Halo 3 review

  • A truly epic campaign
  • Massive, massive multiplayer
  • Experimenting with everything else
  • Losing hours of your life
  • Forgetting about other games
  • The story. Huh?

Halo 3 is here.

The wait for the most anticipated game of all time is finally over. The fight is about to be finished. And right now, across the world, the hopes and happiness of millions hinge on the answer to one simple question: Is it good? Or perhaps, Is it as good as we want it to be?

We won't leave you hanging a second longer. The answer to both is yes - a huge and resounding yes. Every type of Halo fan, from the hardcore to the casual to the brand new, will find something to satisfy them in Master Chief's third adventure. Rest assured that no matter what you expect out of this series - epic single player, massive multiplayer, insane coop, robust community and editing tools - you will not be disappointed. Halo 3 is an overwhelming success.

Emphasis on overwhelming. In fact, the game throws so much goodness at you in so many different areas that it's difficult to know where to begin the praise. Instead, let's just get the criticisms out of the way, shall we? Halo 3 is not absolutely perfect. To begin with, the storyline is a confusing and convoluted mess. (Editor's Note: Prepare with our quick catch-up guide, Halo: The Story So Far. Trust us, you'll need it. ) We never understood exactly why and what we were fighting at any given moment, only that it usually involved blowing something up.The ending, while satisfying, is far from conclusive. And the second-to-last mission in the game is destined for as much frustrating infamy as the Library level in the original Halo. (Our advice? Just run.)

Even with these shortcomings, however, the campaign in Halo 3 is still the best of the franchise. Hands down. Everything you love about the first two games is here, perfected and amplified by 100. The frantic gunplay? Faster than ever. The alien enemies? Smarter than ever. The vehicular combat? Explosively enhanced. The split decision strategy of weapon, grenade and melee combos? Gloriously restored.

What's most impressive about Halo 3's single player, though, is the sheer and awesome scope of it. The linear hallways and freeways of the previous games do make an occasional return, but for the most part, you'll be waging the war for Earth across battlefields so vast, so open and so packed with action that it's honestly a miracle the Xbox 360 can render it all without melting.

Remember the adrenaline that pumped through your veins when you first took on a Scarab in Halo 2? Now multiply that scene, and that excitement. Imagine fighting not one, but two Scarabs simultaneously. Imagine attacking the building-sized behemoths with anything you choose... guns, grenades, rockets, turret-mounted jeeps, laser-firing tanks, missile-launching hoverjets... and seeing a dozen other AI-controlled soldiers making their own decisions around you. Imagine moving from the ground to the air to the alien-infested inside of the Scarab itself, all within the span of a minute.

Yes, that scenario is an actual example of gameplay from Halo 3, but it's only a single instance. You'll experience many more like it, each of which can play out completely differently depending upon your personal combat style and decisions.

Yet the campaign missions, as thrilling as they are, serve as mere appetizer to the extravagant and never ending feast that is Halo 3's multiplayer. Trust us - the beta barely scratched the surface of what's available to you in the full game. Heck, we've played nonstop for three days now and still don't feel like we've come even close to experiencing everything.

What can we say? The developers at Bungie are proven masters of this stuff, whose skills and instincts have only improved in the years since the last game. The 11 maps are beautifully crafted and incredibly diverse, each with an entirely unique appeal. The dozens of match modes include every time-tested favorite you love, as well as several instant classics you're about to love. All the weapons, both old and new, feel just right.

Above: Footage of Halo 3's explosive multiplayer in action. For more videos, click here.

Right out of the box, you can combine the multiplayer choices in Halo 3 to create an endless number of options. A capture the flag match across the base and beach of High Ground is absolutely nothing like a deathmach through the haze and spore-infested tunnels of Isolation. Sniping and creeping amidst the dark gloom and thick vegetation of Guardian cannot prepare you for rocketing full speed across the white hot deserts of Sandtrap in a Mongoose with Spartan laser beams singing you on all sides.

