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The Halo 3 Review Ticker
feature
game: Halo 3
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
developer: Bungie
genre:
platform:
keywords:
date posted: 08:46 PM Sun Sep 23rd, 2007
last revision: 02:57 PM Wed Sep 26th, 2007


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Click to read.So you're aching to know what everybody thinks? We've got the breakdown of all the reviews currently up -- and this page will be updated regularly until we get our own review up. We highlight some of the writers' focuses and some of the things we just found interesting. So, what are we waiting for? Let's get to it!

--Chris

Note to readers: this article is still a work in progress. As many other reviewers chime in, we will summarize and collect their impressions for you. There will be more reviewers added as the week progresses, but for a collective sum of all reviews, check out gamerankings or metacritic.


Halo 3, the reviews

Reviewer: Hilary Goldstein
Site: IGN
Score: 9.5/10
Yay: Amazing campaign battles, level design. Multiplayer. Forge. Weapon balancing (some nerfing okay). Energy Sword gets updated. New vehicles, especially the Brute Chopper.

Goldstein on brute chopper:
If the Fonz followed the Prophet of Truth, this is the bike he would ride. It's fast, maneuverable, and very deadly. It is perhaps more powerful than it should be, but when a vehicle is this cool, you almost need it to be king of the battlefield.


Excellent variety in multiplayer maps.

On Multiplayer Maps:
There's an excellent variance not only in range, but in layout. The majority of the maps service both long-ranged and close-ranged combat. While larger, more open maps -- such as the desert-themed Sandtrap -- offer the chance for snipers to get in their licks, those who prefer to get their kills up close will find it's possible to stay out of the open and clean up with the shotty. Snowbound and Isolation are both examples of maps that have open upper levels, but more confined subterranean areas.


Soundtrack.

Goldstein on the sound:

For my money, Halo 3 has the best soundtrack of any videogame.


Nay: Second to last chapter of campaign. Single player campaign difficulty on most settings. 4 player co-op campaign difficulty even on Legendary. Ally AI. Plot. Length of campaign. Minor, unmentioned, design choices.


----

Reviewer: Simon Cauldry
Site: IGN UK
Score: 9.5/10
Yay: Pleasing single player campaign. Multiplayer.

Cauldry on online multiplayer:
it's no surprise really that the multiplayer feels like the true meat of this game. Bungie well knows which way the gaming wind's blowing, and the gusts it's picked up on are whooshing noisily towards the online, sandpit and community created direction.


Forge is "genius." Save movie options are amazing.

Cauldry on save movie:
This is quite simply astonishing. You can pretty much record anything. Ever. Remember that spawny killtacular that you pulled off with a lucky grenade and last ditch, desperate button-bashing melee kill? Well you can revisit the multiplayer game you just completed, view it back in its entirety from your viewpoint, third-person behind you, another player's viewpoint or third-person behind them or just free camera.


Co-op is brilliant.

Cauldry on co-op:
Rainbow Six Vegas has done four player co-op before and it was ace, but Halo ratchets it up more than a few notches. You can play through the entire campaign online with four players. Vegas managed specially-created levels; Halo plays the same, entire game as single player, but with four people shooting the crap out of the Covenant.


Nay: Campaign is a letdown because 1) too short, 2) graphically unimpressive, and 3) messily confusing.

On what falls short:
Single player's good, without question, but the sheer weight of hype alone brings inevitable disappointment. It would have had to have troubled the very best single-player games ever to reach for those highs but it doesn't. But it all pales into insignificance against the tech-brimming majesty of the multiplay.



----


Reviewer: Jeff Gerstmann
Site: Gamespot
Score: 9.5/10
Yay: Satisfying storyline w/ closure. Fun co-op online play. Excellent web integration. Graphics are great, framerate is rock-solid. Balance of weapons still excelent.

Gerstmann on weapons:
The balance between your guns, your grenades, and your melee attack has always given Halo a unique feel in the genre, and those same considerations apply today, both in the campaign mode and in multiplayer.


Equipment is cool, but functions more heavily in multiplayer.

