Review: “Halo 3”

“To war… *click*”

(SPOILER ALERT: If you’re one of the few who still hasn’t played Campaign but wants to, you might not want to read this review right now. It contains spoilers for the whole Campaign.)

Like a lot of Halo fans, I closely followed the development of Halo 3. I watched all the ViDocs. I listened to all the podcasts. I read the EGM articles. I watched G4TV’s E3 coverage just to see the Halo 3 Campaign trailer. And of course, I participated in the public beta. After all those months of waiting, September 25 finally arrived. I stood outside of GameStop that night to pick up my copy of Halo 3 (Legendary Edition, of course). Now that Halo 3 has been out for several months, I feel that I’ve gotten familiar enough with the game to offer my thoughts on it. This is rather late for a review, but I prefer not to do “first impressions” or anything like that, at least not with a game series like Halo which I’ve invested a lot of time and interest in. I like to get familiar with whatever I review. Plus I’ve been preoccupied with other projects.

So, how does Halo 3 stack up against the first two games? As many who are familiar with me or my writings know, I regard Halo 1 as one of my all-time favorite games, and one of the best FPSs ever made. As for Halo 2, while I enjoy it and consider its graphics, music, and story to be excellent, I regard it as inferior to the original due to such things as an excessively linear Campaign and a number of changes made to the gameplay, which I described in detail in my September 2006 article “My Thoughts on the Halo Series: An Open Letter to Bungie.” In that same article, I also talked about what changes and additions I think should have been made to Halo 3 to make it a better game than Halo 2. Did things turn out the way I would have liked? Not quite.

Halo 3 falls somewhere between the first two games in terms of how good it is. While it corrects many of Halo 2’s flaws and has overall better gameplay and also brings some great new stuff to the table, it has flaws of its own that keep me from regarding it as being of the same caliber as Combat Evolved. Of course, while I could just say “I like Halo 3 more than Halo 2 but not as much as Halo 1,” and leave it at that, it’s not like me to be so simple and concise in my writings. Like the rest of my articles, this review will go rather in-depth, so expect a long read. While it won’t be as long as my “Open Letter” article (it has about two-thirds the word count), it will have a similar layout, being divided into several sections each devoted to a particular aspect of the game (though some sections will have interconnecting material).

The Master Chief is back again to kick ass and take names. But does Halo 3 kick as much ass as he does? Read on to find out. (click image for full size)

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