Then you start playing with the generous customization tools the game provides and your mind boggles. Want a swords-only duel? Sure, you can try that. Want everyone to spawn with grenades and Gravity Hammers? Yup, that too. How about a bizarro battle in which one team flies alien aircraft through checkpoints in the sky while the other team, equipped with super powers like invisibility, weightless jumping and sonic speed, tries to bring them crashing down? Hey, if you can dream it, you can probably do it.

And still - somehow - there's more. With the new Forge tool, players can tinker with the game's maps (including the locations of weapons, vehicles, architecture, respawn points and more) until they're almost unrecognizable. Tweak the game's rules using the same menus and you might invent Halo Baseball, Halo Kart or Halo Counterstrike. Or, if careful building's not your thing, an equal amount of fun can be had simply experimenting and goofing off with friends.

Likewise, the Saved Films engine is not meant solely for would-be machinima directors. The freedom to detach yourself from a straightforward replay and guide the camera anywhere - no, seriously, anywhere - is a wonder to behold both visually and technologically. Unsatisfied with Halo 3's graphics? You won't be once you've circled 360 degrees around a plasma explosion or zoomed within inches of the bullet that's about to bury itself in your opponent. Plus, searching through Saved Films of your past campaign heroics can actually make hunting for hidden Skulls enjoyable.

Four-player cooperative mode also rocks, transforming the solitary story missions into wild online parties full of score keeping, trash talking and nonstop vehicular mayhem. Beat the campaign by yourself to absorb the cut scenes, but do not miss out on the team experience afterwards. You'll discover strategies that only work with a group, vehicles that only dominate with three friends riding shotgun and secrets that only reveal themselves when four pairs of eyes are looking for them. Besides, how else will you finish on Legendary?

What's left to say? The single player is bigger and brawnier than anything that's been attempted on a console before. The multiplayer, which already shadowed the competition, has improved to the point of ridiculousness. The new features - Forge, Saved Films, Coop - are frighteningly addictive. And if you don't like any of that, you're always welcome to edit it until you do.

The wait is over. The anticipation was justified. Halo 3 is here.

More Info

Release date: Sep 25 2007 - Xbox 360 (US)
Sep 26 2007 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Bungie
Franchise: Halo
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence, Mild Language


  • Gob - December 30, 2010 11:13 a.m.

    I agree with this ten whole-heartedly. Halo has always been of a higher quality than its competition simply because of the care and love that are poured into every detail. It has a solidity to it that no other series of shooters can match, and has brought me more joy than any other series to enter my consoles. I'm typing this years after release, in a display that's probably utterly futile, but either way: Bravo, Bungie; You're still the best. CoD is neat, GoW is a fun gore-fest, but Halo is, and has remained, something special.
  • jscriber100 - September 18, 2010 3:03 p.m.

    HALO 3 got a 10!i never seen a game get a perfect 10!i have PS3,but i wish i had an Xbox 360 now!
  • COD4_THESNIPER - September 1, 2010 1:08 p.m.

    this game is proper confusing. is there a campaign for it?
  • Pyrophobia - April 13, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    I like Halo. I like Bungie. I like Xbox. I also like CoD, GoW, Uncharted (yes, I have a PS3), AC, and a variety of others. People have opinions, and when opinions are expressed fairly, they are treated with respect. When people treat others' opinions with respect and courtesy, they are treated likewise. All of the aforementioned are great, they have good points, and bad points. A wise man once said, 'Can't we all just get along?'
  • Pyrophobia - April 13, 2010 9:46 p.m.

    I like Halo. I like Bungie. I like 360. If that makes me a fanboy, then I am a fanboy.
  • eee - December 9, 2009 6:10 p.m.

