Monday, September 24, 2007

Halo 3

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2007
Systems: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web Site

Also see: An hour with the Halo 3 multiplayer beta test

In a nutshell: If one of the biggest marketing campaigns in the world didn't clue you in, nothing I write will.

0:01 "Aahhhhh ahhh ahhhh ahh ahh ahh ahh" the choir sings over a twilit menu screen. I like the descriptions for the difficulty levels. Easy says it "practically plays itself," Legendary punishes the slightest error with death and Hard is "the way Halo is meant to be played." Normal for me, please.

0:02 Stars. "They let me pick," Cortana says. "Did I ever tell you that. Choose whichever Spartan I wanted. You know me, I did my research, watched as you became the solider we needed you to be." It's a regular Master Chief lovefest. She says I'm lucky as a shooting star comes to Earth.

0:03 It turns out the shooting star was me. I fell two kilometers and was found by a group of military guys. Eventually I wake up. "Why do you always jump?" a gruff looking marine tells me. "One of these days you're gonna land on something as stubborn as you are." Heh. Cortana's words echo in my ears: "Don't make a girl a promise if you know you can't keep it."

0:04 I'm in control already. My armor's a bit messed up from the fall, so one of the guys makes me look up and down at a target. Is this the game's subtle way of doing analog calibration?

0:05 Oh, I'm no longer in control. Apparently there's an arbiter with our team. The same marine from before stops me before I can kill him. Loading screen...

0:06 OK, time for action. We're trying to make it to the river for an evacuation. The jungle is incredibly lush and beautifully rendered. But it's quiet... too quiet.

0:08 Some of my compatriots climb up a ledge. I can't figure out how to follow them. I'm the freakin' master chief... I should be able to climb five feet!

0:09 Doubling back (since I can't climb on), I come across a small invading force. My team and I force them back easily with some covering fire. I'm impressed with their retreat -- shows some intelligence.

0:13 We come to a ledge and spy a small group of far off enemies, I can't get a good zoom with my current weapons, so I just jump down, guns blazing, outrunning my reinforcements. I almost die, but my shields recharge quickly as I hide behind a crate. That was simple.

0:15 First wow moment... we stumble across a huge glowing dude punching and ripping apart a marine. Just as I zoom in to watch, a battle starts.

0:16 The lighting here is really amazing. I really feel like I'm under a thick forest canopy.

0:18 Cortana appears in my helmet: "Could you sacrifice me to complete your mission. Could you watch me die?" Shades of BioShock's creepy imaginings.

0:21 The planes that were gonna extract us go down to enemy fire. D'oh! Now we have to find the wreckage.

0:22 Whoops. As I try to jump a small log I accidentally fall to my death into the river below. Yeah, I suck. Also: seeing enemies explodes via their own grenades is priceless.

0:24 "Can you hear me. My bird's down. Half a click *static* from your position." Wow, that static was conveniently timed, eh?

0:25 I'm really liking the AI so far. Enemies jump to the side to avoid fire and work well as a group.

0:26 My first non-suicidal death... I'm taken out by a needler that has the high ground. I see him with plenty of time but can't get back to cover quickly enough.

0:27 This time I take the sniper out from afar using my Carbine. Nothing to it.

0:28 A brute puts up an energy shield, then immediately runs right through it to attack me. Weird, that.

0:30 Cut scene time. The friendly arbiter points out the brutality of his kin. "I will help you spring him." Well aren't you sweet?

0:32 Being trapped in a corner with no ammo. really sucks and leads to death #2. I really should have picked up more weapons as I went.

0:35 Another death. This is a lot harder with only one ally, and the checkpoint save seems to have left me with only 5 brute shots to start. This is not going to be easy.

0:36 Enough cautious planning ... this time I go in guns blazing. I die much more quickly.

0:37 OK, I finally get some ammo. and make it to an access tunnel that seems to avoid the main enemy force. No light at the end of the tunnel, though... just a huge brute bitch slaps me back to the stone age with a giant club. Oy!

0:40 I'm getting pretty proficient with the plasma pistol. It's quickly becoming my weapon of choice.

0:44 This is getting old. I've now died four times to the same big guy with the energy club at the end of the tunnel. At least this time they restart me at a closer checkpoint. Did the game detect how much I suck and have pity?

0:46 Whoo. I finally beat the guy by drawing him slowly into the tunnels and continually firing as I retreat

0:48 Taking down a turret on the bow of a flying ship = cool. Taking down the whole ship with the help of allies = awesome. Having friendly air support come and take out all the ground enemies = triple awesome.

0:51 We come to a base of some sort. "Tell the commander her ace is in the hole." Dirty!

0:52 Lots of story gets thrown out quickly. We stopped Halo temporarily, but the prophet of truth is looking to launch all the Halo rings which will "destroy every sentient being in the galaxy." Sure... who wouldn't want to do that. The power goes out in the middle of a briefing on our next move. The prophet comes on the screen. "All of you vermin, cowering in the dirt, thinking... what, I wonder. That you might escape the coming fire? No, your world will burn until it's surface is glass... Your destruction is the will of the gods. And I... I am their instrument." Creepy.

0:54 Time to evacuate. "They're requesting a rally point. Where should they go." "To war." Cheesy!

0:55 Back in control. No enemies yet... I get a chance to scope out the lay of the land before the imminent attack. I watch some rats crawling around base... nice touch.

0:57 So they entered through the hangar. My allies tell me to go help fend them off. Great! Er, where's the hangar, again?

0:58 "The marines downstairs could use your help." But they told me to come up here! Ah, an on-screen arrow points the way to the hangar door

1:00 OK, I went through the door and found an empty corridor that seem to be a dead end. A voice in my ear tells me I need to clear the hangar. I'd love to! Really, I would! Help me!

1:03 Finally, stumbled upon the hangar and a few short bursts of action. Feels pretty similar to the jungle battles, though. Is this all there is to the game?

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? There have been some awesome moments and amazing-looking environments, even though it's already getting a bit repetitive and it's not really my style of game.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Microsoft, and an Xbox 360 borrowed from a friend. Thanks again Mike.


Danh said...

Wow... gaming for lunch has its privileges.

I can't wait to get my copy at midnight. Heard anything on your 360 yet?

Kyle said...

My 360 has arrived at Microsoft and is currently being repaired by their highly skilled technicians. At least I hope it is. For all I know, they could be practicing the shot put with it.

Zachary said...

Wow... as someone who has never played a Halo game before, this writeup makes absolutely no sense to me. If anything, it sounds like a run-of-the-mill FPS with a bunch of ridiculous sounding words thrown in.