For the non-Halo fanatics who wish to spew hate on every message board across the Internet, it’s their loss. Halo 3 is the cap to a superb trilogy of first-person shooters, a revolutionary in terms of its multi-player features. A solid if open narrative binds the single player (or co-op) experience together.
For the first level, and possibly the second, it may seem as if Bungie has succumbed to the hype. Halo 3 opens with a dull, passive pacing that feels out of place for the series. Battles are long range and limited in scope. Once into the third level, Halo 3 comes into its own.
This is the level design that earned this franchise its reputation. Battles are kinetic, with a random style that makes each checkpoint restart a new experience. On the 360, fights against the Covenant forces determined to light the Halo rings are on an unmatched scale breathing new life into a series that showed weakness in its second outing.
In terms of overall feel, there are minor tweaks to this successful formula. There is no question this is Halo from the moment you begin playing, with a smooth aiming mechanic which is rarely matched in the world of console shooters. The X button now allows for gadgets like shields and power drains, increasing the strategic opportunities.
Bungie’s latest breaks free of typical video game boss battles. Instead, massive encounters are slipped into the levels as objectives. This creates a wonderful sense of flow and pacing. Masterful cut scenes showcase an amazing array of graphical tricks, making up for in-games visual moments that under perform compared to the expectation.
However, the new replay feature lets players appreciate the universe of Halo and grasp why the game lacks a next-generation coating. Multiple players can enter into a room online to view someone’s single player exploits, each taking the camera where they want it. The sheer amount of action occurring at any given time is well beyond what the player views as they take out opposing forces, and this feature is the only way to realize the care put into Halo 3.