On equipment:
You'll also find items that make your shields regenerate more quickly, and others that drain enemy shields and stop their vehicles dead in their tracks. These items also show up in multiplayer, where they're a little more interesting.


Forge mode plus movie editor mode gives the game legs.

Gerstmann on Forge mode:
You can also play this mode with other players, letting everyone run around in edit mode to spawn Warthogs, rocket launchers, and whatever else is already on the map. On the surface, that doesn't sound so exciting. But in practice, it's a weird and potential-rich addition to the game because there are a ton of little secrets and tricks you can use to manipulate the objects in ways the developers may not have intended.


Gerstmann also mentions the good, but sometimes goofy, voices of the Covenant:
Our favorite line from the Covenant was probably "You've killed my brother for the last time," which is pretty hilarious.


Nay: Co-op with three others can be too easy.
Consequently, finishing the game on legendary difficulty is a breeze if you're rolling through with three experienced fellow triggermen.



----

Reviewer: Dan Hsu
Site: 1UP/EGM
Score: 10/10
Yay: Excellent campaign.

Hsu on the campaign:
While the plot's conclusion more than satisfies, the action is...well, it depends on how you come at it{...} Halo 3's campaign is better in every way imaginable. Subtly beautiful, rich and lush graphics, a heart-pounding orchestrated score, new weapons, vehicles, and enemies...and even better enemy and teammate A.I. Everything is now pretty much a known quantity, however, and a bit of going-through-the-motions gameplay numbs the excitement (it doesn't help that some repetition and backtracking still taint this series, though they're not as bad as in the predecessors). Here, you won't recapture that feeling you got when you first met and fought the Flood, first drove a Scorpion tank, or first played as the Aribiter.


Multiplayer really gives the game a longevity few videogames can achieve.

Hsu on multiplayer:

New modes like the zombie-survival Infestation and twists on old favorites -- like the new Mad Dash, where the designated "Juggernaut" must touch certain objective markers to score -- combine with way more customization options than in previous games to provide a seemingly infinite amount of ways to play.



Nay: The campaign doesn't regail all of the splendor of the first two games.

Hsu:
In Halo 3, the big 'oh, wow!' gameplay moments aren't there, although some bits are still memorable nonetheless...


Co-op play over live can be laggy*.

Hsu on lag:
The only drawback is every co-op game we've played over Xbox Live, whether it's two, three, or four players, has been fairly-to-incredibly laggy.



(Ed's note: He's obviously never played Rainbow Six Vegas.)


----


Reviewer: Gabe Graziani
Site: Gamespy
Score: 5/5
Yay: Co-op over live. Single player storyline.

Graziani on the story:
First off, let us just say that we can't go into any details about the plotline of Halo 3's 11-18 hour (depending on your skill level) single-player campaign, and honestly we don't want to. After the somewhat disappointing cliffhanger delivered by Halo 2, we were concerned that developer Bungie wouldn't be able to wrap up the fragmented chronicles of Master Chief. So, while playing through Halo 3 for the first time on Heroic difficulty, we paid special attention to the story.

What we can tell you is that, as promised, the fight will be finished by the time the credits roll.


Graziani also notes that the voice acting is very well done, later noting Ron Perlman's performance.

an expansive knowledge of the Halo universe isn't necessary to enjoy Halo 3. This is due to the overwhelming quality of the performances of the voice actors, the script writers and the digital artists that have crafted Halo 3's engaging tale into a futuristic epic.


Luscious locales abound, Graziani also discusses the graphics and level design:

Halo 3 features rich and luscious locales to explore that barely ever repeat their layouts. You don't have to worry about clearing out ten drab concrete hallways that are all the same, because Halo 3 follows a much more organic (albeit still definitely linear) design ethic.


Multiplayer shines. There aren't too many maps (11) but they've been
"meticulously designed for maximum carnage."

Enjoyed the special modes, notably one called "Spooky" where players motion sensors are turned off, and they're granted unlimited active camo.

