a bit of a shame - no, that's a lot of a shame. Firstly, because I think the design team has done a hell of a job on this skin. Secondly, because the idea that we're trying to insult our readers is plain wrong. You've always got the option to change skin (well, SPOnG's skin at least). But we do have to sell advertising in order to keep the site going. That's the plain and simple fact.

But let me restate that editorial is utterly separate from advertising on SPOnG - and always will be.

Bentley wrote:
I'd much rather save my cash for Call of Duty 4 and, hopefully, Unreal Tournament 3...


Fair play.... personally I've never 'got' Halo myself... or any FPS much after Wolfenstein. Now as for PES...

Bentley 26 Sep 2007 19:22
4/10
Tim Smith wrote:


"Insulting"? That's a bit of a shame - no, that's a lot of a shame. Firstly, because I think the design team has done a hell of a job on this skin. Secondly, because the idea that we're trying to insult our readers is plain wrong. You've always got the option to change skin (well, SPOnG's skin at least). But we do have to sell advertising in order to keep the site going. That's the plain and simple fact.

But let me restate that editorial is utterly separate from advertising on SPOnG - and always will be.


Let me clarify this: I find Microsoft's hype insulting. As in "Hey! Idiot gamers, look what everyone else is going to be buying, the best game EVER! It's a new genre, FPS, and this is the best FPS ever! Don't be a LOSER, only LOSERS don't want this game, even the BBC said so etc." and every single gaming site is full with pointless news and articles about everything related to Halo 3. There comes a point when my poor brain cannae take it any more, and I want to step away from the Halo hype.

And yes, the designers did well, it's a great looking skin, but as someone who is sick of the Halo hype, I did immediately switch skin. But I don't find SPOnG insulting! And it upsets me to think you think I thought that. I love SPOnG, and I don't know how I lived without it before I discovered it. I am sure that many Halo fans who can't get enough of the game will love that skin.

No, it is Microsoft's hype-machine an insult to my intelligence, because as a gamer of 25 years I pretty much know what I want from a game, and no amount of advertising or shouting is going to sway me. Well, maybe a little might but there comes a point when enough is enough, and Halo 3 passed that point lightyears back...
PistolPete 26 Sep 2007 21:22
5/10
I think the design team has done a hell of a job on this skin. It's ok, I prefere Medi2 skin but that's neither here nor there - what I've been meaning to enquire for quite some time, but never really bothered (as it is really nit-picking), whether or not the old system was simply easier to skin for or if not, has advertising whittling away or indeed - though not to imply - has your design team gotten lazy?

I've never 'got' Halo myself... or any FPS much after Wolfenstein. Now as for PES...

I like Halo ok. I've played timesplitters 2 more than any other -'splitters 3 was ruined by EA. (But I can agree with Bentley's lust for satisfying deaths. Metal Gear satisfies my hunt/kill blood lust everytime.) I loved Second Sight too (though not a FPS obviously, same team I think, and what a story!). Essentially I'm more excited by Haze than any other.

And PES is the most addictive thing ever. I entered university this year and left my t.v and ps2 at home. I was on the year 2023 playing 10min matches in Master League, and in PES 5, I reached 2026 with the same length matches. I do not admit this with pride.

Also, and I'll end with this, - during the (assumed) PES 2008(why not PES 7!) reviews, could you try to point out differences between the console versions. I'm assuming the ps3 and the 360 versions will be almost identical, but last year you failed to mention the regressive nature of the 360's master league; no ability to create your own players/team etc. I find the most enjoyable part in creating inimitable players (not always strikers, not always perfect) and pitching them against friends. The ps2 kept these features last iteration, and I'd only even consider buying a ps3 for the next gen PES if the same features were included.

And I am aware that this forum has nothing to do with Pro Evo.

ohms 28 Sep 2007 02:58
6/10

I never saw anything that warranted the hype with Halo. I played the 2nd one multiplayer quite a bit, good as it was, I never got anything more out of it then I did playing the original Quake on a LAN, back in the day.

I would like to play this co-op though, looks pretty good, not sure how EDGE gave it another 10 out of 10 though.


tyrion 28 Sep 2007 08:51
7/10
ohms wrote:
I would like to play this co-op though, looks pretty good, not sure how EDGE gave it another 10 out of 10 though.

They aren't the only ones. Just look at these scores on MetaCritic. 11 scores equivalent to 100% and an average reviewer score of 95%! Those are insane numbers!

The user average of 82% (8.2/10) seems much more balanced, there are only a few 10s and 1s in the comments list.
LUPOS 28 Sep 2007 14:56
8/10
ohms wrote:

I never got anything more out of it then I did playing the original Quake on a LAN, back in the day.


