As Good as Halo 2? Do you ever meet someone who doesn't have a hundred complaints about Halo 2? No, you don't. Mention it to any Halo 1 fan and they will cringe. For all it's flaws and trials... I honestly miss it now. You just don't know what you have until it's gone, and now Halo is gone... because Halo 3 is here. Let's talk about why this could be or could not be a good thing.
Campaign - Now, since every review compares this game to Halo 2, I'll do so as well, completely disregarding all games that came before this one. In fact, there wasn't even Atari or anything. THERE'S ONLY HALO 2 AND 3. Now that we've got that settled...
One of the most common complaints in Halo 2 was that too much of the game was spent as the Arbiter. Ok, I'll agree, and it was pretty ridiculous to end the game AS the Arbiter. To fix this, Bungie for once in their lives, listened to us. Hooray! They listened too much, however, which leads to my biggest complaint about this game:
The Characters suck. Neither Arbiter nor Master Chief say a sentence longer than six words, and no cut scene is longer than two minutes. Chock up to that Keith David only agreed to play the Arbiter if he could be hooked up to 100 CCs of valium, and the game just gets boring. Gone are the dramatic, evolving characters, the plot twists and realizations, the betrayals, the metaphors and the beautiful cinematics. Instead it's: Ok, you're here, enemy is here, Miranda Keyes forgot her makeup, anddddddd ACTION. Porno movies talk for longer between the action than Halo 3 does.
And seriously. WHERE IS MIRANDA KEYES' MAKEUP KIT. Every time I see her I have to ask if I'm playing Resident Evil. She looks undead. Don't believe me, google it right now. RIGHT NOW! LOOK AT IT. LOOOOOK AAATTTT ITTTTT!!!!
Ad to this, the game is short. I beat it with a friend in five hours. FIVE! Concluding this section is my second biggest complaint with this game: The ending. No spoilers, but it's short, it's not dramatic enough, and the dialogue is pretty bad. In fact, it's pretty bad throughout. Arbiter must have lost his thesaurus on Delta Halo.
The most common complaint I’ve heard is the slow-mo parts every two minutes when Cortana talks to you. I can’t imagine anyone LIKING this part.
Graphics - Yeah... they're awesome... as long as you're not looking at a human. The humans have bad facial details (see Miranda Keyes) and flat ears (see Johnson) that make them look like Nintendo 64 characters. The aliens are detailed... sometimes too detailed. It would take me months to describe a sketch of a Brute to a profiler because there's so much going on with the model. It's honestly just this big mess of detail flying at you. It's akin to watching a million fireworks go off all in one second. Impressive, yes, coherent... no. Course they die too easily for it to matter.
Sound - I've heard this complaint in other reviews, and I'm glad; it gives me faith in the human race. The complaint is: Halo 3 has exactly two songs. The guitar rift that's awesome when you deploy from a dropship, enter a battle, whatever. There are different rifts, yeah, but really only the one when you deploy from the dropship sticks with me. THE OTHER is the Trailer music. The soft piano followed by heavy chanting and then truimphant notes. It's a GREAT track, and I defiantly played that Trailer for about 1000 hours. But they put it in this game... in every scene.. and some just come off wrong. Master Chief points a gun at the Arbiter, soft piano chords. Marines get ready to go to combat, heavy chanting. Master Chief stands still while talking to anyone, triumphant notes. Piano, piano, chant, notes, piano, piano, piano, piano, chant chant chant, notes.
The sound department must have had this conversation every day:
Bungie Employee 1: "Would this scene be made better by adding the trailer music?"
Bungie Employee 2: "Yes, yes, yes yes yes yes yes and more yes."
At least they saved all that money on making music and put it into the graphics.
