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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My 2 cents: Halo 3

Zero Punctuation has a particularly funny, if undeservedly harsh, take on Halo 3 here. I love watching ZP, even though he's usually very harsh on games that are high-quality and super-fun. But I'm not writing a review of our fast-talking Australian, I'm writing about Halo 3.

At a time when Half-life had just invented the concept of FPS games having a story, Halo did an awesome job of taking a simple story and making it awesomely epic. Halo 2 didn't quite live up to its predecessor - the story felt repetitive and somewhat hackneyed. Halo 3, on the other hand, brings back the epic in full force. You are part of a last, desperate force trying to save what little is left of humanity, and the pressure is plenty to keep you turning on the 360. It feels very immersing.

The game plays pretty much like you would expect. You have to kill lots of aliens, and the strategy required by this task is what makes the game fun. "Run in and shoot everyone" definitely does NOT work, even on Normal difficulty - something my buddy Jaspar found out last night.

In Halo 1 and 2, I felt very much like a one-man show. Master Chief owns, everyone else sucks. In Halo 3, you feel like a part of something - in almost every level, the NPC's get as much crazy equipment and vehicles as the Master Chief, and if you strike out too far on your own you get squished like a bug. Well, except when you've got the tank. But you're required to be part of the attack force, rather than the attack force. It's a much more epic style of play.

On the minus side, it's a little short. I felt very satisfied at the end - I had gotten plenty of play out of the game, but some folks feel differently.

Duh. I mean, really. Certain details might not look as shiny and neon-awesome as Bioshock's characters, but Halo is set in the outdoors, whereas Bioshock was a corridor shooter. Halo's outdoor environments, which has been the series' hallmark since the first Halo, return in even more gorgeous form. With details like plant-mapping and spectacular water effects (watch what happens when lasers hit the h2O), Halo looks as pretty as a next-gen shooter ought to. It dares the Wii to try something.

Sound is lush and gorgeous. I had the theme song stuck in my head for hours after beating the game. Voice acting is tastefully done, and enhances the game's story rather than detracts from it.

Halo 3 is a great game. I haven't heard all the hype about Halo 3 becoming God and causing the Revelation or whatever - I've only heard people complain about how the game didn't live up to the hype. Since I didn't have any expectations about the game (except that it would be another excellent Halo game), I can say I came away from Halo 3 completely fulfilled. This was a totally worthy project.

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