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Halo 3 review

Astonishing
AT A GLANCE
  • 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

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68 comments

  • slackerinthepub - December 18, 2008 12:20 p.m.

    10 my arse more like 7
  • zhaoman - December 24, 2008 11:39 p.m.

    halo 3 has an amount of polish few games can match up to. you can see how much effort bungie has poured into this game from the moment you power it up. most things are popular for a reason, the main one being that people respect it and think it is good in some way or other. you don't seriously believe that all this praise is being lavished on something that is poor? reviews just don't work like that. halo 3 is so popular because it is a good game with many fans who respect what bungie have achieved through this series. some people need to get over that fact...
  • R38P3R - January 4, 2009 1:55 a.m.

    items dont effect the gameplay enough to actually improve it from h2. the graphics improvement is good, and their are a few more weapons, but overall, u can get near the same experiance out of h2.
  • gamer49 - January 11, 2009 10:41 p.m.

    this is fun for when you have company and story mode is realy fun. better than the other two.
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

    Psychoman, you're incredibly nieve. Halo 3 isnt the worst game in history, but for anyone who loved halo 1 and was blown away by 2, loved 2 and was expecting to be blown away by 3. That did'nt happen. The people bad-mouthing halo 3 have fully functional brains and know when to say something they ought to like did'nt actually meet the standards they were expecting. Halo 3 was an utter let down to anyone who truly loved Halo 2. They should have called it Halo 2.3, MAYBE 2.5. Any self respecting FPS fan dropped Halo 3 and picked up COD or GOW. (Call of duty and gears of war since you probably dint like either one Mr. Halo fanboy). Halo 3 on ANY diffuculty isnt fun, I died a wopping 3 times, difficulty had nothing to do with game being a total crapchute. Expand your horizons buddy, Halo is old news.
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 18, 2009 10:35 p.m.

    And Cyberfreak....kill yourself
  • The_Dark_Lord - January 18, 2009 10:36 p.m.

    And Cyberfreak....kill yourself
  • GeneralJake - January 23, 2009 2:15 a.m.

    I like this game the most. This my absolute favorite game of all time, It is fun, destructive, and amazingly bodation game, The online gameplay is amazing (somtimes it can be a bit lagey but that is because of other crapy players with bad conections)I absolutely love it is preaty cool with the ranking and all that and also the fact that you can change the armor istead of looking like same old master cheif with his Mark 6 armour. The gameplay is just as amazing as the online play, and the fact that the designers disided to put in the skull to make the game not only easeir (like most games) but actualy harder. I would give this game a 11 out of 10 stars. General Jake, over and out:)
  • GeneralJake - January 23, 2009 2:19 a.m.

    I forgot the little bit about the forge option I think it is totally cool and amazing there is lots of veriety and lots of new weapons in halo 3 General Jake, over and out:)
  • gamer1739 - January 25, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    halo 3 is a good game but it was to short. i heard they will make another game and a movie. i saw some videos on youtube but they are probally teasers.
  • XxZuFFLE29xX - January 28, 2009 7:59 a.m.

    hey. for all those dip f*cks who keep on talking shit about Halo here's something to think about, eveyone is different and everyone likes different things so stop wasting your time talking shit about halo so for the people that cant realize that go f*ck yourself
  • Frostyman - February 6, 2009 9:33 p.m.

    Look. You people are all stupid. Halo 3 is a great game, COD4 is a great game, GOW/GOW2 are good games. PS3 is a great console, but then, so is the 360. Please, leave your petty prejduces at the door, and enjoy the game for once, instead of ranting about how they all suck. "OMGLOLHALO3/COD4/360/PS3SUXABLLZLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO" Btw, thats what you people sound like. Please, appreciate the game for the game, not the hype. Just leave each other in peace so we don't have this shit ON EVERY GODDAMND GAMING SITE.
  • Frostyman - February 6, 2009 9:42 p.m.

    I also have happened to have played COD4, H3, GOW1/2 and i've played on both the PS3 and the 360, so if you say i have no basis for my opinion, you can suck it.
  • swordworld04 - February 8, 2009 1:26 p.m.

    General Jake... fail.
  • notthatgoodthanks - March 4, 2009 8:16 a.m.

    Halo 3 is actually solid, single player is a little under whelming BUT multiplayer, really, you can throw hour upon hour of your life away on it and its worthy of every minute. YES, it doesn't look as glorious as COD4, but depth wise, it has every bit as much going for it. I have been playing it online for the past month now, NEVER looked back, if your a true FPS fan and you can not get upset about glorious graphics, i would definetly pick this up.
  • Mythmaster4800 - April 7, 2009 3:41 p.m.

    Okay, first of all, 360 and PS3 are BOTH excellent systems. People do not come to this site for verbal abuse about the systems they own. So whoever signed on to trash other systems, all you @$$e$ get off this site right now. Secondly, Halo 3 deserves every bit of praise that it got. And if your going to criticize ANY system, actually take the time to research its ups and downs and get opinions from the people who own it. That's how you F***ing do it! Thirdly, if you think other games are better, how nice for you! We don't need to hear your constant spamming about if its better than Halo 3 or not! If anyone agrees with me, send me a profile. Mythos out.
  • nutella - April 12, 2009 9:43 a.m.

    cybeerfreaks a fag, wat. i dare ya to say halo 3 sux. Cmon I dare ya. oh yeah, for u ps 3 fans, tell me does sony have gears of war or halo. do they have fable 2, wat do u guys have. ooh ratchet and clank ooh that'll beat halo anyday. Get a lyf
  • SoleDash - April 16, 2009 4:06 p.m.

    This game is one of the top 10 best 360's. So far, Halo 3 Remains my favorite.
  • lukeskater - April 18, 2009 11:42 a.m.

    i have to say... halo 3 was like.. following orders the whole time. halo 1 and 2 was alot more like.. your own plan kinda thing. and the lvls where a bit of a chore sometimes. it diddent realy have the feel of real halo. and there where no rings wtf.. but it was fun. this is easlily the best online experience everrrr
  • lukeskater - April 18, 2009 11:57 a.m.

    and i rekon some people where so looking forward to halo 3 (it made 170 mill in the 1st 24 hours of release) that they convinced themselves it was good. they need to clean up the campaign a bit. Halo 3 a good game but disapointing

Showing 1-20 of 68 comments

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