Controls - We excused it in Halo, we tolerated it in Halo 2 (barely), but we just can't take it anymore. Why can you not pick your own control scheme, for every button? Sure, no console FPS lets you do that, but isn't the 360 more like a computer than any other console? More than meets the eye. The control schemes they give us ALL fail to do one simple thing: Make X the reload button. I cannot effectively deploy ordinance, because that's X, and I hit X to reload, THAT'S WHAT I DO, and I instantly throw a useless bubble shield in a hallway with no bad guys. Great. Can't turn it off either. There's one setting that X reloads, but only the left hand weapon. I get the new shoulder buttons are so you never have to remove your thumbs from the sticks, but you know what, sometimes I WANT to. I want X to reload, not R2, I want to hold X to switch weapons, not R2. At least they gave us the toggle crouch after a decade of complaining.
You can no longer hold four grenades of each type, instead there's two new types of grenade, and you can hold two of each. So you still hold a max of eight, but you now can only hold half as many as the type you want and have to carry around two new useless ones. Sure, the potato masher is fun as hell, seeing it stick flat onto the face of someone is great and it does shrapnel damage... but it's still a stickie grenade. When you stick someone with it, you get a stickie medal. What's the point of having them both, except limiting you in multiplayer because the sticks are hardly ever there, and making you constantly babysit your grenade tool bar? You also have napalm-like grenades that make a flame the size of a postage stamp, but it you hit someone directly it will kill them no matter what. Kinda like a potato masher. Kinda like a stickie. Kinda like the same friggen crap all over again.
The sword has been turned into a very underpowered weapon no one in their right mind will use. Great, we complained it was cheap and overpowered. Then they replaced it with an EVEN CHEAPER and MORE OVERPOWERED weapon with the gravity hammer, which not only does the same RUSH and one hit kill, but also blows all enemies nearby away or dead. Thus the ONLY disadvantage of the sword that it can't handle superior numbers is GONE, making the hammer an absolute super weapon. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!?
Multiplayer - The new format gets some getting used to, and it's much more party oriented. That annoys me. Who are they to say "SIT DOWN, PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND BE HAPPY, DAMNIT!" Sometimes you just want quick random matchmaking, BUT NO, you have to set all these nice parameters like language, skill level, and they hide how to find the gametypes. They didn't give us what we REALLY want. Play by age level. Sure, all the kids would lie, but you can always report them for that and knock them down to 13 so they play with other 13 year olds. How about just searching for the MEDIAN age of your party? Then, if you really WANT to play with a 13 year old, it'll just drop the median age level by a few points and everyone will still be happy.
You can veto maps if they suck, that's cool, but you can only do it once and then you're stuck with the second option, so it's not cool. I realize it's to make sure you play all the types/maps, but guess what, WE'RE the customers, and last time I checked WE'RE always right, ESPECIALLY in what we want to play. If I don't want to play Eliminatio (not a typo), I shouldn't have to. This is not the army, I don't have to take orders.
The graphics are so detailed in multiplayer, it's sometimes tough to tell what the hell is going on. The lack of coherency is not fixed by the fact ALL maps have multiple levels, like floors or basements, so your radar is constantly saying someone is right next to you, but they're not, and GOOD LUCK finding them, especially in time to save your friend and especially when they throw a radar jammer. The confusion is not fixed by things like the jammer, or the health regen, which makes disorientating green waves everywhere. Even the elevators blind the crap out of you, and you never know which direction it will put you in cause the antigravity is hard to control.
I DEFIANTLY like the strategical options those things give you, even if they stupidly disorienting. Being over run? Last resort, throw a jammer. Under attack, make a bubble. Enemy throw a bubble? Step in, stick a grenade to their chest, back up and laugh. When used properly… Halo games make you feel like you’re in an actual squad.
Some of the game types have just been ruined. Example: How come territories is attack/defend now? If an enemy gets a zone, that's it, they have it, once they have them all, you're dead. So your team has to defend 5, all at once, for the full round, while they have to get them one at a time. What's to stop them from just traveling as one group and hosing down your lightly spread defenses? Stupidity, which is abounds, but really, even the most inbred tactician could figure out how to win that scenario.
Overall - In the end, you have to ask yourself. What makes you go back for more? A lot of my friends say "unlocking all the armor" and that's it. There should really be more than one thing, especially in the "next generation of multiplayer" or a Halo game... and Halo 3 just isn't it.