When I first was introduced to Xbox, the first game I played was Blinx the Time Cat, and I hated it. At this point I owned a Nintendo 64. I had yet to really be introduced to something beyond the platforming, and racing games I had grown up with. That day changed around Christmas of 2001. My friend had just gotten an Xbox for Christmas with one game.
Halo: Combat Evolved.
The opening sequence of the game, that was not presented with a plumber jumping out a seemingly harmless tube, blew me away. It was like the first time seeing Star Wars when the ship flys over the screen. I wasn’t used to games being presented with such story. From the moment I took my first steps as the Master Chief, I could never have known that I would become so interested in the fictional universe. Spanning from Alternate Reality Games, to Novels, Soundtracks, and TShirts, I was hooked on Halo. While others played Slayer I played the story. Monday night I stood in line to receive my copy of Halo 3, the epic conclusion to the trilogy.
While Halo Combat Evolved featured vast outdoor environments, Halo 2 was more tight quarters indoor combat. Thankfully Halo 3 features mostly outdoor environments. The game really promotes exploration. Breaking free of the path ahead can lead to finding something useful.
What Bungie calls the Halo “Sandbox” (basically guns, grenades, and vehicles) has been expanded in a very useful way. A new class of items called Equipment, has been added to Halo 3 which make encounters much more enjoyable because you aren’t the only one that can use them. Example: In the first level of the game, in the first encounter, I ran up to a Brute pack and some Grunts and began blasting at them with my dual Spikers. One of the Brutes threw down a Bubble Shield which forced me to get closer because you can’t shoot in or out of it. I stepped inside the bubble and got a sticky grenade from a Grunt right in the face. Suffice to say, the enemy AI has became much smarter.
The presentation of the story in Halo 3 is what really struck me. It feels like there’s a lot more going on in the game itself. Story is told not only in cutscenes but during the game. The music also helps create the mood. Halo has always had great music, but this improves on the first 2 games by a long shot. Certain fans will be happy to know there isn’t any blaring Steve Vai guitar solos in the game (Although I didn’t mind it). The music is a mix of familiar mixes of from the previous games, and new songs entirely. The music during the very emotional scenes, gives me goosebumps every time.
The graphics are amazing as well. There’s a strange way of looking almost handpainted in areas. The lighting is also some of the best I’ve seen in a 360 game. There are some other crazy graphical effects (that would be too spoiler for this review) that are really quite awesome.
From what I’ve played with on Multiplayer, it’s the same amazing Multiplayer that you’ve known and loved, but with a ton of new options. Not only can you mess with player traits (300% Speed 50% gravity One hit kill), but you can also use the Forge Map editor to place any object from the Halo sandbox where ever you want on a map. Multiplayer will keep me occupied for many long years.
With an amazing story, awesome visuals, superb graphics, and the award winning multiplayer, you really can’t go wrong with Halo 3.