Halo 3 is better than the second one, and thats fine by me.
The third installment to the Halo trilogy is finally here and it is superb. Halo 1 didn't really evolve combat but it probably is one of the fine examples of first-person shooters out there. Halo 3 wouldn't be a Halo game without the great gameplay, amazing graphics, and the best original music for a game. With that said, it isn't a masterpiece. Then again, it is without a doubt, ONE of the best games this year. The story picks up not from Halo 2, but the book "Uprising". Although there is no difference. Halo 2's "cliff-hanger" ending was truly disapointing, and I'd be shocked if someone said it was the best way to end the game. Halo 3 does not have any cliff-hangers but had some of the most best and worst plot-twists. Halo 3 starts with Master Chief going from Earth, The Unfinished Seven Halos, and Gravemind. Yes, you do "enter" Gravemind (his bum that is). There isn't a lot of cutscenes but a lot of annoying but interesting halts with the screen being taken by Cortana or Gravemind taking the show. These halts are interesting but annoying, stopping the game all of a sudden making the pacing a tad bit slow. Without spoling too much, the plot twists will leave you going "Wow..." or "Aw, come on!". And all of those plot twists happen to the last 3 levels of the game. The story while good and less disapointing than Halo 2 is.... still disapointing. Now it really does focus on Master Chief instead of the Arbiter. The Arbiter is left out of the story for this one which is sad because you the player will never know what happens after his storyline from Halo 2. All you know so far is that he's just an ally, that's it. No questions answered from Halo 2, just left in the dust. Also, the story seems so much like Halo 1, the difference is the settings but the summary is simple: Destroy Halo, Save the World. Halo 2 really was just rushed badly.
The story here, the first half I was fine with, the second half I felt was rushed. The big battles were really fun, the driving sequences never get old, and other plot inserts. The enemy A.I. is phenomial but the Teammate and Arbiter A.I. just sucks. The teammates aren't a life-saver when it comes to vehicles, and the Arbiter doesn't die, but doesn't do any help. He's basically just there to make sure you're not alone. If there was any positives besides just the gameplay itself and nothing else, it would be the last level. It's such a great tribute to the first Halo it's great. No spoilers, but the Warthog Sequence with the music and explosions, just.. wow.... possibly the best part of the Halo games combined, or perhaps any other single-player experience.
Now, the multi-player. The one that most people wanted to get Xbox Live in the first place. Let me just say what you get. Forge (Sandbox Mode), Custom Games, Making your own Gametypes, Theater (making film clips and screenshots), and the beef: Matchmaking. If you buy this game but you don't have online, you really are missing out. Forge is a Sandbox Mode where you play in one of the multi-player maps. You can add stuff in the maps but can't change it's geometry. You can add barriers in SnowBound, have back-and-forth Mancannons in Narrows, or any other weird stuff you want to do on any other map. It's definately the best feature of a multi-player since the Map Editor in Far Cry Instincts Predator. But if really want to make your "own" map, prepare to spend tons of hours. Luckilly, you can have help because people can join the Map Editor match anytime and help out which is great. You can save what you have done in Forge and save it as a map.
Making your own gametypes was a favorite of mine in Halo 2, but in this one I feel disapointed a tad bit. There are A LOT of options to choose from which is fine, but it just seems too confusing if you're not a great organizer. Also some options like vehicles can't be only warthogs, you can't have only one weapon out of all of them. Usually you can only choose the popular ones Bungie thinks up like Mongooses Only, No Power Weapons, and etc. Theater is a feature you probably won't spend that time much online but by yourself it's really cool. There are a lot of problems with it though that if it's a long clip and you're looking one in between, you have to fast forward the WHOLE thing to get to it. There's no chapters of the clip which is a pain. You can't take screenshots while there's another person in the match, even if it's just you and him. Also the slow motion button is hard to difficult when it's the same as the fast forward button (you have to lightly press on the Right Trigger button). Also loading up films takes more than 2 minutes even if it's long like 30 minutes or a simple 5 second clip. What's also odd is that anybody who has the best connection than the host has to be the party leader. Like I said, this is the feature you wouldn't use the most.