Forge is awesome, and Graziani explains his experimenting exploits with IGN editor Hilary Goldstein,

While attempting to jump a Mongoose off of one of the Valhalla multiplayer map's man-cannons, we discovered that you could slam the vehicle (and flailing driver) into the stratosphere by smacking it with a well-timed blow of the Gravity Hammer (a new weapon favored by the massive Covenant Brutes in the single-player campaign). To our surprise, this behavior extended to everything hit with the Gravity Hammer, including rockets fired from the rocket launcher.


Nay: Short campaign.


----


Reviewer: Will Tuttle
Site: TeamXbox
Score: 9.7/10
Yay: Very good storyline.

Tuttle on the story:
The writers did an excellent job weaving together the story elements into a cohesive whole, expertly blending action, adventure, horror, humor, and even romance to make this an engaging experience. The single-player campaign will likely give you just about everything you could want from the last chapter in a trilogy, though we have to admit its hard not to want more.


Graphics and level design amaze.
Perhaps more than anything, we were particularly blown away by the scope and scale of the environments.


Liked the campaign meta-game scoring.

Tuttle on scoring:
This will allow for both single- and multiplayer leaderboards, meaning you'll have even more reason to trash-talk.


Use of equipment adds to the gameplay in both single and multi modes, moreso in multi.

Tuttle on equipment:
Our biggest qualm with them was the fact that we didn't really feel a huge need to use them in the single-player game, except on some occasions in which it felt like the developer was trying to spell out what we should do in a particular situation. If you see a Trip Mine or Cloaking device laying around, there's a good chance that it'll come in handy. You'll definitely use the equipment a lot more in the multiplayer arena, and there will be times that dropping a Bubble Shield or Power Drainer at just the right moment will change the entire battle.


The multiplayer maps are awesome, especially Isolation and Guardian.

Forge is very, very strong.

Tuttle on Forge:
This is one of those rare game features that will only get better with age, particularly once players start spending some serious time with it.


The movie recorder mode is the icing on the cake.

Nay: Difficulty of storyline is easy, particularly if you're a seasoned Halo player or deem it necessary to play with 3 other friends.

Friendly AI is far too stupid.
I was actually killed by my teammates on a few occasions



----


Reviewer: Rob Fahey
Site: Eurogamer
Score: 10/10
Yay:Great single player mode moments.

Even the biggest set-pieces have a homely feel to them. The highlights of the game's encounters include taking down the massive, four-legged Scarab tanks by boarding them and wiping out their crew, and frantic battles against Gravity Hammer wielding Brute leaders, both of which are lifted directly from Halo 2 - but are no less dramatic and enjoyable for it.


Great fun ripping turrets off their emplacements and running around with them.

The storyline progression and presentation is excellent overall.

Fahey on presentaiton:
The player is pushed from encounter to encounter with a clear view of what you're doing, why you're doing it and how you should go about it. At its best, the game's superb use of marine chatter, radio communications and scripted events give you the genuine sense of being a key player in a much wider war effort.


Voiceovers are "universally superb."

Framerate is solid.

Excellently designed multiplayer levels.

The incredible attention to detail and response to player feedback also carries over into the game's multiplayer aspect.


It doesn't set out to be all things to all men, but what it does set out to do - namely, to provide an extremely fast-paced online FPS with a huge range of different match options - it does flawlessly.


Forge is remarkable.

We're looking forward to YouTube being inundated with videos of ludicrous Halo physics experiments; just another feather in the cap of the Halo phenomenon.



Nay: Equipment not quite the bombshell we were expecting in single player, but not bad either.

Does, despite it's greatness, feels like an improved Halo 2 in many ways.
We sense the influence of multiplayer - with its requirement for consistent framerate and a level playing field - in many of the graphical decisions Bungie has made.


Graphics do not "wow" in the way Gears of War did.

It's just that, compared to games like last year's Gears of War, Halo 3 is an underachiever in graphical terms



----


Reviewer: Uros Jojic
Site: ActionTrip
Score: 92/100
Yay: Beautiful environments definitely show off the power of the hardware.