    Halo is the S@#t and I would by any game with Halo in its name because that is the reputation they have built for themselves
  • Ricochet3438 - December 6, 2009 4:11 a.m.

    yeah guys don't listen 2 cyberfreek just cuz he's on hes mad that his daddy wont buy him a 360. This is an AMAZING game, and I would reccomend buying a 360 just so that you can get your hands on a copy of it.And if you smashed your 360, your a retard
  • georgeguy - November 27, 2008 3:29 p.m.

    snarf, i have a ps3, its great. but unlkike others ps3 users, i believe that the xbox 360 is good too. but i hate those xbox fans who say the ps3 is $hit. i also have a wii it sucks @ss except for some good games.
  • jackf-11 - November 16, 2008 7:23 p.m.

    Cyberfreek, at least get your facts straight, Bungie made only one title for the PS2, Oni, and Bungie was owned by Microsoft at the time. And HardCoreGamer10, just leave your fanboyism at the door, you only came here to flame and I doubt you read the article.
  • zombieddeath - November 5, 2008 10:01 p.m.

    Does anyone have Recon? I would love to have it. gt: zombieddeath
  • HardCoreGamer10 - November 5, 2008 8:37 p.m.

  • HardCoreGamer10 - November 4, 2008 11:28 p.m.

    PS3 kicks Xbox 360's ass in many ways, some exmaples: Better Graphics, free online play, more free downloadable items, access to internet browser, and Ps3 doesn't have that oh so confusing dashboard crap. My Advice: Get a PS3 and sell Ur piece of shit Xbox 360
  • xXHaloKillerXx - November 1, 2008 1:29 a.m.

    Princeston12 is wrong.halo 3 got game of the Year over 10 times.Cod4 gets boring as soon as your fininshed.Resistance fall of man sucks and yous cantcompare a third person shooter like gears to a first person like Halo 3 and Bioshock is a work of its own.
  • lordsire2 - October 16, 2008 2:21 a.m.

    this game is fricken awesome i love it best game ever......or unleast till halo 3 recon comes out hope its gonna be 10 times better than halo
  • cyberfreek - September 27, 2008 9:54 p.m.

    ok first off i want to say id really like to play this game... but i cant. because microsoft is a piece of shit company. my dads cheap so i dont have a 360. or a ps3 or a wii for that matter. i just have a ps2 and an xbox. and microsoft is so cheap that they couldnt dum down the halo 3 for xbox. because bill gates is cheap or something. when i get a job im going to save up money till i get enough to put a hit on bill gates. then after ive got enough to buy a 360 im gonna get one and smash it with a sledgehammer. i dont give this game any bad reviews... i really want to play it but i give microsoft 4 thumbs down (i broke down my two big toes just to show how much i hate microsoft) and plus bungie didnt put it on ps2 or ps3? what is that? bungie makes hundreds of titles for the sony systems but why not now? i just think microsoft and bungie are teaming up everywhere to hurt good people. so if anyone is rich enough to afford a 360... smash it up now and bust it to pieces while you still have any dignity left... you will be happy you did.
  • WaldoOfWhere - September 6, 2008 9:22 p.m.

    Yay first post. Play Halo1 and 2 before u play champaign.
  • Snarf - November 23, 2008 6:20 p.m.

    Why can't someone who bought a PS3 ever admit that the 360 is also a good console instead of verbally abusing anyone who has one, and vice versa.
  • xXHaloKillerXx - November 1, 2008 1:30 a.m.

    Dam i said yous lol.
  • merlin - October 31, 2008 3:01 p.m.

    here i am siting in 7th place,AGAIN.FREAKIN' AWSOME!!!I just fished completing it today.Although i must admit call of duty 4 has it beat.But i still would recomend it to my friends.10/10,INSANLEY GOOD.
  • Princeton12 - October 21, 2008 1:07 a.m.

    Honestly....? Really...? Everybody knows compared to BioShock, Call of Duty 4, Gears of War, and Resistance, Halo 3 sucks! I don't really care if Bungie thinks they are that great or not. Halo 3 didn't get Game of the Year people, that's the fact! Bungie PAYS people to say it did!! Look it up! That's why they added a patch with new achievements, that's why they keep adding new map packs, that's why they are making an expansion, and that's why they are making a stragety game next. Too many people are sick of the exact same thing over and over. Give it up, Bungie, third time is the last time.

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