A great ending to a beloved series.
Halo: Combat evolved brought console shooters a revolutionary control scheme and shooting mechanics, and a surprisingly good story. Halo 2 brought us a new revolution, online play, along with fantastic graphics and a solid continuation of the storyline despite a cliffhanger. Now, we pick up where that cliffhanger left off, and I'm glad to say its everything Halo fans were hoping it would be.
Halo 3 isn't as graphically groundbreaking as Halo2, but its still rather impressive. All the character models, gun models, vehicle models, and backgrounds/terrain are much more detailed. The water physics are spectacular, and it reacts to your movement perfectly. The physics engine overall is great, thanks to Bungie deciding to use the Havok engine. The textures on everything is vastly improved from Halo 2, and stands up among the best like Gears of War and Uncharted, although it doesn't quite match them. The character animations are all pretty solid. The lighting is spot on. The explosions are spectacular. Plus the game runs at a smooth frame rate and has little to no texture pop in. I don't know if there's much else you can ask for graphically in a game.
The sound in this game shines almost as much as the graphics do. The gun sound effects are solid and diverse, I can tell which gun someone is using just by the sound. Explosions sound almost as cool as they look. One thing they nailed perfectly is the sound the butt of your gun makes when it smashes into someone's head, you can almost feel the crunch thanks to the sound effects. As for the soundtrack itself, its as welcome as ever. Its loud, dramatic, and most importantly, epic. Its truly one of the better done soundtracks I've heard in a game.
Now for the most important part, the game-play. This is why fans of the series keep playing years after the game's release. We already know Halo probably has the best shooting mechanics on consoles, and controls like a dream. The replacement of the black and white buttons with shoulder buttons takes some getting sued to at first, but once you do it feels so much more fluid and natural. The campaign is longer than the one in Halo 2, and about the same as the one from Halo: Combat Evolved. This time around, you can play with up to four players total in co-op mode. To play co-op with more than one of your friends, you must be online. I really like the campaign in the Halo series, and this is no different. It rounds out the story well, and the cut scenes are awesome. I just wish the ending was a bit for fulfilling, I won't say anymore so I don't ruin it for those who haven't played through it yet. I've played through the campaign on co-op many times, and its still loads of fun, although legendary can be very difficult. All the guns from Halo 2 are here, as well as some of the ones that were in the original but were left out of Halo 2, and several new ones including my favorite, the brute hammer. They even added new grenades. There's also several new vehicles, all of which find their uses at some point. All of the guns and vehicles are pretty well balanced. There's also many new multi-player maps, some of which are really cool. Then there's the forge editor, which isn't quite a true map editor but still adds to the game. There's also the new video replay feature which is really cool. The online play is essentially the same as it was in Halo 2. Overall the game-play is as fantastic as ever.
This game is a very good end to an awesome trilogy. Any Halo fan should love this, and most shooter fans should as well. Was it over hyped? Yes, but its still amazing in every way.