Amazing HDR (High Dynamic Range) lighting.
he HDR lighting is put to amazing use in Halo 3. Bungie does the most spectacular job of leading the player through dimly lit and narrow indoor areas and then overwhelming us with sprawling, sun-lit landscapes since Valve's Half-Life 2.


Forge is, again, awesome. Jojic states that Forge is "proof that the team has been looking beyond just the single-player experience."

Movie feature is awesome.
the new movie-recording feature is certain to add a whole new dimension in both the research of multiplayer strategies and, of course, in just giving Halo's huge community a way to share cool moments from the game with each other and give Matrix-style depth to bragging rights footage.


Jojic states that, while the original Halo was long for the sake of length, adding corridor after corridor of run-and-gun grinding...
Bungie makes no such compromise in Halo 3. It's a major trade-off. On the one hand, the level design feels absolutely superb, showing the sort of versatility and pacing that awesome shooters are made of. On the other hand, this is exactly the reason why single-player feels so short and why it IS so short.


Jojic also states that there are plenty of "spectacular twists in standard Halo gameplay."

Interface is streamlined.

A stronger narrative that "surpasses anything that was done in the series before..."

Jojic was "dissapointed by Halo 2" but "Halo 3 more than makes up for {Halo 2's shortcomings}."

Co-op makes this Halo 3 "worth owning."


Nay: Feel that Bungie definitely used a version of the Halo 2 engine for this game, even if heavily modified.
Halo 3 quite certainly uses a modified version of the Halo 2(1?) code, and although it carries many technological improvements, one cannot escape the feeling that the programmers have just about squeezed the last drop out of a code that's getting a little long in the tooth.


Character models look dated.

Friendly AI is bad.
...the thing that pissed me off the most was the AI routines. Even though Bungie claims the AI has been revamped, all that I could see were some new behaviors for certain new enemy units. The friendly AI seems to use the old code as far as vehicle handling and vehicular combat, tactics, and movement patterns go. And, to put it bluntly, they are not really good at it, not by today's standards.



----


Reviewer: Tom Chick
Site: Quarter To Three
Score: No Score Given*

*This review given without interpretation of multiplayer or Forge.

Yay: Some decent voice work (Perlman).

Nay: Story described as "retarded," "juvenile," and "confusing."

Chick states,
What bothers me most is that Bungie still can't tell a story worth a damn. Because it's an established franchise with enormous hype, this is going to be a huge game. Like Metroids and Zeldas, it'll get unswervingly positive reviews from people who wouldn't know narrative from nonsense, people who make sweeping misguided assumptions about the average guy jumping online and having a grand ol' time getting teabagged and called a faggot.


Moment of character development and conflict between Chief/Cortana and Chief/Arbiter are summed up in a single event for each.
Other poor voice work, including substituting Terrance Stamp for Jon Hurt. [QUOTE]And for Zod's sake, if you're going to have Terence Stamp fill in for John Hurt, don't obscure his voice behind some sort of filter.


Poor use of story forgets where its conflict lay.
What's worse, the story completely overlooks significant details that could have given it some resonance. For instance, what happens to the the rest of the world. Earth, you know? That place we live that could have given this game some sort of emotional hook? Cutscenes opt instead to show people planning something, or talking about what's going to happen if this lever isn't pulled, or mentioning what presumably must have happened in the previous games.


Chick describes the game as "Blatant corridor level design."
I use the term quite literally. Bungie gets a lot of mileage out of reusing entire areas.


The single player campaign is summed up as "Halo in HD." Chick is "looking forward to playing co-op" and has not played multiplayer in Halo 3 yet (as it has not gone live).


----


Reviewer: Aaron Linde
Site: Destructoid
Score: 8.5/10

Yay: Enjoyable single player.

Combat carries the game and
ombat rightfully maintains a firm grip on the experience as a whole.


Way enemies use equipment is awesome.

Enemy AI has made "huge strides."
Halo 3 definitely makes some huge strides in enemy AI, most of which you'll see (and often even hear) in action as Brutes shout commands to grunts, toss out bubble shields to defend the little ones, and ask their comrades to cover them as they move in on your location.


