On September 25, 2007, the final chapter in the Halo series was released. Much hype and anticipation for Halo 3 was gathered, and depending upon your stand point on Halo 2, Halo 3 may or may not be your cup of tea. Similar to Halo 2, Halo 3 is mainly built around its multiplayer aspect, leaving little to the campaign. Although more refined than Halo 2, the differences are so minute Halo 3 could have easily been an expansion pack if Bungie (Development team behind the Halo series.) had decided to go in that direction.
The plot in Halo 3 is what you would expect from a Sci-Fi Summer blockbuster. Without spoiling the story, the game picks up right after the events of Halo 2. You see Master Chief falling from the sky as Cortana narrates a short story about why she chose Master Chief, which wouldn’t make much sense unless you’ve read the previous Halo novel The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund. Nevertheless, the Halo novels aren’t required reading material to understand the story. Fortunately this time around you do not have to play as the Arbiter. Instead he is a NPC who will frequently show up throughout the game, usually when you need him the most. The Campaign is short, ranging from around six to eight hours by yourself on Heroic *depending upon your skill*. Although the four player campaign is a nice addition, it greatly reduces the level of difficulty. It’s possible to beat Halo 3 on Legendary in five hours with four people. Without saying too much, you really do finish the fight, as clichéd as that quote has become, it accurately describes the story. It’s worth mentioning that beating the game on Legendary unlocks a special ending (Similar to Halo:CE), that fans of Bungie’s previous FPS trilogy Marathon, will enjoy.
Halo 3’s game play hasn’t changed much since Halo 2. Saying that, there have been some added features and weapons to Halo 3, which greatly improves upon the game. Most noticeably are the power ups. Unlike Halo 3’s predecessors, this time around you can pick up and deploy your power ups. For example, running over an active camouflage or an over shield won’t automatically engage it. Instead the power up will be added to your inventory and activated by pressing the B button when it is needed. Along with the regular power ups, new ones have been added, such as both Covenant and USNC bubble shields, along with mines, shield regenerators, shield busters, and others. Along with the weapons of Halo 2, and the return of the Assault Rifle from Halo:CE, there are a few additional weapons added. One of my favorite new weapons was the Brute Spiker, much like the original Needler from Halo:CE, only useful. Another added feature is the ability to break gun torrents off and take the gun with you. This is a nice little strategy when playing on Legendary, since you’re still allowed to keep your two other weapons along with the torrent. The new added vehicles are great change of pace. Ranging from the Hornet (the USNC’s version of the Banshee), the Mongoose (A four wheeler that seats two), and the Brute Choper (the Brute’s version of the Ghost) they all add a sense of balance to the multiplayer. One of my favorite additions to Halo 3 is Forge. Like a normal map editor, Forge lets you edit and change almost everything on a multiplayer map. The thing that makes Forge unique is its ability to let you do this while in a multiplayer game. This adds to the intensity to a battle, while someone is playing god.
Relatively unchanged are the graphics. Halo 3 still sports some of the same textures as Halo 2, only in a crisper visual quality. If you’ve played any game past 2005, the graphics won’t be stunning. However, they’re still moments in the game that may bring the occasional Wow. From beautiful rendered ships fighting off in the background, to fighting giant Scarabs on foot, the graphics still manage to amaze you at times. Possibly a creative choice by Bungie , the lack in “amazing graphics” allows for fluent frame rate and quick load times. I’ve never ran into slow frame rate problems in the single player campaign.
The bottom line is that if you enjoyed Halo 2 or you just want to play online, this is the game for you. It’s everything Halo 2 was, plus a whole lot more. You should run out and buy it ASAP if you don’t already own it. However, if you’re part of the few people who didn’t like Halo 2 “like me” or you just don’t like the series in general, then this isn’t the game for you. Without being biased, I give Halo 3 an –A, Bungie catered to its’ fanbase, and that’s a rare thing in Video Games.