littleblondetom's Halo 3 (Legendary Edition) (Xbox 360) review

Finishing the fight lives up to the hype, and then some.

Halo 3 is one of the most eagerly anticipated games ever made. The first Halo was a landmark achievement in not just first person shooter, but in gaming as a whole. It had incredible visuals, a great story accompanied by great music and voice work and absolutely perfect shooter gameplay. With so many gameplay innovations; such as the rebounding health meter and the limited weapon carrying it was probably the best console shooter since Goldeneye and probably the best console shooter, along with its sequel, of the last generation of consoles. Halo 2 surely couldn’t live up to expectations; but despite a few flaws it did just that. Despite a disappointing storyline the online multiplayer was to die for, creating yet another incredible FPS experience. So can Halo 3 possibly live up to all the hype; I’m happy to report that it does.

Halo 3 picks up immediately after Halo 2 with Master Chief crashing to Earth in an escape pod from the Covenant ship that he stowed away on at the end of Halo 2. He is on a mission to stop the Covenant, save humanity and rescue Cortana. From that very moment he crashes, the cutscene begins and you know that the game is set up for an epic storyline. Halo 3 is the best storyline of the lot without a doubt. The writing is sharp and witty with some of the best voice acting in the games industry. There are action packed moments, funny moments and sad moments all in the game and they all keep you entertained; which is quite an achievement.

So we have established that the story is the best of the lot. So what about the gameplay? Well it’s still Halo as we know it which is definitely a good thing, but some of its elements feel as though they could do with an upgrade. There aren’t very many new gameplay elements to Halo 3 which is a little disappointing. Bungie have definitely kept to the tried and true here but it has definitely worked out for the most part. The same old run-and-gun gameplay works brilliantly here, as do the vehicle sections. The weapons are all perfectly balanced, as are the vehicles, and the controls are perfect with adjustments that can be made of your choice. The biggest improvement to the campaign is the 4 player online and split-screen co-op. This allos the host to play as Master Chief, player 2 to be The Arbiter and players 3 and 4 to be random Elites. This is simply the best co-op game ever; making even the legendary difficulty seem easy. Even though the gameplay hasn’t changed much since the first Halo, it still makes for an absolutely brilliant playing game.

Even though the gameplay hasn’t changed, that doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t new features. Of course there are new weapons, vehicles and gadgets but there are also some expansive new features. These are the forge mode and the theatre mode. The forge mode allows you to edit any of the maps in the game as you see fit. So while it isn’t exactly a map maker you can have a good control of editing existing ones. You can place the items, weapons and vehicles as well as the spawn points and more. You can then upload your creations for others to play and rate. New game modes can be created using these maps which can also be uploaded. Ever tried brute hammer baseball? Now you can. Just try it on . Shoot a rocket with a rocket launcher from one side of the map and then have some dude with a brute hammer on the other side trying to whack it out of the map. These sorts of things extend the life of Halo 3 greatly because whenever you get bored of the game modes you can make your own.

As I mentioned another new feature is the theatre mode. This saves your last 25 games so that you can watch them back at any angle. From here you can record clips or take screenshots and upload them and have them rated. This is a great feature because it allows you to save and remember all your finest moments. Ever wanted to remind your friend of how you stuck him with a plasma grenade from 50 yards away? Now you can with this awesome new feature. Taking screenshots is just as cool, allowing players to take some really dynamic and dramatic shots, or just plain funny and stupid ones. This is another feature which will keep you coming back to Halo 3.

Even with all this, the great campaign, the theatre and the forge, we all know where the real longevity of the game lies and that’s the amazing multiplayer. Up to 16 players can battle it out on Xbox Live on a variety of awesome maps. Better still you can create you own online warrior; choosing from a Spartan or an Elite and then changing his armour, colours and emblem. Even change the gender! The online is as fun as ever. There are loads of game modes from death match to infection and more. The only complaint is the lack of really big maps that take full use of all the vehicles. The only two large enough for full scale vehicle war are Sandtrap and Valhalla. However, this is the only complaint in what is the best multiplayer action to be found on any console.

So surely this game must be the greatest thing since, well anything really? I have very few complaints so far in the review and those can surely be overlooked? Well, unfortunately there is a big flaw which makes it impossible for it to be that. That’s the graphics; they simply aren’t as good as you’d expect from the Xbox 360’s flagship title. It is simply Halo 2 in HD. I appreciate it has a great style and the framerate is flawless even with all the on screen action but the graphics lack detail. Get up close and the textures are awful, and apart from the Chief the character models are poor. It’s a real shame. These graphics simply aren’t on par with Gears of War and Call of Duty 4; both of which are on Xbox 360. So there isn’t really much of an excuse.

It’s a shame to end the review on the sour note of graphics but it’s a real shame. However, if you can look past the disappointing graphics you will find the most feature packed and most brilliantly playing first person shooter in the history of gaming. There is so much to do and it all plays so well it’s quite incredible. If the graphics weren’t so disappointing this would be an absolutely perfect thing without a doubt.

The Good:
-Brings the story to a satisfying end.
-The same old top quality gameplay.
-Amazing online multiplayer and co-op.
-Absolutely tons of features.

The Bad
-Last-gen graphics on the Xbox 360's flagship title?

Final Judgement: Halo 3 is the best console shooter available at the moment with tons of amazing features, fantastic gameplay, insane co-op and the most frantic, addicting multiplayer anywhere.



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