Thursday, January 31, 2008

Xbox 360 - Halo 3

Halo 3 by Bungie

CAUTION: this review may contain SPOILERS. Do not continue if you want to play the game for yourself.


I purchased Halo 3 on the 25th at midnight and I was done with the single player portion on the 27th. I only played about 2-3 hours a night and I'm not a particularly fast gamer. I found the game to be 'ok' but not outstanding with a very short single player story. The game itself had not progressed much beyond the previous installments as far as weapons and upgrades nor has the game engine gotten any more sophisticated.


The player segments were fraught with constantly starting over time and time again from checkpoints just to trial-and-error your way through the level. Starting over time and time again is not challenging and not all that fun. In fact, this is such an antiquated way of game play, I thought we were done seeing it in new games. So, instead of being fun, then, it ended up being mostly tedious. It's also very easy to lose your way and not know where to go next. The only real fun aspects were the vehicles. Even then, you're thrown right into the action and get very little time to actually play with the vehicle itself.

Worse, while the baddies constantly get stronger and stronger weapons, Master Chief's skills remain stagnant (no new armor, extended health, shields or enhancements). So, in later levels, one bomb and Master Chief is dead.

Single Player Mode

Frankly, the single player version was so underwhelming and underproduced, I don't really understand why Microsoft/Bungie bothered at all with single player mode. Most of Bungie's time was spent dealing with and creating the multiplayer Xbox Live aspects of this game. Personally, they should have just called it Halo Online and left the single player mode off.


The story was minimal and short. Halo 3 is just Halo 2 and Halo all over again. The engine did not improve in any substantial way. The physics might be slightly better, but not enough to warrant major discussion. The single player portion, as I said, was incredibly short and the overall storyline was monotoned. The storytellers tried to get you to care about the characters in the game, but frankly that failed miserably. Because all but one of the main characters ended up only in the cinematics and because you can't play with any of these characters throughout the game, you really don't care about what happens to them during the cinematics.

If they really wanted to make you care about the characters, they should have had these characters in the game side by side with Master Chief playing and helping you through the levels. Then, they could have added banter, chat and stories to make these characters more personal to Master Chief. If you want to care about characters when they're killed, you have to give them game time. There is one 'helper' character throughout the levels, but frankly the AI on this character was almost completely worthless. Yes, he did help on some levels, but mostly he just stands and waits. Worse, he didn't die in the end.. which you would have cared more about this character than any other because you at least got to know this character.

Weapons and Ammo

Other things that annoy me about the game is the lack of weapons on levels. The game is supposed to be about weapons and ammo, but I found myself constantly running out of ammo and not finding any useful weapons or ammo. Worse, when the enemy characters have weapons, they have infinite ammo. When I pick up a dropped weapon, it has 2 shells left. Ok, so how fair is that?

Fully Tested?

About 4-5 levels into the game, Master Chief got caught in some wreckage and I couldn't get him out of it. Worse, the checkpoint saved right as I'm caught in the wreckage. So, if I revert to the last checkpoint, it lands me right back in the wreckage. I ended up having to completely start this level from the beginning. Was this game actually beta tested?


The audio/soundtrack with this game was completely underwhelming as well. The soundtrack was, at times, way too ambient and too serene for the action. While the programmers spent tons of time on the vehicle and bomb physics, they spent none on the sound engine. The music and soundtrack should have, through an AI, increased in intensity as the battles got heated. Then, the soundtrack should have cooled as the battles subsided. Instead, we have this out-of-place soundtrack in the middle of the heated battle. Worse, you can barely even hear the soundtrack over the sound effects. The menu also offers no volume adjustments. Only at the final countdown game segment was there an even a close soundtrack that kind-of matched the action. There was nothing wrong with the compositions themselves, they just didn't work within the game action. The game needed both orchestral and choral arrangements combined with some heavy metal + orchestral segments in heated battles.


What can I say? The environments are visually stunning on the Xbox 360. Just check out some of my screenshots at Flickr and Gamespot. But, it doesn't make up for the lack of gameplay.


Halo 3 was overhyped and basically used an old game engine that didn't deliver an up-to-date gaming experience. This game should and could have been so much more. If the programmers had focused on allowing the Master Chief to pick up new abilities, extended health, armor or shields that actually lasted (we're supposed to be in year 2325 or similar), this would have been a huge improvement over previous Halo games. But, this did not happen. Instead, the programmers chose to focus on game elements and Xbox live portions that really didn't improve the single player gaming experience and, frankly, Halo 3 ended up a clone of previous games (with a new storyline).


  • Gameplay - 7/10
  • Story - 5/10
  • Weapons - 8/10
  • Vehicles - 10/10
  • Replayability (single player) - 2/10
  • Fun Factor: 6/10
  • Overall: 7/10
Brian W.

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