Level design allow for many ways to play. Campaign design does not repeat a la Halo and Halo 2.
Halo 3 steps it up a notch with some really creative stages and takes many opportunities to mix things up, and won't have you barreling down the same tunnel hour after hour.


Graphics "look plenty pretty."

Single player is enjoyable, even if campaign if flawed. Co-op adds a lot.

Multiplayer is amazing.
believe the hype, because Halo 3 is the new hotness in terms of console multiplayer.


Linde on multiplayer level design:
There are wide open spaces and tight corridors, and even after a 10-hour multiplayer marathon, I found I was still engaged by all of them, still learning nooks and crannies, developing tactics -- a good sign of quality design.


Forge = win.
the Forge allows for a virtually unlimited number of possibilities for community-spawned game types.


Linde praises filesharing options with movies and the way Forge digs into the community's ability to make content.
the best ideas tend to come out of the millions of hours logged by the community, and the Forge is the perfect arena for those ideas to come to fruition.



Nay: Story and single player falls short.
It's bound to satisfy many gamers just looking for some good, solid action, but in an age in which engaging, well-constructive narrative is possible even beyond the big mystery reveals (or the "Would You Kindlies", which I'm demanding everyone call them), Halo 3 falls short.


Ending is lackluster.

the ending left a rather sour taste in my mouth, and brings to mind a long history of first-person shooters with brief and ultimately unfulfilling endings


The weak ending...
seems a missed opportunity to capitalize on the gridlocked attention of an absolutely massive audience by doing something truly spectacular.


Still some concerns with framerate.
Some of the frame rate hiccup concerns raised in the beta still exist; you'll see some stuttering when the action gets particularly hairy or hit up the split-screen cooperative modes, but nothing game-breaking.



----


Reviewer: Wesley Yin-Poole
Site: PRO-G
Score: 10/10
Yay: Campaign isn't disappointing in story. Graphics are nice.

Massive levels.
Its levels are massive, on a scale greater than either of the previous two iterations.


Levels (there are 9) are long.
Each level will take you between an hour and an hour-and-a-half depending on the difficulty and your skill level


Enemy AI is good, but not that good.
The AI is certainly a step up from Halo 2, although not entirely convincing.


Yin-Poole liked the friendly AI, especially the Arbiter who he claims is "one hell of a shot."

Yin-Poole has a sweet spot for the Gravity Hammer.
It's not long into the game before you get to use one, and the first time you do it's a guaranteed jaw-dropper.


He likes how you can tear turrets from their emplacements and fire from a 3rd person perspective.

Variety of weapons is satisfying.
There are just so many weapons to choose from that it's safe to say that Halo 3 is the most destructive Halo yet.


Praises the equipment system.

Praises new vehicles, including the Brute Chopper and the flying Hornet. On vehicles:
When we saw the vehicles for the first time, it was a real OMG! moment.


Scripted events nicely done and add depth to the fictional world.
at one stage we came across a Human soldier who was having an argument with another soldier over a password given out during a staff meeting.


Voice acting is great.
It all adds to the feeling that you really are stuck in an intergalactic war, fighting for the lives of real soldiers and against a determined, intelligent enemy.


Story has "unmistakable, sci-fi epicness."

Multiplayer "hard to beat."
There aren't many games that get the hairs on the back of your neck reaching for the sky, but your first Halo 3 multiplayer game with friends will certainly do that.


You can split screen 4 players in versus multiplayer.

Movie editing mode (Theater Mode) is great.

Forge is mixed, good editor but questionable multiplayer mode.
as a map editor it certainly works well, and expect to see Bungie featuring some of the better community-made ones. But as a multiplayer mode we're not so sure. It certainly takes a while to wrap your head around the fact that you can change into a flying ball when you're being hit and give yourself a Scorpion tank.


Nay: Graphics are only "nice."
There are some things we noticed that we weren't massively impressed by. For one, the water effects look merely average. The foliage isn't as impressive as Crysis' will be (assuming you've got a PC from the future), when it rains it isn't spellbinding and during cutscenes we noticed the odd character whose eyes did strange things.


