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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Bungie Software
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-16
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Dwight Beasley

This is not a simple game review, as the Halo series is not just a set of games. With four novels (and a fifth on the way October 5th, two of the best selling games in history, and the proven graphical power of the Xbox 360, this game review is simply about met and unmet expectations. My expectations are simple. First, Halo 3 will be the most graphical impressive title on the Xbox 360. This is Microsoftís flagship title and the reason why nearly all of us have brought Xbox 360. It should look better than Gears of War, a game that came out about a year ago. Secondly, the storyline is great and throws a couple of huge plot twist our way. With the novels introducing the other Spartan IIs and Spartan IIIs, a Spartan appearing in Dead or Alive 4, and the shock role the Arbitor played in Halo 2, we expect great things from Halo 3. Finally, we expect an awesome multiplayer experience that blows Halo 2 out of the last-gen waters. Does Halo 3 meet the much hyped expectations that Microsoft has thrusted upon us, or is a weak-hearted attempt to cash-in on the hopes of the Halo faithful?

Letís start with the graphics. They look better that Halo 2, but not by much. Sure Master Chief has shiner armor, the water looks nice, and the enemies are more detailed than before. The graphics do not, however, meet the graphical benchmark set by the elite group of 360 games such as Gears of War, The Darkness, or more recently Bioshock. Iím not going to turn this into a Bioshock lovefest, but from the beginning to the final boss fight, I couldnít get used to how gorgeous Bioshock is. During my playtime with Halo 3, I kept waiting for the graphics to get better somehow. The game ended before I realized that dream. Simple comparison: water effects during the plane crash of Bioshock vs. the water effects at any point in Halo 3. How about the snow effects of Lost Planet vs. the snow effects of Halo 3. On most fronts, Halo 3 is not that graphically impressive. Does it look better than Halo 2? Yes, but not by much. Does it look better than middle of the road games like Bullet Witch? Yes. Should the Halo 3 graphics engine be sold to other next gen developers a la Unreal 3 Engine? Hell no. It is blatantly obvious that Bungie is using the Halo 2 engine with a few graphical tweaks. There are jaggies throughout the game, on everything from the weapons to the fixtures in the distance. Even after buying the Limited Edition copy of the game with the Essentials disc that guides you through setting you HD for best picture, I couldnít get rid of the jagged edges on 1080p.

Ok, maybe the graphics arenít up to par, but with Microsoftís slogan ďFinish the FightĒ, we can expect Halo 3 to sprint to the finish line in style, right? Halo 3 begins in the middle of the action, making little effort to recap on the continuing storyline from the previous games. Thatís right. No opening cutscene, not even in the form of a demo before you press start on the title screen. This is a bit of a surprise for a couple of reasons. 1) Though Halo 2 was bashed for its cliffhanger ending, the reason most of us were upset was because the storyline was so great up until the end. Playing as the Arbitor half of the game?! I felt like the Predator with my cloaking abilities and plasma guns. It was twists like these that made Halo 2 so great and helped create the anticipation for Halo 3. 2) At present, Microsoft is once again leading the console race, and with so many new users it should be assumed that some havenít played Halo and are buying this game due to the hype surrounding it. Would it be too much work to give them a 5 minute cut scene of Halo 2ís events?

I can live with average graphics, and no real intro to get me into the action as long as the story is engaging with incredible plot twist and memorable battles. Sorry, Bungie gave us none of the first and a little of the second. Warning, I wonít mention what in the game, but I will mention whatís not in the game, so if thatís considered a spoiler, skip to the last paragraph. What are some realistic expectations for Halo 3ís engaging storyline? The first one would be meeting others Spartans from the novels or DoA 4. Sorry folks, Master Chief will continue to be the only Spartan in existence until Halo Wars. Reading all those novels feel like a huge waste of time now. I mean there were entire novels about the other Spartans whom had not been confirmed dead before, during, or after Halo 1. It would have been a huge treat to see them appear at some point of the game, even the ending.

Expectations for Cortana werenít met either. Cortana, the Earthís most sophisticated AI, was captured by the Flood at the end of Halo 2. Here are some expectations for Cortanaís role in Halo 3.

1) Cortana is corrupted by the Floodís Gravemind and become a powerful, if not the final boss in Halo 3.

2) Chief finds Cortana, inserts her chip in the back of his helmet, and loses control of his armor. Master Chief is now evil and the Arbitor must take him down.

Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately this doesnít happen. In fact, you never take control of the Arbitor in Halo 3. But folks, thatís not all. One of biggest, if not the biggest problem with Halo 3 is the final boss before ending sequence of the game. While play Halo 3, the gameís story primes you to fight two main antagonists throughout the entire game. Both can qualify as the center of conflict in the Halo series and a worthy last boss fight. Unfortunately, you donít get to fight either. The final boss is so weak and unintimidating; I would have rather fight a room of standard enemies instead. This was the last straw. I am done with the Halo hype machine.

I beat Halo 3 in three sittings: two 2 hour sittings and one three hour setting. The game ended and I felt like it was only half over. Yes, Bungie tied up the series with this cookie cutter storyline, but I never got my Halo 2 style plot twists. This may satisfy some, but I feel a little cheated. The multiplayer in Halo 3 has slightly prettier graphics, new weapons, and new maps, but itís only Halo 2 with some extra content. That sentence sums up my entire Halo 3 experience.


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