Writing a review for Halo 3 feels like I’m just echoing 360 fanboy rants over the internet. I became a fan of the first Halo after it came with a special edition Xbox and I haven’t really looked back. I’ve never understood the point of view that it’s just an average shooter. Using that logic everything is an average shooter. Halo certainly feels like nothing else. And it definitely doesn’t look like anything else. Quite honestly, it’s very much the opposite of what I’d call an average shooter. I like the story a lot. I really do, and I think it’s a very mature and interesting plot. I’ve also defended the end of Halo 2 because we’ve seen movies end the same way. Halo is a cinematic series with huge vistas and evolving themes. The problem was the huge wait between 2 and 3. By now I don’t even know if the story is relevant to people.
As a video game, Halo 3 follows that formula of open areas with lots of combat. But I’ve noticed they tweaked a few things from 2. The weapons feel just a little bit off. The sniper rifle lacks the precision it had, and the machine gun is still the machine gun. The Battle Rifle still works the way it should, but it doesn’t feel as powerful or accurate. The Carbine was usually the weapon of choice. Pistols are almost useless. The melee weapons are as good as ever. The sword might not be the best thing out there now, but it’s still fun to use in the campaign. And with the re-worked controls it’s pretty obvious they planned to utilize as many weapons as possible. The additional special items are nice but they do complicate the action. I think it works in the games favor, I’m just not a fan of worrying about more then I have to.
The huge levels were always problems for me. Everything on Earth felt right in 2 and 3, but the Halo’s are just way too big. They don’t guide you as much as lose you. I think I got lost a couple of times and really just spent time looking for where I was supposed to go. The other problem is that we finally get some variety in the levels, but Bungie threw in some things we’ve already seen. For every desert and highway map there is corridor after corridor of sci-fi metal space-ship walls. So I could do without all that. Everything still looks great. A lot of people had doubts about how the game would look based on pictures, but when it’s all moving it’s one of the better looking games around. And all the sections worked for me.
The AI has always been pretty strong. That hadn’t changed much with Halo 3. You’re either going to get lucky and get help, or all the guys are going to die, and leave you alone. Being stuck with The Flood for a third time is probably the worst part. I never enjoyed fighting them. They happen to be very tedious and irritating. The Brutes on the other hand, oh how great are they? Each time you fight one of them it’s like a boss battle or something. They feel so strong. It’s not common to see that. Enemies that start out tough and stay that way.
The game aside, I think the story concluded the way I’d like it to. There’s a lot of symbolism in the game and the themes carried over from Halo 2 are even larger. Just the idea that there is one single monster always looking over your shoulder, it’s very creepy. From a fans perspective, I think Cortana could have been used better. And I thought she would have been from the earliest trailers. But it was more forced then I expected it to be. I still think it’s a proper end to the Covenant civil war. Halo always managed some interesting things with the prophets and all the religious control over their civilization. Maybe people didn’t really stop to enjoy all that, because sometimes it seems unfairly criticized as lacking depth.
The multiplayer is, of course, something I’d rather not talk about because we all know it’s great. Halo 2 still has a better multiplayer then games coming out now, and it’s been around for what seems like forever. The lobby system is so good that you wish more games would try to incorporate it. Forge is over my head, I’ve used it but I’ll just leave that to the experts. The co-op is still pretty laggy but I like it. It’s the next logical step in the progression of the series anyway.
I really like Halo! People are too quick to dismiss it when the things it does are so smart. Bungie thinks of almost everything and in turn magnifies the little problems here and there. But you have to look for issues in the game. You have to go out of your way to complain about it. It’s just so high profile that everyone feels entitled to dislike it. It’s proven so successful that I’m under the impression the people that don’t like it are the same and only people talking about it online. A very small group that feels compelled not to like it for any number of reasons. I think that’s a shame. And I think the vocal minority online should just give up because as long as there is a Halo, people are going to be playing it.