Yea but if you played quake on lan now it would be fun but it certainly wouldn't wow you. Halo was the new hotness. When quake introduced capture the flag it basically set the standard for all fps' from then on. When halo came out the effortless switch between fantastically controlled console fps shooting and epic vehicle fights added a whole new dynamic. Add to that the 2 weapons / grenades/ mele set up and the recharging shield, almost all of which have been copied by every fps since and you might "get what the big deal is". Maybe the sci-fi super soldier story didn't grab you by the balls but to deny the game play innovation that halo:ce brought is just being "too cool for school", as the elderly might say. Is halo3 as big a deal as the first. No. It's a logical and near perfect evolution of it. I don't want a drastically different halo. I love the first and it's still fun to play to this day, much like quake. Quake 3 wasn't a huge departure form the first 2, it was just a culmination of years of trial and error that took the already excellent formula and nearly perfected it. Quake 3 has an average review score of 84% right now and it had no single player component to speak of. Considering the scale of halo compred to quake 3, 4 player co-op is a joy to play, and i'd say the 95% is pretty damn reasonable. Of course being as it's my score I would say that.
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moosa 29 Sep 2007 01:01
9/10
"Too cool for school" is definitely the term for all those who hate Halo.
You can call me a Nintendo fanboy; I've never myself bought a game system that wasn't a Nintendo. But I still know how to love and appreciate awesome games on other consoles, and Halo is chief among them (no pun intended). Honestly, I'm hurting for this game... I need to find a friend who has a 360 so that I can take advantage of them and play Halo 3 until my eyes bleed...Now don't tell me to go buy a 360 unless you've got $500 on hand that I could borrow and never give back.
A lot of gamers like to make the common "PC is better" argument when Halo comes up. You hear everyone saying it, but news flash: it simply isn't true. People (especially PC gamers) automatically and subconsciously make the assumption that more complexity = better FPS. Halo was revolutionary because it simplified the genre into a pure and seemingly perfect form for consoles, where previously any attempts to reproduce the PC-style FPS on consoles met with some serious problems, and could never match what was available to dedicated PC gamers. Halo ripped the guts out, and rebuilt the FPS from the ground up for consoles, without sacrificing much of the essence of the FPS in the original.
People say that PC shooters have far more advanced control than dual-stick-controlled consoles have to offer, but this notion is also not entirely true. Sure, a PC mouse is more responsive and accurate for the traditional looking and aiming, and that is, of course, a big deal. But beyond the mouse, the computer keyboard is likely the worst suited input device to ever be utilized for gaming. Sure, people can (and do) get used to it, and play PC FPSs very well with it. But what PC shooter has ever had a button solely for grenades, or for melee attacks? Before Halo, these were all options added to a long list of held weapons that required cycling through. How about the ease of switching between just two held weapons, and picking up and dropping them, and dual wielding, all on-the-fly? What PC shooter made it so easy to hop in and out of vehicles and control them effectively without ever missing a beat? How about the crouch and scope zoom functions built directly into the control sticks? Then there's the easily found buttons for swapping grenade types, jumping, flashlight switching... That's pretty much all of it. Basically what it comes down to is that the ONLY thing PC shooters do better than Halo in terms of controls is the looking and aiming; the rest is in Halo's court.
And with that comes one of the most important factors of Halo's awesomeness, which is it's accessibility. PC shooters require, by comparison, quite an extreme level of dedication towards just learning how everything works and wrapping your fingers around the controls to the point where it feels natural. PC gamers who've been doing it for years can whine about it all they want, but the truth is, a traditional game pad like what Xbox has is built solely for gaming, and it beats the living snot out of a PC keyboard & mouse combo in how comfortable and accessible the interface is. There are many who have had their socks rocked off by PC FPSs many times in their lives, but the fact is that since Halo, there are many, many more who've had their socks rocked off by FPSs on game consoles.
Much of what makes the Halo series so awesome is it's purity, relative simplicity and accessibility. Those guys at Bungie had enough insight to apply some of the fundamental building blocks of effective game design to the then relatively popular genre, and created what has been a tremendous advancement within a now incredibly popular genre. They created a shooter with a completely logical and far more accessible interface and simplified the gameplay to a much purer form, throwing out much of what has plagued PC FPSs and even moreso the console games that tried to mimic them, and have done so without sacrificing one bit of the challenge, quality and enjoyment of the experience.

[/RANT]
PreciousRoi 29 Sep 2007 05:43
10/10
Thank you.

You should be able to pick up a used 360 on craigslist for somewhere closer to $200-300...you can even get MS to acknowledge transfer of (MS' extended RRoD) warranty if the original owner calls 1-800-MYXBOX and confirms change of ownership (or so I was told, by MS) in case you hit a RRoD.

As someone who played PC FPSs (and other games with keyboard controls) prior to console offerings, I found the freedom from the keyboard liberating, and dual analog controls are just plain fun. Do you sacrifice a bit of functionality? Yes, but its worth it to not be slaved to a keyboard, and the constant upgrading.

As it is, I haven't had to upgrade anything on my computer in years...and I think I paid like $60 bucks for my last video card. Yet it does everything I've ever needed it to, besides play Oblivion. Had I kept my computer upgraged to play PC games, I would likely have spent well over $2000 , as I'd need new MoBo, CPU, 2 1Gig sticks of memory, SATA hdd, at least one high-end video card.

As it is I roll a positively ancient P4 2.0 with IDE drives, a Gig of slow RAM, and a geriatric Radeon 9200 but it downloads pr0n and plays Minesweeper(joking) just fine.
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