Storyline difficult to follow.

Questions lack of new ideas.
Did we feel as completely blown away as we did by Halo: Combat Evolved? Probably not, although the final couple of hours are the most impressive graphically and completely engrossing, where BioShock went downhill fast towards the end.


Yin-Poole raises the criticism that there wasn't enough new in the beta, and that still largely persists in the final product.


----


Reviewer: Uncredited Reviewer
Site: Worth Playing
Score: 9.6/10

Yay: Quite a few surprises in Halo 3.

Enemy AI is good.

Likes the gravity hammer.

Each victory is "earned."
By the time you've reached the end of Halo 3, you feel as though you've earned every victory you've fought, even on lower difficulties


Multiplayer is great and very customizable (Forge).
Halo 3 is extremely flexible and customizable, which ought to give it an amazing amount of longevity.


Likes movie maker mode.

Nay: Marines aren't much more than "cannon fodder." But they tend to do their job alright.
The Marines, while they still aren't much more than cannon fodder, are now capable of effective combat, to the point where several fights almost require you to have them by your side in order for you to succeed.


First half of the story feels too much like the first two Halo games.

Graphics are nice, but don't do anything new.
The graphics and sound, frankly, don't display any significant advances over Halo 2.


Music is weaker than in Halo 2.
The music, admittedly, is the weak spot here. Compared to Halo 2's "buy the official soundtrack album please" score, Halo 3's music is mostly bombastic and orchestral, with several pieces that sound like slight remixes of the original Halo theme.


Ending is "not entirely satisfying" but does "feel like an ending."

Difficulty may be too easy, even on Legendary (with three other people playing co-op).
About the only criticism I can mount against it is that it may make the campaign too easy, as players will respawn shortly after their deaths as long as the entire team isn't wiped out.



----


b]Reviewer:[/b] Alex Quevedo
Site: Gamer 2.0
Score: 8.8/10

Yay: Fully satisfying multiplayer. Gameplay is still great.
One thing that's still fresh in this third installment is the gameplay itself. It's much smoother and more streamlined than in the previous titles. There's more of a super soldier feeling with your controls (you can also tell now that you are clearly taller than everybody else).


Weapons are balanced well (the Brute Spiker is notably weaker than it was in the beta) and the vehicles have been tweaked for the better (although Quevedo states the Chopper and Hornet can be "finicky.")

Allied soldiers are much better improved.
Your soldiers are much more effective this time around, and they won't get themselves killed before you fire a shot, which was great to finally witness.


Enemy AI (especially Brutes) didn't seem to be all that different each time you fought them.
he only way we got them to react differently was when we knocked off a Brute's armor, egging him on to hunt us down.


Customization options are great.
there are plenty of new additions and it can become a haven for custom-gametype fiends.


Forge and the save films "are nice features that will add months of lasting value to the game."

Bungie definitely knows to give gamers what they want.
YouTube's thunder has been swiped as of late by games like skate and Halo 3, with development teams smart enough to know what their fans want and need.



Nay: Story is severely lacking.
This is what hurts Halo 3 most. Newcomers to the series with no Halo experience will be lost within the game. Most missions coincide with typical Halo protocol, but there's just something a bit off kilter with this one.


Story elements when Cortana speaks slow and hurt gameplay.
it's still a shoe-horned plot device that wasn't thought-out


Ending is disappointing.
And the all-important ending seems more like a cop-out. It isn't horrendous, but we sure as hell deserve better.


Graphics don't disappoint, but don't "wow."
The final product...looks like standard Xbox 360 material. Some things look really great, but for the most part everything pales in comparison to a game like BioShock or Gears of War. Visually, it's not Halo 2.5 but rather Halo 2.75. Master Chief is appropriately the best looking render in the environment, and there are some elements later on in the game which look amazing, but on the whole, we were not impressed.


Graphics take "a major hit" when in co-op split screen.

Soundtrack takes a backseat.
The music is great for the most part, but gets recycled a bit too often.

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