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SummaryAn online gamers' dream becomes reality...
The GoodI'll get the obvious thing out of the way first. Halo 3, despite the amount of hype, is not a good game. Unless, of course, you sit at home playing by yourself and you don't know what the word 'internet' stands for. If you do, then thankfully Halo 3 raises its bulky frame high and stands proudly among the rest of the first person shooter genre.
I've always considered the Halo series to be one fairly stock standard in its single player form. It isn't bad, compared to most others, but since the first game it hasn't really built upon the possible story angles that could have been developed. Having said that, at its highest difficulty setting, playing by yourself can be a challenge.
But where Halo really shines is the ton after ton of online and multiplayer additions. The single player campaign takes on a much more enjoyable form when playing with a friend, and even more so if you turn on the many additional challenges (though it all depends on how good your co-op buddy is, which in my case means I normally come second in the points ... not that I mind too much).
Outside of the single player options, it's the frag fest slayer that will take up most of your time, and the options continue to increase when you look closer. Play capture the hill, maybe a little one on one, then change to swords or shotguns only, or go all out in a 16 a side battle. It really is endless, and I doubt anyone will get tired of taking your fellow players on, and on, and on...
I'll give credit where credit is due, Bungie has designed the simplest and easiest to use xbox live system to date. Most others will base their design on this system for games (and perhaps consoles) to come, but the ease of which to find others players the world over, combined with the number of options to choose from, make it a highly worthwhile gaming experience. And with Microsoft behind it, the extra content should continue on until there's nothing left to give, which could be a while yet.
The BadSomething I mentioned before does stick out. If you took out all the multiplayer options, there isn't much left after that. The campaign won't take up much of your time, and it's clear from the options at the main menu that Bungie put far more though into the multiplayer options. That isn't a complaint, since the effort paid off, but many die hard fans, I guess I can say I'm one of them, were all expecting a little more from this final chapter in the Master story. The script seems fairly loose, the level design isn't all that different from Halo 2 (the really good parts are few and far between) and the voice acting can be a little too funny than what they probably were aiming for.
The one thing I will say was slightly surprising is in regards to Halo 3's visual performance. It won't go down as one of the Xbox 360's best, especially if you compare it to Gears of War or Call of Duty 4. I say it's a surprise since Halo is the Xbox flagship series, so expecting more visually should never have occured in the first place. The giant leap in presentation from Halo to Halo 2 was probably never going to happen here, but the console can perform even better than what's on display.
The Bottom LineHalo 3 raises the bar in terms of multiplayer options, and in this day and age, that makes a huge difference in terms of how much time you'll put into it. Having said that, it feels as if the single player campaign has been left by the wayside, which was the chief (no pun intended) reason why gamers played the original Halo. Yes, it has its annoying moments, but there's nothing like taking down wave after wave of creatures on Legendary.
As a total package, Bungie completes the trilogy nicely, with months of content and some well designed functionality. It may not win any awards like its older brothers, but in terms of making the most of the online world as of today, it hits the right note. It's just a shame that the campaign couldn't have been more ... exciting.