Custom Games is fun but what is really looking forward to. Defeating people online in Matchmaking. There are a lot of playlists to choose from which is great. Also I would like to say that sadly you can't make clans in this game (for some reason, Bungie removed a Clan Match Playlist a few months after Halo 2 came out so what was the point to make clans?). Team Slayer, Big Team Battle, or Social Slayer I spent the most and I'm guessing people would go to those 3 the most as well. I've dealt with great matches and the worst matches. The worst matches is when your teammates don't help out and then there's the lack of teamwork. NOTHING TO PERSONAL, but has anyone experienced people who are too over confident that they'll win but lose or people who'll brag that they beat/"pwned" you in a match? I hate them and it's not affecting the score I'm giving, but I'd rather play Rainbow Six Vegas then listen to those type of players (especially the prepubescent online players like what Jeff G. said). The ranking system is okay but kind of asking too much of your time. Right now I have 87 XP and I need to get up to 200 XP so I need to win 113 games to get to that rank. See what I mean? Also the ranking system just doesn't rely on your skill, but the number of matches you win. That's it? So what's the point of having the most kills or capturing the most flags? Who knows... The feature of customizing a Spartan or Elite is really great, 'nough said. You get unlockables for your Spartan or Elite from matchmaking, getting skulls, terminals, and other stuff but it'd probably won't matter much to casual players but the hardcore ones. Saying about all the items/weapons/vehicles in the game would make this review too long. It's great to have the Assault Rifle back, like the SMG could replace that (sarcasm). It's less annoying when it comes to sound and it reloads faster. The Spartan Laser is okay but it takes a long time to get used to it, the Gravity Hammer just ruins the fun combat and vehicle wise and it's the weapon that everyone in a Slayer Match would use, making it a cheap kill, and The Shotgun and Needler is more effective which is odd as if Bungie thought those two were useless in the previous two. Oftentimes, you'll find yourself spawning right next to your enemy, who will just have to turn around and kill you. Also, it seems that, at times, the weapons aren't well balanced, as you'll find that your opponent just needs to shoot 2 or 3 bullets your way and melee you for the kill, while you'll have to unload an entire clip on him and still he doesn't go down. This happens quite frequently and, when it's not favoring you, it can get really frustrating. Any other weapon, I'm fine with.
The power ups are really cool and honestly I have no problem with most of them. The Regenator restores a person's health and having a battle in it is quite challenging. The Power Drain makes sense to stop a vehicle. The Bubble Shield is a sign of a player who deployed it saying "Hey why not take a seat here?" the Hanson way. However, be warned that you can be run over even if you're in it. Now there's two I have a problem with. The Trip Mine which rarely have I seen someone use it to me or anybody I know. Mainly because it's just there, you can't move it and someone can easily spot it. The Deployable Cover is great but it can easily be destroyed by one grenade. Overall, they're pretty cool and is a great stragety for both offline and online.
So the new vehicles are great. Not perfect. The warthog seems to be able to flip in mid-air easily (try single-player). The Chopper takes a long time to kill, if they're dodging the front of the vehicle. The Prowler... eh. The Elephant is cool I admit but why is it in the game anyway, I didn't even see it in the single-player. Did Bungie just want something cool in Sandtrap? The Hornet is just a lame copy of the Banshee, it's done on purpose but it's just not that good. Even when two players hang on it, the camera is bad. The Mongoose is just there, it serves no purpose and people can destroy the Mongoose easily so what's the point? Every other vehicle or anything else I didn't mention is perfect/fantastic.
The music is perfect, I would listen to it in the main menu all day if I had the time. The music settles in the single-player just right, and you'll fine the music great in the last car sequence in the last level, hope you agree for those who played it. It's the type of music you'll find in a big summer action flick that's worth listining too over the end credits. The graphics are great but nowhere near as mind-blowing compared to BioShock or Gears of War at all but it's superb. The tilt gets difficult to get used to for those who kept playing Gears or Halo 2 so much, getting confused that the X button is not used for reloading. But the tilt isn't bad.
Then there's online co-op from up to 4 players. Probably the only reason why this game will live even 20 times as long. Just replaying the story mode with your friends on any difficulty is great, and adding to the mix is having skulls be on making the game more difficult and putting on campaign scoring which makes co-op feel like you're in the Arcade from the past. If there was one complaint, it would be that the game would lag or have frame rate issues when A LOT of stuff is going on (example: The Storm level). Let me just add one more thing about single-player: The eighth level, Cortana, is by far the worst level of the Halo trilogy or any other game I've played of all time. It's so bad that you're glad the last level is way better than the previous 8 levels or Cortana. Cortana level is just so bad and boring and annoying. So finally IN CONCLUSION, this game is a definite pick-up. If you're even remotely interested into it or keep calling it Halo 2.5, go get it. It's not a masterpiece but it certainly won't disapoint that much. Now lets see who could do better?